Canada could be more eco-friendly, but you can call it progress when a well-known celebrity environmentalist hands your country a compliment.

“I’ll definitely shower praise on Canada,” says Ed Begley Jr. “There’s so much Canada has done for its environment. There’s such an abundance of clean water and forests.”

The Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actor — as famous for his eco-conscious efforts as he is for his role as Dr. Victor Ehrlich on the 1980s drama St. Elsewhere and reality television program Living With Ed — has a new book offering pointers on how to reduce your own global footprint. Living Like Ed: A Guide To The Eco-Friendly Life is chock full of greener lifestyle options, from food to home energy consumption to transportation.

Before you argue that Begley is just another Hollywood activist who’s deigning to tell all us peons how to live our lives, understand he’s that rare breed who actually practises what he preaches. His two-bedroom house in Studio City, Calif., is solar powered, 25 per cent of the food he eats is grown in his home garden, he prefers to walk and bike everywhere if he can — and has been known to show up on a bicycle wearing a tuxedo to tony red carpet events. And he’s been doing it for more than 30 years.

Begley says juggling acting with activism was no walk in the park, but the actor stuck to his principles, recalling long 20-mph trips on the electric bike to deposit his recycling at a site miles and miles away from his home. Often publicly branded as an eccentric tree hugger, Begley frequently missed opportunities because he wouldn’t take a plane to travel for an offered job.

“I lost a lot of work in the ‘90s over that. You’d get a call in L.A. and you would have to be in, say, Toronto the next day if you wanted the job. And you would have to take a plane to do that. But I’ve flown more times over the past six months than I have in the past six years,” says Begley, adding he purchases TerraPass carbon offsets to reduce the impact flights he takes may have.

But maybe most important to Begley is heated competition with his eco-friendly rival. He mentions he frequently tries to out-green his neighbour Bill Nye (of Science Guy fame), and pins his failed attempts to do so on his wife Rachelle.

“(Nye)’s a great neighbour. He does more than me. I might be ahead of him in (conserving) electricity, but I think he’s ahead of me in water. It’s Rachelle; she takes long showers. Typical guy: Blame your wife, right?” Begley laughs.