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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.
  • « November 2009 | Main | January 2010 »

    December 31, 2009

    Environmental Resolution for 2010? Do Less. Do It Better.

    Hands earth After years of making New Year's resolutions that are admirable in their scope -- and frustrating in their lack of achivement -- I've finally hit on the one goal that makes sense to me not only for the year that's about to dawn, but for the decade that lies ahead:

    Do less.  Do it better.

    This will probably be harder than it sounds.

    We face more "opportunities" than ever before - more ways to social network, more green stuff to buy, more blogs to read and write, more work to do, more programs to watch, more groups to support...

    And yet how much "more" is truly meaningful?

    In my case anyway, it seems that the more I do, the more fractured my life actually becomes. I spend a lot of time catching up and keeping up, rather than determinedly building on a foundation that, over time, amounts to tru, meaningful change.

    I can't help but wonder, if I chose quality over quantity, would I actually make a bigger difference in the world?

    2010 will be the year I give that notion a try.

    Here's the list of "less" I'm going to aim for:

    Professionally

    * Less causes, more results-oriented campaigns.

    * Less "multiple streams of income," more effective consulting for clients that make a difference.

    * Less social "gadabout-ing," more quality comments and posts.

    Personally

    * Less consumption, more eco-friendly goods when I do buy.

    * Less processed foods, more food I grow myself (well...except when it comes to chocolate).

    * Less electronic entertainment, more quality time outdoors.

    * Less driving, more mass transit, biking and walking (even if it means I go fewer places).

    * Less charities to support, more support for those I endorse.

    None of these changes are destined to gain me more time, the commodity that is perhaps in shortest supply in our "do more, have it all" world. They do promise to make the time I spend more worthwhile. At a minimum, doing less should help me simplify my life, a worthy goal in and of itself. Will it?  Stay tuned.  And let me know what's on your "less list." 

    For more resolutions, don't miss these posts from the Green Moms Carnival, hosted this month at NonToxic Kids. 



    December 19, 2009

    "Practically Green" Offers Simple Steps to an Environmental Lifestyle

    If you still haven't figured out how to live with the environment in mind, pick up a copy of Micaela Preston's cheerful new book, Practically Green: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making.

    Practically green book cover Then keep this handy guide on your desk or in your purse, backpack or briefcase -- anywhere you might find yourself in need of some to-the-point guidance on what to do or buy. 

    After a short introduction, the book breaks out into six chapters: Eating, Living, Cleaning, Caring, Wearing and Conserving. Each section brims with "how to" tips, product reviews, and suggestions that will save you money. Keeping you and your family healthy is also top of mind for Micaela, who writes the delightful Mindful Momma blog and has two boys to try her many ideas out on!

    You'll particularly like Practically Green if you're the do-it-yourself type. Got any old sweaters lying around? Check out Micaela's "recipe" for felted wool coasters made from recycled sweaters. Want to make your own body care products? Start with Micaela's "luscious lip balm" - a yummy concoction of beeswax, almond oil, shea butter, and your choice of peppermint, lime or grapefruit oil.

    Don't miss the book's "copy and clip" pages, either. I particularly like the clippable guide called "Where can I recycle that?"  Ever wonder how you can properly dispose of carpeting, medicine, or drink pouches (let alone compact fluorescent light bulbs and clothes hangers)? See page 196!

    December 18, 2009

    Eco-Friendly Greeting Cards

    HallmarkGreetings Sending electronic greeting cards is definitely the greenest way to go, but there are times when nothing will do but an "old fashioned" paper card.  Fortunately, you have a nice variety of environmentally-friendly choices. 

    Recycled Paper:

    When buying paper cards, search out options made from recycled paper printed with soy-based inks. Ideally, the card would be made from 100 percent post-consumer waste. Look for specific recycled content on the back of the card, not just the recycling symbol, which could simply mean the card is recyclable. Also look for cards made from bamboo, elephant dung (no kidding!) and other kinds of paper-free materials.

    Tiny Prints cards are made from 30 percent post consumer waste or paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council

    Hallmark's Shoebox line is printed on recycled paper, but only with a minimum of 20 percent recycled fiber - not a standout in the recycled card line, but better than no recycled content if you don't have another choice. Cards from environmental groups like the Sierra Club are also made from recycled paper with soy-based ink.

