Try Not to Be [Green] Starstruck!

*poses for the paparazzi*

Cheesy jokes aside, guess what?

I’ve been interviewed over at the Green Stars Project blog!

Oh, and I won one of the Ethical Consumer magazine subscription prizes that are available for doing Green Stars reviews!

I chose products for the reviews as a way to wean myself from as many single-use plastics as I can.

Check out the interview here: https://greenstarsproject.org/2022/08/09/ethical-consumer-contest-winner/.

Don’t be “green” with envy….come join me in the emerald spotlight! You can do your own reviews as part of the Green Stars Project…and be entered to win a subscription too!

I promise I won’t upstage you…much!

Let me know if you’re planning (or have done) your own reviews in the comments below (or, better yet, over at the Green Stars Project blog), and I’ll check them out!

Eco Tuesday: The Grey and the Green

We’re not only going green in this week’s “Eco Tuesday” interview, we’re going (werewolf) grey!

It should be quite the adventure!

(We all need an adventurous escape at this point, wouldn’t you all agree?)

With no further ado, please welcome traveler, poet, and writer, Marc Latham!

Biography

Marc Latham was a vegetarian in his late ‘70s teens before lapsing until his late ‘90s university years. He has now been veggie for over twenty years. In the ‘80s he followed Kerouac’s hobo traveling path while keeping a journal. Over the last twenty years he’s cut down on his carbon footprint, and in the last two taken up cold showers, inspired by Wim Hof.
An eco theme was central to his core writing decade of 2005/6 – 2015/6, with a wolf symbol and protagonist star
inspired by the WWF panda…
which he likes to think may have inspired Greta!?

Missing Link movie may be more likely, as that was a bigfoot searching for its roots from America’s north-west, as the Greenygrey werewolf had done a decade earlier; becoming the enlightened greenYgrey along the way!

The Interview

Willow Croft: In your trilogy of books, you write from the perspective of a vegetarian werewolf called greenYgrey. What’s their favourite veggie-filled foodstuff or recipe they tried on their journey?

Marc Latham: Being a werewolf on the road, the greenYgrey just ate what it could. This usually consisted of foods inspired by place names, traditional local food newly discovered, or foods I remembered and fed it from my travels. In Oz it remembers the berries of Beridale (with a McCandless/Krakauer’s Into the Wild warning) and buns from Bunbury’s buried bunneries with particular fondness.

In your current home state of Kansas it enjoyed smoked Red Hot Chili Peppers from the Red Hills and Smoky River, with musical inspiration. In Tartu, Estonia, it had a ravishing rhubarb tart, while in Moldova it discovered the national dish was mamaliga from a hospitable mama; who wasn’t in league with anyone.

Willow Croft: If you could travel through time where (or when, rather) would be your first stop, in terms of a more nature-orientated era?

Marc Latham: Growing up on Western movies  I liked the ‘Indians’ (later defined to Lakota Sioux and Crazy Horse in particular!) with their wild horses culture, and then learning about Native Americans I was impressed with them being at one with nature, and especially nomadically traveling the plains with the seasons. Recently I’ve liked learning about how ‘star people’ are part of Native American culture, so it would be great to meet them too! So their last great era in the early 19th century would probably be my first stop; if I was to be welcomed, and not cause harm through disease! The California ‘60s movement was partially inspired by them and their attitude to nature, so it would be good to spend time there also, ending with a trip to Woodstock!
Learning more about European tribal culture in university I found they had a similar respect for nature and animals, with totems and tree worship, so I guess most places were okay with nature before industrialisation. They were still cutting trees and clearing forests though; although nothing compared to today’s mass clearing.

The further back in time, the more nature (and danger, thinking of H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine!, Edgar Rice Burroughs’s The Land That Time Forgot or Michael Crichton’s Jurassic World) generally, although they’re finding many lost civilisations in the American jungles, so maybe in the future nature will reclaim everything?

Willow Croft: I enjoy your sunrise/sunset photos on your blog. Have you ever seen a green flash at sunset?

