Zac Efron has taken on a new environmentalist angle in his executively produced Netflix special “Down to Earth with Zac Efron.” He and his health guru friend Darin Olien travel to eight different places in the eight episodes of season one. Within each episode and place, the pair focuses on different environmental issues, questions or problems that their location focuses on, capturing a variety of ways that one act more consciously or can change their lifestyle to better ensure the preservation of the planet.
First stop on the itinerary is Iceland, where the two visit an energy plant, a chocolatier, a restaurant where the chef uses every part of the materials he cooks with and a couple very popular tourist attractions, culminating in a visit to the Blue Lagoon. Iceland teaches viewers a lot about renewable energy, being resourceful in cooking and how geothermal energy in particular can power a nation. There is even a segment about skincare, because the Blue Lagoon’s clay helps with conditions like psoriasis.
In France, Efron and Olien focus specifically on Paris’ public water filtration system. Prior to traveling through the Chunnel, the tunnel under the English channel connecting England and France, they consult a water sommelier who educates them about the mineral content in water and how purified water is not actually the most ideal form of water to be putting in our bodies.
Paris’ public system of water fountains saves many plastic bottles a year, which is a small action each one of us can aim to do to contribute alongside them. The fountains keep important natural contents of water and there are even some bubbly fountains that provide carbonated water.
In Costa Rica, the pair visit a friend of Olien’s who takes them through the community in which he lives, pointing out landscaping choices that actually result in plants that are all edible. House construction is also touched upon, in terms of making choices that can lead to the smallest carbon footprint possible. Another stop they make is at a school in the community whose teaching style is different yet very dynamic, as evident in the students Zac and Darin meet.
In Lima, Peru, the duo visit a seed bank, a farmer of superfoods as well as a world-renowned chef. The seed bank specifically preserves over 4,600 species of potatoes, as they are an important source of food for those who may not have access, which calls to mind world hunger. In their visit to the superfood farmer, who grows maca amongst other types of superfood, Efron talks a little bit about biopiracy and how it affects both the consumer and the producer of illegally stolen plants. At one of their last stops in the episode they tie in cultural aspects related to caring for the planet and the lands that constitute it.
Even watching one episode of this show will teach the viewer something — and often more than just one thing — new. It also gives audiences a travel experience that in reality is very limited right now with the pandemic, while bringing about a newfound appreciation for things that many of us take for granted like apples, potatoes and water. It helps that Efron and Olien have fun while filming, too.
Show: “Down to Earth with Zac Efron”
Starring: Zac Efron and Darin Olien
Favorite episodes: “Iceland,” “France,” “Lima”
If You Like: “Salt Fat Acid Heat,” “Our Planet”
Where to Watch: Netflix
Shamrocks: 3.5 out of 5