First in a series of articles about green blogging and eco bloggers
I have been publishing content since I was a child when I remember being fond of creating my own illustrated story books. While I was at university I picked up the self-publishing bug by founding a fanzine, which I distributed for free around my university town. These days I prefer to blog rather than create printed publications because it is cheaper, simpler, and far easier to achieve by oneself. The best thing about blogging is that audiences interested in my content are able to find it through search engines – they are able to come and find me – if only I apply simple SEO techniques and keyword targeting.
When I compare this to the experience of printing 200 fanzines and giving them out at random to the general public who were unlikely to be interested in my ramblings, there is no contest over which option is more sustainable and efficient!
When I printed the fanzine I had to accept that a proportion of each print run (as much as eighty percent?) would never be read. This meant paper was being wasted, paper would end up in landfill, and pollution may have been caused by the printing process, all as a consequence of creating and publishing a paper fanzine out of self interest. I could never fully square the negative environmental impacts of the fanzine with my conscience. I would have created an online publication but I held myself back thinking it would be too difficult, considering I had only limited web knowledge and no access to design software. (How things change…)
waste AM is my third blog. The two previous blogs were about my work organising community arts projects. Self-promotional, disingenuous, and prone to exaggeration they weren’t interesting to anyone. They were, however, a useful learning experience from which I picked up the blogging basics, including how to use WordPress as a CMS (that’s the programme I’m using right now to publish this post).
After months of blogging I faced up to reality: nobody cared to read about my self-promotional arts projects, they weren’t notable or newsworthy in any way.
I knew I still wanted to blog but I wanted a better blog that hopefully (some) people would like. It would be targeted to appeal to a specific audience with whom I shared an interest and/or opinions. And ultimately, I wanted to build a community of readers who commented on my posts.
I found out how to purchase a domain and hosting and how to set up a website by following online tutorials. I’m not going to lie – it was about 5 days’ work to figure it all out – but I’m pleased that I persevered. I own this site. It’s different to a free blog hosted on Blogger or WordPress because I have much more control and freedom to do what I like with it, but there are also many other advantages to starting your blog on a domain you own.
Choosing a name for the new blog and domain name involved careful thinking and research. I wanted it to evoke the likely subject matter in such a way that didn’t restrict the blog’s sense of scope. Not being an expert about waste issues, I felt I would quickly run out of steam were I to write about a single issue, endlessly. That said, from my observation, some of the best and most successful eco blogs are limited to a single issue be it zero waste, plastic free, or being frugal.
I decided upon waste AM (not Was-Team as my friends pronounce it) because I wanted a short domain address and at that time I thought my blog would have a newsy, impersonal tone. I intended to write about waste in general, in all of its forms – from wasting energy to over-consumption; I then proceeded to confuse matters by creating a rubbish bin logo. Having a rubbish bin for a logo gives the impression the site is solely about garbage, which it isn’t.
Since making those initial decisions I’ve learnt a lot about making a good eco blog. If I could go back, there is no question this would be a better, more successful blog. Yet my blogging journey can undoubtedly still be of benefit to my fellow eco bloggers and anybody who is considering starting their own green blog either now or in the future.
In a series of posts about blogging, I have selected six fantastic eco blogs and bloggers which are ‘best in show’ for a particular quality / aspect / category of eco blogging.
Each of the blogs in the eco blog series is special, however, it is my hope that by reading this series of posts on eco blogging you will discover and learn:
The Best Eco Blog ‘Best in Show’ Categories are:
Best Eco Lifestyle Blog
Best Eco Blogger Personality
Best Eco Blogger Creative Writing
Best Eco Blogger Talent
Best Eco Blogger Conviction
Best Eco Blogger Instruction
Best Eco Blog Humour
In this podcast Joddle and Max share their experience of trying out veganism. The podcasters also discuss motivations for becoming vegan while exploring the environmental impacts of a meat and dairy based diet.
