Savings Expert: Being Eco-Friendly is Expensive and Time-Consuming: False!

Being Eco-Friendly is Expensive and Time-Consuming: False!

By Amy Suardi, of

Interview with the Lazy Environmentalist, Josh Dorfman

We all would like to stop creating pollution and waste, but it seems we have to make sacrifices to take care of the earth. Josh Dorfman, environmental entrepreneur, media personality and host of the Sundance Channel’s The Lazy Environmentalist, has a new book to the rescue: The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget: Save Money. Save Time. Save the Planet.

Frugal Mama: Your book is an excellent resource for people who feel like they should be doing more, but write off environmental solutions as being too costly. What are some practices, like clothes swapping, where people win twice?

Josh Dorfman: I like services such as which pay people to recycle their electronics and make it the whole process hassle-free.

Or take Brita pitcher filters. A Brita saves you the hassle and expense of having to buy bottled water and lets you enjoy healthy, great tasting water that you can feel confident about drinking.

Zipcar is another classic example of a service that can save people – in this case urban dwellers – money along with the hassle of having to own and park a car in a city and still enable people to use them by dispersing them conveniently throughout a city.

Numerous studies show that car share services like Zipcar help reduce the number of overall cars on the road and our collective carbon footprint.

Frugal Mama: Do you think organic food is worth the cost, and how can parents buy organic without doubling their grocery bill?

Josh Dorfman: Yes, I do because good health is a priority for me. I appreciate that organic farming practices make our environment cleaner but more importantly I appreciate the ability to eat quality foods while being able to avoid putting questionable chemicals in my body.

I think everyone should have access to organically grown food, which is why I applaud the steps of Walmart as well as mainstream supermarkets to offer such items at affordable prices.

In North Carolina where I live we have a great natural supermarket called Green Life, we have a bigger natural supermarket chain called Earthfare, and we have a more conventional supermarket called Ingles, which now makes organically grown food available and clearly marked in just about every aisle.

Frugal Mama: You started a green furniture company, Vivavi, and you also wrote the book The Lazy Environmentalist: Your Guide to Easy, Stylish, Green Living. I’m kind-of embarrassed to ask you this, but is it really bad to shop at IKEA?

Josh Dorfman: It’s better to shop at Ikea than a lot of other furniture stores. Ikea works closely with the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure that it sources its wood for its furniture from responsibly managed forests. For a huge company, Ikea is a leader in environmentally responsible practices. There’s still room for improvement but I wouldn’t feel bad about shopping there.

Also, I think Ikea’s solid wood cribs and other items are good picks for young parents because they don’t contain nasty chemicals like formaldehyde which can unfortunately be found in other baby furniture lines made of composite wood like particle board.

Frugal Mama: I love to shop online — great selection, no schlepping, and fewer impulse buys — but I worry about resources wasted in shipping boxes. What is your take on having stuff delivered?

Josh Dorfman: My take is that it’s not worth worrying about. For most people, if they go to the store to shop then they’re driving their cars and polluting that way. I haven’t seen any definitive studies about which is the most eco-friendly way to shop.

I believe that what’s most important is to purchase products made of environmentally responsible materials. The more companies switch to making green products, the easier it is for all of us to tread lighter on the planet and the closer we’ll come to an economy and society and that functions in balance with nature.

Catch Season 2 of the The Lazy Environmentalist at 8 p.m. on the Sundance Channel. You can also watch webisodes anytime at the Sundance Channel online. Find many more eco- and budget-friendly tips at The Lazy Environmentalist.

Amy Suardi writes about saving money & making life better at Frugal Mama.