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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.
  • « June 2007 | Main | August 2007 »

    July 25, 2007

    The Dirt on Cleaning Your house

    Cleaning_woman_2  If you ever felt headachy, nauseous, or irritated after cleaning your house, chances are it’s not just from doing the work. A report just released by the nonprofit group Womens Voices for the Earth suggests that certain chemicals in some household cleaning products may be hazardous to women’s health. Kids are at risk, too.

    A review of 75 studies and research papers points to “a link between certain chemicals in some cleaning products and asthma and reproductive harm,” says report author and WVE scientist Alexandra Gorman. “That means that children, pregnant women, women trying to get pregnant, and persons with asthma are especially vulnerable to these chemicals.”

    Air fresheners deserve special attention, says Gorman, because they may contain carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals as well as chemicals associated with respiratory and reproductive harm.

    The report’s findings are particularly worrisome for women, who still do over 70% of the housework in the average home, and who comprise nearly 90% of maids and housekeepers in the U.S. Children are vulnerable because their organs and immune systems are not yet fully developed. Certain chemicals may interfere with the development of kids’ neurological, endocrine and immune systems.

    You can read the full report on the WVE website.

    You can also take immediate precautions by abandoning whatever commercial cleaning products you use in favor of the safer alternatives and make your own recipes listed at Big Green Purse.

    July 20, 2007

    Consumer Demand Works Magic on Harry Potter

    Hpdeathlyhallows_v160_3   The growing popularity of recycled paper, plus leadership from Canadian publishers, encouraged U.S. publisher Scholastic to print Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on paper that even the whomping willow could be proud of. Nearly two-thirds of the 16,700 tons of paper used to print the 12 million copies of the U.S. version of the book have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as coming from sustainable timber -- the largest-ever purchase of FSC-certified paper to be used in a single book printing, reports Grist.

    In addition, the books contain at least 30 percent recycled fiber.  All 100,000 copies of the deluxe edition will be printed on 100 percent recycled paper in a renewable-energy-powered factory.

    The best news? Making Harry Potter sustainable spurred the development of 32 new ecological papers, six for The Deathly Hallows specifically. The initiative also encouraged 300 publishers to adopt new environmental policies that, hopefully, will endure beyond Harry’s last battle with Voldemort.

    All told, publishing the English-language editions of this last Potter tome on earth-friendly paper have saved 197,685 trees -- an area about 2.5 times the size of Central Park -- and reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by 7.9 million kilograms, the Canadian environmental group Markets Initiative reports. Here's how they explain the achievement in pictures: Harry_potter

    July 18, 2007

    Do We Really Need Brewed Tea in a Box?

    Hello? Anybody paying attention at Pacific Natural Foods?

    I don’t think so. Otherwise, why would a company that seems so ‘on target’ have completely missed the mark?

    Teablacksmall Their latest offering is brewed tea…sold in a box. And it’s not just any box, either. It’s a 64-ounce, “shelf stable” box you can’t recycle, since it’s made from the same waxy aseptic material juice boxes are made from. All you can do is use up the ingredients inside – which, when you get down to it, are basically nothing more than tea you could easily brew yourself at home – and throw the box away.

    The company calls its boxed tea “exciting.” Somehow, the thrill of spending $5.00 for a big box of flavored water I eventually have to landfill is completely lost on me.

    And honestly, it doesn’t matter if Pacific Natural’s product is organic, fair trade, and otherwise “politically correct.” This is a convenience food at an inconvenient time (i.e., with a global warming impact) that will only add to the trash you have to cart out to the curb or the dump every week.

    Thumb_brown Thumbs down.

    P.S. If you want to send the company a note telling them what you think of their new product, you can contact them here.

    Or maybe you should just send them a tea bag.

    July 17, 2007

    Japanese Nuke Accident Reminds Us to Nix Atomic Expansion in U.S.

    The powerful earthquake that ripped through Japan yesterday should send a powerful signal to Americans that nuclear power is not a solution to our energy woes.

    Jap_reactor The earthquake not only killed nine people and injured somewhere between 8,000 and 13,000 more as it flattened houses and buckled highways. It also struck Kashiwazaki Kariwa, the world’s largest nuclear power plant, sending radioactive water into the sea.

    About 100 drums containing low-level nuclear waste were also toppled at the plant during the quake, which measured between 6.6 and 6.8 on the Richter scale.

    Japanese officials, who have been notoriously secret about the impact that past nuclear incidents may have had on people or the local ecology, have not yet revealed the full extent of the damage this incident may have had. But it should be enough to remind Americans that, rather than look to nuclear power as a fuel source, we should focus on developing benign energy sources.

