Spoiler Alert: There’s a scene in Matthew McConaughey’s new comedy Surfer, Dude in which his character (a surfer dude) and Willie Nelson (playing a farmer) hatch the ultimate eco-friendly lawn-mowing service: They employ a flock of sheep to first cut and then fertilize the grass. The business model was perfect for the film. “It’s just carny enough for our band of misfits,” he says, “and it’s green.” 

McConaughey, now the father of a baby boy, Levi (yes, he’s got an eco-nursery), learned how to surf for his latest beach flick. Never one to shy away from outdoor adventures, the 38-year-old has been known to grab his backpack for head-clearing solo journeys, listing aliases and fake occupations along the way. For two years, he toured America in an Airstream. “I can’t say I live the greenest life,” he says, “but I do my best to live a simple life.” 

1. What being green means to him

If I got something that breaks, I fix it. It’s an oldie but a goodie. Whether it’s clothing, the plumbing system, your car or your relationship; if you want to be green, don’t get a new one—repair the old one, or customize it and make it unique.

2. Is it easy being green?

No. We live in a society that says more is better, and if you don’t have the latest thing, you’re not up to speed. This is what kids learn, too. Green [living] won’t be something that takes off unless the youth start to think that it’s hip. That’s how a generation changes.

3. If he were president

I’d go straight to the most basic necessities: clean water and clean air. I’d start with the run-off—what contaminants are bleeding into the rivers, lakes, streams and ponds? I’d make sure the effects of global warming are high in our consciousness, because we can dirty up Mother Nature, but she’s gonna beat us up for it. 

4. Must-have eco-product

My [princeton Tec] headlamp. It saves so much electricity — you don’t have to turn on the lights in a room or even outside. They take two AAA batteries that last a long time.

5. Favorite musician right now

A reggae singer named Mishka. He talks about replenishing what Mother Nature gives us, but never in a coercive or aggressive way. I was first introduced to his music in 1999 and spent the next four years trying to track him down. When I finally did, he invited me down to Nevis in the Caribbean to stay with his family. We spent two weeks hiking, climbing coconut trees and listening to old cassettes. Three years later, he wanted to change his management, so I was like, ‘Give me a second,’ and I called up my lawyer and told him I wanted to start a record label, now. I signed him and helped produce his record, which comes out early next year.

6. Favorite animal

I’ve always dug the jaguar. They are the most beautiful and have the most mystique for me. We tracked one in peru after spotting some paw prints. We got close but never saw it.

7. Noteworthy eco-sins

Sometimes I’ll fly private. I also have a diesel truck that hauls my Airstream—a hybrid doesn’t pull that baby up those mountains in Aspen. 

8. On romantic comedies

I don’t care for the ones where the guy is emasculated, tossed around by the woman, and lacking a point of view. It’s a disservice to both the male and the female. I like to give my guys some balls.

Story by Victoria De Silverio. This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008