    Some cards are so eco-friendly, you can plant them. Green Field Paper makes cards embedded with seeds so the recipient can plant them. The company also offers cards made from junk mail, garlic paper, and coffee chaff. Peaceful Valley sells a boxed set of eight "plantable" cards.  

    Hallmark's Business Expressions Line uses paper made with 50 percent sugarcane by-products and 50 percent recycled paper content. "No new trees have been cut down to make these cards," claims the company.

    Returnable Cards:

    Nationalwildlifecard Then there are cards, like the National Wildlife Federation's Zero-Waste line, that are designed to be  returned so they can be recycled into a new card. Each envelope includes an integrated postage paid method to make it easy to return; materials are made from certified non-toxic plastic and printed with healthy UV cured inks.

    Postcards:

    Zazzle and many other "u print" companies let you customize your own postcards, but they're usually not printed on recycled paper or with soy-based ink. The only advantage to using a postcard is that it skips the envelope (and postage will be a bit cheaper).

    Make Your Own:

    If you can't find a card you like among these, why not make your own? It's easy to find recycled paper at any office supply store. Use non-toxic markers and crayons to personalize a design on one side of an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, then fold it into thirds, tape the top closed, and write the address on the blank outside. No envelope necessary! Or, rather than buy paper new, recycle wrapping or cards you've received in the past. My mother and her cousin have sent the same card back-and-forth to each other for years, in a tradition that makes both of them laugh when they send and receive the card.

    Recycle and Reuse:

    I do try to make the most out of every card I receive. If it's a postcard, it eventually ends up in my recycling bin. If it's a regular greeting card, I often cut the card in half, recycle the signed part, and re-use the decorated part as a gift tag - it works like a charm.

    If greeting cards have got you thinking about gift wrapping, check out theseenvironmental wrapping tips

    December 14, 2009

    Green Moms Carnival Takes on Climate Change

    Greenmoms1 The climate talks in Copenhagen have been top of mind for most members of the Green Moms Carnival lately. Over the years, as bloggers, we have all addressed the impact climate change has on people and the planet. The negotiations in Denmark created a focal point for our concern, action and activism. That activism ran full-tilt last week when, at the prompting of Organicmania’s Lynn Miller and The Not Quite Crunchy Parent's Maryanne Milker, I entered the Huffington Post contest to become its Citizen Ambassador to “Hopenhagen.” After an intense, exciting five days, I emerged with 45 endorsements – the most of any candidate! – and the runner-up spot.

    As Lynn says here, we "rocked the blogosphere and the Twitterati." Where did all that passion come from?

    For Jennae at Green and Gorgeous it has to do with the issue of parenting, overpopulation, and how both relates to a whole host of environmental issues. “The problem ISN’T just having too many kids,” she says, “especially considering that birth rates in developed nations are much lower than elsewhere in the world. The problem is raising kids who have no regard for the environment and therefore continue a cycle of overconsumption.”

    For Ruchi who writes at Arduous, it’s about equity -- the challenge of reconciling the needs – and emissions levels – of rich versus poor countries. If the U.S. doesn’t lead, we shouldn’t expect other nations to.

    In the same vein, I argue at Big Green Purse that we can make climate change more relevant by focusing on how it impacts women, kids and families. The climate talks will mostly be focused on how much fixing climate will cost and whether it creates political problems for the leaders who have to vote on it. We need to stay focused on the consequences to us and our children if we don’t do enough. Deanna of The Crunchy Chicken reminds us that drought is a real and serious consequence of climate change, as well.

    Anna at Green Talk wants to get at the causes of climate change, which is why she asks “Is methane gas the Darth Vader of Climate Change?” According to NASA, she notes, methane gas is about 25 times more potent than CO2. Anna offers some suggestions for reducing your “methane footprint,” starting with the 3 R’s.  Linda at Citizen Green suggests “carnivores can help reduce greenhouse gases” by eating less meat. Meanwhile, Karen at Best of Mother Earth reflects on the environmental footprint we all leave that contributes to climate change, and notes that she wants to be remembered for the footprint she DOESN’T leave behind.

