Lazy Environmentalist was born in a minivan on the New Jersey Turnpike late one chilly evening in December 2004. I was heading north with Lucy, my first employee at Vivavi, a modern-design green furniture company I had founded earlier that year in Washington DC. We were bound for Brooklyn where I was moving our company headquarters into a sublet room in a two-bedroom apartment.
Nearing Trenton, as the aromatic fumes of the Turnpike wafted into our vehicle, I could tell something was wrong with Lucy. Her breathing began coming in gulps. She looked panicked. When she calmed down enough to tell me what was wrong, she at first slowly and then with a mix of rising confusion and anger, lambasted me for being a terrible environmentalist in my personal life. In her eyes, I was a walking contradiction.
She was right.
Everything I owned was invested in Vivavi and in our mission of bringing beautiful, eco-friendly furniture and furnishings to mainstream consumers. Yet, I possessed deeply entrenched habits like taking preposterously long showers (consuming lots of water and energy in the process). I did my best thinking in the shower. I wasn’t about to relinquish them no matter how deeply concerned I was about climate change and other ecological issues. Hypocritical? No denying it.
I decided to own up to it, acknowledge my less-than-stellar-save-the-planet tendencies and blog about it in a blog post titled The Lazy Environmentalist. I wrote about my need for green living solutions to be easy, simple, delightful, beautiful, and affordable, so I could lower my personal impact without trying very hard. Not terribly inspiring, I realized, but it was the truth.
Within a month, an online radio producer for Voice America read the post and offered me an internet radio show. I soundproofed my bedroom closet and invited green designers, inventors, and entrepreneurs across the country to call in. In early 2006, Lazy Environmentalist was picked up by Sirius Satellite Radio. A year later, I was on-air broadcasting live every day. In 2007, I wrote my first Lazy E book and went on the Martha Stewart show for Earth Day.
(Here’s the Martha Stewart Show segment from Earth Day, 2007)
Then Sundance Channel reached out. The network executives asked me to meet with David Metzler (co-creator of Queer For The Straight Guy). He and I flew to Los Angeles, shot a pilot, and turned Lazy Environmentalist into a reality TV show.
(Here’s a segment shot from our reality TV show pilot filmed in October 2008.)
Next thing I know I’m at the Sundance Film Festival having lunch with Robert Redford, texting a pic of me and him to my mom, listening to my mom scream over the phone for 20 minutes, and generally hop-skipping from one surreal moment to the next.
(As national spokesperson for Brita, I was tasked at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival with introducing Lady Antebellum at a private concert. Only problem was no one was there to introduce me. Here’s the result).
But by 2010, at the height of Lazy Environmentalist’s commercial success, I was feeling totally burnt out. That furniture company I mentioned? I was so passionate about its mission and so committed to bootstrapping it to success that I had turned my Brooklyn apartment in Greenpoint into my showroom and for years I had lived in it (note: a great way to get world-class sustainable designers to consign you stunning furniture but a terrible way to cultivate work-life balance).
I was building two companies at once, racing as fast as I could go, working around the clock, and it just all caught up to me. I lost my mojo.
(Here’s a Sundance Channel feature about Vivavi and Lazy E. See the showroom/apartment I lived in).
So I put everything in hibernation mode. I shut Vivavi and took a hiatus from the Lazy E. I went to work for others and landed some fantastic stints running marketing for GoodGuide in San Francisco, launching Vine.com for Amazon and moving to Asheville to lead our city’s startup efforts in a very beautiful locale and a place that has sustainability deeply rooted in its culture, economy, and ethos.
The time away from Lazy Environmentalist has again lit the fire in me. I’m excited to help people discover beautiful, innovative and affordable green products that easily fit into their lifestyles.
I believe that living well is congruent with living in balance with nature. That life is to be enjoyed. That guilt sucks. That together we can accomplish great things. And that increasing our consumption of green products is definitely part of the solution.
The path to greener living doesn’t happen overnight. Perfection is not the goal. This is about all of us making progress. Steadily over time in ways that we enjoy.
Because if we enjoy going green in deeply satisfying ways – especially if it’s the small stuff – then we’ll want to do it again and again. Forging these kinds of habits really can make the difference.
Josh Dorfman, Founder
Asheville, NC – June, 2017