I got to know Starre a few years ago after we met through our mutual work as professional green bloggers. Since then I've been lucky enough to hang out with her on various press trips and during my frequent trips to the city.
Here are seven questions for Starre Vartan:
MNN: Where is your favorite spot on Earth?
Starre Vartan: I love being in water, and I prefer fresh over salty, as much as I love the ocean. Right now I'm dreaming about the waterholes of Vermont, where I go to escape the heat of summer. They are such magical, mysterious places, requiring a hike into the woods to find. But then you come around a turn in the path or half-slide down an embankment, and there it is, a rushing stream with a beautiful pool to cool off in, or a towering hunk of granite to jump off into a lazy river. Bliss!
Where would you like to see Eco Chick Escapes, your new travel blog, in three years?
I'd love Escapes to exceed the success of its sister site, Eco-Chick.com. Mine was the first green fashion and beauty blog for women, and now there are literally close to 100 (or maybe more) sites that cover those topics, which means all those editors and all their readers are thinking about the issues inherent to how their purchases affect the planet. I hope to do the same thing with eco travel — and also inspire women to get out there for solo adventures! After spending six months traveling recently, driving cross-country, living in a yurt off-grid in Hawaii and exploring Australia by myself, it was amazing how many women I met who told me they didn't even use up their vacation days the previous year! Many of them were waiting for a guy to go with, or didn't know where to go. Heart-breaking! I hope I can get women out there in to the amazing world we live in, and supporting ethical and local tourism businesses while they do it.
What's wrong with blogging?
Blogging is currently suffering from the same disease that has affected all new innovations; nobody knows what to do with it. When new technologies are developed, people only seem to be able to make sense of them in reference to whatever has come before. When TV first debuted, for example, the shows followed the same format as the radio shows at the time — it took years for TV to become its own medium. Right now, blogs are way too much like magazine articles and other forms of print journalism. We are no longer hewed in by columns and inches, yet many of us (including me, who started my career in magazines) still think along those lines. There needs to be more innovation and recognition of the innovative things we can do online that we can't in print. We have to think beyond the hyperlink and the slideshow.
What's the difference between green and greener?
Green means a company or person is making strides to lower their impact — that's good, and it's an important step. If a person or a company has no environmental consciousness (and it's amazing how many good, thoughtful people don't), there is going to be a learning curve. Everyone has to start somewhere; in this year alone, I've educated three new people about recycling — my boyfriend and new roommates. These are young people who should know, but they don't. There are millions of folks out there who are still ignorant of many of the issues that some of us have been writing about for a decade, and going 'green' is the first step. "Greener" are those bigger strides that you can make once you're up to speed on the basic issues (waste, water, air quality, food sourcing).
Does the world need saving?
No, the world doesn't need saving; it will continue on with us (just like it was here long before we came on the scene). Whatever pollution, destruction and extinctions we perpetrate on the Earth will, in the end, hurt us the most. What needs saving are human beings. I think the environmental movement, at its root, is about making sure that human beings continue on — we are capable of really great things. Or self-destruction. I choose the former, which is why I'm an environmentalist.
Who is one person doing good in the world (besides yourself) who we should know about and why?
Someone I really look up to for inspiration (and sometimes to kick myself in the pants!) is Wangari Maathai. She won the Nobel Prize for her activism in Africa and I heard her speak years ago. She got women together to plant trees in deforested areas (creating jobs as well as a healthier environment) and she was persecuted for it. When I heard her speak, she was asked why she didn't quit when her life was threatened, and she said that she simply had to do what she was doing, and that fear wasn't going to stop her. She knew she was right, helping women and the planet, and nobody was going to stop her. Love it.
(Shea's note: I invited Starre to come up with and answer her own question here) What are the top destinations on your bucket list?
I've been hearing amazing things about Tulum, Mexico, from multiple sources recently. Apparently the whole town is off-grid and solar-powered, so you can really enjoy the stars at night without the human-caused light pollution to intervene. There are a number of places to practice yoga, it's right on the beach, and there's communal vegetarian meals to take part in. I would also really like to get to Vietnam and Laos, to try all the amazing fresh food from the region — what a challenge and treat it would be to write about that! And I want to go to Greece to sail around the Med and South Africa to go on safari.