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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.
  • « August 2009 | Main | October 2009 »

    September 28, 2009

    Coffee Mugs Matter

    Disposable cup

    In 2005, Americans used and discarded 14.4 billion disposable paper cups for hot beverages, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters of Vermont calculated. That’s so many cups that if put end to end they would circle the earth fifty-five times! Based on anticipated growth of specialty coffees, reports Green Mountain, that number will grow to 23 billion by 2010-enough to circle the globe eighty-eight times.

    It’s one thing to pay two or three or even four dollars for a cup of coffee. It’s another to throw cup after cup away. If we do it every day, it amounts to almost twenty-five pounds of waste every year. The petrochemicals consumed in making the cups just one coffee drinker tosses could heat 8,300 homes for one year. Carting them to a landfill burns additional energy, never mind the fact that each one takes about five hundred years to decompose.

    What good does it do if you buy the “right” coffee (i.e., organic, shade-grown, Fair Trade Certified) if you drink it out of a paper or Styrofoam cup you just toss in the garbage?

    Beat the disposable rap by using your own mug. Every coffee shop sells them. Some places even give you a little discount if you use your own cup instead of theirs- if they don’t, ask for one. They’ll get the message after a while.

    And if you forget your mug and need a take-out cup, ask the shop if they’re using the new ones made from recycled fibers that save trees. Do they make a difference? Starbucks’ recycled paper cup protects about 78,000 trees a year. Another option? Coffee cups you can compost.

    Wondering what kind of coffee to buy? We've already figured it out!

    And here are some suggestions if you're in the market for an eco-friendlier coffee pot.

    September 24, 2009

    Eco-Friendly Paint Keeps You & the Planet Healthy

    Woman house paint

    Conventional paint contains many volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that "outgas" and escape into the air after they are applied. Indoors, these VOCs cause headaches, nausea, achey bones, and general discomfort. Outdoors, they contribute to smog and air pollution.

    Whether for indoors or out, your best bet is to buy low- or no-VOC paint. You'll find it offered by more than a dozen companies in thousands of colors and in standard eggshell, glossy, and semigloss finishes. You can also select no-VOC water-based stains, finishes, and paint stripper.

    For specific recommendations, check out the brands that have been independently certified for health and sustainabilityby Green Seal or EcoLogo.

    To get the most out of the paint you use:

    Continue reading "Eco-Friendly Paint Keeps You & the Planet Healthy " »

    September 18, 2009

    Be Safer and Smarter When Dyeing You're Latest Do

    Salon-style Do you color your hair but worry about the impact hair dye could have on the environment as well as your own health and safety? I wish the information provided were more reassuring, but the truth is- we don’t know much about hair dye. It’s likely that when you dye your hair, a small amount is absorbed into your system. According to a 2001 study, women who regularly color their hair with permanent hair dyes are at a greater risk for bladder cancer. However, in 2004 the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that a recent study showed no increased risk of cancer among women who started using hair-coloring products in 1980 or later.

    With the information so inconclusive, it makes sense to take precautions that will protect the environment as well as yourself:

    Check the safety of the ingredients in your hair coloring against the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetics database, where you can also find alternative, safer products.  

    Buy hair-color products that meet the higher safety standards imposed by the European Union. Look for products made by cosmetic manufacturers who have pledged to follow these standards and replace all possible hazardous materials. Henna offers another safe option - if you want to tinge your locks auburn or red.

    Don’t start coloring hair until you really have to! Highlight rather than dye your entire head.

    Try color sticks (available at beauty-supply stores like Ulta and Sephora) to touch up gray spots at your temples or hairline to reduce the number of times in a year you dye your hair.

    Continue reading "Be Safer and Smarter When Dyeing You're Latest Do" »

    Protecting the Environment is a Health Care Issue

    Sick girl The current debate about health care seems seriously lacking in one important way: there's no focus on the environmental problems that make so many of us sick.

    Just scan the front pages of this week's New York Times if you need to be convinced. "Health Ills Abound as Farm Runoff Fouls Wells," documents instances of children contracting serious ear infections, some requiring surgery, from bathing in polluted water.  "Toxic Waters: Clean Water Laws Are Neglected at a Cost in Suffering" focuses on scabs and rashes being inflicted on children because their tap water contains barium, lead, arsenic and many other toxins that cause cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system. A Fight Grows Over Labeling on Cleaning Products addresses consumer concerns that the chemicals in common household cleansers are giving people asthma, acne, nervous disorders, and more.

    Maybe it's time fror Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to put their heads together and realize that America could reduce health care costs significantly if we focused on cleaning up the planet. And get some of those polluters to help foot the bill. The cleaning products industry alone is a $14 billion/yr enterprise.

