Efron’s new adventure show calls for change

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Art by Maddie Loverich

Maddie Loverich, Sports Editor

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How to get young people to listen/care/notice environmental issues? Let Zac Efron take the reins.

Down to Earth with Zac Efron was released on Netflix this summer, and it’s becoming more relevant the closer we get to an election day that weighs heavily on the future of our environment.

Over eight episodes, Efron and his close friend, wellness expert Darin Olien, travel the world together to explore sustainable living strategies, ranging from Iceland’s renewable energy efforts to Italy’s island of Sardinia, which boasts one of the world’s highest populations of elderly over a hundred years old. 

The duo meets locals and team up with experts to explore the solutions to climate issues, making America look like a dystopian nightmare. The episodes showcase environmentally-friendly solutions that have yet to be adapted or even thought about in our country, such as a water system in Paris that supplies free access to clean water throughout the city, so that no citizen goes without. Not only does the system prevent water insecurity, but it also discourages purchasing of plastic water bottles. And in case this system already didn’t sound cool enough, sparkling water is almost just as common in these publicly accessible fountains. 

Efron’s role as host is understated. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but he doesn’t pretend to either. It’s incredibly refreshing to watch someone, especially a celebrity of his status, admit weakness, and show a willingness to learn. Of course, his expert cohort balances this out by explaining in detail the effects that lifestyle changes can have on individuals, communities, and the environment. 

“I got to get out of Hollywood,” Efron said en-route to Italy to meet citizens of Sardinia, who have one of the highest rates of centenarians in the world (while eating a mostly carbohydrate diet). He acknowledges that the reality of his industry is detrimental to his health: mentally and physically. The people in Sardinia have clearly found out how to live a healthier, longer life and Efron shows a genuine effort to understand their mentality. 

The pleasures of the show are many, including watching Efron passionately eat pasta/carbs. After he announced he wasn’t allowed a carb for years while maintaining his physique for acting purposes, I think we get dangerously close to seeing a grown man cry while popping tortellini in his mouth. 

The most powerful part of the series comes in the last episode, when we learn that Olien’s home in Malibu is being threatened (and eventually burned down) in the 2018 Woolsey wildfire. Climate change is contributing to the intensity and frequency of the wildfires that continue to plague California, only further validating Olien and Efron’s journey exploring potential climate solutions. 

Down to Earth is quality, entertaining reality TV. The host’s chemistry keeps the audience entertained and informed about serious, thought-provoking, and change-inducing ideas that could help reduce our environmental footprint and increase the quality of our lives. 

If there is anything to learn by Efron’s example, it’s that a willingness to educate yourself will save you. Solutions to our (very real, very prevalent) climate problems exist and are available to us if we are willing to listen.