When did Lazy Envionmentalist Get Started?
Lazy E was an accidental brand that originated from a conversation Josh had with an employee at his modern green furniture company, Vivavi, on her last day working for him in December 2004. She used the opportunity to lambast Josh for his less-than-stellar personal habits like his odd aversion to recycling and his persistent effort to set a personal best in the “longest hot shower” category.
Two weeks later Josh owned up to his personal contradictions in a blog post titled “The Lazy Environmentalist.” The brand was born.
Wasn't there a Lazy Enviornmentalist TV Show?
Yes. Lazy E creator Josh Dorfman was reality TV show host of Sundance Channel’s The Lazy Environmentalist, which aired for two seasons in 2009 and 2010. David Metzler (co-creator of Queer Eye for The Straight Guy) was Executive Producer. The show was awarded “Best Reality Show” at the 2009 Environmental Media Awards in Los Angeles. It was also a 2010 finalist for Realscreen’s Factual Entertainment Award.
On the show, Josh set out to find eco-friendly solutions that would easily fit and support the work of accomplished professionals across numerous industries. The thinking went that if the green solutions were good enough for interior designers, chefs, pro surfers, landscape designers, fashion designers, exterminators, home movers, funeral home directors (yes, you read that correctly), jewelry designers, courier drivers, Olympic-training athletes, and numerous other pros at the height of their game, then they those same green solutions would also likely work for viewers of the show.
The show was filmed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tucson, and New York City. The crew also filmed an episode at the home of Josh’s brother, Jed, in Westchester County. On that particular episode, like most others, not every green solution worked as hoped. Jed’s house to this day has a switch in it that when flicked off is supposed to turn off all the lights in the house that are wirelessly connected to it. Instead, what happens is both garage doors open. It’s a less than optimal solution when your honey is telling you to “turn the lights and come to bed.”
Aren’t you just giving lazy people an excuse to buy more stuff, consume more resources, and cause more harm to the planet?
Short answer: nope.
Longer, more thoughtful answer:
Shoppers are going to shop. They don’t need an excuse. They’re not looking for one. They like it. Hell, we like it.
That’s because aside from buying life’s necessities like food, shelter, clothing, and a whole bunch of endless crap for our kids, we want to enjoy purchasing products that make our lives more fun, stylish, and enjoyable.
We’ve never encountered a soul who shops and consumes resources purely out of a vendetta for crushing the environment. Environmental impacts are unintentional. And while they seem inevitable, we believe that it is entirely within our grasp to pursue fun, stylish, and amazing lifestyles that are compatible with a cleaner and healthier environment. It sounds simplistic, but green products are environmental solutions.
No doubt transitioning toward green products and away from conventional, status-quo choices offers people a psychological lift. It enables us to lead lives that are more reflective of our personal values. It removes the dissonance. It lets us integrate our beliefs with our actions. It feels good. And it should.
Choosing green products is also about improving our overall career prospects. Let’s break that down. For sure, there’s plenty of vague hype and loosey-goosey talk of so-called green jobs. Politicians and pundits prattle on about green jobs as if they understand what they’re talking about. They don’t.
Here’s who already has green jobs: all the people – whether they’re in accounting or operations or finance or graphic design or marketing – who work at The Reformation, Honest Company, Method, Burt’s Bees, Patagonia, Yes To, United By Blue, Loll Designs, All Birds, and loads of other culturally important, sustainable companies whose products are great and green – meaning they’re made with eco-friendly materials and ingredients that minimize their impact on the environment.
It can feel pretty amazing to work at a company whose mission is aligned with fostering a cleaner environment. And work is clearly a huge part of our lifestyles since we spend more waking hours doing it than doing anything else.
The more we lean toward products from mission-oriented, environmentally-minded companies, the more they grow and the more they hire. They are quite literally the foundation of a future of work that provides opportunities for people to put their skills to use and be compensated well for helping to build a thriving, sustainable economy. They are the engines of green jobs.
Lastly, we know that global climate change and other pressing environmental challenges result from the fact that our economy is out of balance with nature. Our cars emit more carbon dioxide than nature can handle. Our homes are overly dependent on fossil fuels. Our clothing is heavily sprayed with pesticides (yuck). Our consumption is the problem. But not consuming at all is obviously not the answer because it’s impossibly unrealistic. And not even necessary.
What’s vital is that we realign our consumption with improved choices that bring our lifestyles and our local and global economies into balance with nature. It can be done. It’s already underway. There’s so much momentum pushing in this direction.
What’s your business model? Specifically, how do you make money? More specifically, do you make money for recommending products?
We make money the old-fashioned way, we print it. Naw, just joshing ya. We frequently (but not always) make money when you purchase a product we recommend. This could be a product recommended in one of our articles or in our store. Most often, you’ll find yourself being transferred to another online store to complete your product purchase. Once you’ve done so, we make a small commission on the sale, which typically ranges from 4% to 10%, depending on the store.
I’ve heard about this thing called greenwashing, meaning when companies say their products are green but are backed by questionable claims. What’s the deal? How are you different? Why should I trust your green product recommendations?
Solid question. The deal is it’s hard to definitively state/claim that a product is green. Here’s how we handle it. For starters, we subscribe to The Rule of 50%. Actually, we made up The Rule of 50%. The starting point for this rule is that what we’re really after are green choices that are substantively better than the status quo. We prioritize material choices and efficiency (both energy and water). We feature products made of at least 50% eco-friendly materials and/or help reduce our energy and water consumption by at least 50% compared to those products conventional competition.
When it comes to products that go in or on our bodies like food, drinks, and personal care products, we set the standard higher. We look for products that are organic (hopefully USDA certified) or natural (meaning no synthetic chemicals, preservatives and the like). Think about what you might find in, say, Whole Foods. We hew close to that standard.
A few years back, our founder, Josh, launched an online shopping site called Vine.com which offered natural, organic, and sustainable products. He wrote the green standards for Vine.com and for other big e-commerce sites of the day including Diapers.com, Soap.com, Wag.com and YoYo.com. Vine.com, was a business unit of Amazon. As a public company, Amazon ensured that all of Vine.com’s claims passed legal muster and were properly vetted. The same approach, care, and understanding inform the standards used at Lazy Environmentalist.
Still, there are some cautionary tales when it comes to making environmental claims. A few years back some companies got in trouble with the federal government for claiming that their bamboo clothing was green. Bamboo, they stated, is a fast-growing grass that is rapidly replenishable and, therefore, renewable. This is true. Bamboo grows faster than the speed of light. However, when spun into clothing, bamboo uses the same dirty, chemical-intensive process as any basic kind of rayon material, which is not green. So it was misleading to claim it so.
Other companies frequently mistakenly categorize vegan products, like footwear or handbags, as green. This could be true if the shoes were made of, say, organic cotton canvas because organically grown cotton is significantly better for the soil, groundwater, and humans tilling the farm than conventionally grown cotton. However, it would be defenseless to claim that a shoe made of, say a made up term like “vegan leather” is green when “vegan leather” is almost always just a roundabout way of saying “plastic” and when most plastic comes from oil, the kind we drill for, the kind that is finite in supply, the kind that, in other forms, comes out our tailpipes and creates climate change. That’s just lame.