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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.
  • « August 2008 | Main | October 2008 »

    September 28, 2008

    Forget Black and Orange. Can I Get That In "Green"?

    As Halloween unofficially kicks off the holiday buying season, Big Green Purse is encouraging consumers to ask "Can I get it in 'green'?" no matter what they're looking for when they shop.

    The idea is to pressure the nation's 1.6 million U.S. retailers more forcefully than ever before to offer the greenest products and services available.  Looking for a sweater? Ask if the store has it in "green" - i.e., made from certified organic or recycled fiber by Fair Trade workers. Buying toys? Inquire about "green" dolls, action figures, stuffed animals, and games made in the U.S. from certified sustainable materials finished with non-toxic glues and paints. Thinking about electronics? Request the "greenest" options, which you can find on the ratings pages at Greenpeace.

    In all likelihood, most stores, especially those occupying the very un-green real estate characteristic of shopping and strip malls, won't have a ready supply of certified green goods on hand. But that's why consumer demand is so important.

    *  Given that consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of GDP, consumer behavior has an oversized  influence on the entire economy. What you buy tells manufacturers what to make more of -- and how.

    The Christmas shopping season alone can account for as much as forty per cent of a retail store’s annual revenue and as much as three-quarters of its annual profit. Consistently demanding the greenest possible goods from now until the end of December -- and buying them when you find them -- is the most immediate route available to change corporate behavior.   

    The National Retail Federation estimates that consumers will spend $470.4 billion during the 2008 holiday shopping season, more than $1,000 per household.

    Shifting even 20% of that money would amount to an end-of-year infusion of more than $94 billion to eco-manufacturers, providing needed financial capital to entrepreneurs the federal government routinely ignores. Though the government seems more than willing to spend $700 billion to bail out the outdated banking industry, it offers little or no money to help innovative manufacturers transition to certified environmentally-friendly practices, an action that arguably could have a far more positive impact on our economy and national security than rescuing failed banks.

    It goes without saying that the greenest way to celebrate the holidays is to reduce buying as much as possible. The reality is that people are going to shop - at least for holiday food and drink, and for most, much more. Shoppers who shift their spending to green products help infuse environmentally-friendly producers and retailers with the capital they need to continue to ramp up their eco-offerings while eliminating practices that pollute the air and water and accelerate climate change. They also create a resounding drumbeat that lasts far beyond the Christmas sales.

    Plus, asking "Can I get it in 'green'?" creates an opportunity to educate a substantial number of people who, for a few minutes at least, are a captive audience: the 25 million Americans - 1 out of every 5 working U.S. citizens - employed in the retail industry.

    So, start asking "Can I Get It In 'Green'?" And don't keep the answers to yourself! Share them with the rest of us via the Get It Green Forum or over on Twitter.

    And for other holiday and Halloween ideas, check out the Green Moms Carnival, hosted this month by Green Bean Dreams.

