The Lazy Environmentalist’s Green Tips for Slackers

Josh Dorfman‘s great green epiphany struck while he was in China selling Kryptonite bike locks to the masses.

the lazy environmentalist on a budget book by josh dorfman

It was 1996 and Dorfman realized that his sales beat was on the cusp of a consumer explosion. The country was developing at breakneck speed and very soon, millions of bicyclists could very well be driving cars instead. Dorfman could hear mama nature weeping.

Inspired by his reckoning, Dorfman returned to the United States, earned an MBA in international business at Arizona’s prestigious Thunderbird and set a goal: To find a balance between preserving nature and our insatiable desire to shop, shop, shop. No small task.

“I realized the one thing we do every day is consume,” Dorfman says. “And rather than guilt trip or moralize, why not find a way to make the alternatives attractive enough so people will be drawn to it?”

So Dorfman began with shelter, selling eco-friendly furniture and home furnishings through his newly created company Vivavi. Eventually he became a highly successful eco entrepreneur and spokesperson for environmental change, appearing on Martha Stewart’s show, writing columns and giving talks.

Someone close to Dorfman, however, felt he was more talk than walk. “Are you really an environmentalist?” she challenged. “You talk like one but you don’t behave like one.” She felt Dorman’s personal habits, like taking long showers, did not line up with those of a true environmentalist. “She really ripped into me about this,” he remembers.

“So two days later I wrote a blog called ‘The Lazy Environmentalist.’ I realized, like so many people, there are some areas in my life I’m not giving up. I still take long showers because I do my best thinking in the shower. And I don’t want to drive a Prius; I’d rather have an Audi convertible, if I can afford one. It came down to this: What can I do to help people have the quality of life they want without ruining the planet? Guilt tripping does not move us to action.

“So I set out to find ways to take environmental action that also appeals to our self interest. We want to save money and we want to find the alternatives that are convenient.”

Thus “The Lazy Environmentalist” boom began. The blog led to a Sirius radio show, more speaking engagements, a commentator gig on Sundance Channel’s “Big Ideas for a Small Planet,” and two books: The Lazy Environmentalist: Your Guide To Easy, Stylish, Green Living and The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget: Save Money. Save Time. Save The Planet.

Premiering June 16, Dorfman hosts The Lazy Environmentalist series on the Sundance Channel. If you want to follow Dorfman on twitter, he’s Lazy-E, or check out, a hub for greensters, offering up advice and product reviews.

thedailygreen: What are the best ways to be green and save money?

Josh Dorfman: The Internet is a great way to start. Sites like rent college books to students, saving 65-85% of what textbooks cost, while reducing environmental impact. They even include a prepaid shipping box to send books back when done. We’re starting to see this model extend to a lot of businesses: trading and swapping sites like, where you can update your wardrobe without buying anything new;, and CD/DVD trading sites. Or Zipcar, a car sharing service that makes it possible to never own a car.

TDG: Any favorite sites?

JD: for gamers where you can trade games for a dollar. It’s all about consuming less, reducing your impact, but still having the things you want.

TDG: Wow, that’s helpful … what else?

JD: Digitization is big. Like, which offers magazines in digital format, but they do it right, they have cool features and archives. The subscriptions are usually more affordable without the paper or shipping costs involved.

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ABC’s The Goode Family Pokes Healthy Fun at Green Living

Gerald and Helen Goode are vegan, hybrid-driving, baby boomer parents who live by the creed: WWAGD (What would Al Gore Do?). When the well-intended couple adopts a baby from Africa, he turns out to be South African…and white.

the goode family home, new animaed abc green series

Ubuntu is now 16 and not quite down with his parents’ eco friendly lifestyle—he has a penchant for fast cars, power tools and violent sports. Teen daughter Bliss believes that, with her family’s PC leanings, she’s reached her “weirdo tipping point.” Even their dog Che is fed only vegetables but away from home turns into a four-legged Ted Nugent, stalking the neighborhood for squirrels, rabbits and birds.

The Goodes are always striving to do better yet it always ends up…not so good. And Mike Judge (creator of Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill and Office Space) is sure to guarantee that the Goode life will keep getting worse. “It’s like if you were trying to join some religion,” explains Judge, “and they just keep changing the rules on you.”

Co-creator and exec producer John Altschuler says we face green gridlock every day. “You go into Whole Foods and they have a list of the fish you’re supposed to eat and ones you’re not supposed to eat. We [my wife and I] got into an argument because I swore that farm-raised catfish was on the ‘don’t’ list and she swore it was on the ‘do’ list.” [Most greens put it on the “do” list.]

And paper or plastic? “I got a reusable bag,” Altschuler explains, “and it was made in China, probably by slave labor and God knows what pollutants it produced. Then I kept forgetting to bring the reusable bag so we kept buying more reusable bags.” What it boils down to is this: “We just don’t know when we’re doing things right and there’s [always] somebody there to tell you you’re not being good enough. It’s so hard to be good!”

Gerald Goode, a college administrator (voiced by Judge), and his community activist wife Helen (voiced by Nancy Carell, wife of Steve) proudly live in a neighborhood they chose for its United Nations makeup. Unfortunately their neighbor Ray is “basically a NASCAR fan and black redneck,” says exec producer Dave Krinsky. “And the Samoans, who the Goodes think are going to be so culturally unique in their Samoan ways, just watch football on weekends and order pizza. The Goodes are disappointed when their neighbors aren’t the sort of image they hold these people in.”

The show is not about enviro-bashing, insists Altschuler. What the creators find funny is the lack of perspective. “It’s not bad that people drive hybrid cars but it’s funny when [uber Hollywood agent] Ari Emmanuel pulls up at the Bel-Air Hotel [trailed] by other power agents in hybrid cars. What I’ve noticed with being in Hollywood is that when you’re rich, it’s easy to be good. But this show is about a family that is middle class, trying to live right and trying to shop at One Earth.”

The Goode Family premieres Wednesday, May 27 from 9:00-9:30 ET on ABC.

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