Back in 1970, Ed decided to get involved with environmentalism. He started by recycling, buying an electric car and making a compost pile - even though at the time he lived in an apartment.
In 1988 he bought a small house built in the 30s in Studio City – a neighborhood in Los Angeles. It originally had no energy efficient features, but Ed quickly went to work adding as many as possible. Now the home is an environmentalist's dream with solar panels, energy efficient appliances and more.
When Ed and Rachelle first met, things didn’t go so well. In fact, Rachelle turned him down when he called for a last minute date. Two years later they saw each other again at an environmental function and hit it off.
Rachelle ended up moving into Ed’s house, which is far from the extravagant Hollywood style. If it’s not organic, recycled, energy efficient or solar powered, you can’t find it in their home. Rachelle, like most people, wants to help the earth, but Ed plans to take it to a whole new level.
Rachelle even got the all-American white-picket fence...made out of recycled plastic milk jugs. She also has a yard, but it looks more like the opening to the “Adams Family.” Ed loves his land, and made sure that everything planted on it is drought tolerant so less water will be used to keep them green. He also prefers his plants to produce food he can eat, so the yard is more like a mini-orchard of oranges, plums and figs.
The yard isn’t the only thing that makes the Begley’s home stick out in their neighborhood. Ed also installed solar panels on his roof, including one tracker panel that moves to follow the sun to get the maximum amount of solar energy. He enjoys hopping on the roof to check on his panels. Rachelle, however, is scared of heights and afraid that one day Ed will fall off.
Living with Ed usually starts early. He pops out of bed way before Rachelle and is always full of energy. In order for Ed to make toast for breakfast, he hops on a stationary bike. Unlike an ordinary exercise machine, this one is hooked up to the batteries that run the house. By pedaling he can make energy to run his toaster. By biking for 10 minutes, Ed creates enough energy to make two pieces of toast. After hitting the correct amount of wattage, Ed can enjoy his toast knowing he earned it.
Ed also uses the sun’s energy to cook his food in a solar oven. This outdoor appliance uses the sun’s rays to heat food, getting up to 400 degrees. Ed even built a rolling stand for his solar oven, so he can move it throughout the backyard as the sun moves across the sky. Rachelle calls the oven the “bane of her existence” because it’s ugly and mysteriously ends up in different parts of her yard, blocking the few pretty plants she has.
Though still busy with his acting career, Ed found the time to create his own environmentally safe cleaning products called “Begley’s Best.” When he has the time, Ed likes to go to local grocery stores and personally sell the product. From there he can spread the word on his cleaning supplies that are biodegradable and give all their profits to charities. Some people see him in the store, and think he can’t get work as an actor and has resorted to hocking cleaners for cash. Ed doesn’t care, just as long as he can help the environment by selling his product.
Finding some space to be alone is a little difficult in the Begley’s small home. Ed sometimes sneaks away to find some peace and quiet out in the garage, which he has converted into a workshop. Rachelle in return has to park on the street, but she continues to campaign in vain for Ed to get rid of his carpentering tools he rarely uses. The house is so crowded that Ed’s father’s Oscar statue sits about three feet away from the cats’ litter box.
Sometimes Rachelle gets to live the Hollywood dream and attend events like the Academy Awards. She frantically goes through gowns to find the perfect look and picks out the perfect jewelry and makeup. But when she hops in the shower, Ed - in his tux - stands by the bathroom door with a timer and reminds her how many gallons of water she’s wasted so far.
Maybe next time Rachelle dreams about the Hollywood life, she’ll be a little more specific.