THE DE-EVOLUTION OF DUDE: How a Military Veteran, Professional Bodyguard and Liver of Life in Weird Places Went Green

THE DE-EVOLUTION OF DUDE: How a Military Veteran, Professional Bodyguard and Liver of Life in Weird Places Went Green

I spent part of my childhood in the West in what some call a “flyover state.” It was a little slower, a little different, but it was “God’s Country.” A transplant from a coastal state, I never felt strongly bonded to Utah. I was an outsider, but the wide-open natural landscape stuck with me. Achingly blue skies with mountains in stark relief. We camped and tubed on streams as a kid, and I watched the silver leaves of the aspens flutter on breezes drifting by. Fall’s first dusting of snow on the mountains was otherworldly. Where I grew up was clean and orderly with a cultural appreciation for the land and that, more than any other lesson learned there, was the message I carried through life: respect the outdoors, it’s where life is best lived.

Utah was a great place to grow up, but it was a little slower, a little different and such a small sliver of this wider world that called to me.  I could not leave fast enough. After a summer spent in the Tetons of Wyoming, with all its moose and eagles and bison and plastic wrappers littering hiking trails, I joined the military and started my adventure. I saw amazing natural beauty in the Philippines, in Japan. Guam and Palau. Exotic beaches with palm trees leaning far out over an ocean of barnacle-crusted plastic bottles carried on the currents from half a world away. Cars rusted and overgrown by jungle. After the military, I ended up in the South at a university surrounded by vast forests and a short drive to the coast, with its bays and estuaries and sugar-white sand. And beer cans and broken glass and cigarette butts. And tangled fishing line. A lot of tangled line. 

Then I found Miami, found the Everglades and the Keys and the American tropics. Warm and blue, inviting and over-developed with condos and hotels and boat tours for day trippers. Tangled line there too. Then I went to war, as a civilian I was in three different war zones and saw environmental devastation of a different kind that words cannot describe. Then I lived in Africa in a Tarzan novel, lush and mysterious, and I developed pollution induced asthma from running outside in Ghana. I traveled to Mozambique, to Togo, Thailand and Malaysia, and saw beautiful lands with wonderful people and dirty environments. Then I realized you need a plan to keep this world clean.

And the world isn’t clean, it’s messy. Naturally so. Humans are a messy bunch, and often lacking in foresight. We consume, we toss things, we zigzag our way down the easiest life path instead of a somewhat disciplined way. Not everyone works towards a cleaner world, or even cares. But how much should we care? Is the hope that we will all become committed eco-warriors? That we all, every one of us, live as dedicated stewards of the environment? Well, that is an empty spinning hamster wheel of fruitlessness, my friends.

We at Zugreen are new to this problem. We are working to establish ourselves and our vision because we believe in the mission. We know we don’t need a small number of eco-heroes living completely sustainable lives. Instead, what we need are many of us committed to doing right when we can. Doing right as the baseline in the areas of our lives we can control and in areas that don’t matter much to us.

What does that kind of life look like? Like this: want to drive a gas burning muscle car? We do too, they’re so American and so cool. But go plastic free in your daily life. Love working in the yard and using chemicals to make your grass and flowers pop? That’s great and your marigolds look amazing, you should plant them next to wherever you start your composting pile. Or use paperless paper towels. Or walk a little more. Recycle like the Earth depends on it.

We are human and we are not going to stop human-ing, so go ahead and live the right sustainable lifestyle that works for you, as much or as little. Live your life to the fullest where it matters to you and do your part where it doesn’t. We don’t have to do a lot if we all do a little. And that’s what we’re doing here at ZuGreen: livin,’ man…just livin’. And doing the best we can along the way. 



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