The Green Stars Project: now with categories!

Hola, amigos! It has been more than a month since my last post; my longest blogging gap since I started the Daily Footprint posts almost two years ago. I wasn’t ignoring my blog (or yours!) – I decided to add categories to this site so that the posts will be somewhat organized. Since every post had to be edited to add it to a category, I ended up reading through them all (71 of them!) and making minor edits / updates. I also wrote a short intro text for each category.

And since I’ve been taking a trip down memory lane I figured I may as well drag you along too! Here are my six shiny new categories and one fairly early post in each one that I think is worth mentioning.

Social and environmental issues

Social and environmental issues related to our food chain are covered here, including slavery, organic agriculture, and deforestation. And an homage to cooking – the most fundamental form of activism.

Controversial ingredients, from palm oil to microbeads, as well as packaging travesties, from bottled water to disposable coffee cups, are also covered here.

There are also a couple of posts on the key issue of human population growth, and how it’s tied to ethical consumerism.

There are also a few posts about how to hold it all together and keep your cool with all of the above going on – from Eckhart Tolle to mindfulness.

Ethical shopping guide

This is the largest category of posts and includes most of the Daily Footprint posts. The goal is not to provide the definitive ethical shopping guide, but rather to discuss the factors that go into deciding on a Green Stars rating (with examples). My first post in this category was on the social and environmental impact of energy bars. One lesson here for me was to always be skeptical of brand image: in this case, the image that Kind Snacks has carefully nurtured. The other lesson I learned was that energy bars are very easy to make, and also a great way of using up those seeds, lurking in your cupboard 😉

Anatomy of a green stars review

This “anatomy of” an ethical review of Nestlé’s Kit Kat Matcha was one of my first blog posts. Around three years ago, the Nestlé matcha-flavored Kit Kat was pretty much the top-selling product on the entire Amazon US site (and a huge hit in Japan) so I posted a Green Stars review on Amazon that considered the social and environmental impact of Nestlé. It was not a very easy task: Nestlé is the largest food company in the world and has some impressive controversies and corporate shenanigans under its belt. It’s also a bit tricky telling people (who just wanted to get their hands on the sweet, trendy, Insta-friendly product) some things they probably didn’t really want to hear. At some stage I need to write a post about being tactful versus preachy 😉

Nestlé Kit-Kat, matcha flavor.
        Nestlé Kit-Kat, matcha flavor

GSP contests win prizes!

This category is the most important aspect of the Green Stars Project and it’s all about you! The goal of the project is to encourage you, dear readers, to write green star reviews where you assign an ethical rating to a product or local business.

At the moment I’m happy to be collaborating with the UK nonprofit, Ethical Consumer, one of the best resources in this field. So, the current prize for the Green Stars contest is a one-year subscription to Ethical Consumer.

Neonics and bees

These posts look at the impact of the neonicotinoids (neonics) on the health of bees, other pollinators, and aquatic habitats. The continued liberal use of neonics in many countries, including the US, is one of the most critical environmental threats that we face. Be aware that a majority of the crops grown in the US are treated with neonics and that these insecticides are absolutely a major threat to pollinators and aquatic habitats.

Neonics are now the most widely used insecticides in the world – examples include imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin. Imidacloprid alone constitutes one fifth of the global insecticide market. I tend to focus on imidacloprid in these posts, because of its impact, widespread use and good research coverage. However, all of the neonics pose a threat to bees and other pollinators and to aquatic ecosystems.

Health and ethical consumerism

These posts take a look at the connection between ethical consumerism and health, two topics that are often connected. The good news is that there is often a pretty good correlation between the two: The foods that are best for our planet often rank as the healthiest foods, and vice versa.

Groups (councils, boards, think-tanks, etc.) that represent controversial industries such as meat have worked hard to convince consumers that these foods are good for us. Although there is overwhelming evidence that a plant-based diet is better than a diet rich in meat and dairy, campaigns such as The Paleo Diet have been surprisingly successful in convincing people to follow meat-rich diets.

I examine a few of these campaigns to misinform the public on some of the most sustainable categories of food that our population currently relies on: carbohydrate-rich foods and legumes.

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