Green Living Interview: A Chat with Josh Dorfman

Photo: Courtesy of Josh Dorfman
The Lazy Environmentalist

A sit down with The Lazy Environmentalist, or you may know him as Josh Dorfman author of "The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget" and host of “The Lazy Environmentalist” on The Sundance Channel.

Josh’s Mission: To show folks how they can live "greener" lives with as little impact as possible on their normal daily routine.

Here is what we learned form a chat with Josh:

Oh, all 4 copies of Josh's latest book, The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget have been awarded! Thanks for entering.


1. You are an environmentalist and a businessman (as you hold an MBA), which came first? Do they ever not align in values?

It was the same experience, living and working in China, that turned me into an environmentalist and a business person and led to my decision to get an MBA which I received in 2000. For a long time, I've believed in harnessing the power of business to bring our society into balance with nature's capabilities to sustain it. So, I've worked really hard to create opportunities that enable me to pursue that mission and ensure that these values align.

2. What was the biggest challenge of writing your second book?

Sitting down and forcing myself to get it done. My first book, The Lazy Environmentalist: Your Guide To Easy, Stylish, Green Living, was a labor of love. I knew that subject really well because it played to my love of outstanding green design. I wrote the second book, The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget, because I felt that it would help people overcome what typically is the biggest hurdle to embracing a green lifestyle; the high cost of many green products.

3. Would you ever consider writing book on say, The Lazy Environmentalist with "sky's the limit" budget?

It sounds fun to write, but I probably wouldn't do it at this point. I've really come to believe that I can best be of service by helping to make truly great green choices available to as many people as possible. Writing a book containing advice that only a few could utilize wouldn't sit well with me.

4. What are the top 3 "excuses" you hear for people not making easy sustainable choices? How do you respond to them?

  1. Green is too expensive.
  2. Green doesn't work.
  3. I don't really know what's truly green and what's a false or exaggerated claim.

I respond by learning which areas of their lives people would like to green and then showing them green choices that match and hopefully surpass their needs. This is a movement, so I understand why it's hard to acknowledge that some green products are lousy. We want to feel like as advocates for a green economy we're all in this together. The unfortunate reality is that we're not. Not all green products and green companies are truly viable in the marketplace. So I go to great lengths to show people products that pass my green litmus test: would I really want this even if it weren't green?

5. What is you current cause of the moment? Energy? Water? Something Else?

Communication. I believe that the environmental movement has done a great job of rallying the base. Now it's time to appeal to the great majority who are often environmentally skeptical, indifferent, or just plain lazy. To do so, we have to change how we communicate and attract people to the movement by learning how to frame green choices in terms of people's self-interest in addition to the planet's interests. It may sound odd but I've been giving a lot of thought to the notion that we don't have to convince global warming skeptics that global warming is real to generate their support for the solutions that solve it. Effective green communication is the best way to propel the movement forward and accelerate the green economy.

6. What do you hope to inspire with your books?

I hope readers are inspired by the vast amount of green innovation chronicled in my books. I want people to feel empowered to make really good green decisions in their own lives. I also hope that my books make people more optimistic in the future and in our human capacity to solve the environmental challenges we face.  

7. Would you ever consider writing just an e-book versus print?

Yes, provided a lot of people would consider reading e-books. I"m not convinced the market is there yet. We publish our books on FSC certified 100% post-consumer recycled content paper, so we try to minimize the impact of our printing.

8. How do hope people use your book? Read it cover to cover like a novel? Use it as a reference?

The books are great as reference guides. I could also see them being used in a business class on green marketing since they describe so many of the green companies, products, and features that are really working in today's marketplace.

9. What is the one thing you hope a reader will get form your book?

Belief that we can bring our lifestyles into balance with nature while still living well.

10. How do you research for your books? Where do you even start?

I tap my network of green entrepreneurs, designers, and bloggers to see what's getting them excited. I visit green stores. I do a ton of research online. I also get pitched very often by companies who want us to cover their products on my television show or website. Eventually, a picture forms of the green stuff that's really exciting and innovative.

11. What is currently on your bookshelf?

  • Crush it by Gary Vaynerchuk.
  • The Orientalist by Tom Reiss.
  • The Imperial Cruise by James Bradley.
  • The Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews.
  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

I tend to read a lot of business books, books of inspiration, and books about history. I don't read many books about the environment. I'm already convinced that the environmental challenges are real and daunting. Rather than reading up on the problems, I prefer to draw inspiration from other fields and focus on solutions.