    September 16, 2009

    Tampons- The Planet's Most Extreme Case of PMS

    Vaginal-hygiene If you’re like most women, you'll use as many as 11,000 tampons during your lifetime. Add to that a couple of thousand pads and panty liners, and the ecological impact of your monthly cycle really starts to add up. Particularly egregious are the plastic applicators that come with some tampons. They can escape from any landfill- or wastebasket, for that matter- and plop down in a lake, river, playground, or just about anywhere else you’d rather not see them. The darn things are so indestructible even a car can run over them and not destroy them.

    Conventional products may contain a mixture of rayon and cotton. Rayon has been implicated in toxic shock syndrome, particularly for superabsorbent tampons. Cotton is highly pesticide-intensive; 25 percent of pesticides used globally are devoted to growing cotton. To look as white as possible, conventional pads and tampons are usually bleached with chlorine, a process that can create dioxin, a known carcinogen.

    Tampons, pads, and panty liners made from organic cotton are becoming increasingly available online and in the marketplace. If you’re going to use conventional products, choose those sold in the simplest packaging.

    Options:

    Continue reading "Tampons- The Planet's Most Extreme Case of PMS" »

    September 15, 2009

    "In Wildness is the Preservation of the World"

    Waterfall Henry David Thoreau wrote these words in 1862. Today, almost a century and a half later, they are more true than ever before. Mining, forest clear cutting, oil and gas development, and road building are destroying the extraordinary and irreplaceable wilderness that is our natural heritage.

    The Wilderness Act, signed by President Lyndon Johnson on September 3, 1964, created a National Wilderness Preservation System so that wild lands, including national parks, national forests, and lands overseen by the federal Bureau of Land Management, would be managed “for the use and enjoyment of the American people in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness...”  

    Today, 45 years later, this prescient legislation seems more essential than ever. Though 109 million acres of land in Alaska and the lower 48 have been protected under the Act, many exquisite regions of forests, prairies, coastlines, mountains, and wetlands remain threatened simply because they haven’t yet been classified as federal wilderness.

    Fortunately, citizens and concerned members of Congress are working to protect as much of America’s remaining wild lands as possible. The Alaska Wilderness League (on whose board I served for six years) is striving to secure federal wildernesss status for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Campaign for America's Wilderness is spearheading wilderness protection campaigns in a dozen statesPresident Obama recently declared September 2009 "National Wilderness Month" and signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which designated over 2 million acres of wilderness from coast to coast.

    But that is not enough. Wild lands clean our air and filter our water. They protect open space from sprawl, and provide much needed wildlife habitat, especially for endangered species.  And increasingly in this shell-shocked, post 9/11 era, people are using wilderness to escape the stress of modern-day life.

    Americans are losing 6,000 acres of open space every day, acreage we can ill afford to lose. If we want to protect the environment and the lands that restore our bodies and souls, we need to legislate more land as wilderness, and the sooner the better.

    You can help. 

    Continue reading ""In Wildness is the Preservation of the World"" »

    How Eco Is Your Coffee Pot?

    Consumers buy more automatic-drip coffeemakers than any other small kitchen appliance, so it’s no wonder they use about $400 million worth of electricity just brewing coffee every year. To make an energy-efficient but still high-voltage cup of java, start with the pot:

    Bodum French pressBodum Chambord’s elegant but inexpensive model (pictured left) makes delicious coffee; the Columbia design contains the coffee in a thermal carafe to keep the beverage warm without the need for an electric hot plate.

    Chemex manual drip coffeepots. This hourglass-shaped flask can use recycled paper filters. Make as little as one cup of coffee, or as many as ten.

    Chef’s Choice electric French press plus. This environmentally-friendly technology combines the French press and an energy-saving electric kettle in one pot.

    One-cup coffeemakers. These efficient pots can brew coffee in less than a minute, eliminating the need to prepare a whole pot. Check the housewares section of Target, Wal-Mart, or your local department store.   

    When buying a new coffeemaker:

    Consider how much coffee you consume at any given time. If you drink only one cup of coffee in the morning, and maybe one again in the evening, don’t buy a machine that automatically brews eight or ten or twelve cups. You’ll be wasting energy, water, coffee-and ultimately, money.

    Get a carafe. Do you sip coffee sporadically through the morning or afternoon? Rather than keep a pot warm on an electric hot plate, buy a good insulated carafe to keep your "joe" hot through the end of the day.

    Looking for an electric-drip appliance? Choose one that shuts off automatically.

    And if you like to grind your own beans, try:

    HS4073SS Danesco manual coffee grinder. A stainless steel grinder with a clip canister, it lets you grind coffee beans fine or coarse using no kilowatts but your own. 

     Wondering what kind of coffee to buy? We've already figured it out!

    What about your mug? Look here.

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