Starre Vartan, founder and editor of the green lifestyle website Eco Chick, is one of our favorite go-to girls for sustainable practices. She offers a wealth of information and presents her knowledge in a fun, practical way. Starre has recently taken her duties one step further to create a book of tips called The Eco Chick Guide to Life: How to be Fabulously Green. Inside, she walks us through ways to be ecologically smart without sacrificing style and happiness. We caught up with Starre from her home in Connecticut to dish about the book. Here’s what she had to say.
EcoSalon: What inspired you to translate the information on your site into a book? (Don’t worry, greenies – it’s printed on recycled paper.)
Starre Vartan: I really wanted to write something that was a companion to my site, which is for young women who want something cool and accessible. My blog is all about being current and following trends, but I was constantly getting questions about the basics – what is a sustainable fabric? What kinds of cleaning products can I use without breaking the bank? The book answers these questions and isn’t about ‘news’ like the blog is.
ES: You dedicated this book to your grandmother, the original Eco Chick. Did she bestow her traditional green ways upon you? Was she your inspiration for creating Eco Chick?
SV: My grandmother was the major inspiration for the book. She raised me in the Hudson Valley of New York, where I grew up growing and eating organic veggies from our gigantic garden, enjoying meat and eggs from a farm about two miles from my house, and using only non-toxic cleaning products. Being a kid, I thought all these things were normal.
It was only later that I realized she consciously made these choices both because she was attuned to preserving her local environment and because she believed that conservation made sense for a sustainable world.
ES: We love the “My Green Shopping Basket” lists at the end of each section, in which you suggest specific products/services for each topic. Have you really tried them all?
SV: I’ve definitely tried pretty much all of them, or my friends have, sometimes both! I’ve been an official greenie (writing about environmental science and sustainable living topics) for about nine years now, and was raised in a very open, progressive way, so some of these companies – Kiss My Face, Nature’s Gate, Morningstar Farms, The Body Shop, Under the Canopy, Patagonia – have been part of my life for many, many years now.
ES: You talk about sharing eco-friendly practices with family, friends, and colleagues. Do you believe this will help convert others around us to going green?
SV: It’s ONLY by talking to each other that habits change on a large scale. Doing things in a bubble with like-minded people is comfortable and reassuring, but ‘ghettoizing’ a sustainable lifestyle will not lead to change; only consensus, collaboration, and compromise (not to mention creativity!) will.
ES: This guide is so comprehensive and the perfect carry-along resource. Are there plans for additional books in the future?
SV: I’m working on a more literary endeavor based on a project I started as part of the thesis for my MFA (in nonfiction writing) from Columbia. It’s about the five senses and humanity’s relationship with the environment; basically how modernization and mechanization have changed the way we understand the world. I’m using the lenses of history, culture and science, including many scientific studies, to look at how we have fundamentally changed the way we live so rapidly; and how that has negative (disconnection from the natural world) and positive (the Internet!) impacts.
ES: Thanks for stopping by, Starre! We’re eagerly awaiting your next project.