    September 24, 2008

    Another "One in a Million" Shifts Spending to Used Car, Organic Make-up

    One_in_a_million The One in a Million campaign is inspiring thousands of women to shift $1,000 of their household budget to products and services that offer the greatest environmental benefit.
    Meet the latest "Millionaire":  Christine G. from Pittsburgh, PA shifted almost $5,000 in the following ways:
    *  Used Car - $4,700
    *  Organic Makeup - $23.00
    *  Used books for herself and gifts - $103.00
    *  Organic lotions and shampoos - $54.00
    Total Shift:  $4,881.00
    Here's her story:
    " I am recently married, have one spoiled dog name Meeko, a husband Steve who supports the green effort I'm trying to undertake in my own little corner of the world (and who really likes me not buying the unnecessary items at all!). I am in charge of a safety program on the job and have started to incorporate "green living" into safety talks and communications out to the people in the field who work with the same program, though I do not manage any employees directly.
    "I was looking for a "new to me vehicle" and I did not want to buy new and lose value as soon as I drove off the lot.  I look at buying a used vehicle as recycling, but did not look at the mpg as the price was soooo right.  The mpg is no worse than the vehicle I have replaced by buying this used vehicle.
    Re what inspired Christine to become One in a Million? "I want to do my part - once I thought about what "organic" and "free trade" and "shade grown" and all the other phrases really mean, I realized that it's not only good for the planet in the big picture, it's good for me in the immediate future."
    Will she continue to shift her spending? "I do continue to buy greener products and services, though I'm also just not buying as much unnecessary items as I have in the past - and I finally found Bon Ami!!, so I'll be cleaning a little greener, too."
    "I am the major purchaser for the household. I am looking for bamboo flooring in anticipation of when we'll need it in the future for a remodeling project. I'm interested in solar panels or at least sky-lights. I am buying organic groceries as much as possible (milk, parents have a farm so fresh free-range eggs are no problem, local farmer's market fruit and veggies instead of imported and treated from who knows where with who knows what) as well as H&B items (shampoo, cosmetics, sunscreens, etc.)."
    "I will think green before any purchase and purchase to the greenest of my ability - be it gently used, flea market, donation store, hand me overs, etc.  I'm trying to work "green" into everything I can."
    Thumbs up, Christine!Thumb_green

    September 19, 2008

    Certifications Help Consumers Conquer Green Confusion

    What's that, you say? You want to shift your spending to greener goods but you don't have a clue what's "green" and what's being "greenwashed"?

    You're not alone. Polls show that confusion is one of the top reasons why shoppers don't buy more eco-friendly products.

    Certifications and standards help solve the problem in two ways. First, they set meaningful environmental goals (for saving energy, protecting air and water quality as well as public health, conserving wilderness and wildlife) that motivate manufacturers to be more ambitious in reducing their environmental footprint. Second, they inspire confidence in consumers, who value the "third party verification" of a company's eco-claims. It's one thing for a business to crow about how green it is. It's far more reassuring if someone else says so, too.

    Earlier, we reported on Greenzer.com, an e-commerce portal that helps consumers by linking to products that are either certified sustainable, "inherently" green (like reusable shopping bags), or have predominantly green attributes. 

    GreenYour.com
    , the newest site in the green shopping spectrum, has also made certifications and standards the cornerstones of its recommendations.

    A GreenYour product must meet one or more of the following:

    1. Green Certification: The product or its principal components are certified and labeled by a credible environmental organization such as EPA’s Energy Star program, USDA Organic, Greenguard, Green Seal, EcoLogo, or the Forest Stewardship Council.

    2. Green Attributes: The product or its principal components are extracted, harvested, manufactured, distributed, consumed, or disposed in an environmentally or socially responsible way. Green attributes also can relate to materials or ingredients that are ecologically responsible in nature, such as post-consumer recycled content paper, organic cotton, or bamboo, as well as socially responsible business practices, such as Fair Trade practices.

    3. Green Yield: The product allows the consumer to reduce his or her direct greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, water use, or waste. Examples include reusable water bottles, public transportation, CFL lightbulbs, or low-flow fixtures.

    Already, Greenzer.com has compiled a catalog of 15,000 products that meet its criteria. GreenYour.com is adding certified products to its site as fast as it can. That's encouraging news, given how much stuff is still being manufactured with little concern for planetary impact. Websites like Greenzer.com and GreenYour.com are helping create momentum that, at some point, should transform  every product and service in the marketplace.

    September 16, 2008

    How to Protect Your Family From Bisphenol A

    Baby1 Bisphenol-A, a toxic chemical used to make baby bottles, plastic water bottles, and food and beverage can liners, has been linked to heart disease and diabetes. Even so, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) insists that the chemical is fine for use by infants, children and adults.

    BPA, an artificial sex hormone, has produced irreversible damage in test animals. It has been under fire from environmentalists, scientists, and, increasingly, concerned moms.

