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-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?!?!

Green Stars Review: Milagro Herbs

Company: Milagro Herbs: Organic Herbs & Skin Care

Address: 1500 5th St. #6
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Contact: 505-820-6321

Open from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday

Website: https://www.milagroherbs.com/

3/5 Green Stars based on:
* They use some organic ingredients, and some wild-harvested.
* However, they weren’t very forthcoming with information (either online or in person) about habitats that they harvest from. 
* This struck me as odd, since part of the goal of Milagro Herbs is supposed to be education. 
* Wild-harvested could be positive or negative, depending on the harvesting locations and methods. 

* Containers are a mix of plastic or glass.

* Would be nice if they accepted containers back to be refilled. 

For more information on Green Stars ratings see this post.

About the Company, and My Experience: I visited the store location on a couple of earlier occasions. The front part of the store is stocked with a wide variety of lotions, shampoos, and even soaps and other bath and body products. There’s a wall dedicated to local honeys in different flavours. If that weren’t enough, they have a huge selection of herbal/nutritional supplements, tinctures, flower essences, and, of course, their new CBD line of products. They have herbs and teas in bulk in a rear room. The storefront is also the location of the Milagro School of Herbal Medicine, through which they host individual classes, as well as a comprehensive program that concludes with a “Certificate in the Foundations of Herbalism”, according to their website: https://www.milagroherbs.com/school.html.

With the exception of their bulk herbs and teas, the products’ packaging seems to be evenly split between plastic and glass. In Santa Fe County, all plastic (regardless of number) and all glass, can be recycled at collection stations. Still, I’ve attempted to return the rinsed bottles from the products I have purchased from Milagro Herbs, and they will not accept them for refill.

The staffer that assisted me generally deferred to Dr. Enos in regards to the products, but she did help me pick out a suitable skin lotion for use in this painfully dry climate.

Despite the company’s business title stating that they carry organic herbs and skin care, their products are a mix of “organic and wild harvested plants collected by Dr. Enos and his staff” as quoted directly from the About statement on the company’s website.

During my most recent visit, I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Tomas Enos in person about his products and his collection/harvesting practices. 

It was difficult to get information from Dr. Tomas Enos regarding the sustainability of his company’s collection practices and the herbs he imports from other countries, and from places like “rainforests and marine ecosystems” that the website refers to, and which does not identify a specific location within the source countries mentioned. He, unfortunately, was not very forthcoming during our conversation. Which was my loss when it came time to write this blog post, as his website bio states that he has “25 years in the herb business” in addition to his PhD.

I did learn from Dr. Enos, at least, that the main ingredient in my shampoo, conditioner (white plastic bottles), and the “Abundant Hair Oil” (brown glass bottle with a plastic top) grows everywhere in New Mexico.

Dr. Enos informed me that the New Mexican globemallow in the products (which have become my hair product staple in surviving this dry desert climate) was collected directly from his land.

I do not have any other information on how sustainable and environmentally/ecosystem friendly the company’s collection practices are.

I was also unable to get information on the labor practices he uses to collect the plants he uses for his products. His website mentions that the plants are collected by him and his staff, so I can only assume it involves fair pay to his staff, especially since it’s the law that Santa Fe pays its workers a living wage. No mention on whether he relies on local labour in these international locations.

Mourning a Celebrity Childhood Friend…

 

 

Snooty the manatee has died while in captivity at the South Florida Museum.

I used to go see Snooty as a kid. I always felt sad that he was all alone in his tank at the museum. I used to daydream that I would sneak in afterhours and somehow manage to set him free. It seemed like a stark place to live, and the sounds were disorientating even to my human ears.

As an adult (90s/early 2000s), trying to be more active in animal rights causes, I had mixed feelings about visiting the museum. I had fond memories of the South Florida Museum, but I found it hard to go see Snooty in his lonely little tank.

Around 2012/2013 or so, someone I knew could get me into the museum for free, so I went. I was amazed to see that Snooty was still at the museum. But, this time, he had company. There were two other manatees (they were being rehabilitated, I believe) in the tank with him, so I felt a little better that he wasn’t all by himself.

Then I saw a post on someone’s Facebook page announcing that he had died. I figured old age, not being too knowledgeable on how long manatees lived in captivity.

But then I read the article(s). I’ll let you choose to read them for yourself, just in case you are as sensitive to animals as I am, and maybe have to steel yourself before hearing the news. Or want to avoid it altogether.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/07/24/snooty-the-manatee-dies-in-heartbreaking-accident-days-after-his-69th-birthday/?utm_term=.7abad7a7d5ee

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/23/538900625/snooty-the-manatee-dies-and-a-florida-community-mourns

http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/article163774463.html

I have been in mourning for gentle Snooty over the past week  few days that have felt like a week.

And been thinking a lot.

About the fact that there is less and less room for animals, plants, trees, insects, fish, or any of the other non-human lifeforms that are on this planet as well. Because we humans are taking up so much room. And that, by the time there is no more room for humans on a planet that will become uninhabitable sooner or later, there probably won’t be any non-human lifeforms left.

I read something about micro-living via the National Trust for Historic Preservation. But is it enough? Is anything enough to stop humanity’s destructive drive to fully dominate the planet?

I don’t know. I’m still trying to do everything I can to be more environmentally respectful, as futile as it feels.

I know that I miss Snooty, one of my few (make-believe?) childhood friends. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I hope he gets to live in a better world, surrounded by freedom and clean ocean water and other manatee friends and family. And I wish the same thing for animals and plants and trees and insects that have to live on the planet with us humans. May better karma be with you in your next life.