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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.
  • « December 2007 | Main | February 2008 »

    January 27, 2008

    Shop On Sale

    Organic Pressed Leaves Flannel Flat Sheet

    Organic cotton bed linens are luxurious but expensive – until they go on sale. Gaiam.com’s annual green sale is underway now, making organic bedding far more affordable. Sample:

    Organic wool comforters – normally $249; on sale for $201

    Organic cotton pillow – normally  $50; on sale for $37

    Organic cotton flannel sheets - 20% off

    If you're looking for ways to shift your spending to more eco-friendly products, shop sales like these!

    January 23, 2008

    Free Reusable Bags at Whole Foods

    Whole Foods Markets from New Jersey to Virginia began giving away one free reusable bag per customer yesterday to encourage shoppers to “BYOB” – Bring Your Own Bag.

    Betterbag1sm The bag had already caught my eye, not only because it’s so cheerful and colorful, but also because it’s made from 80% post-consumer waste.  Plus, it’s got a washable surface and actually seems more ample inside than the standard paper grocery bag.

    I asked Lillian Buie, marketing manager for the Whole Foods where I shop in Silver Spring, MD, what the give-away meant for the store’s use of paper and plastic bags.

    As of Earth Day 2008 (April 22, 2008), we won’t be bagging food in plastic anymore,” she said.  Paper bags (made from 100% recycled paper, and totally recyclable) will remain an option for customers who don’t bring their own bags, and the store will still provide plastic for bagging produce, meats and fish. But plastic grocery bags will be gone.

    Even if you miss the free giveaway, these bags are worth buying. At only 99 cents per bag, you can’t go wrong (I’ve already bought three). And every time you use them, you’ll get a 5 cents/per bag refund on your grocery bill. The bags will pay for themselves in no time.

    Thumb_green_2 Thumbs up, Whole Foods.

    MEMORY TIP: BTW, if you have trouble remembering to take reusable bags to the grocery store, try this: after you unpack your groceries, put all the bags inside a main bag, and put the main bag with your car keys. The next time you go to your car, take the bags and toss them in the back seat or the trunk. The bags won’t clutter a kitchen cupboard or closet, and you’ll always have reusable bags when you shop.

    January 18, 2008

    Celebs Leave Their Mark on "Sustainable Hands of Fame" at Sundance Film Festival

    Celebs attending the Sundance Film Festival dropped by our Sustainability Suite today and got a good dose of "eco" to take home with them (along with a few environmentally-friendly goodies). Highlights:

    WHO - Among those who dropped by were Bill Pullman (left, with me), the "president" in the blockbuster film Billpullman "Independence Day" and Elle Fanning, the charming nine-year-old who stars with Pullman in "Phoebe in Wonderland," which premiered at Sundance.

    Timdaly1 Tim Daly of the hit TV show "Private Practice" also stopped in, saying that he and his family live a very "eco" lifestyle in New England. And Rachel Smith (right), Miss USA 2007Miss_usa, couldn't have been more enthusiastic about the idea of using her own "big green purse."

    Meanwhile, Jeremy Glazer of the Oscar-winning "Letters from Iwo Jima," plus rapper "Dr. Oz," various tv personalities, and the manager of the band Alice Cooper (!) mingled with stars from the movie "2 Fast 2 Furious" - not an eco-flick, but that didn't stop the guys from proclaiming their enthusiasm for all things earth-friendly. 

    200pxthe_haitian_2  Jimmy Jean-Louis (left), the "Haitian" on "Heroes," said hello, too. Like the others, he happily took a copy of the Big Green Purse booklet we're handing out as a prelude to the publication of the entire book in February.

    WHAT - Everyone who visited our suite graciously agreed to participate in our Sustainable Hands of Fame project: after dipping their palms in non-toxic, no-VOC Olympic paint (green, of course), they stamped Celeb_with_hands_2 their handprint on a beautiful Marmoleum floor tile (made by Forbo, Inc.) that's crafted from recyclable, bio-based materials. The tiles will be auctioned on EBay, with profits going to charities like Alaska Wilderness League and World Peace One. Anyone needing a break took a breather on the beautiful furniture made from reclaimed teak by Groovy Stuff.

    As Hollywood Reporter TV cameras filmed the rappers jamming in front of the Sustainability Suite sign-in, I talked with producers about including more eco-tips in their upcoming productions. No promises yet - but these indie filmmakers couldn't have been more receptive to the idea of "going green."

