Eco-friendy TV shows for Earth Day

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-117692718630314.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of‘, ‘Presented by Robert Redford, The Green pairs an original documentary series, Big Ideas for a Small Planet, with a new documentary each week.‘);

Among global warming, Al Gore winning an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth, and how few blue recycling bins I’ve noticed in some of my neighbors’ yards over the past few months, I figured it was time to celebrate Earth Day.

Some people are marking Earth Day, Sunday, April 22, by turning off their TVs to save energy. That’s a fine idea, but in the spirit of teaching someone to fish, why not tune in to some Earth Day specials to learn about the environment and discover long-term ways you can conserve energy and natural resources?

With the April 17 debut of The Green, Sundance Channel became the first TV network in the U.S. to have a weekly programming block focused solely on environmental topics. Presented by Robert Redford, The Green pairs an original documentary series, Big Ideas for a Small Planet, with a new documentary each week. The April 24 episode of Big Ideas airs at 8 p.m. and will examine environmentally-friendly building technology and showcase three “green” homes. It will be followed by the documentary Waste = Food at 8:30 p.m.

Other Earth Day specials airing this week include the following:

Get Fresh with Sara Snow, Thursday, April 19, at 7 p.m. on Discovery Health Channel. Natural living expert Sara Snow shares secrets to living “green” in today’s hectic world.

Green: The New Red, White and Blue, Saturday, April 21, at 8 p.m. on Discovery Channel. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman looks at how typical Americans get and consume energy, and offers suggestions about how individual families can reduce their carbon footprints, making a collective impact on the world.

Cool Fuel, Sunday, April 22, at 7 p.m. on The Science Channel. Eco-adventurer Shaun Murphy drives coast to coast in new kinds of vehicles using alternative fuels like cow manure, hot rocks, corn whiskey, sugarcane, garbage, even wind and solar power.

Meltdown: A Global Warming, Sunday, April 22, at 9 p.m. on The Science Channel. Paul Rose, who has organized numerous expeditions over the past decade to examine the effects of global warming, looks at the on-going controversy of global warming.

Planet Earth marathon, Sunday, April 22, from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Discovery Channel. The day-long event kicks off with all of the previously-aired episodes of the monumental 11-part series, and concludes with the premieres of two new episodes, “Forests” at 7 p.m. and “Caves” at 8 p.m.

NOVA: Saved by the Sun, Tuesday, April 24, at 8 p.m. on WTTW. This episode of PBS’s acclaimed series discusses breakthroughs in solar technology and how some people are harnessing the sun’s rays to light and heat their homes—and, in many cases, adding their surplus electricity to the grids.

As if these eco-friendly programs aren’t enough, in June HGTV will air Red, Hot and Green, an hour-long special offering tips about how to incorporate “green” elements to your home, and showing real examples of eco-friendly homes and landscaping. Aug. 26, HGTV brings back Living With Ed, a reality show about the home life of environmentalist-actor Ed Begley Jr. and his wife, Rachelle.

Even if you don’t decide to watch any Earth Day programming, the least you can do is sort your recyclables.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine, Rockford Life and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, SatelliteORBIT and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to

from the April 18-24, 2007, issue

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