"We're massive recyclers. Everything gets recycled; high efficiency light bulbs, high efficiency detergents, washing laundry on cold, not hot," says Nick Lachey, one of the celebrities who got to play soldier for military charities on NBC's "Stars Earn Stripes," which has its two-hour season finale Sept. 3. Partnered with a military professional, celebs took on simulated combat missions, receiving orders from hosts Gen. Wesley Clark and Samantha Harris.

"I couldn't possibly predict not just the physical, but the mental and emotional challenge that the show would be, so it was definitely harder than I expected," admits Lachey. "But it was once-in‑a‑lifetime opportunity to do something and be a part of something that I probably would never have the chance to do again and to be part of missions that I couldn't even possibly imagine and do again. So I wanted to do it for that reason. I had a chance to do a couple USO tours," he continues. "I came into this with an enormous amount of respect for what the military men and women do for our country, and I thought this was a great way to be a part of a show that paid tribute to them and that honored them for what they do. So that was really my motivation."

However, he confesses, "There was a moment certainly within the filming of the show where going through my mind is, 'What in the world have I gotten myself into here,' you know, because it was such an intense experience. But looking back on it, I'm absolutely so glad that I did it," adding that the physical challenge took less of a toll on him than the emotional and mental aspects. Although unfamiliar with guns, his physical conditioning was an advantage on the missions, he adds.

In September, Lachey will become a father for the first time when his wife, Vanessa Minnillo, gives birth, and he reports that the pregnancy has been smooth and says he is "more excited than anything" about the new arrival. "When you're about to have a kid, it changes how you feel about life, about protecting your family; so all those emotions manifest themselves throughout the course of this show," he reflects, adding that the Mrs. "was very supportive of me doing the show. I would come home and like any spouse, I would unload my day on her and it wasn't always a fun day. There were some moments when I didn't think I could do it anymore. She was supportive of all of that."

So how would she do on the "Stripes" course? "She's the ultimate competitor, trust me, she's about as competitive person as any I know," Lachey declares. "No matter what she decides to do, she's in it to win it."


Saturday, Sept. 1 kicks off the fourth dolphin drive-hunting season in Taiji, Japan since 2009's Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove" detailed the tiny fishing village's horrible secret: fishermen herd and trap wild dolphins and sell them to dolphinariums or butcher them for their meat. Dolphin activist Ric O'Barry will commemorate the anniversary with a prayer vigil at the cove, and although the slaughter has declined in numbers, there is still work to be done. "For the last four years, the death rate has dropped because people in Japan are learning that the meat is toxic," O'Barry says in an interview at TakePart.com. "And it's based on supply and demand and they're not buying it like they were before we showed up. So everything we're doing is working — we just have to keep doing it."


Tune in: Nat Geo Wild explores what happens when humans get a little too close to nature in "An Animal #$*% My Vacation," premiering Sept. 3. A baboon attack, a sexually aggressive dolphin, and a black bear tearing into the family Prius are just a few of the incidents caught on camera.

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Catching up with Nick Lachey and dolphin-saver Ric O'Barry
Nick Lachey plays soldier on NBC's 'Stars Earn Stripes.' Partnered with a military professional, celebs take on simulated combat missions.