    January 16, 2008

    Most Fuel-Efficient Cars Still the Prius and Honda Civic

    Despite all the green cars I saw on display at the North American International Auto Show, I came away convinced that if you want to buy a really eco-friendly vehicle, the highly fuel-efficient Prius and Honda Civic Hybrids are still your best bet.

    Here are a few comparisons of gas-saving vehicles in case you're in the market for a car right now. Mileage estimates are taken from the federal www.fueleconomy.gov. (By the way, you can reduce exterior maintenance on your car by keeping it covered. Here are a variety of Honda car covers, courtesy of CarCovers.com.)

    Sedans

    2008_toyota_prius • Toyota Prius (left) - 48 mpg city/ 45 mpg hwy (some drivers report getting as much as 56 mpg on the hwy; some drivers report getting as "little" as 35 mpg in the city -- which still outperforms most other models)

    2007_honda_civic_sedan_hybrid • Honda Civic Hybrid (right) - 40 mpg city/ 45 mpg hwy

    • Camry Hybrid Sedan 33 mpg city/ 34 mpg hwy (some drivers report getting as much as 42 mpg on the highway
    • Toyota Corolla 28 mpg city/ 37 mpg hwy
    • Toyota Yaris 29 mpg city/ 36 mpg hwy  (manual transmission)
    • Saturn Aura Hybrid Sedan  24 mpg city/ 32 mpg hwy

    Mini Vans (still no gas-saving hybrids available; the companies are focusing their fuel-efficiency initiatives on sedans and SUVs)

    2007_honda_odyssey • Honda Odyssey - 17 mpg city/ 25 mpg hwy

    • Dodge Caravan - 17 mpg city/ 24 mpg hwy
    • Toyota Sienna - 16 mpg city /21 mpg hwy

    SUV Hybrids (from an environmental point of view, there's no point in considering non-hybrid SUVs, all of which get less than 20 mpg, and many of which squeak by with a measley 10-15 mpg)

    2008_ford_escape_hybrid • Ford Escape Hybrid  29 mpg city/ 29 mpg hwy (right)
    • Saturn Vue Hybrid 25 mpg city/ 32 mpg hwy
    • Toyota Highlander  27 mpg city / 25 mpg hwy

    2008_ford_f150 Thumb_brownbmpCompare any of these to the best-selling Ford F-150 FFV 4WD pick-up truck. This gas guzzler gets a paltry 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the hwy. And if you use the E-85 ethanol blend so many of the car makers are talking up, the fuel efficiency of the F-150 drops significantly: to 10 mpg in the city and 12 mpg hwy.

    To compare other cars you may be considering, visit www.fueleconomy.gov.

    To see the most fuel-efficient vehicles by class, visit http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/class-high.htm.

    To take a peek at the new green cars you can consider buying in 2010, read the rundown at EcoGeeks.

     

    January 14, 2008

    Auto Companies Need to Work Together on Battery Technology

    Plug-in hybrids - PHEVs - could revolutionize the impact cars have on the environment...if only they had the right battery.

    Green_line_hybrid General Motors, Toyota, and other auto manufacturers hope to put their first plug-ins on sales floors by the year 2010 (see Saturn Green Live Vue hybrid, left). When they do, all you'll have to do is plug your vehicle into a regular 120-volt electrical socket, charge the car for several hours overnight, and drive away. You won't need a single drop of gasoline! In fact, because electricity is cheaper than gasoline, the fuel cost is expected to be the equivalent of less than $1/gallon of gas.

    Here at the North American Auto Show, car makers are trumpeting their fuel-efficient plug-ins with the same zeal that's being devoted to their gas-guzzling SUVs and luxury vehicles. Why?

    Jennifer Moore, Corporate News Manager for Ford Motor Company, says, "Automakers respond to consumer choice. We wanted to do the right thing for the environment, but we also listened to what people said they wanted to buy."  Score one for green consumer demand!

    Still, plug-ins are at least two years away from occupying a spot on your driveway. What's holding manufacturers up is their need to perfect the lithium-ion battery they're all using to store the car's electric power. The battery is complicated to engineer, expensive to make, and tricky to integrate with the rest of the car design.

