6 Subtle Green Lessons From "The Sound of Music"


Screenshot via YouTube

Last night, the cast of "The Sound of Music" reunited on "Oprah" for the episode billed as the first time in 45 years that all the actors -- including Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, and the seven actors who played the Von Trapp children -- appear together.

But as we reminisced about our favorite scenes, songs, and moments from the film, a few unexpected lessons about eco-friendly living stood out. The Von Trapp family was actually pretty green, and we can learn a thing or two from their example.

1. Use What You Have



Screenshot via YouTube

Has anyone done more for the idea of repurposed materials than Maria and her curtains?

Her request for new fabric to make play clothes for the children is denied -- but when she realizes the window dressings in her room are about to be replaced, she cuts, binds, and hems them into seven coordinating outfits. It's nothing short of a sewing miracle -- and an inspiration for the rest of us to take a second look at items headed for the trash. (You don't have to stick to fabric, either: Try repurposing bottles, jars, and even board games.)

2. Get Pedaling

Video via YouTube

We talk a lot about the benefits of bike riding: It's good for your health, it's good for the environment, and, when you compare effort in to results out, it's the most energy-efficient transportation around.

Maria and the Von Trapp kids took full advantage of their cycles in this iconic scene of them riding in Salzburg, Austria. (Bonus points if you can sing a song you've only heard once before in perfect harmony with seven other people while riding.)

3. Go Outside

Screenshot via YouTube

Before Maria arrives, the Von Trapp children "don't play -- they march." Combine their strict routine with a father who travels most of the time and you come up with an unruly group that loves to torment governesses.

But after Maria gets them out of the house -- climbing trees, picnicking on mountains, singing in the town square, capsizing boats -- they're a cheerier bunch. Of course, she brings the Captain around in the end, too, but we think the fresh Austrian air and free time enjoying nature played just as big of a role in turning the Von Trapps into one big happy family.

4. Respect Nature

Edelweiss - Sound of Music - Christopher Plummer's own voice from Mark on Vimeo.

Video via Vimeo

One of the film's most iconic songs, "Edelweiss," pays tribute to the small, white flower -- a rare bloom that grows in hard-to-reach Alpine climates between 1700 meters and 2700 meters above sea level.

According to EdelweissGrowers.com, the flower was so popular in medicines and with would-be suitors that it earned protected status in 1878 because so much of it had disappeared on hiking trails in the Alps. But when Captain Von Trapp gets a little choked up as he sings about the "clean and bright" symbol of his homeland, you'll be reminded of how important flora and fauna are to cultures all over the world.

5. Walk

Screenshot via YouTube

The memorable end of the film -- the entire family escaping the country by walking over the Alps, carrying almost nothing -- isn't entirely accurate: The real Von Trapps have said they didn't hide their move to America, and that "we did not climb over mountains with all our heavy suitcases and instruments. We left by train, pretending nothing."

Taking the train may not be as inspiring as hiking across the border, but both stories are a reminder that -- even on long trips -- your car isn't always the best option.

6. Travel Light

Screenshot via YouTube

Sure, Maria comes from an abbey, so she doesn't have that many worldly possessions to begin with, but she shows up at the Von Trapp mansion with just one small suitcase and a guitar -- and when the family flees Austria, they take even less.

These are both extreme circumstances, but they're worth keeping in mind the next time you're packing for a trip or purchasing one more item that you just have to have. Packing light means you'll use less fuel -- both on road trips and on flights -- and avoiding excessive consumerism helps you trim your carbon footprint, contribute less to the waste stream, and be more conscious of your buying decisions.

More Green Messasges from TV and Film
"Big Brother" on Primetime TV? 8 Subtle Green Messages from Your Favorite Shows
From Camping to Polar Bears: 7 Green Themes in ABC's Lost
11 Cartoons with Surprisingly Green Messages
5 Movies with an Unintentional Green Message

Tags: Carbon Footprint | Movies | Music

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