'Big Brother' on Primetime TV? 8 Subtle Green Messages From Your Favorite Shows

mad men green message photo

Photo via Vanity Fair

Sometimes a show's green message reaches you loud and clear (thanks "Lost," "The Simpsons," "Whale Wars," Planet Green's "Fast Forward," and "Life"!) and sometimes it's a little harder to see -- but shows in the latter category can have just as big an impact on your green lifestyle.

Are you looking twice at vintage dresses since you got hooked on "Mad Men"? Do you still remember the oil-covered duck from long-ago Saturday morning viewings of "Saved by the Bell"? Have you ever used duct tape for something other than ducts and thanked "MacGyver"? Read on for more under-the-radar suggestions that might just be getting through.

1. "Mad Men"

Don, Betty, Roger, Joan, Peggy, Pete, and the rest of the characters on "Mad Men" don't even know they're supposed to be worried about the environment yet -- Don's firm promotes cigarettes, the Drapers leave their picnic trash all over the park, the women use hairspray with abandon and the men get into an aerosol-deodorant fight in the office with no concept of CFCs -- and we can be pretty sure they're not recycling all those rye bottles and typo-filled letters.

But they're doing a few things right by default, too: Don Draper makes commuting by train look cool; the Drapers' house doesn't have central air; and they all have fewer gadgets to run up the electric bills. Plus, the styling is enough to send you straight to your nearest thrift store for vintage suits, dresses, and jewelry.

Green Lesson: Everything old is new again. Check your mother or grandmother's closet (and raid their jewelry boxes) for timeless vintage pieces that add a little "Mad Men" flair to your modern outfits.

Watch: Sundays, 10 p.m. (starting July 25) on AMC

2. "Green Acres"

green acres green message photo

Photo via WHME
Green Acres -- this classic fish-out-of-water show -- followed the adventures of Lisa and Oliver as they traded life on Park Avenue for "land stretching out so far and wide" by moving to a farm in the same zip code as "Petticoat Junction."

Oliver, who had been a big-city lawyer, wore suits for everything from planting to plowing; Lisa continued to pine for the penthouse views they'd had in New York City even as she became a pro at country living; and a collection of unusual neighbors (including the ones who treated a pig as if he were their adopted son) made "Green Acres" a favorite even until its 1971 cancellation, and the show is remembered today for its satire, absurdity, and social commentary.

Green Lesson: Even city mice can learn to love the country.

Watch: Full episodes online at TV.com

3. "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution"

jamie oliver green message photo

Photo via JamieOliver.com

On "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution," the British chef traveled across the pond to help residents of Huntington, West Virginia -- which the CDC called "the nation's unhealthiest city" in 2008 -- turn their eating habits around.

He pureed a chicken carcass to show kids what goes in their nuggets; piled up a month's worth of cafeteria nachos, chocolate milk, and saturated fat to show parents exactly what their kids are eating; and tried to convince school administrators and cooks that processed food -- though cheaper -- isn't the only thing kids will eat.

Along the way, he inspired first graders to learn their vegetables, helped individual families overhaul their eating habits, and made cafeteria lunches from scratch instead of using frozen meals.

Green Lesson: Pay attention to what you're eating. Fresh food -- especially local and organic versions -- has a smaller carbon footprint than pre-packaged, preservative-filled products, and is even better for your health than it is for the environment. And if you're intimidated by a kitchen, you'll see that cooking is not as hard as you think.

Watch: Full episodes on ABC.com

4. "Project Runway"

project runway green message photo

Photo via Twitter Trends

The fashion industry is notoriously bad for the environment, especially when you consider the sum of production, design, merchandising, and waste.

"Project Runway" isn't trying to overhaul the business, but many of the raw materials offer inspiration for your own reuse projects: Challenges have forced designers to produce clothes made from leaves and plants; from the furnishings in their hotel rooms; from piles of jeans; and from layered candy wrappers. And in season five, Natalie Portman judged an episode that required the contestants to use eco-friendly fabrics found at New York's Mood fabric store -- proving mainstream shopping doesn't have to end with conventional fabrics.

Green Lesson: Give your fashion sense room to evolve by trying pieces from new eco-friendly designers, fabrics, and styles -- and when all else fails, don't be afraid to sit down at the sewing machine yourself.

Watch: Thursdays, 9 p.m. (starting July 29) on Lifetime

Look for more Subtle Green Messages on Page 2

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