    At a press conference earlier today, I asked Tony Clarke, President for General Motors North America, why all the automotive companies couldn't band together to pool research resources and accelerate battery development.

    Clarke initially responded with the traditional corporate-think response: "The first company that brings the battery technology to market will have tremendous consumer advantage." In other words, there's a lot of money at stake.

    But when pressed, Clarke acknowledged that the sooner all companies have the technology, the faster automakers will be able to profit from what is clearly the next wave in energy-efficient automotive technology.  If other companies collaborate, "we'd love to be a part of that," GM's Clarke said.

    Clearly, the sooner that happens, the sooner the environment and public health will benefit as well.

    January 13, 2008

    Protesters, Rock Stars and High Fashion Set the Stage at Detroit Auto Show

    For the next couple of days, I’ll be blogging live from the North American International Auto Show in  Detroit, where dozens of 2008 model cars are on display along with more  than 50 “concept” cars and production vehicles. I’m here at the  invitation of General Motors, though I’m under no obligation to write “nice” about GM’s cars – or anyone else’s for that matter. Highlights so far: 

    • 1731246autoshowcarsandstarssff The over-the-top GM Style event Saturday night on the Detroit River waterfront: Extraordinary food (lobster tacos,  scallop “lollipops” and dip-your-own chocolate truffles) preceded a  runway show featuring 19 new GM car designs, stick-thin models adorned  in high fashion gowns color-coordinated to match the autos sharing the  runway with them, and live performances by Mary J. Blige, Kid Rock and  enviro-band Maroon 5 . Adam  Levine, Maroon 5’s lead singer, sounded the only eco-note of the  evening when, during the band’s pre-concert press event, thanked “any  companies making hybrids.”
    •  
    • Rick Waggoner, General Motors chairman and CEO announced a new partnership with Coskata to make ethanol from “practically any renewable source, including  garbage, old tires and plant waste.” Any ethanol effort to use biomass  waste rather than expand corn production (and the related environmental  impact from fertilizers and pesticides) is good news.
    •  
    • Two  environmental protesters carrying an impressive airborne bouquet of  inflated green balloons were tackled and (presumably) evicted from the  entrance to the show when they attempted to unfurl a banner. I arrived  on the scene just as one of the activists was being thrown to the  ground; meanwhile, one man who appeared to be a credentialed reporter  started shouting “freedom of speech.” (I tried to get the security  guards to let me read the banner, but they just laughed and walked  away.)
    •  
    • I  learned that the SMART car, a vehicle for two made by Daimler  (manufacturers of Mercedes Benz) goes on sale tomorrow. They have  30,000 orders so far from people looking to buy an auto that will help  them save gas in their “zip code range.” I first saw these cars on a  trip to Amsterdam in 2000 – it’s about time they crossed the big pond!
    •  
    • Meanwhile…India’s Tata Motors almost stole everyone’s thunder. On Thursday, the company unveiled the world's cheapest car,  a $2,500 four-door subcompact that gets 50 mpg and travels no faster  than 60 mpg. Environmentalists are decrying the “Nano” because it will  encourage more driving in one of the world’s most populous nations. But  the miles-per-gallon achievement should remind every manufacturer on  display here in Detroit– especially those that continue to tie their  fortunes to gas guzzlers like Hummers and other SUVS – that higher fuel  efficiency standards are becoming the global norm.

    Upcoming: What’s so smart about the SMART car? And when can you buy GM’s Volt?

    January 11, 2008

    Stars will meet Sustainability at the Sundance Film Festival

    Celebrities, film producers, documentary and feature film makers, and other “VIPs” will be able to give their purses and pocketbooks a “green makeover” when they visit the Big Green Purse Sustainability Suite January 18-20 at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

    Biggreenpurse_book_cover_wrule2_3   They’ll also be among the first in the country to sneak a peek at the new Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World, the definitive guide to green living available in bookstores everywhere February 28.

    The Sustainability Suite, co-hosted by the Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability, will feature products and services that help protect the environment by meeting the Institute’s SMaRT sustainable standards or other meaningful environmental criteria. Featured products will include Forbo Marmoleum flooring; Olympic “no-VOC” paint; Groovy Stuff furniture; and more. The Alaska Wilderness League, the nation’s pre-eminent defender of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, will also be on hand.

