When Ed Begley, Jr. brought the eco-police to Mario Van Peebles' home for a green audit, Mario agreed to an environmental renovation. He also went along with televising it on Mario's Green House, premiering tonight, Sunday at 6 pm Sept 27 on TV One Online, a cable channel geared for an African-American audience. The Van Peebles family (Mario, wife Chitra, their five kids, and even filmmaker father, Melvin) gets the makeover. They wanted to make it fun, but the reality show turned out a bit more or a reality check than they bargained for.When Mario decided to provide a good model for his children about the green process, he figured it meant changing to eco-products, conserving some water and recycling more. They didn't expect it would require major construction much less changing their lifestyle. But he made the commitment and even uses his own HD camera for home video dairy-esque footage to cover the remodel of his Baldwin Hills home, a predominantly black neighborhood in Los Angeles. Getting the messaged to communities of color is one of his goals.
As an actor and director, Van Peeples has done everything from Damages to Law & Order, New Jack City and Ali, as well as writing and producing Baadasssss!, the homage to his father's 1971 film, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. Mario credits his father with providing a social conscience, but he also gets a dose from his son, who after seeing An Inconvenient Truth said, "You tell us to clean up our rooms and the living room, but you guys haven't left us a clean planet."
This was the impetus for the show.
Walking the Green Mile
Eight episodes of Mario's Green Home focus on achieving various levels of green. The Van Peeples learn about fuel efficient transportation, local healthy eating, discover creative ways to recycle and reuse, and meet up with Van Jones who's teaching inner-city youth to install solar panels. But the real power comes from the empowerment of changing badass habits. A theme Van Peebles reiterates in interviews about the show is combining modern technology with reclaiming ancient ways and wisdom.
The Van Peebles trade in the Lincoln Navigator for a hybrid, install solar panels and solar tubes, add gray water recycling, filtering sink and shower water for the garden, and compost. Next is wind power.
"We're not the full Ed Begley-green," he says, mentioning his mother's sustainable tips and badgering on the reality show. "So I'm not an avocado yet, you know, black on the outside, green on the inside. We're olive."
More on green home renovation:
Steve Thomas, Host of Renovation Nation on Planet Green
Green Depot eco-friendly living & building store in Manhattan
Renovation Uses Twice As Much Labor, Half as Much Material as New