    FDA, the federal agency charged with regulating food safety, has argued that BPA can continue to be used in consumer products. The agency cites 2 studies indicating that the chemical is safe, despite the fact that both studies were funded by the chemical industry.

    Environmental Working Group, the consumer watchdog research institute, says, "The FDA has refused to take into serious consideration more than 100 independent animal studies suggesting the toxic chemical could be linked to serious disorders in humans, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, early puberty, obesity and learning and behavioral problems."

    University of Missouri research scientist Frederick Vom Saal today released one of the most comprehensive studies ever published on BPA. The study links heart disease and diabetes to continual, low-dose exposure to BPA -- exactly the kind of exposure you would get from drinking canned sodas regularly or drinking regularly from plastic bottles.

    In an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, scientists report a strong correlation between levels of BPA in American adults and these diseases, both of which are increasing.

    "These startling results only increase the urgency of removing BPA from products used by young children," said EWG senior scientist Anila Jacob M.D. M.P.H. "If the adult population in the U.S. is seeing links between this toxic chemical and heart disease and diabetes, imagine what impact much higher exposure levels are having on babies whose bodies are just developing."

    The National Toxicology Program, an arm of the National Institutes of Health, has asserted that it has "some concern" for BPA¹s negative impact on "development of the prostate gland and brain and for behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children."

    "If this weren¹t so serious, it would be laughable," said EWG VP for Research, Jane Houlihan. "Here we have an agency that time and again makes the wrong call on everything from pharmaceuticals, tomatoes and toothpaste, and we¹re supposed to take them at their word over a toxic sex hormone found in baby products."

    Until state or federal laws pass outlawing BPA in consumer products, you can protect yourself by:

    * minimizing your consumption of canned food and canned beverages, as BPA may be used to line the cans; choose fresh or frozen food and bottled juices instead

    * buy only water bottles or baby bottles that explicitly say they are BPA-Free

    Kleen_kanteen * use glass baby bottles and reusable water bottles made from stainless steel or aluminum

    * avoid plastic food and beverage containers that are made with #7 plastic; you should see the number in a triangle on the bottom of the bottle.

    Greenzer.com makes shopping for sustainable products a little easier.

    Newgreenzerlogo If you've been hankering to use your big green purse to buy green goods but haven't been able to find the goods, Greenzer may be just what you're looking for.

    The recently launched website lists over 15,000 products that have been evaluated based on specific green attributes and environmental certifications. You can browse, compare and shop from more than 65 merchant partners who, while perhaps not ecologically perfect, offer a significant improvement over the standard or conventional option.

    Co-founder Jeremy Arditi says Greenzer chooses its products based on four criteria:

    * Green labels and certifications (to include products rated, labeled or certified by groups like the Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Star, the Forest Stewardship Council, Green Guard and EPEAT);

    * Green attributes (e.g., organically grown, solar-powered, post-consumer recycled, cruelty-free);

    * Green categories (focusing on product options that are inherently greener than conventional alternatives. Think rechargeable batteries, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and reusable water bottles).

    * Green companies and brands that have made it a priority to conduct their business in an environmentally beneficial way (such as Seventh Generation or Bi-O-Kleen).

    Shopping categories range from apparel & accessories and babies & kids to electronics, home & garden, office products and travel. Regardless of the category, shoppers can compare both the eco-qualities and the price of the options they're considering. Some categories, like computers, give individual products a "greenzer score" based on aggregates of several leading data sources that track the environmental performance of products and brands. However, all products listed on Greenzer have met the company's minimum green filtering criteria.

    One feature unique to Greenzer is its "Green Face Off." Sometimes, a conventional product is paired with its eco alternative. Sometimes two eco options appear side-by-side. The face-offs compare costs, environmental impacts and a sense of "the big picture" -- what you, and the planet, have to gain or lose depending on what you buy.

    Thumb_green Ultimately, it would be ideal to see third-party certification for all products listed. In the meantime, this is a great step in the right direction.

