ECO/Yahoo’s Earth Day Chat with Michael T. Weiss for the “Think More, Use Less” Campaign

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Every Day Is Earth Day

TV Guide:
We’ll be chatting with Michael T. Weiss of the NBC series The Pretender at 10PM EST Tonight. He’ll be here as part of the ECO’s Earth Day “Think More, Use Less” Campaign. Send in your Pretender and environmental questions and we’ll get some answers in half an hour. For more Earth Day and environmental info check out Michael T. Weiss is joining us right now. Thanks for coming to chat.
Hello all you fellow planet savers! How are you?
What first got you interested in helping the environment and how old were you at the time?
I live right on the Santa Monica bay and realized I couldn’t go swimming in it because it was so polluted. I got involved with “Heal the Bay” instead of just whining about it. Then I got involved with an environmental organization called ECO, which has been my main source ever since. It encompasses the entertainment industry and has had a major impact in the environmental system.
Hi, Michael! Have you had any luck finding an electric car?
I have been very car efficient. I can’t say yet, because I don’t know yet which it’ll be. At least 5 companies make them now.
Are you going to be doing any public service announcements yourself in promoting environmental awareness on TV (NBC)?

I’ve done the “More You Know” campaign with an environmental bent which I wrote and a recycling motor oil spot for EMA. (Environmental Media Assoc.)
Do you get to put any of your ideas to work on the set, recycling etc.
If I get the electric car, I’m going to be driving that around on The Pretender. Perfect for Jarod. We’ve gotten recycling going on on our set which is great. We try to be as environmentally sound as possible.
Did you do anything fancy to help Earth Day
I’m doing this!
Michael, this is PB’s webmaster. I enjoyed meeting you (however briefly) this past Friday. Thanks for taking the time between shots. What would you suggest for someone who would like to learn about recycling but doesn’t have a clue where to begin?

The first thing is to buy less. Stop to think before you buy – are you going to use it or toss it? Purchasing less means using less.

Second is to buy smart. Check more than the price tag when considering the purchase. You can check products for indicators for energy efficiency such as the energystar logo. Check out their website at for a complete listing of household items that are energy friendly.

Third, is to cut back on cows. You don’t have to become a complete vegetarian to impact the environment. If everyone ate just two less meat dishes per week, the savings alone could feed 225 million people per year.

Go flourescent. Replace as many lightbulbs as you can with compact flourescent bulbs. One flourescent bulb in your home or office in its lifetime prevents a half ton of co2 in our atmosphere each year.

Unsolicited junk mail, nobody likes it, everybody gets it. It wastes millions of tons of paper per year. Escape the onslaught by contacting the mail prevention service of the Direct Marketing Assoc. at PO BOX 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11733-9008.

Eat local goods. Buy fresh local produce. The average American meal travels 1,250 miles to get to your place. So seek out local Farmer’s Markets.

Keep your car tuned up. Try to carpool as much as possible, but better, walk, bike, take public transportation… or just sit still! But we all know that’s hard.

Lower your energy use at home. Lower the thermostat on the water heater to 115 degrees F and place an insulation blanket around it. The best thing to do is to wash your clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot. If anyone needs more, just say so.

If that’s not enough for you, I have tons more, so please ask. I’m really big on people assessing their own lives. You don’t have to do everything perfectly, just do a few things. Don’t get overwhelmed. We’re all in the ride together.

