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Green Purse Alerts!

Why My Purse is Green

Because I believe…

  • the fastest, most effective way to stop polluters is by pressuring them in the marketplace
  • women can be the world’s most powerful economic and environmental force if we intentionally shift our spending to the best green products and services
  • women have the power right now to solve many of our most serious environmental problems by using our green purses to make a difference
  • women must act – intentionally, collectively, and with the full force of our purse power behind us – if we hope to leave our children and grandchildren a better world.
  • « April 2007 | Main | June 2007 »

    May 28, 2007

    Meet these Blogs for Eco Moms

    It may not always be easy being green, but moms sure seem to know how to make it creative!

    Heather and Renee, the two moms who blog at EnviroMom, have started a GreenGroups movement in Portland, OR to inspire other green moms to get together, share resources and ideas, and generally support each other's efforts to live a greener life. It's a great idea for building green communities that could take off nationwide.

    MomGoGreen in San Francisco is trying all kinds of green products -- from deodorant to carpet tiles to glass food jars -- and letting the rest of us know what works and what doesn't. Her analysis is great, and I love the pictures she includes in her posts.

    For great graphics and true-life tales, check out Mindful Momma. Lots of suggestions about green birthday parties for kids, clothes, home living, and more.

    Hmmm - any eco-dads blogging out there?

    May 26, 2007

    What is it about Rachel Carson that some misguided souls just love to hate?

    Sspring Rachel Carson, who would have turned 100 years old on May 27, was a marine biologist and award-winning writer who warned the world about the dangers of pesticides and herbicides in her fearless book, Silent Spring. Published in 1962, Silent Spring revealed that toxic chemicals have a long-lasting presence in our water and on the land. It documented traces of DDT in mother’s milk, while alerting us to the threat it posed to other creatures, especially songbirds.

    President John F. Kennedy was so moved by Silent Spring that he initiated a presidential advisory committee to study the issues it raised. The U.S. Senate opened an investigation into the use and abuse of pesticides based on her research. Nevertheless, Rachel was vilified by the agricultural chemical industry, who accused the book of being “sinister” and “hysterical.”

    Today, we’re coming full circle. Even as proof mounts almost daily that cancer is linked to pesticides and herbicides, Rachel Carson’s detractors persist. Their latest ploy? Derail an effort in the U.S. Senate to commemorate Rachel’s birth and honor her unique contribution to environmental protection.

    Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is using Senate rules to oppose a commemoration of Rachel Carson, blaming the pioneer for using “junk science” to sway public opinion against DDT and other chemicals. 

    Carson On the eve of Rachel’s 100th birthday, her own words seem more relevant today than when they first appeared on the page:

    “The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery - not over nature but of ourselves”

    “Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species -- man -- acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world.”

    “One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, 'What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?'”

    May 20, 2007

    Bring Hybrid Mini-Vans to the U.S.

    You know you should save gas when you drive, but you hate to give up your mini-van for a hybrid sedan, even if it is more fuel-efficient. How will you ever transport the kids, their friends, their sports gear, the dog, the groceries, and everything else from home to school to playing field and back again?

    In Japan, families have a choice completely unavailable in America—a hybrid minivan with fuel economy Estima on par with a compact car. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) estimates that the Toyota Estima Hybrid could reach around 35 miles per gallon in the United States. "That’s a whopping 50 percent improvement for a minivan," UCS says.

    Toyota hopes to sell about 8,400 Estimas in Japan this year. UCS is encouraging Americans to “show Toyota that the demand for more fuel-economy focused hybrids is even stronger in America” by signing a petition it will deliver to Toyota executives on Memorial Day—the unofficial start of the summer driving (and higher gas price) season, and just before the Toyota annual shareholders meeting.

    Let Toyota know you'd use your purse to buy an energy-efficient mini-van. You have until May 28 to sign the petition.

    May 16, 2007

    Beat High Gas Prices

    Gas prices are barreling towards $4.00 a gallon, and it’s not even Memorial Day, the holiday that normally kicks off the high summer gas season.

    What’s driving the price spike?

    You’ve heard it before: supply, and demand.

