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"You Cannot Lead Others to Live By Values You Live the Opposite Of"

The Daily Show's Grace Kuhlenschmidt recently interviewed Josh Spodek, a friend, colleague and Earth Overshoot supporter. I think you will find it highly entertaining and inspirational. 

Josh Spodek is an ardent environmentalist and one of the few people I know who actually practices what he preaches. As an MIT graduate with an MBA from Columbia, he could have easily become a Wall Street investment banker, living in an Upper East Side apartment with a vacation home in the Hamptons. But Josh opted for a different life. As he observed recently, “If we weren’t in this environmental mess with 8 billion people, I wouldn’t be living the life I do.”

Last year, during a trip I took to New York City for the premiere of our documentary, 8 Billion Angels, at the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, Josh invited me to get  a brief glimpse into what most people would describe the spartan life he lives. During my visit to his sparsely furnished 450-square foot apartment, we shared his minimally-processed plant-based diet and discussed how he manages to live “off the grid” in the middle of one of America’s largest metropolitan areas. 

Josh is a smart, sociable and gracious person who could live quite differently, but has deliberately chosen to drastically minimize his ecological footprint in a way few would ever dream of doing.  Why?

“There is deprivation and sacrifice, but to me it's joy.” This joy comes intrinsically from living a life true to his values. For him there is liberation and fun to living sustainably, saying “My life works for me.” 

With few material possessions, a minimal income from teaching a class once a year at NYU, and leading workshops  about this philosophy, Josh is an anomaly in a country that is centered on consumerism and wealth accumulation. If eight billion of us embraced a philosophy and footprint like Josh, our species might possibly be sustainable. With a planet of four billion Joshes, we and all of the earth’s millions of other species could possibly even thrive together. 

One final observation: At the age of 52, Josh remains single and child-free, which of all his life choices to date will ultimately have the greatest positive impact toward achieving a just and sustainable future for all.