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Down to Earth with Zac Efron: Celebs shedding light on sustainability

by Stephanie Phelan
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Netflix &… Sustainability?

One of my favorite Netflix series helps bring sustainability education to everyone. Whether you’re a beginning learner, or have more advanced knowledge on food security and renewable energy – the two hunky hosts of Down to Earth have plenty of life-altering facts for you. When I was a teenager, Zac Efron’s sweet boy charm captured my heart in High School Musical. Today, he and writer Darin Olien capture many viewers’ minds instead.

Countries visited in “Down to Earth”

They travel to seven different countries to learn about sustainability. Zac Efron met Darin through his podcasts in California. Darin wrote “Superlife”, and is considered a guru of superfoods and a sustainable life. This series begins in Iceland, and becomes an awe-inspiring journey through six other countries – France, Italy, Costa Rica, Peru, Puerto Rico and England.


By using 100 percent renewable energy, mainly geothermal energy that is converted into electricity, Iceland is extremely sustainable. The country has many volcanoes and hot springs which produce steam that is converted into energy.  Pristine rye bread is traditionally baked in the volcanic, muddy ground of Laugarvatn, Iceland – a hot spring town.


Next stop, the country of France –  the country of healing and health practices involving water. Lourdes, France has 4-6 million visitors a year to visit their healing springs. France is famous for its water and conservation, and the country proudly protects our most valuable source of life itself. 

Costa Rica

In episode three, the hosts travel to Costa Rica (which has a special place in my heart). I learned, after studying abroad, that this country in Central America has some of the most sustainable practices in the entire world! Pura Vida – which means “pure life” is a phrase used in Costa Rica – a tropical paradise. For the past 20 years many experts have moved to Costa Rica from other countries in order to study ecology, permaculture, ecosystem design, and botany. 


Sardinia, Italy is another place the hosts travel to – this island has the most amount of centenarians in the world. Sardinia is one of five Blue Zones in the world, areas with a high concentration of centenarians. Research shows that diets in these Blue Zones are low in protein and high in vegetables and carbohydrates. Only fifty grams of protein are necessary per day. Minestrone is a popular super food eaten daily along with frequent walks in Sardinia. 

Lima, Peru

Biodiversity and preservation of potato strains is something you can observe in Lima, Peru. The hosts visited Angry Orchard which grows 60 different kinds of apples, a superfood from Asia. Superfoods are good for skin, the brain and memory loss.

Puerto Rico

Zac and Darin visit Puerto Rico, where they see the devastating effects of natural disasters. Hurricane Irma and Maria destroyed many homes, farms and crops. Erosion is also a big problem in Puerto Rico, so they try to use natural plant pesticides and hydroponic growing. 

Iquitos, Peru

Iquitos, Peru was the final city of the series that Zac and Darin explored – studying medicinal plants like palm fruit and una negato. The Amazon rainforest offers the largest variety of plant and animal species in the world. There is value in local cuisine and trying new foods. A devastating fire affects a cast member, showing the true value and importance of sustainable living.

Much like other reviews on TRF, such as Kiss the Ground and the blog Sustainable Table. This documentary values the importance of ethical eating and mitigating climate change.

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