    With tongue in cheek, Erin, aka The Conscious Shopper, asks “Who Cares About the Freakin’ Polar Bears,” and suggests that sure, the bears are important, but to get change to happen, we need to focus on people. Put a human face on climate change, she says, and maybe then we’ll start solving the problem.
    Micaela over at Mindful Momma says that to get more people to care about climate change, maybe we should encourage them to compete against each other. Take a look at the interesting research she cites and the suggestions she makes to motivate neighbors to outdo each other. Writing at Enviromom, Renee  says relates her own recent experience dealing with an E.coli outbreak in her local water supply to the water challenges people face in other parts of the world where scarcity and disease have become more rampant as a result of climate change.

    Kids piled up Lynn of OrganicMania urges us to keep our kids in mind.  Will they be angry with us for leaving them a planet beyond repair? Or can we get on track and fix what we’ve broken?

    The gals over at Green Phone Booth say Mother Nature is charging us a “convenience fee” – in the form of climate change – for all the stuff we use to make our lives easier, regardless of its impact on the planet. Read their suggestions for simplifying your life and reducing that nasty little fee.

    Mary of In Women In We Trust wants to know what happens when the climate talks end. After the exhilaration of watching so many women participate in the Huffington Post carnival contest, Mary says she has to ask, “are there any men-only-groups doing the same thing? I'm not asking to point fingers as much as to make a point - after the speeches and promises at Copenhagen, the women who have been working hard on Climate Change issues before the conference will be the ones still working after the conference closes."

    Lisa at Retro Housewife Goes Green cuts to the chase. "Debate climate change all you want, she blogs,  "but stop wasting time and letting our planet turn into a giant dump."

    Beth of Fake Plastic Fish reviews the film The Age of Stupid, which is set in the year 2055 after climate change has wiped most people and other living creatures off the face of the earth and asks, “Why didn’t we save ourselves when we had the chance?”

    Good question. If you’ve got an answer, we're all ears. Meanwhile, we can all keep trying to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. Learn more about global warming and get lots of great energy-saving tips from this Carnival Maryanne hosted at the Not Quite Crunchy Parent.

    And stay tuned for resolutions to stop climate change or make any other kind of change. The Green Resolutions Carnival will be hosted by Non-Toxic Kids January 11.

    December 09, 2009

    Energy-Efficient Lights and Eco-Friendly Candles for the Holidays

      December is such a cold, dark month here in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., I think Christmas was invented just to give us an excuse to put bright, cheery lights everywhere.

    Led-christmas-trees At my house, we do! We outline the outside windows of our house in little white twinklers that beautifully frame the Christmas tree inside that's been lit with multi-colored strands. We don't have a central fireplace, so we light candles in the main windows, on the tables and on the counters, creating a flickering glow from all corners of the living and dining room. In my best Martha Stewart imitation, I also string garlands, lights and ribbons all the way up the staircase for a fairytale effect. Most nights, after dinner we turn off our regular end table lamps and quietly enjoy the peaceful beauty these subtle sparks create.

    For years, of course, we used standard (energy-wasting) incandescents for all of these lights, along with typical paraffin candles. But over the last few years, we've begun transitioning to LED lights, and the only candles I buy now are made from beeswax.

    Why LEDs?

    Initially, the LED lights reflected more my commitment to the environment than my love for the quality of their light. LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are environmentally preferable because they're so incredibly efficient: while a string of 300 conventional mini Christmas lights costs about $13.12 to operate, 300 LEDs will cost only around $1.25 to power up. The downside? The first white LEDS on the market threw such a harsh, cold light, it completely defeated the purpose of using those lights to create the sense of warmth.

    But the technology has evolved considerably (replacing my pain at being an "early adopter" with the satisfaction of knowing that my demand increased a better supply!). LEDs now come in a glow that's actually called "warm," along with pretty green, red and blue bulbs. They're also available in larger bulbs as well as the tiny, twinkly ones. For those who celebrate Hanukkah, you can get strings of only blue bulbs as well.

    Where? LED holiday lights have become so mainstream you can find them at most local hardware stores, at big box outlets like Wal Mart and Target, and online at Forever Bright and Christmas Lights, etc. But be prepared: they do cost more upfront than incandescents. You'll make the money back over time in electricity savings. And an equally big bonus: LEDs last longer than the fragile incandescents, so you'll neither have to replace the lights every year, nor spend hours trying to figure out which tiny incandescent bulb in your mini strand is broken. That's a huge plus in this busy mom's book.