Marc Latham: Yes, funny you should ask that, as I have once. It was a year or two after first hearing about it through watching The Green Ray (Le Rayon Vert) French movie. It was set in Brittany, and when I visited there in 2013 I think I remembered it, but had forgotten about it on the evening I saw the green flash.

I was getting cold on the beach waiting for the sun to go down, to finish off my photo sequence, when I saw the green light flash as the sun finally went down, and thought that must be it! I didn’t get a photo as I’d just taken one of the last of the sun, and wasn’t expecting anything else. A photo from the sequence; of a seagull flying past on the beach; and the sunny Saint Malo panorama in the distance, became the cover shot for the blog (link below), so it was quite a special night. As was the first night of that holiday, when I bought a box of beers and drank them sat against a tree watching the sun go down on the edge of town, reliving my hobo travels on their 25th anniversary; which basically started in France.

Thanks for this interview, which has been the writing equivalent of a trip down memory lane.

~~~~

Want to continue the trek down memory lane with Marc Latham and the greenYgrey? Catch up with them via these internet pathways:

Smashwords – About Marc Latham, author of ‘Werewolf of Oz: Fantasy Travel by Google Maps’ and ‘242 Mirror Poems and Reflections’: Free to download in July, 2022.Amazon page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marc-Latham/e/B004SP40J0/

Blog post about the green flash light night: Saint-Malo Beach Sunset Photos, Brittany, France | Travel 25 Years… and more (wordpress.com)

fmpoetry poetry hub: mistYmuse | Art, Poetry, Writing Winter Festival (wordpress.com)

Kansas episode of the Greenygrey in North America: GreenyGrey Rambles Around the World: Can suss in Kansas

Main greenYgrey website for a decade: greenygrey3 (wordpress.com)

Eco-Monday is now Eco-Tuesday, apparently . . .

Okay, so I forgot to post up the blog I had planned for yesterday.

Good thing it wasn’t actually an interview post!

I didn’t have anyone lined up, but I got so busy with life and the day job and, to be honest, sucking up every last dreg of the three-day weekend (I don’t celebrate the 4th, but it was nice having that extra day to get caught up on things) that I just forgot.

So, I’m still looking for people to interview for the Eco-Monday-now-Eco-Tuesday feature, so if you’re involved in environmental conservation, including wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, or even if you’re turning your once-turf lawn into a pollinator-friendly haven, reach out to me at croftwillow [at] yahoo [dot] com and we’ll set up a mini-interview!

Stay green!

Eco-Monday Premiere: Learn all about the Green Stars Project!

For my first-ever Eco-Warrior post, I’m going to interview the creator of one blogs I started following waaaaay back when I was newbie blogger.

I’ll start these Eco-Monday posts off with a bio about the Eco-Warrior I interview that week, then comes the interview, and I’ll wrap it up with links to find out more about the week’s interviewee!

I hope you’re excited as I am to learn more about these eco-minded individuals and discover new ways to get involved in environmental causes!

Biography

James is a research scientist who studied microbiology in Ireland, then did a PhD in molecular biology in Scotland and now lives in California. Having worked as a research scientist for a couple of decades, James now dedicates a lot of his time to projects related to ethical consumerism. As well as blogging, he’s currently working on a book project that provides guidance on how to address our most pressing social and environmental issues. Working title: The Consumer’s Guide to Modern Life. That title will probably change 😉

The Interview

Willow Croft: What amazing lightning strike of inspiration caused you to create the Green Stars Project (and your newer blog, Grocery Outlet Ethical Bargains)?

James: Well, my interest as a scientist was always to work on solutions to environmental problems, such as sustainable fuels. The idea of the Green Stars Project developed slowly, to be honest, but it started to take shape as a plot element in a novel I was writing! I tested it out in my spare time, not even blogging, just writing reviews of the stuff I bought, trying to figure out how useful the information would be to others. It turned out that other people did find it useful and I decided to keep going.

I guess you could say that clincher for me was I realized that there are many research scientists with my skills but not that many people with PhDs writing about ethical consumerism. One of the top skills that a doctorate gives you is how to research any topic and distill it down to the essential information – I mean a conclusion that you can have high confidence in. So, my decision was based on the idea that I can probably be more useful researching and writing about ethical consumerism than anything else. It was a gradual realization that this is my path.