Do you ever do any guest speeches in different cities?
If someone’s inviting me. My schedule’s very busy so these things help me impact more than a few people at once, which is the best thing to do.
I saw you on Rosie O’Donnel and you saved like a hole bunch of pop bottles is that true?
I brought recycling home from Australia! I’m a recycling junkie so I have to recycle everything. I try to think of a way to recycle everything to put back a little of the energy that has been taken out of the world.
Is there a way to help the rain forests? I hear we are supposed to lose them sooner than predicted due to mass clearing of the forest.
I know there’s a certain kind of wood that’s endangered… just be careful what kind of wood you buy – especially from Home Depot. Ask before you buy and make sure it’s sustainable wood and not from the rain forest. Home Depot is really bad about that so urge them to buy sustainable wood.
In Alberta there is a “deposit” on all types of bottles in order to encourage people to save them, return them (thus get them recyled) and get the deposit back. Do you think this will ever happen in the USA?… It seems to encourage alot to recyle here.
Unfortunately, the almighty dollar inspires a lot of things, many communites here have programs, however it’s not only important to recycle but to buy recycled products to keep it in the loop and create demand on both ends.
Mr. Weiss, We’re having an Earthday Fair at Cabrillo Museum on the coast this Sat., Come on by…
Thank you. I’m going to be on the coast this weekend having my own little Earth Day.
Have you seen the Australian Inland Botanical Gardens? We have some endangered plants there.
No, but it sounds like a wonderful project.
I work at a cannery. Gerber is wanting to use plastic cups instead of glass. What do you think?
I’m no expert but it sounds to me that glass is a much more recyclable item and healthier for your food. Minute particles of plastic get into your food and screw with your immune system. I strongly urge parents to write to Gerber and urge them not to do it. There’s a great baby food company, whose name I can’t remember, but buy from a health food store and you’ll generally find better products. Or better yet, make it yourself. It’s simple to throw some yams into a blender and buy the vegetables, fruits, etc from your local farmer’s market.
Is there any plan to have an episode to include environmental issues and support numbers at the end of the show?
That’s a wonderful idea. The character of Jarod believes in walking the earth gently. Hopefully we’ll do an environmental episode this season.
Do you think that privately owned nature reserves will/should play a bigger role in conservation in the future? For example, here in Australia we have reserves specially fenced and managed to exclude cats and foxes.
I think the whole idea of privately held nature reserves can only be a good thing. I think it’s a lot better than privately held toxic waste dumps.
I work for Fulton County Fire Department in Atlanta Ga,We are going to be the first Emergency medical service to use all natural gas ambulances
Wonderful! Yeah, yeah for you! Pats on all your backs. Maybe the rest of the country will follow suit. I’d be curious to know how the trucks run.
Besides ECO, what other organizations do you highly recommend people join and/or work with?
Audubon Foundation at is one I have offhand. Also That’s for info about organic produce. The best thing to do if you’re online is to do a web search at Yahoo and look up environmental associations in your area. Also, ECO is PETA has a website, too. Sierra, Save the Whales, and you can contact the good ol’ EPA hotline. Best thing, in my opinion, is to contact a local environmental association. Look in your phone book or plug it in on-line.
I do not mind talking about the environment but could you tell me what Earth Day is about please?
It’s just a day that was established to remind people to celebrate Mother Earth and to remind them to celebrate the planet that sustains our lives. We have to protect it because there’s only one. One earth. One people. I’m a firm believer that everyday should be Earth Day.
What type of sacks do you prefer? Paper? Plastic?
I think it’s great to bring your own bag, however since its not always possible, I’ve been told it’s better to use paper, but I use plastic and recycle them.
Do you get all your family and friends to be environmentally friendly like you?
By annoying the hell out of them. I believe you gently remind people. I once saw a guy chuck a big mac wrapper out the window, and my first impulse was to get angry with him, but I instead gently reminded him of the impact it had and he picked it up and put it in the trash. He was so humiliated and embarrased, I bet he’ll never do it again.
Do you think that parents should opt for using cloth diapers?
I think that is purely an individual choice. I know it’s easier to use the throw away kind. I know there is an environmentally sound diaper that biodegrades faster, “Tushies”. However, that’s a personal choice.
If your local town does not have a center for recycling, where or who would you go to get a facility started?