    Celebrities who want to give their purse or pocketbook a “green makeover” can browse the contents of the suite’s sample Big Green Purse. Contents will include Sigg Water Bottles, Indigo Wild organic soap, Tees for Change bamboo and organic cotton t-shirts, a Nau cashmere scarf, recycled vinyl billfolds from MonkeyGrassOnline, organic cosmetics and tea, a compact fluorescent lightbulb, organic chocolate, a new “green” credit card, and more.

    VIPs looking for more information can browse the pages of the new Big Green Purse book (Penguin/Avery – Feb, 2008) or sign up for bi-monthly Purse Alerts on the Big Green Purse website.

    The Big Green Purse suite, which is located in the Treasure Mountain Inn, Park City’s only “green” hotel, is part of the Alive Expo Green Pavilion, a showcase for innovative environmentally-friendly companies as well as over $10,000 worth of health and wellness services and products. 

    I and co-host Mary Hunt, the SMaRT sustainable standards guru, will be blogging live during our Sundance event. Stay tuned!

    January 09, 2008

    Women Are "The Deciders"

    Hillary Clinton’s inspiring victory in the New Hampshire primary yesterday vindicates not only her message but the power women have to change the world.

    Hillary_with_women  As news reports noted this morning, “The New York senator went from narrowly losing the women's vote in Iowa to Barack Obama to swamping him in New Hampshire among females, 46 percent to 34 percent. Women had been the anchor of her support in national and regional polling for most of the past year, and she had seemed in danger of springing a leak in her major constituency. This was crucial, since females usually comprise more than half those who vote for Democrats across the country.”

    I say, why stop at the voting booth? Harnessing their clout in the marketplace, women could become the most influential voice for environmental change in 2008 and beyond.

    Women already spend $.85 of every dollar at the check-out counter. Just as they focused their votes in New Hampshire to send Hillary over the top, women who “vote with their dollars” to buy products and services that benefit the environment can create a groundswell of support for manufacturing that goes easy on the earth.

    Hillary_point The New Hampshire primary has breathed new life not only into Hillary’s presidential bid. It has also cast a big bright spotlight on the power women have to create the world they want. From the ballot box to the cash register, from the presidency to the planet, women can be "the deciders" in more ways than one.

    January 04, 2008

    New "Green" Visa Card Helps Offset Climate Change

    Brighterplanet Brighter Planet helps people fight global warming and build a clean-energy future by allowing people to devote points they earn on their new Visa credit card to non-polluting energy projects.

    Patti_3   As CEO, Patti Prairie develops the group’s strategic plan, leads product launches, oversees operations, and maximizes shareholder value. A long-time practitioner of conservation and efficiency, Patti joined the Brighter Planet team after an impressive career as a senior executive at IBM, American Express, Beneficial Management, and BankBoston.  I caught up with her at the Good and Green conference in Chicago this past November.

    You seem to have hit on an ingenious way to raise money to support an important environmental initiative. How does the Brighter Planet Visa® card work, and what kinds of projects will benefit?

    Instead of earning mileage or cash back like some other credit cards, you can earn points that help build clean, renewable energy projects in communities across the United States. We have chosen to work with NativeEnergy to source our projects and we are excited about the kinds of projects we are helping build through our card, like wind power in public school districts or on Native American lands; others are cow power on family farms.  All are well suited to produce energy and meet Brighter Planet’s stringent standards, but lack sufficient financing until now.

    • Is what you're offering basically an affinity card for the environment? Why would I need it if I already have a card that benefits a group like the Sierra Club or Natural Resources Defense Council?

    The Brighter Planet Visa® card is an affinity card that empowers individuals to take charge of climate change. Climate change is about something bigger than the environment; it will affect every aspect of our society from the economy to our choice of recreation.

    Our card is unique in that our community of cardholders supports specific renewable energy projects and works directly to reduce carbon emissions in our country. It is dynamic in that we choose new projects on a regular basis, and it is transparent in that you will always know where your money is going and why it is going there. The work of the Sierra Club, NRDC, and so many other environmental organizations is essential to furthering a sustainable future for the world. Brighter Planet is a strong supporter of all groups that are putting their shoulders to the wheel.

    • Who do you hope uses the card? Do you have to do a lot of shopping to benefit from the card?

