Not that long ago, my main priorities included binge drinking every weekend, looking good, and macking on pretty much every good looking woman I saw. I also wanted to be rich and to own lots of really impressive things. I was pretty tuned into that life and didn’t really think too much about how my actions affected the environment, people around the world, and the animals that we share Earth with. I was pretty selfish and if I did think about my actions I certainly didn’t do much about it. I did recycle, shut off the lights and water and eat healthier than the average person I knew and I thought that was doing pretty well. But the list of negative environmental impacts was far greater than my positive impacts (which was nearly nonexistent). I owned two cars, shopped at Walmart for my food and my cheap crap, drank the cheapest beer I could find, took home my share of plastic bags, wasted plenty of water, ate too much factory farmed meat, needed the newest gadgets always and the list could go on and on. Not that any of these things are inherently bad, but they definitely were not deeply serving myself or Earth.
Then reality hit in 2011. I became educated. I decided to act on that education.
I gave up on restrictive social norms and stigmas and embarked down a path of living for the benefit of Earth, my community and myself. Here I share with you the timeline of my last four years of transformation from an environmental and social nuisance into being of benefit to the environment and society. I share this to give a real life example of transformation and to show you that you too can lead a much more Earth-friendly lifestyle if you choose to. Most of the items on the timeline represent simple changes that you, or anyone, can take. But remember that every life is unique and this is not designed for you to follow exactly. However, most of these ideas can be adapted to your life if you truly desire for it to be so.
For me, it was all about taking it one step at a time and continuing that from week to week, month to month and year to year. I made a list of over 100 changes I wanted to make with the goal of making at least one positive change per week. When I started this transformation, I would have had a really hard time believing that I’d get to where I am today. The only way that I’ve made it here is by taking it gradually, setting little goals and building on the momentum and excitement of each success. Then making those things habits.It wasn’t always easy, but it has been extremely rewarding and fun. I am happier and healthier than ever before, but most of all, I am living with so much more purpose. I’m no longer causing reckless destruction to Earth, to innocent lives, or to my own life and that is a huge relief and really has me jumping for joy. I’m proud of it all and know that it has come by taking responsibility for my actions. I am proud that I know how my actions affect the world, both near and far. I am proud to be of benefit to Earth and society.
Here is my timeline. May it serve you well.
2005-2009 Went to UW-La Crosse for Biology but focused on beer, women and fun mostly. I also traveled the country and the world quite a bit, worked really hard during the summers and developed substantially as a human. I was driven to be successful and was, but I left the environment by the wayside and thought mostly about myself. I wanted to be a millionaire.
01/2010 – 05/2010Traveled around the world and gained an appreciation for how diverse and immense the world is and developed a desire to protect it.
10/2011 Left my homeland of Wisconsin indefinitely.
01/2011 Moved to San Diego, California, where I met more open-minded people.
02/2012 Decided to take action on what I learned. I began a transformation into a healthier, more natural lifestyle and committed to reduce my harmful influences on Earth. There was no single moment of clarity or significant occurrence, just a realization through education that my simple daily actions were causing a lot of destruction to Earth, to fellow humans both near and far, and to the creatures that I share the Earth with. I was diligent about tracking my actions each day and over the course of each week to form new habits.
03/2012 Pulled my money out of investments that had any involvement in businesses that do harm to the environment. Started to question whether I wanted to pursue making lots of money and paying taxes that contribute to war.
05/2012Sold my car, bought a bike, and started using an electric car share program. By getting rid of my car, I found that my consumerism became much more responsible. It was no longer as easy to go out and buy crap and I no longer had a trunk to put the crap in. I started purchasing less stuff, shopping local, and supporting ethical businesses.
06/2012 Inspired greatly by One Percent for the Planet, I began using business as a means to help improve the world around me. I began transforming my business so that every aspect was a part of the solution, not the problem. Projects I started included a community bike program, trash cleanups, and energy efficient light bulb exchanges. Around this time is when I really started to find purpose in giving back to others.
06/2012Got a vasectomy so that I could dedicate my time on Earth to the masses, rather than raising my own child. Also to set an example of a man taking responsibility for birth control. (I know this one is extreme. This was a very personal decision and is not something I’m advocating for others to do. I do highly advocate being responsible and to be very intentional about having children.)
07/2012 Took my first long distance cycling trip and during that trip furthered my Earth friendly diet by:
Eating mostly organic food. This meant absolutely no GMO’s.
In the past, I had thought eating this way was too expensive, but by this point, I had absorbed enough knowledge to realize that it’s actually more expensive to eat packaged convenience foods.
08/2012 Was really starting to surprise myself doing things that I never thought I could. My body was in prime physical condition simply by having fun in the outdoors, living naturally, and getting around by bicycle (not by going to the gym). Time after time I found myself doing things I never knew I could do.
09/2012 Learned that I could run barefoot pretty well when I ran an impromptu 10kbarefoot race at a pace of seven minutes per mile.
I also gave up marijuana, alcohol, and swearing for the summer and have held to it except for occasional drinks. (I do strongly support the responsible use of marijuana but it didn’t serve me personally at the time.)
09/2013 Got rid of the garbage can in my house because I was no longer creating much trash.
09/2013 Started to grow my own food for the first time.
11/2013 Left my phone at home for Thanksgiving. This was my first time leaving my phone off and at home while in my own town (not camping, in Mexico, etc.). I had realized how addicted I was to my phone.
12/2013Spent a week on the streets to learn about homelessness and gain perspective. Read a Gandhi biography and was deeply influenced.
04/2015 Over the years, I had been running a successful business and had saved up a fair amount of money. I donated all but $15,000 to good causes and committed to earning no more than $15,000 per year or owning more than $15,000 in possessions and $15,000 in assets. This is to keep my focus away from money now and in the future and to keep my focus on the beauties of life that are freely available to us all. See my vows here.
It’s been a wonderful life so far and the last four years of transformation have absolutely been the most meaningful years of all. At this point, I feel like I have made most of the changes necessary to live for the benefit of Earth, my community and myself. However, each day I gain more knowledge and with that I will be taking even more responsibility for my life. I encourage you to follow your dreams but at the same time live for the benefit of all.