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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O Globo and Coppead/UFRJ are the big winners of the Itaú’s Award for Sustainable Finances

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Posted: 2009-04-30 20:00:00

The 15 Must-See Green Shows On TV Right Now

In my quest to find the best eco programming out there, I endured a green TV marathon, during which I sat through dozens of hours of enviro-themed shows: specials, regular series, network, cable, news and weather channels.

My once-green eyes have turned red, my DVR remote thumb is raw, and my REM sleep is overrun with images of global warming, endangered species and, even scarier, a couple of corny TV “personalities.”

Here, in no particular order, is the best of what’s out there:

1. Big Ideas for a Small Planet

(series, Sundance/SUND) Last year, longtime activist Robert Redford announced a much-anticipated green block of programming on the Sundance Channel, and “the kid” did not disappoint, starting with this gem of a show. Simplicity rules with each episode exploring a single topic like water, kids, work, cities and fashion.

In the gadgets episode, we learn that “electronic gadgets have greatly improved energy efficiency, yet their toxic components can be harmful to the environment.” Local green heroes and activists across America drive each show, giving the series a homespun, accessible feel. Their stories are interspersed with scientists and eco experts but it’s never a lecture…just the facts, ma’am.

2. Focus Earth with Bob Woodruff

(series, Planet Green/PLGN) Anchor Bob Woodruff‘s weekly eco newscast explores everything from climate change impact to world events. In a recent episode Woodruff checks out Sarah Palin‘s environmental track record and delves into how the greening of Wall Street (a green collar workforce and eco-friendly jobs) will affect our future. Packed with facts, debates and interviews, and moving at the brisk pace you’d expect from an ABC News production, this show makes a difference.

3. Living With Ed

(series, Planet Green/PLGN) Props to Planet Green for plucking this show from HGTV, who unceremoniously dumped it. Yes…Ed Begley, Jr. lives! Sure, Ed’s scenes with his “holdout” wife Rachelle can seem contrived as they often wink to the camera, but at the heart of this show is Ed himself, a true eco warrior who deserves all the screen time he gets. Ed is like the uber nerd who grew into a thoughtful Earth daddy and was at it way before many of us even cared. His wife and daughter are fun accessories, but the real story and soul is Hollywood’s green guru.

In this show, celebrities flock to Ed to get secrets and in turn, he puts the spotlight on green stars and their innovative lifestyles. Ed’s rivalry with neighbor Bill Nye “the Science Guy” (see “Stuff Happens”) is particularly fun to watch; one can’t help but believe some of their repartee is actually real competition.

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Hollywood Celebrities Build Green Homes

The 90210 zip may still be home to the massive mansions we first caught glimpses of on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” but these days The Clampetts are converting their estates to green, and not the kind you roll in. It seems the Beverly Hills City Council is borrowing a page from the eco-friendly handbook by offering incentives for homeowners to build or remodel in an energy efficient manner.

The famed city also recently passed a Green Building ordinance mandating environmentally friendly requirements for commercial and multi-family developments. We can only hope that speculator Donald Trump is mindful of these eco initiatives since lately he’s been snapping up several acres of properties around the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Happily, there are many Hollywood-types we can count on to pave the way toward eco-conscious abodes. Take Johnny Depp-in 2005, the star converted his Bahamas island home to run on solar hydrogen technology. Depp’s eco enlightenment may have rubbed off on his “Pirates of the Caribbean” costar Orlando Bloom. Last year Bloom built an enviro-friendly house in London. “It’s as green as I can make it,” Bloom said on green design website Inhabitat. “It’s got solar panels on the roof, energy efficient light bulbs-newer technology basically that is environmentally friendly.”

johnny depp and orlando bloom

Then there are stars that take it to the max, like musician and longtime activist Jackson Browne. His Malibu ranch home is completely off the grid, and is far from running on empty. The airy barn-style house has two loft bedrooms, two guest bedrooms, skylights and tons of windows. “It’s made out of masonry and rebar in a way that it stays cool all year round,” Browne’s live-in girlfriend Dianna Cohen told “Living with Ed,” a Planet Green series starring Ed Begley, Jr.

Browne’s dwelling is powered by wind turbine and solar panels; a solar-weather measuring station sits atop the property and a well provides water. “I regard this place as sort of an ongoing experiment,” Browne said. “I think if you set out to do it all at once, it might seem like a huge expense, but we’ve done it a little bit at a time.” Maybe Browne can share his expertise with Dennis Haysbert (“24,” “The Unit”), who is reportedly building his own off the grid Malibu digs.
ed begley, jr., jackson browne and katey sagal

Ed Begley, Jr., Jackson Browne and Katey Sagal.

“Everybody Loves Raymond” producer Phil Rosenthal may not be off the grid but his house is eco-friendly cool, replete with recycled cork floors, denim insulation and a waterless urinal. Rosenthal and his actress wife Monica (she played Brad Garrett‘s wife on “Raymond”) even recycled the show’s set furniture-Frank and Marie‘s kitchen table sits in their guesthouse.

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How Green Celebrities Helped Save Our Planet This Summer

Don’t get us wrong — we’re fully aware that a plethora of celebs took pauses for causes this summer. There were Myanmar fundraisers, stars entertaining the troops, Miley Cyrus helping children and the Jonas Brothers working for diabetes. Even Leonard Nimoy championed thin-challenged women with a book of his photographic collection called “Full Body Project.”

While Spock was lending his support to the fleshiest, who was helping save the environment?

Harrison Ford whipped in to Oceana‘s SeaChange Summer Party where, he and actor Sam Waterson were honored for their conservation efforts. The evening’s event raised a cool million, and played host to Ford’s longtime gal pal Calista Flockhart, eternal Annie Hall-turned L’Oreal model Diane Keaton, Jurassic Jeff Goldblum (whose new flick “Adam Resurrected” just wowed at the Telluride Film Festival), Diane “Unfaithful” Lane and “My Name is Earl” Daddy Beau Bridges.

sigourney weaver at wall-e premier in los angeles

Ford, fresh off his “Indiana Jones” blockbuster, was joined by sustainability entrepreneur John Picard and Oceana board member Ted Danson, who divulged to Variety that 70% of the world’s fisheries are on the brink of collapse.

Danson, who’s heading to HBO in the new show “Bored to Death,” also cites seafood contamination as an Oceana concern: “One out of every six women of childbearing years has too much mercury in her system to safely give birth to a child without the possibility of neurological damage.” Scarier than a Sci-Fi horror tale.

Sci-Fi queen Sigourney “Leave her alone, bitch!” Weaver emceed a New York City Audubon Society lunch honoring Bette Midler. Each year, Midler throws a Hulaween bash in support of the New York Restoration Project.

Weaver, who voiced the space resort’s omnipotent computer in the summer smash “WALL-E,” told the UK Mirror: “[The movie] is very entertaining but it does have this important message to us Earthlings, that not only MUST we do something but we CAN do something about the fate of the planet. Everyone should see it — it’s not just for kids.”

Weaver calls President George W. Bush‘s environmental record a disgrace and says, “Thank God we are getting a new administration… but it will be a challenging job for whoever takes over. I hope it will be President [Barack] Obama. We must work together and be part of a global approach.”

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