    Why beeswax candles?

    Candles made from beeswax have a lot going for them: their natural golden honey color, their sweet but subtle smell, the clean way they burn. They don't drip, either, so you can use them in tapers, votives, or as molded stand alones on a table or window sill.

    They can be hard to come by in the mall, but you'll find them aplenty online.

    Ornaments1 Big Dipper Wax Works - Among the many choices are 3" beeswax ornaments in the shape of a Star, Snowflake or Ribbon that each will burn for over 40 hours; elegant tapers whose wicks are 100% cotton and contain no lead or metal, and larger “pedestals” in a variety of colors.

    Beeswax Candle  Company - Beautiful holiday candles shaped into holly spirals, pinecones, trees, pillars and columns. Plus beautiful accessories, including candle holders and tapers.

    Candlebee Farm - Additive-free and solar powered processes bring you dripless tapers, plain pillars and votive styles; you can also choose solid poured or rolled honeycomb candles.

    Beeswax Company - Natural candles molded into creative shapes, like beehives, balls and cubes, votives and tealights.

    Candles made from soy can be a good alternative, if you don't mind the heavy fragrances many of them emit. You can find them here.

    For more environmentally friendly holiday traditions, visit this month's Green Moms Carnival, hosted by Michelle McKenzie over at Green Phone Booth.

    December 08, 2009

    Why Climate Change Matters to Women

    Solutions to climate change are usually discussed in terms of what's best for business or politics. But what about what's best for those who have the most to lose as climate change worsens: namely, women, especially those living in the poorest regions of the world?

    Climateconnections_graphic A new report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) says that "women are disproportionately vulnerable to environmental changes." The statistics speak for themselves:

    * Women and children are 14 times more likely to die than men during natural disasters (like heat waves, droughts, and hurricanes -- all of which are direct consequences of climate change).

    * Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in 2005, predominantly affected African-American women, who were already the region's poorest, most disadvantaged community.

    *  An estimated 87% of unmarried women and almost 100% of married women lost their livelihoods when a cyclone hit the Ayeyerwaddy Delta in Myanmar in 2008.

    But notable "natural" disasters like these aren't the only ways climate change takes its toll on women's livesl. 

    * Lifestyle: In areas of spreading drought, women must spend more time looking for firewood and trying to coax reluctant crops out of the ground - reducing the amount of time they can spend getting an education or taking care of their kids, and perhaps leading them to turn to early and undesirable marriages as a survival strategy.

    * Health: Pregnant and lactating women are more vulnerable to diseases like malaria and dengue fever, both of which are extending their reach into new regions of the world as temperatures rise.

    * Children: Kids are spending more time in medical clinics and hospitals as they suffer more cases of climate change-related asthma and poison ivy.

    Woman in flood * Economics: Women find it harder to make ends meet as food prices rise to compensate for agricultural shortages due to drought or natural disaster. In developing countries, women may be forced to migrate if their lands become uninhabitable. Yet moving off their land to relocation camps or crowded urban areas makes many women homeless and unable to support themselves and their children.

    * Security: While men are more likely to be killed or injured in fighting, women suffer greatly from other consequences of climate change-related conflict, including rape, beating, anxiety and depression

    UNFPA's companion report, State of World Population 2009, warns, "Unless climate policies take people into account, they will fail to mitigate climate change or to shield vulnerable populations from the potentially disastrous impacts." The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concurs. The agency issued a report the same day the Copenhagen climate talks began, saying a "thorough examination of the scientific evidence" led it to conclude that "greenhouse gases threaten the health and welfare of the American people," and, presumably, people of other nations as well.

    Clearly, women must play a key role in identifying strategies that will help them adapt to the changing climate while very much focusing on solutions to bring climate change under control. Historically, women have not had a 'seat at the table' when such discussions have transpired. Hopefully, that changes this year. Not only is the president of the Copenhagen climate talks a woman - but the U.S. Delegation is populated with high ranking women from the Obama Administration, including Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, Energy "Czar" Carol Browner, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.  I hope they will act together to keep women's interests front and center; by doing so, they'll keep all people front and center, as well. 