Willow Croft: Can you share your favourite products/foodstuffs you’ve reviewed on your blog(s)?

James: I’m a big fan of Beyond Meat and I found their burgers especially comforting during lockdown. I’ve made them for omnivorous friends while camping and they really liked them. The key is really good ketchup, some crunchy Napa cabbage (or lettuce, but I think the cabbage is better), a slice of heirloom tomato and a soft bun, toasted! I also like the Beyond Sausage – I think it’s a nice example of a sustainable product in minimal packaging that tastes great.

One of the very top things that you can [do] to reduce your impact on the planet is to give up beef and other red meat. I’ll share an excerpt from my book proposal that I wrote just this week:

“Let’s say you eat 1 lb of beef per week – that’s 52 lbs (23.5 kg) per year. The carbon footprint (using the average value of 100 kg CO2 per kg of beef) would be 2.35 metric tonnes CO2 per year. If everyone on the planet ate 1 lb of beef per week, our collective carbon footprint, just for this beef, would be 18.8 billion tonnes of CO2. Current greenhouse gas emissions for the entire planet are around 59 billion tonnes of CO2 per year, so that 1 lb of beef would increase the planet’s entire emissions by almost one third! Beef consumption per capita in the US is actually a little over 1 lb per week – if the whole world followed suit, we would have little chance of keeping climate change or deforestation under manageable levels.”

The book isn’t all numbers, however – I’m taking the approach of convincing people that it’s in their self-interest to make their lives more sustainable. I think that many of us are feeling a bit lost or aimless and that fixing our lifestyle gives us a greater sense of purpose, and actual happiness! I’ll be on the lookout for a publisher soon 🙂

Willow Croft: If you could visit any eon/era/period on the Geologic Time Scale, which would it be and why?

James: Hmmm. I think I’d like to visit the late Paleolithic Era, rewinding to around 20,000 years ago. I find the Paleo Diet movement to be nonsense, scientifically. Even worse, it’s nonsense with an agenda: to get people to eat more meat. I’ve already written a few posts on the diet, including a rebuttal on the misinformation on legumes, so it would be nice to go back there and see how Paleolithic people really lived.

Where to find James in the Internet Time Scale

The Green Stars Project – my original blog, which deals with many social and environmental topics. The goal is to encourage readers to include an ethical rating (0-5 “Green Stars”) when they write reviews, online. I’m confident that this kind of grassroots movement is the most effective way to encourage corporate responsibility, and to educate ourselves on ethics. Please join in and you can win a subscription to Ethical Consumer!

Ethical Bargains – reviews of new food products, with Green Stars ratings for social and environmental impact. There’s an emphasis on keeping up with the plant-based food movement. It also encourages folk on a budget to make good purchasing decisions, as I’ve purchased the items on discount at the Grocery Outlet.

It’s a (compostable) wrap!

A big thank you to James and the Warrior work he’s done for the environment and in areas of social change.

Now it’s your turn! I’ve done some Green Star Reviews myself, so I encourage people to learn how to write your own!

Because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to cover the world in eco-friendly, sparkly, Green Stars? Right? RIGHT?!?!

Six Things Saturday: Mini-Interview with Miranda Lemon and Violet Plum

This week, we have Miranda Lemon and Violet Plum from over at Violet’s Vegan Comics (https://violetsvegancomics.com/)!

Willow Croft: This question’s a two-parter! What vegetable and/or vegan dish is your most favourite? And what vegetable and/or fruit makes you go “Yuk”?

Miranda Lemon: My favourite dish is vegan Yorkshire pudding with chips and beans, and the fruit that makes me go “yuk!” is avocado, because I think it is like eating margarine.

Violet Plum: Ooh, what to choose? I guess chocolate’s not a vegetable – although it does come from beans. Speaking of beans, I think one of my favourite meals is beans on toast, especially with peanut butter and yeast extract on the toast. I’ve loved it since childhood, never tired of it and it’s so easy to make. Sadly I don’t have it very often any more because bread is no longer my friend, but it is a rare treat. And the yucky vegetable which immediately springs to mind is celery. Yuck!