I guess you would start by contacting the EPA, your mayor, requesting a program.
I was on Jeopardy and you should be a celebrity guest and pick ECO as your charity!
I play a genious on television and I play closet jeopardy at home but if I screw up on Jeopardy, I’ll feel like an idiot. 😉 Actually they did ask me, but I didn’t have the time. I think it would be fun.
What is being done to prevent the destruction of the ozone layer?
We are reducing the use of hydrofluorocarbons that used to be in all the aerosol spray cans and in the coils of our AC and refrigerators and by reducing these, we help reduce the hole in the ozone layer. If your AC is leaking in your old car, have it fixed. Keep in mind, I’m not an expert. :) I’m just a diligent watchdog of the planet. But answers to those questions can be found at your local environmental orgs, but I do believe we have made an impact, if small, in our ozone depletion.
Do you see the rest of the US following California’s regs on emmison control?
The truth is, since the seventies, the air quality in the LA basin has improved greatly due to people who are active in e.o’s. However it’s still not great, as I live here and I know. I think that all people should write their local gov’ts about how they can improve their local air quality. We must urge our local corps and multi-national co’s to follow suit or we won’t buy their products.
I always find the best people to learn from about the environment are the children. Have you ever spoke to children about their part on this earth?
I have! It’s very important. The “More You Know” campaign was about teaching children about having respect for nature. Take them for a walk around the woods, by the sea, and try to get them to understand the interconnectedness of everything. Get them involved with a local environmental org or just get them to smell a rose once in awhile.
How can we get manufacturers of products to stop using excess waste in their packaging of the products?
The best way to convince an org to change is to write letters to them (on recycled paper of course) or send email, or just don’t buy their product. Personally I just feel better buying all my products at local health food stores. They might not be perfect but I think they’ve weeded the worst stuff out. I personally use only natural products. Soaps, shampoos, household cleaners, etc. I think we should take a look at our own backyards and see how environmentally sound we are before we go out and judge everyone else.
Do you remember the TV ad with the Native you think they will let you do an ad like that? I remember it from my childhood.
I never ever want to put myself on soapbox – I’m just here to put the word out on how to protect the environment. I’m not perfect – I sometimes take the easy way out, but try to live environmentally sound. If we try to make a couple of small sacrifices today, we can all help to save the future of our planet. I’m just gently reminding people that each of us have to take our part, but the fact that I talk about environmental issues does not require that I become sainted. 😉 I do know that I love and care for it and feel that I’ve done a lot to assess my own personal life and I don’t think it’s better or worse than anyone else’s.
Do you cut up your Coke 6-pack holders?
I do. Supposedly birds get caught in there and they choke. But I don’t really drink coke. 😉
Have you ever heard of Shaklee? They make only all-natural products, including household cleaners and food supplements (vitamins). They have done a lot to help the enviroment, and I was curious as to whether you knew of them.
I have heard of them. I think it’s really important that when something says it’s all natural, it really is. Read the ingredients and learn what you’re putting on your body and in your body. I strongly suggest that you put only natural ingredients on and in your body. Your skin absorbs an immense amount of the products. Let me ask you this…can you really live without toilet water?? Use citrus, vinegar, and similar natural products. They are powerful cleaners. Do you really need the whitest underwear in the world or can you settle for dingier underwear and a cleaner ocean? We have to think of the planet as a sick child that we have to nurse back to health. The biggest change you can make in your life is to walk into and start shopping in your local health food store.
If I want to begin composting how should I start?
Go on-line and search under natural composting. There are a million ways to do it and probably a million different answers.
Do you think solar energy and wind energy is the way of the future?
I believe that clean burning fuels are absolutely the way of the future.

We will wean ourselves away from the oil industry which will also stop a lot of conflict, as well as greed, avarice and violence, but again, the demand will actually have to be there. So, in closing, I strongly urge everybody to go take a walk outside, look up into the heavens, and breathe the fresh air and realize that the same people are doing it in Cozumel, Rio or Iraq.

We are all one planet. Do what you can to protect it, however small. Celebrate Mother Earth.

I thank you. Peace. Goodbye. :)