Hi folks! I know that this blog sometimes deals with complex issues and technical information, but I hope I don’t put anyone off with this. (In fact, please comment on this!) I’ve summarized issues (for example, palm oil) to provide a primer and help inform your reviews (and mine too). But you don’t need to have a specialized background (or a ton of time) in order to make ethical decisions and write Green Stars reviews.
The idea is to take a moment to provide your own perspective on a couple of aspects of the business – you don’t have to be exhaustive, or to exhaust yourself 🙂
So I want to write a few posts this year that will help to simplify the process of researching a business or product and writing a review. A colleague (Art) was curious about how to write Green Stars reviews, so we went to happy hour at our local Thai restaurant, Summer Summer, to discuss it (any excuse!) and then decided that the best way to explain the process is by example. So we ended up writing the outline of a review on the spot.
For a place that you go to often (for example, a lunch place near work) then I think it’s well worth taking the time to decide whether it’s the kind of place you actually want to support on a regular basis. In one visit, you can do a quick assessment of the business by just taking the time to make some observations. Once that’s done, it doesn’t take much effort to post a quick review online. And then you’ve sorted out a life-decision and will feel a little more empowered as a result!
Here’s a summary of the observations that we made from our table at Summer Summer in the space of 5 minutes:
From the Menu
* A good proportion of their menu caters to plant-based diets.
* Their tofu is organic. (In the US, most non-organic soy is treated with neonic pesticides – see this post for more on neonics.)
* They use free-range eggs, important to many vegetarians and pescetarians.
* For meat eaters, they serve organic chicken.
When looking at the menu, pay attention to footnotes, where you’ll often find details on sourcing / sustainability. Also, don’t forget the most obvious details: plant-based food is the most sustainable and cruelty-free choice and should be well-represented on the menu.
From general observations in the restaurant:
* Most of the to-go packaging is recyclable or compostable (cardboard boxes and paper bags).
* They have a lot of local beer on tap (better than importing bottles from Thailand) and their sake is also local.
* Would also be nice to see a bit more detail on their food-sourcing, and for them to ditch the plastic straws in glasses of water (unless requested by a customer).
Even if you are not ordering take-out, you can usually spot their containers, or observing someone ordering to-go. It’s often helpful to mention something that you’d like to see change. Changing their policy on straws in their water glasses would have a significant impact.
Art ended up awarding Summer Summer 5/5 Green Stars in his review.
So, Art is the first winner in this latest round of the recurring competition to write a Green Stars review. If you’d like to see what else he’s up to, check out his movie review site, Fadviews, which aims to provide a more nuanced guide to movies and TV shows by breaking down the ratings into different categories. The idea is that Fadviews helps you to find films that may not have a high rating on other sites but are worth watching for one or two aspects: plot, acting, cinematography, etc.
The other winner is Miranda, who was also one of the two winners in the last round but went above-and-beyond this time around, so she deserves to be included again 🙂 She made some Valentine’s Day goodies and wrote Green Stars reviews of most of her ingredients! You can find them in these two posts on The Green Mirmaid. Miranda, you now have two prizes in waiting!
Let’s do this again!
Write a Green Stars review of anything under the sun (well, any product or company) and let me know. I’ll announce the winners in May, who’ll receive a prize from the WWF (or a donation to any charity of their choice). If you need any help, I’m happy to assist!