    Supply has been shrinking for years – ever since the first oil well was tapped decades ago. But this year, supply is tighter than usual. An unprecedented number of refinery accidents, refinery outages due to maintenance, and drivers’ increasing gasoline demand are draining fuel tanks all over the country.
    In fact, the amount of available gasoline fell by more than half this month, according to government figures. That’s not good news, even to people who drive gas-sipping hybrids.

    What can you do?

    Thumb_beathighgas_smaller I offer about 90 suggestions in my book, Beat High Gas Prices Now! The Fastest, Easiest Ways to Save $20-$50 Every Month on Gasoline. Some highlights:

    * Get a tune-up if you haven’t had one in a while. You’ll improve fuel economy by at least 4.1%.
    * Pumping up your tires will get you another 3%.
    * Use cruise control if you do a lot of highway driving for as much as a 14% fuel economy gain.
    * Skip the drive throughs. "Idling" is another way of saying "wasting gas."
    * If you’re in the market for a new car, buy the most fuel-efficient vehicle in your price range. You can compare mileage at www.fueleconomy.gov.

    Keep this in mind: after Hurricane Katrina in September 2005 pushed gas prices above $3/gallon for the first time, consumers conserved so much gasoline that demand dropped as much as 6.5 percent. You can save money, stabilize gas supply, and help bring prices back under control by using less gas – and still get where you want to go.

    QUESTION: What works for you? Leave a comment with your best gas-saving suggestion.

    May 14, 2007

    How would you spend $456 billion?

    Unbelievable as it seems, the total cost of the Iraq war may reach $456 billion in September, according to the National Priorities Project, an organization that tracks public spending.

    That amount got editors at The Boston Globe wondering: What would $456 billion buy?

    Ethanolpump With just one-sixth of the US money targeted for the Iraq war, they calculate you could convert all cars in America to run on ethanol. (TheBudgetGraph.com estimates that converting the 136,568,083 registered cars in the United States to ethanol (conversion kits at $500) would cost $68.2 billion.)

    According to World Bank estimates, $54 billion a year would eliminate starvation and malnutrition globally by 2015, while $30 billion would provide a year of primary education for every child on earth.

    At the upper range of those estimates, says Boston.com, the $456 billion cost of the war could have fed and educated the world's poor for five and a half years.

    I haven’t done the calculation, but I bet for $456 billion, we could have insulated just about every building in America to reduce our dependence on the foreign oil we’re fighting for in the Middle East.

    We could have improved mass transit in some of the most densely populated cities, another way to reduce our need for fossil fuels and make a dent in global warming, too.

    We even could have revitalized the “Civilian Conservation Corps,” putting young people to work on urban, suburban and rural projects that would restore and beautify neighborhoods, parks, and scenic wild lands while providing jobs and rebuilding our economy.

    What are your ideas for a better way to use the “federal purse” than spend $456 billion on war? Share them here.

    May 11, 2007

    Organic Bouquets

    If you've been bombarded (like I have) by ads from FTD urging you to send flowers to your mother for Mother's Day, you might be happy to note that an organic alternative exists.

    Gerbersautumn Organic Bouquet delivers beautiful arrangements of flowers "grown and harvested using practices that aim to improve working conditions, minimize damage to ecosystems, conserve biodiversity, and enhance environmental quality for future generations."

    In addition to cut flowers, options include maple bonsai trees and even mini lemon trees.

    Of course, if your mom lives right around the block, another alternative is to drop by the farmers market, pick up a few flower bundles from a local grower, and pull together an arrangement yourself. You'll save the energy costs associated with out-of-town delivery and nothing beats watching a smile light up your mother's face when you present her with your own organic bouquet.

    May 09, 2007

    Do You Really Want Your Daughter to Look Like You?

    Three_girls The words, “You look just like your mother!” have taken on new meaning in the chemical age in which we live. According to the nonprofit research institute Environmental Working Group (EWG), we mothers pass the pollutants that have built up in our bodies along to our daughters while they are still in the womb. Consequently, our daughters begin life with a “body burden” of potentially cancer-causing chemicals that continue to accumulate throughout life.

