Shop till you turn green

“We can’t all camp out in old-growth forests, lying down in front of the bulldozers,” reads a press announcement for Josh Dorfman‘s new book, The Lazy Environmentalist: Your Guide to Easy, Stylish, Green Living (Stewart Tabori & Chang, 2007). “And it’s not only that we’re too busy: Some of us just don’t want our fabulous threads caked with mud.” Touché!

Green and easy: “Lazy environmentalist” Josh Dorfman visits Malaprop’s on Wednesday, May 30, at 7 p.m.

Dorfman, who personifies The Lazy Environmentalist on a radio show that’s aired throughout the United States and Canada on Sirius Satellite Radio, has garnered quite a bit of attention with his message: To go green, all you have to do is select the products that cause the least harm to the environment. His “no friction” approach sells sustainability as sexy, hip and innovative, leaving things like morality or a sense of urgency out of it. The Lazy Environmentalist is a consumer’s guide to everything from bamboo furniture to international eco-tours to recycled cashmere sweaters for the family pooch. (Dorfman also serves as CEO of Vivavi, a green-furniture company.)

“We’re focused on solutions, so we’re never guilt-tripping,” Dorfman says. “You don’t have to be defensive about your own lifestyle, we’re just giving you stuff that you’re really going to want to do. So that creates an environment where people are really willing to listen.”

If being featured in Time and on MSNBC is any indication, The Lazy Environmentalist strikes a chord with mainstream Americans. On Earth Day, Dorfman even appeared on the Martha Stewart Show to present a few ideas for green living.

“I use ‘lazy’ a little bit tongue-in-cheek,” Dorfman explains. “Lazy kind of points to the fact that I think we’re largely just so busy, [and] that often it’s like you have other priorities too. … So we have to try and find ways to communicate ‘green’ that are going to be really convenient, or really cool.”

So what does Dorfman say to those who insist that widespread consumerism is a cause of environmental woes? “Well, I would say, I agree,” he says with a laugh. But from his perspective, offering alternatives in the market arena is the most effective way to green people’s habits, and to reach people who would otherwise be resistant to change.

Dorfman, who lives in Brooklyn, is no stranger to Asheville—his parents moved here last fall, and he’s been here several times. Perhaps due to their son’s influence, his parents have decided to build a green home here.

His next visit to Asheville will be more than a family reunion. On Wednesday, May 30, at 7 p.m., he’ll appear at Malaprop’s Bookstore to talk about his book and make the case that being green just got easier.


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