    Thumbs up, Greenzer!

    September 10, 2008

    "One in a Million" Mom Shifts $1,000 to Greener Food, Bedding, Biking

    One_in_a_million Thousands of women have joined the "One in a Million" campaign. Participating couldn't be easier. They simply pledge to  shift $1,000 of their annual household budget to products and services that offer the greatest environmental benefits. That doesn't mean spend MORE money. It means spend money differently to make a difference.

    Deborah H. from Nashville, Tennessee and the mother of two boys, is the latest "One in a Million" winner. Here's how she shifted over $1,000:

    * Joined a Winter CSA -    $704.50

    * Bought Bamboo Sheets - $ 93.77

    * Joined a Spring CSA -    $400.00

    Total ...................   $1,198.27

    Why did she do it?

    "I joined One in a Million because I received an e-mail from the women's list-serve at my church (Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville, TN) about the good things your group was doing.

    "Thinking about the campaign has impacted how I buy. We use bamboo sheets on our beds, we recycle, and we belong to a CSA. My husband bikes to work when he can. We car pool with another family for school and we donate extra funds to our electric company for green energy.

    Avalon_acres "The winter CSA we belonged to was through Avalon Acres in Tennessee.  Every two weeks we received all of our brown eggs, meats and baked goods through them. We helped to support an Amish family through the winter. This spring we are involved in a CSA through Delvin Farms in Nashville. We are receiving every other week fresh vegetables and fruits from the farm."

    By shifting her budget to more eco-friendly products, Deborah is using her big green purse to encourage farmers and manufacturers to reduce pollution, protect the landscape, and help her live a healthier, safer life. If a million women follow Deborah's lead, they'll make a billion dollar impact in the marketplace and send an unmistakable environmental message to industries.

    Thumb_green Thumbs up, Deborah! And congratulations!!

    For more One in a Million stories, see here, here, here and here.

    Want to join us? Sign up here.

    September 08, 2008

    Going Back to School? Go Green To Save Hundreds of Dollars

    Globe_money Parents can save oodles of money by taking an "eco cheap" approach to back-to-school shopping.

    Where to start?

    * Ignore the huge supply lists that come home in kids' backpacks. Over at the blog Green Talk, "Thrifty is the New Green for Back to School Supplies" reminds parents to check their "voluminous" stashes of pens, pencils, crayons and paper leftover from last year before buying new. SAVINGS:  $25-$50/child

    *  Use last year's backpacks and lunch boxes. (Mindful Momma notes in "The Price We Pay for Back 2School Cool that kids do just fine with gear they've used before.) SAVINGS:  $50-$125/child, depending on backpack.

    *  Shop yard sales and thrift stores for back-to-school clothes. SAVINGS:  $100 - $250/child, depending on your usual clothes budget.

    * Borrow sports equipment and rent musical instruments. Is your daughter trying hockey for the first time? Not sure if your son is a budding violinist or just likes to hear the bow scratch? Borrow skates or rent the violin until you're sure a purchase makes sense. SAVINGS:  $50 - $250.

    Total Savings: $225 - $675 per child.

    For more great ideas that save money and spare the planet, drop in on the Green Moms Carnival over at SurelyYouNest.

    September 04, 2008

    What's Convincing Companies to Go Green? Consumer Demand.

    What should you do if you want companies to go green?

    Demand it, of course.

    It's a strategy that makes perfect sense, given that companies themselves say consumers are the biggest drivers of the sustainability changes they're willing to make. In a recent study conducted by Ernst & Young and reported on by Mary Hunt at In Women We Trust, executives from the finance, consumer goods and manufacturing industries acknowledged that consumer demand was a far greener "carrot" than environmental regulation, legislation, or competition, among other factors.

    Readers of Big Green Purse won't be surprised. Our mantra is all about ways you can make your money matter to protect yourself and the planet. But it's great when the very targets of our spending decisions acknowledge how much power we really have!

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