NEW YORK (Reuters) - Self-described lazy environmentalist Josh Dorfman has a plan to save the planet that is a little unorthodox — he tells people to stop feeling bad about taking long showers and driving fast cars.
“Environmentalists make people feel bad, and making people feel bad is a terrible marketing strategy,” Dorfman said, explaining the concept of his new television series debuting on the Sundance Channel on Tuesday, “The Lazy Environmentalist.”
“Prophecies of doom and gloom or trying to appeal to a moral imperative, those tactics appeal to a very small minority that change their behavior,” Dorfman said in an interview. “I’m interested in implementing change for the great majority.”
On the show, Dorfman shows families and business people how they can make their lives easier by making more environmentally friendly choices.
In the first episode, he analyzes a California family’s trash and shows them how to recycle, compost and shop for products that produce less waste that will go to landfills.
The father is at first skeptical, casting doubt on the reality of global warming and arguing that there is plenty of space in Texas for as many landfills as required.
“The great majority of Americans are not environmentally conscious,” Dorfman said, adding that the biggest challenge he finds in persuading people to go green is the argument that it will cost them more money, especially at a time of recession.
Dorfman deliberately chooses skeptics, such as a woman who runs a dog grooming business and believes it will be too difficult and too costly to use natural products.
Dorfman shows she can save money in some areas, for example by using less water to wash the dogs. There’s no escaping that organic dog biscuits are more expensive, but he argues that is offset by health benefits and lower vet’s bills.
“The Lazy Environmentalist” started life as a blog five years ago soon after Dorfman started a small environmental luxury furniture design company. An assistant questioned how he could call himself an environmentalist when he enjoyed taking long showers and showed little commitment to recycling.
“I do my best thinking in the shower,” Dorfman said, adding that he would rather drive a swift Audi than a gas-sipping Prius, even though he knows a hybrid is better for the planet than a sports car.
“I care, but I’m lazy,” he said. “Let’s stop feeling bad.”
The best way to make a difference, Dorfman said, is to make the environmental choice also the more attractive choice — cheaper, easier, time-saving or more aesthetically pleasing.
Among examples he cites is a website called www.solarcity.com that leases solar energy systems to homeowners with no upfront installation cost. The money saved on lower electricity bills offsets the lease payment so most homeowners end up saving money immediately, Dorfman said.