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!
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 😉
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?!?!