    According to the non-profit Nuclear Energy Information Service, nuclear power contributes only 20-22% of electricity in the U.S., and only 8-10% of the total energy we consume. Each nuclear power plant costs between $3 to $5 billion just to construct. The U.S. would need over 400 additional nuclear reactors to replace its coal plants, in a construction process that would cost at least $2 trillion and take decades to complete. Meanwhile, compared to nuclear power, for every dollar spent on conservation and efficiency, seven times the amount of global warming carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere.

    As debate continues to swirl around how America should meet its energy needs, we can point to Japan’s nuclear industry as a vivid reminder of why we should not expand our own. Better yet, as consumers, let's do everything possible to increase the efficiency with which we use energy at home and at work, and buy “green” power from wind and solar sources as it becomes available in our communities.

    July 16, 2007

    Is It Time to Boycott Bottled Water?

    Evian3 The more bottled water we drink, the bigger the toll it takes on the environment.  Think about it:

    • According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, it takes 1.5 million gallons of oil – enough to run 100,000 cars for an entire year – to make plastic water bottles. Transporting the bottles, first to the water plant, then to consumers, burns thousands of gallons more.

    • For every gallon of water bottled, two gallons of water are used to wash and prepare the bottles.

    • Water that goes into bottles either comes from underground aquifers, which are shrinking due to excessive demand, or the tap. In fact, 24% of the bottled water we buy is tap water repackaged by Coke (Dasani) and Pepsi (Aquafina).

    • We toss 38 billion water bottles - in excess of $1 billion worth of plastic – into landfills every year.

    • In most cases, tap water is actually safer and healthier than bottled water, due to the more stringent federal regulations that protect tap water.

    Bottled water is also more expensive than we realize. If the water we use at home cost what even cheap bottled water costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000, says Charles Fishman in Message in a Bottle, a terrific overview of the bottled water in the July issue of Fast Company.

    Mary Hunt, at www.inwomenwetrust.com, urges consumers to boycott bottled water, and I’m with her. She thinks we can do it if we switch our “mindset of convenience."

    Sigg_2 Actually, switching to your own bottle wouldn’t be so tough. Everyone carries a briefcase, purse or backpack these days; why not add a lightweight bottle you could refill when you got thirsty? Enterprising stores could charge $.25 for a fill-up (the way they charge you for "the cup" when you just get water anyway) and make a ten-cent profit on every “bottle” of water they sold. It would be better – and cheaper – for you to refill your water bottle than to buy bottled water from the store’s refrigerator.

    Responsible stores that sell bottled water could also do their part by setting up recycling bins so consumers could bring their bottles back. It might require putting a five- or ten-cent deposit on the bottles to give consumers a little incentive to do the right thing. So be it. Deposits on glass bottles and cans in several states have proven to be effective; let’s extend deposit legislation to plastic bottles, too.

    If, despite the fact that U.S. tap water is generally extremely safe to drink, you still worry about the quality, rather than buy water in plastic bottles, get a filter. Some options include:

    BritaSo-Clear UnderCounter Perma-Filter - an under-the-sink filtrating system that uses recyclable filters
    Brita On Tap System - a simple system you can mount on your faucet; you can also use the Brita pitcher filter
    Pur Ultimate Pitcher - another easily available pitcher option

    You can compare ten different filter options at 
    http://www.waterfiltercomparisons.com/Water_Filter_Comparison_Matrix.cfm

    You can find some chic water bottles at Kleen Kanteen and Sigg.

    Still want to buy your H2O in a bottle? Voss water is sold in a glass bottle in restaurants, health clubs and spas. You’re still paying exorbitant prices for the water, but at least the glass bottle is reusable.

    July 08, 2007

    Are the drugs you take giving the fish in the lake conniptions?

    Pills_34163_2 If you’re pouring them down the drain or flushing them down the toilet, they could be.


    Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency have found fish, frogs and other aquatic animals with both male and female sex organs, freaks of nature they attribute to the growing amounts of pharmaceuticals showing up in rivers, lakes and streams.


    The pharmaceuticals include narcotics, birth control drugs, anti-depressants and other controlled substances that most wastewater treatment plants aren’t equipped to remove. One study found nine male smallmouth bass in the Potomac River near Washington, D.C.carrying female eggs inside their sex organs.


    You can read all about it in the July/August issue of E Magazine (see “Water Worries: Drugs are turning up in drinking water and causing bizarre mutations.”).


    Meanwhile, if you’re disposing of pharmaceuticals you no long need, toss them in the trash, not down the toilet. You can also contact Earth Keepers, (906) 228-6095, a grassroots group that organized a highly successful program in Michigan to collect old drugs to keep them out of the water.

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