    Chances are great that our daughters will pass on to our grandchildren some of the same chemical molecules they inherited from us. The estimated age by which a daughter will purge 99 percent of the inherited chemical varies depending on the chemical. It will take a day to excrete the phthalate plasticizers that soften up cosmetics, paint and plastics, but a year to dump mercury. Our daughters will be at least teenagers but perhaps senior citizens before they’re rid of the common flame retardants and stain-proofing chemicals we pass along. They would be 166 years old before they’re free of their inherited lead.

    Blackmomgirl_2  Meanwhile, their own body burden continues to increase.  According to EWG’s test results, chemicals that persist in the body were found at higher levels in mothers than daughters, showing how chemicals can build up in the body over a lifetime. Mothers had an average of 1.5 to 5.2 times more pollution than their daughters for lead, methyl mercury, brominated flame retardants, and the Teflon- and Scotchgard-related perfluorochemicals PFOA and PFOS.

    The EWG study, which was done on four mothers and their daughters, found that each of the eight women's blood or urine was contaminated with an average of 35 consumer product ingredients, including flame retardants, plasticizers, and stain-proof coatings. These mixtures of compounds found in furniture, cosmetics, fabrics, and other consumer goods, have never been tested for safety.

    The mothers and daughters in this study join 64 other people tested in six EWG biomonitoring programs conducted between 2000 and 2006. In total, EWG biomonitoring has found 455 different pollutants, pesticides, and industrial chemicals in the bodies or cord blood of 72 different people — including 10 newborn babies with an average of 200 chemicals in each child.

    "EPA studies show that children from birth to age two are 10 times more sensitive to cancer-causing chemicals than adults," said Jane Houlihan, EWG's vice president for research. "Scientists have found that chemicals' toxic effects can be passed down for four generations, by causing permanent genetic changes that can be inherited. A stew of toxic chemicals is not the legacy mothers want to hand down to their children."

    The findings were released a year ago this month at a briefing at the California State Capitol, but nothing has changed, either in terms of our exposure to these chemicals or the companies’ use of them. At the time, joining public health advocates and four of the mothers and daughters were Senate President Pro tem Don Perata, Sen. Deborah Ortiz and Assemblyman John Laird, authors and co-sponsor of SB 1379, a bill to establish the nation's first state-level biomonitoring program to track pollution in people.

    "We monitor the pollution in our air, our water, and even our fish. It's time to start looking at the pollution in our bodies," said Perata.

    May 05, 2007

    First, deadly dog food. Now, contaminated chickens. Locally grown, organic fruits and veggies never looked so good!

    If you ever needed a reason to eat fruits and vegetables that were grown by people you know and trust, read this week's news reports about dead pets and contaminated chickens.

    At least 4,000 dogs and cats have died and thousands more have gotten sick from pet food manufactured in China that contains melamine.  Melamine is an industrial chemical that's supposed to be made into plastic plates, among other things. Instead, it appears to have been intentionally added to animal feed to trick Chinese farmers into thinking they're buying protein. It's ended up in pet food, where it hasn't turned dogs and cats into durable dinnerware. it's killed them.

    Chicken Here's where the story goes from bad to worse. It turns out that the melamine is showing up in chicken feed, too. On Friday, reported the Associated Press, officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency placed a hold on 20 million chickens raised for market in several states because their feed was mixed with pet food containing melamine.

    We don't know yet if the chickens could harm us. And the 20 million chickens represent a tiny proportion of the 9 billion chickens raised every year in the U.S.

    Still, it's bone chilling to think that we could be eating poultry that was intentionally fed industrial chemicals rather than actual nutrients.

    It's at grim times like these that I'm reminded of the value of locally grown, organic food. When I shop at my farmers market, I have a chance to look the person who grew my tomatoes or raised my eggs directly in the eye. I suppose it's possible they'd try to cheat me, harm me even, by spiking their feed or their soil with toxic chemicals that might somehow temporarily enrich them while devastating me. But I doubt it. They have too much to lose -- not just money or business, but the actual human relationship with their customers that is as valuable to them as it is to us.

    Yes, I relish the delicious quality of the locally grown, organic food I buy. But just as much, I savor the accountability and trust I have in the grower.

    Buy local. And look the grower in the eye when you do.

    EcoCentric Mom
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