~~~

Willow Croft: If you could be any animal (or plant) which would you “bee”, and why?

Miranda: I would like to be a koala because I think it would be lovely to spend all my time in a tree, eating leaves and sleeping.

Violet: If I could also wish away all human activity, I would be a Canada goose because I’d love to be able to fly, and fly great distances. They are mostly herbivorous so I wouldn’t have to eat anything yucky and I could see the world from a great height. The limit of how high Canada geese can fly is not known but they have been documented at 9km above the Earth!!! Amazing! I’ve no desire to ride in an aeroplane but I would love to be able fly myself.

~~~

Willow Croft: There seems to be a movement building around the practice(s) of urban (or wild) foraging at present. What you do think about this movement from an environmental and/or personal perspective? Which is more sustainable—a “backyard” or urban garden, foraging, or a combination of both practices?

Miranda: I think foraging is a fantastic idea, I would love it if we could find all our food that way. I don’t have a back garden, so I think it would be most sustainable if people with gardens foraged in their gardens, and everyone else foraged everywhere else. But there needs to be a lot of replanting of forests so that there will be enough for everyone.

Violet: I love this idea! One of my stories, The English Family Anderson, is about a family who live on a bus and do just that. It’s wish fulfilment for me because I’ve always fantasized about being able to live like that. Being self-sufficient. If we could all live closer to nature, follow the seasons and understand where our food comes from – be responsible for growing it and gathering it ourselves – it would feed our souls. I think both things – wild foraging and home growing – would be completely sustainable. The forest garden is the most productive use of land, as well as returning natural habitats to wildlife. I think we should turn all the agricultural land into food forests for everyone to share.

~~~

Willow Croft: Imagine the world ten years from now if we as humans don’t break our consumption-driven, environmentally destructive habits. What would the world look like?

Miranda: I think it would be not very nice, so I hope humans will break their destructive habits.

Violet: Have you seen the movie Idiocracy (2006)? With Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph. That is the world we are fast approaching.

~~~

Willow: How do you see the world changing over the next ten years in regards to conservation and environmental awareness as driven by the latest generation(s) of kids/young people?

Miranda: I believe that if we tell children the truth they will do the right things to save the environment and conserve nature. Everyone deserves to know the whole truth, and once they do, they will know that being vegan will save the world, and so they will all go vegan, and the world will be saved. Hurrah!

Violet: Education is key. If children were told the truth at school, about meat, fish, eggs and dairy being unnecessary and hazardous to health; about animal agriculture and fishing being environmentally devastating; and about animal farming being the cause of human starvation and diseases like Covid-19, then I think they would lead the charge for an end to animal farming and a new beginning for the natural world. But sadly the governments who write the national curriculum are controlled by big businesses who make vast riches from these destructive practices so lessons aren’t going to improve any time soon. Thankfully, though, the internet has enabled more enlightened people to get this information out there, and the mainstream media picks it up and runs with it sometimes. So I think there is hope that a new generation of eyes-wide-open individuals might, through the power of their consumer choices, move the world to demand ethical, zero waste, organic vegan products, and abandon those which aren’t.

~~~

Willow Croft: And, lastly, what sort of environmentally friendly art supplies do you all use?

Miranda and Violet: Most of our art materials (pencils, watercolours, pastels and ink) have been found in secondhand/charity shops so we are re-using other people’s waste. But when we do need to buy anything new we usually get it from artdiscount.co.uk who have labelled qualifying products as vegan and have done a very helpful blog post (https://artdiscount.co.uk/blogs/artdiscount/vegan-vegetarian-and-eco-art-supplies) which explains what’s good and what’s bad for the discerning artist. There’s another helpful post, here: https://vegomm.com/vegan-art-craft-supplies/. And of course we only buy recycled sketch paper.

~~~

Visit Miranda Lemon and Violet Plum at https://violetsvegancomics.com/ where they have a wonderful selection of things for kids of all ages.