    Anyone and everyone should use our card! Most Americans now feel that it is their responsibility to address climate change.  Our card provides an easy and convenient way to address the issue in our everyday lives. At this point, we can all take small steps like changing our light bulbs or large steps like buying more fuel-efficient vehicles, but there are very few intermediate steps. As a company, we want to provide easy ways for consumers to make each purchase a little greener.

    Cardfordiane You don’t have to shop more to make a difference!  With every regular, every-day purchase you make with the Brighter Planet Visa® card, the rewards go toward building renewable energy projects that lessen the impact each purchase has on the environment. Certainly, the less you buy, the smaller your individual carbon footprint will be, thus the amount of carbon offsets needed to negate your impact is smaller. 

    • Is it better to use the card for some purchases than others? Are you advocating using the card to offset specific types of purchases (i.e., would you use it to buy a refrigerator, since you could get an "automatic" offset of sorts from the purchase)?

    You should use the card for any and all purchases because the more you use it, the more renewable energy will be built. Some cardholders have even told us that they are using their Brighter Planet Visa® for their year-end charitable contributions – giving to their favorite charities and the earth at the same time!  The more you and your family use the card for your regular purchases, the closer you can come to offsetting your entire carbon footprint, thus eliminating your personal contribution to climate change.  We think this is powerful.

    • How do you answer critics who claim that a card like this simply encourages more consumerism, which has so many negative environmental impacts?

    Certainly, the best thing that a Brighter Planet Visa® cardholder can do to lessen their contribution to climate change is to practice mindful consumption. As a company, we are not encouraging cardholders to buy more; in fact, we are very committed to helping individuals understand how their lifestyle choices contribute to their footprint. Our motto to help guide individuals in their own efforts to adapt their lifestyles is “Conserve what you can, offset what you can’t.” To put it simply:

    • Reduce greenhouse gas emitting activities (e.g. carpool to work)
    • Replace dirty technologies with greener technologies (e.g. get rid of incandescent light bulbs)
    • Offset what you can’t eliminate (e.g. use your Brighter Planet Visa®card)

    On our website, www.brighterplanet.com, our cardholders can set up a carbon footprint profile, track their progress, and set goals to lower their personal consumption.

    Many people feel carbon offsets don't really make a difference, since they allow people to continue extravagant or "earth wasteful" behavior, and then simply "pay" for it through their offset. Presumably, you disagree?

    I believe that offsetting plays a crucial role in the fight against climate change. It is often difficult for individuals and families to alter certain behaviors, whether it’s how they make their living, what kind of house they live in, or how much money they can spend on greening their lifestyle. It may not be practical, for instance, for carpenters to drive a Prius to and from the job site; others simply cannot afford to buy a new, fuel-efficient car.

    Shared services – that build our roads, fund our schools, support our military, and light our streets – make up over one quarter of the average carbon footprint.  We benefit but do not control these.  Yet cardholders can tackle that aspect of their carbon footprint through our cards’ rewards of offsets.

    The Brighter Planet Visa®card educates consumers and allows them to do something more with their rewards: help communities build clean, renewable energy. I’m proud to be playing a role in that.

    • How will you measure the success of your effort?

    We will measure success by building a community of card-carrying individuals who are making a significant contribution to a clean-energy future.  Not only will these individuals be addressing their own carbon emissions but also collectively creating sizable impact.  To put this into context, if 100,000 Brighter Planet cardholders each spend $600 on their card in one month that earns 60 million Earth Smart Points and buys 60,000 tons of carbon offsets.  This is equivalent to taking 10,000 average cars off the road for a full year or powering and heating/cooling 5,000 homes for one year!

    What environmental benefit do you project a person/family can achieve by using your card for 50% (or some other appropriate number) of her/their purchases?

    The average American uses a card for more than $12,000 of purchases each year. If 50% of that was with the Brighter Planet Visa®credit card, the renewable energy created would be the equivalent of taking an average car off the road for a year AND, with Bank of America’s 50% match through December 2008, heating/cooling the average American home for a year.  Our card makes it easy for individuals to make each purchase a little greener. The collective potential is staggering.

    What about this card might be particularly appealing to women?

    This card is appealing to women who are concerned about making a better world. Many people think that in fifty years our children will be asking, “Why didn't they do anything to fight climate change?”  We won’t have any excuses because the solutions are here, right in front of us.  Now, we all need to commit to do our part to fight global warming and create a clean energy future.

    EcoCentric Mom
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