Zech Strauser is not afraid to stand up for what he believes is important when taking care of the environment and facing up to the fact that the green industry is often not as “green” as it should be. Collectively, he says, the environmental impact of the green industry is huge and there needs to be more concerted efforts to bring awareness to it by having members step up and take actions to make it a more clean and sustainable industry.

After being diagnosed as vitamin deficient several years ago, Strauser follows the promotion of healthy eating. “The foodies are flying by the green industry when it comes to getting the message out about healthy eating,” he says. “The media is loaded with plenty of cooking shows discussing the importance of nutrition by eating fresh and local. Where are the landscaping and lifestyle shows stressing how our health is tied to getting outdoors, enjoying our landscapes and growing healthy food in them?”

Putting his words to actions, Strauser is stepping up his company’s environmental practices as a landscape and snow removal company. In three years, he will be converting his entire fleet of small gas engines to propane, battery and solar power. He is also encouraging his customers to use native plants in place of lawns and expanding the use of landscaping with edible plants at many commercial sites.

In August 2013, Strauser Nature’s Helpers kicked off the Come Alive Pocono Mountains initiative, a national movement headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. He is finding new inspiration for his company’s future with his discovery of the Come Alive Outside challenge. The simple philosophy that “everyone wins when someone goes outside” quickly became Strauser Nature’s Helpers focus, positioning the company as an outdoor lifestyle expert for its clients.

Strauser Nature’s Helpers recently hosted more than 60 community leaders to discuss how to help community members Come Alive Outside. Plans were made for the community to host 10 Come Alive Outside events throughout the year to get people of all ages outdoors to connect with nature. They plan to build a new village green in Stroudsburg that has already been designed and rendered by a local architectural firm to provide an outdoor space for the community to gather. The county’s board of commissioners passed a proclamation declaring themselves a Come Alive Outside community, encouraging citizens to participate in outdoor activities.

One recent project reflecting this new philosophy at Strauser Nature’s Helpers involves the transformation of a 6,000 square foot lawn area at a local resort into a low-impact use area. The area is an attempt to help the resort save money and think sustainably while educating its guests. The installation process is taking two years and is projected to save the resort thousands of dollars in maintenance fees.

Here’s the simple cost break down:

  • Installation cost of $2,500
  • Regular maintenance fees of $30 per week, totaling
    $2,520 and reflecting an annual maintenance fee savings
    of 90 percent

With more projects like this filling the Strauser Nature’s Helpers’ pipeline, Strauser is encouraged about the possibilities for the movement to grow in the green industry—not only in his region, but also across the nation.

Read more about Strauser’s company here: Happy Staff = Happy Clients.

PHOTO: STRAUSER NATURE’S HELPERS