“Incredibly Green” Interview with Ian Harding

I interviewed Ian Harding in 2011 for IncrediblyGreen.com — a website that educated and encouraged teenagers to be more environmentally conscious.

Ian Harding is probably known best for his role as Ezra Fitz, the cute English teacher with a big secret on the ABC Family series Pretty Little Liars. If you’ve seen the show, then you know that he’s a talented actor who is definitely going places. What you might not know is that he has an environmental side as well. Ian recently took the time to speak with Incredibly Green about why he cares about the planet and thinks you should too.

Why do you think it’s important for young people today to develop an interest in the environment?
First off, I really believe we have a cyclical relationship/ responsibility with the planet. If we are to live on it, we should do all we can to protect it so that we can keep living the way we want to on this planet.

Second, the environmental problems of today will be larger ones tomorrow. I’m not trying to sound apocalyptic, but by the time I have children, the planet has the potential to look quite different then it does now. Granted, some of this change has to do with natural global cycles, yet seemingly most eco-problems can be linked back to human consumption. Thus, I feel that by simply changing our lifestyles, (walking more, using the lights less, recycling, etc) anyone can make some semblance of difference. You don’t have to be an environmental scientist to make a difference.

What do you think is the biggest environmental issue at the moment?
Honestly, I don’t know. Global warming, dependence on fossil fuels, over population, the list could go on. I’m not trying to sound grim, but I think there are eco matters that could be helped wherever you go. Some problems might be inherent and huge in China, but aren’t as much of a problem here in the states, and vice versa.

What eco-friendly habits do you practice?
I have a few, and most are really simple. Around the house, I recycle as much as possible, use electricity as little as possible, buy sustainable, recycled or natural house products, (detergents, trash bags, paper towels, etc), and walk whenever I can. I use the same two canvas bags whenever I shop for groceries, I have recycled metal water bottle, (so as not to keep using plastic bottles), I pay some bills online as not to use paper, and I buy a lot of organic, fair trade, and sustainable foods. The apartment building I live in is also a LEED certified green building, thus making my life a little greener!

All this being said, I still have “ungreen” habits. I love the earth I live on, yet I can’t always be a Spartan about saving the planet. For instance, I don’t drive a hybrid, (though I don’t drive a gas guzzler either), and I like certain foods that are imported, (thus needing gas to get over here!). I’m also not a vegan, which is supposed the most eco-friendly foodie life style there is. Sorry, I love me some steak!

Is it difficult to stay green while filming Pretty Little Liars?
Yes, though we’re working on it. In the fast paced TV world, it’s hard to get people to want to take up green habits, especially when time and money are at stake. That being said, actors have some sway and influence, and if we try to change minds by example, then perhaps we’ve done some good.

That being said, there are signs around the water containers asking people to bring their own water bottles, and we shoot almost exclusively on the WB lot, so we’re not driving from location to location and burning gas in the process. There are probably other green habits used that I don’t see because I’m in my own world on set. Pretentious?

Are there any things the cast and crew do on set to stay green?
Small things, but important things, like re-using water bottles or asking the cast/crew to bring their own. We have recycling containers everywhere, and I know some people carpool.

On March 26th from 830-930pm local time, the world will come together for Earth Hour to take a stand against global climate change. Have you heard about Earth Hour and will you/did you participate this year?
I didn’t get to participate this year! By that I mean I didn’t even realize that was happening. I’m a fraud! Actually my aunt was in town so I was a little distracted…

What inspires you to stay green?
Several things. I’ve always loved nature. I feel at ease when walking through the woods or near the ocean. Animals have always fascinated me. I actually joined the World Wildlife Federation when I was 12, as well as adopting a manatee around the same time. Of course that all changed when I hit puberty and starting caring more about girls, but I still have the respect for the planet that I developed when I was young.

Also, I’ve been very blessed. Lucky is perhaps the better word. I feel that acquiring green habits is a small, daily way to give back, to say thanks. You help someone by simply buying local produce from a farmer’s market as opposed to a low-grade grocery store brand.

What would you tell your fans about going green? What is one green tip you’d like to share with them?
I would say do what’s easiest for you. Whatever habit that better suits your lifestyle, do that. For instance, I know in some parts of the US, organic produce is harder to come by or is overly expensive. Perhaps due to cold weather one can’t walk as much as in other parts of the country. Don’t kill yourself trying to save Mother Nature. That being said, there are many ways to get involved, from something as simple as re-using grocery bags, to finding summer course that can teach you how to live sustainably within a city.

Is there anything else you want to share?
Think globally, act locally. I love this phrase. Whenever I get overwhelmed with all of the problems with the environment, I think of this.