    Meanwhile, don't wait for the climate talks to conclude to take action on your own.

    * At home, do what you can to save energy and reduce greenhouse gases.  Here's how.

    Greenmoms1 * Get more inspiration from the blogs posted about climate change for this month's Green Moms Carnival (coming December 9).

    * And if you need any more arguments as to why you should care about climate change, here are ten.

    December 04, 2009

    My Hopenhagen Campaign Supporters Rock!

     Vote The last few days have been a whirlwind. A week ago, I didn't even know the Huffington Post had a contest underway to send a Citizen Ambassador to the climate talks in Copenhagen. Then some very astute members of the Green Moms Carnival heard about the competition and asked me to enter. Since then, the enthusiasm for our campaign has been amazing. Sierra Club, BlogHer, TheDailyGreen, Recycle Bank, the Center for a New American Dream and many more have all signed on.

    Now, there are just hours left to vote for me. Here's I need you to do three things

    Vote here - http://tinyurl.com/Diane2Hopenhagen Then send the link to your friends, family members, neighbors, colleagues, and e-mail lists.

    * Tweet, using #votehope and #dianemaceachern

    * Put the link on your Facebook page and urge your friends to vote

    Join our campaign, Add your name to this incredible list of groups, bloggers, and individuals who have already endorsed me!

    Green Moms Carnival

    Sierra Club

    Center for a New American Dream

    Blog Her

    Mom Central

    The Daily Green

    EcoMoms

    Joel Makower

    Not Quite Crunchy Parent

    Fake Plastic Fish

    Green Your Decor

    The Conscious Shopper

    Greentalk

    Citizen Green

    Greeen Sheeep

    MaryClareHunt

    Good and Green

    Healthy Child, Healthy World

    EnviroMoms

    KidsKonserve

    See Jane Do

    Carolyn Kepcher/Work Her Way

    Tekmessa

    Well Groomed Hippie

    Simple-Green-Frugal

    Got2BeGreen

    Green Phone Booth

    Mindful Momma

    Gil Friend, Natural Logic

    MKokopelli

    RecycleBank

    Condo Blues

    EcoVillage Musings

    The Green Parent

    Best of Mother Earth

    Smart Family Tips

    The Crunchy Chicken

    Retro Housewife Goes Green

    LA Moms

    Eco Office Gals

    The Good Human

    The Center for Health & Environmental Justice

    The Op Ed Project

    TwitterMoms

    BizyMoms

    December 01, 2009

    Vote for Me as Your "Hopenhagen" Ambassador

    HuffPost The Huffington Post is running a contest to send one person to the climate change talks in Copenhagen as their "Hopenhagen" ambassador. I am honored to have been nominated by the members of the Green Moms Carnival! I would love to attend, but I need your help. Actually, I need your votes. Several others have been nominated as well; the person who receives the most votes will win.
     
    Can you please stop whatever you're doing right now and take just three minutes to go here to cast your vote.
     
    The link will take you to my contest page (in case you don't recognize me, I'm the woman with the shortish brown hair and wearing the red shirt). (You may need to register at Huffingtonpost.com if you're not already registered there, but it's very quick to do so). I hope you'll vote and rate my video as a 10.
     
    FACEBOOK?  If you have a Facebook page, please mention this contest on your page and provide the link so your friends can vote as well.
     
    TWITTER?  If you're on twitter, please start tweeting about this using #votehope and @huffpostgreen.
     
    And if you have a blog, I would appreciate it if you could post something like the following: 
     
    I nominate Diane MacEachern, author, businesswoman, activist, and Green Mom to be the Huffington Post's "Hopenhagen" Ambassador.

    Then e-mail the endorsement to: submissions+copenhagen@huffingtonpost.com with a link back to your blog.
     
    I would also really appreciate it if you would forward this e-mail to friends who may not be very active with social media but who can still go to HuffPost to vote.
     
    The voting ends December 4, so I need as much support from you and your friends right now as possible.
     
    Please let me know when you vote so I can help keep the tally going at my end.
     
    Thanks so much!
     
    P.S. I would have notified you sooner but there were a few technical glitches at the HuffPost end. Thanks for whatever you can do to help publicize this now.
    EcoCentric Mom
    Everbuying led light
    Green by Answers.com
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