Saving green by going green

“My job is to make it as easy as possible for people to make environmentally-responsible choices,” says Josh Dorfman, a.k.a. “The Lazy Environmentalist.”

Since the 2005 launch of Dorfman’s alter-ego (a career comprising two books, an eco-furniture company, a radio show and the resource-rich Web site lazyenvironmentalist.com) Dorfman has noticed a profound impact on his own life. “The things I write about are things that I do,” he says. “The more I become entrenched in these issues, the more I change my personal habits.” (It’s worth noting that the Brooklyn-based author plans to relocate to Asheville this summer. His parents already live here and he says people here are “interesting and interested.”)

He also found that, the more invested he became in environmental issues, the more he realized the rest of the country really wasn’t going green.

“I talked to a number of groups,” he tells Xpress. “The biggest push-back I heard was, ‘Green is too expensive.’ To some degree, I thought that was true.” He lists Tesla Motors’ electric car (based-priced at $50,000) and residential-use solar panels (running in the tens of thousands) as luxuries most people—no matter how green-thinking—can’t afford.

So, to address the perception that going green requires a lot of greenbacks, Dorfman penned the just-released The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget: Save Money. Save Time. Save the Planet. (Stewart, Tabori & Chang).
The book not only challenges the assertion that what’s good for the planet is bad for the wallet, it also offers tips and resources Dorfman promises will “save people money.”

“Today, people are really watching their dollars,” the author says. And while he surmises that a struggling economy could effect diminished attention to environmental issues as Americans juggle priorities, Dorfman also holds out hope that the built-in spendthrift of reducing, reusing and recycling will spark interest in green living.

Some do-able tips from Budget include swap sites like Swapadvd.com (trade new and classic DVD titles), Chegg.com (textbook rentals and sales for college students on a shoestring) and Swapstyle.com. “It’s taking the concept of the living room swap with your friends and using the power of the Internet to swap clothing,” Dorfman says of the latter.

Other around-the-house fixes are the AQUS System, a “simple system that uses a 5 1/2-gallon container inside your sink’s vanity … to capture and filter water as it comes down the sink’s drain. The water is run from the container to your toilet’s tank with a small tube.” The book calculates that “two people sharing an AQUS-equipped bathroom are estimated to save about 14 gallons of water per day.” And it costs less than $300.

Much of what Budget presents is not about installing gadgetry but how to spend smarter. “The Lazy Environmentalist comes back to this philosophy of not asking people to change,” Dorfman notes. It’s right there on his home page: “No guilt-trips. Never any sacrifice.” Which is why, when Budget discusses eco-clothing, Dorfman suggests shopping not just at Eileen Fisher and Good Society, but at big box stores like Target and Wal-Mart.

And when it comes to eco-conscious cleaning products, Dorfman not only endorses the Clorox company’s Green Works line, he’s a spokesperson. “This is one of the first times I could think of that a Fortune 500 company (outside of Food and Beverage) was doing something that was legitimately green,” the author says of Clorox. “I think it sends a really important message.”

Part of what he likes about Green Works products is that they’re available where most consumers shop: mainstream grocery stores. “People might like to go to the eco-boutique, but they don’t have time,” says Dorfman, whose philosophy stems from the idea that people are lazy, but if the right thing to do is made easy, they’ll do it.

“I don’t feel like I wrote this book to endorse mindless consumerism,” he notes. “But the reality is, people need clothes, or people want a dishwasher. It’s important for really good green choices to be available where people are shopping anyway.”

who: Josh Dorfman a.k.a. “The Lazy Environmentalist”
what: Reading and discussion of his new book, The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget
where: Malaprop’s
when: Saturday, Apr. 11 (6:30 p.m. Free. 254-6734 or www.malaprops.com.)

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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One thought on “Saving green by going green

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