Guest Post by Amelia Hartley - a case against biological imperative for a meat-free diet
Amelia is a vegan passionate about food anthropology at a social and cultural level. She is concerned about scientific rationals for veganism spreading false information, which not only hurts the cause of veganism, but also feeds wider ignorance about the workings of the human body and its evolution over time.
Sometimes you’ll hear people in the veg*n community claim that humans evolved as plant-eaters; the two pieces of evidence most often cited are that humans lack a carnivore’s big canines and jaw shape, and that the human body lacks the ability to process meat without cooking it. Unfortunately, neither of these points are backed up by current science.
They’re right that our jaws aren’t shaped like a carnivore’s are, but our teeth also aren’t specialized for plant-eating either. At least one other hominin relative was, the paranthropus boisei:
It has huge cheekbones and that crest on the top of its head to support the massive facial muscles needed to chew tough plant sources and probably to chew almost constantly. It also has those enormous back molars, to assist grinding plant matter. Our back molars aren’t nearly that large (and we have canines, while many herbivores don’t) because we have generalized dentition rather than specialized dentition, which is awesome because it’s part of the reason we can consume an enormous variety of food sources – and therefore one of the reasons homo sapiens was able to spread to almost every corner of the globe long before the advent of agriculture! We’re hyper-adaptable, able to exploit a variety of environments.
We also in fact *capable* of consuming raw meat; in fact, a number of cultures can count raw meat among its traditional dishes, like steak tartare, sashimi, kibbe nayyeh, or kitfo.
Cooking’s main advantage, other than making tough meat more palatable, is obviously that it makes meat much safer to eat – whether the concern is wild parasites or microorganisms that evolved to exploit animal domestication. So cooking meat is an enormously advantageous cultural adaptation. On the other hand, fire use has been with us a very long time – there’s evidence of fire as early as Homo erectus, although I don’t know enough about it to say that there’s strong evidence of cooking that early – so if we’re less able to consume raw meat safely than very early human ancestors I’d find that unsurprising.
If you think of herbivore digestive systems, they’re often built to wring as much nutrition as possible out of very “low quality” (low-calorie, hard-to-digest) resources, like cows and their multiple stomachs. Our stomachs are built for hyperomnivory, i.e. if it’s not poisonous it’s edible. (Which is a pretty broad statement, not taking into account food allergies, lactose intolerance, etc. – but the point is that we’re capable of taking advantage of a wide resource base.)
So when we evolved, natural selection wasn’t against our being meat-eaters; in fact, at certain points in our evolution, meat may have been hugely beneficial. Two theories come to mind: one, that scavenged bone marrow, which is amazingly nutritionally valuable, was part of what allowed us to evolve larger brains (larger brains are extremely calorifically expensive). Two is the expensive tissue hypothesis, which posits that as we developed larger brains we developed a shorter digestive tract. These systems both requiring a large number of calories to fuel; a shorter digestive system cut down on the total number of calories needed to survive – but would require humans to eat a higher-quality diet (foods with easily accessible nutrients that can be broken down quickly, i.e. taking less energy to digest), meaning our system can’t process low-quality foods like leaves as effectively as many other primates. As a disclaimer, I don’t know great detail about either of these theories and I’ve heard arguments against both, but I think they’re worth pointing out.
However, none of this means that veganism or vegetarianism is unhealthy or unnecessary. The fact that we’ve evolved the ability to process a huge variety of food sources is awesome, because it means that we *can* live and live well on meat-and-animal-product-free diets. And, unlike carnivores, the brains we’ve evolved allow us to make the choice whether or not to eat meat. And being able to make that choice is what’s important, since of course our meat and the system by which we get it is far removed from and so much less sustainable than most hunter-gatherer and scavenging practices. There’s a lot of great reasons to become veg*n, but biological imperative isn’t one of them. But it doesn’t need to be in order to make veg*nism a valid choice!