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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.
  • « December 2010 | Main | February 2011 »

    January 23, 2011

    Washington, D.C. Woman Shifts $1,029 of Her Household Budget to Go Green

    It's one thing to say you want to be "eco friendly." It's quite another to put your money where your mouth is and spend real dollars on greener products and services, especially in these days of tight budgets and an uncertain economy.

    Bonnie Coggins Yet that's exactly what Bonnie C., a 26-year old resident of Washington, D.C., has done. Bonnie is single, lives in an apartment, and works for the U.S. Government. Here's her story:

    "I read a blog post of yours last year encouraging readers to redirect $1000 in spending to green purchases.  This really struck me, and I decided to try it.  I hit $1000 in December when I installed my own programmable thermostat.  Here's how I did it:

    BONNIE'S BIG GREEN SHIFTS

    Used furniture (sofa, dining table, patio table, TV, TV cabinet): $340, but the TV and cabinet were free!

     Used Bike: $250

    Garden Plot, tools, soil: $200

    Organic Food: $75

    Glass food containers: $40

    Organic Body Products: $5 (but I've only run out of toothpaste, so I expect this number to grow)

    No VOC Paint: $40

    CFL Lightbulbs: $20

    Green Cleaning Products: $25

    Programmable Thermostat: $34

    Total: $1029

    Even though I live in an apartment, I installed the thermostat and painted - I'll change them back when I move out.

    I think it's also interesting to note that most of these purchases saved me money.  I'm 26, and I don't have a large budget to reallocate, but by buying used items, I must have saved hundreds.  The lightbulbs and thermostat will save me money, AND I don't have to get out of bed in a cold house!  I also bought a fuel-efficient Honda Fit that gets about 34 mpg on average for my typical commute, but 37-38 on long road trips.

    This year I'm planning to shift more spending towards food and beauty products.  I'm also trying to get a roommate, which will not only cut down on expenses, but house 2 people using about the same energy as 1.

    Most of these were really easy changes, but I'm still getting over sticker shock of organic food and beauty products.

    Changing out the thermostat was surprisingly easy.  Yes, there were tons of poorly labeled wires, but we followed the directions carefully and it only took about 30 minutes.

    Next I'm looking for a roommate!  I'm also going to try to get into composting.  And I'll keep migrating to better food and beauty products."

    Bonnie's also going to keep working on her boyfriend, who was helpful if skeptical"He was reluctant at first," she says, "but had a positive view after we finished those projects (installing the thermostat and setting up the garden plot)."  I'm still trying to get him into better toiletries and food, but he was a quick sell on green cleaning products!"

    Thanks for blogging and motivating me!"
    Bonnie


    As Bonnie knows, every dollar you shift makes a difference. The way you spend your money is your first line of defense against products that contain toxic ingredients or waste energy. Just as importantly, buying "green" encourages companies to reduce pollution and use water and other natural resources with greater care. Plus, choosing more environmental options often saves you money immediately. For all these reasons, the Big Green Purse One in a Million campaign inspires people to set a goal of shifting at least $1,000 of money they'd spend anyway on the most environmentally-friendly products available.

    Thousands of people have already committed to shifting their spending. Why don't you? You can sign up here.

    For more inspiring stories like Bonnie's, start here.

    January 17, 2011

    Hate Clutter? 10 Sure-Fire Ways to Cut It.

    Clutter.

    In my house, clutter is a "five letter word" that actually means "paper - and too much of it."

    Summer food, office 080 Too much junk mail I won't read. Too many newspaper advertising supplements I don't use. Too many coupons I don't clip. Too many business cards from people I don't know. Too many receipts I don't need. Too many empty cardboard boxes I can't fill. Too much throwaway packaging I can't use. (Yes, this is what my desk looks like every now and then...cluttered!)

    Maybe all this papery nonsense served a purpose at one time, but it becomes clutter in my eyes when it physically gets in my way. It's especially annoying when it covers my desk or makes a mess of my coffee table. Then, it can take me HOURS to go through it, sorting, shredding, tossing, WASTING precious time. To add insult to injury, all this wasted clutter weighs down the recycling bin I have to lug out to the street every week. 

    Plus, it pains me to think about the environmental impact paper clutter has. According to 41pounds.org, a group that works to reduce unwanted junk mail, more than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail. Just creating and shipping junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars.

    What to do? Reduce, Reorganize, Recycle

    My anti-clutter crusade is based on these three strategies. I am reducing the amount of waste paper coming into my house as much as possible. I've re-organized my filing systems slightly so I can keep track of the minimum amount of paper I need to hold on to. And I'm recycling the rest.

    How?

    1) Pay bills and bank online. Many banks now actually charge their customers a monthly fee to send them a paper statement (my Bank of America outlet charges $8.95/month for this "service."). So not only does online banking reduce the clutter in my house; it saves me money, too. Plus, paying bills online gives me longer access to my capital, since I can pay bills the same day instead of having to send a check a week ahead of time. In addition, I'm saving money on postage - not a lot in a month, but dollars that will add up over time.

    2) Read newspapers and magazines electronically. Why? To avoid all the ads. The news part of the paper is actually rather thin; the advertising supplements are huge. If I bought what they're selling it might make a difference, but I don't.  When I want to know what a store has on sale, I check out their website before I go shopping, or pick up their sales paper when I enter the store. If I want the coupons, I can usually find them online: there are all kinds of mobile phone coupon apps so you can skip the print-out completely. (You can find coupons for green products here. ) Meanwhile, I read the paper on my laptop or my phone. I don't have an e-reader, but you could certainly read newspapers and magazines there, too.

    3) Share or go to the library. Sharing works especially well for for magazines. I share a variety of magazines with my neighbors, and drop in at my local library for others.

    4) Stop junk mail and unwanted catalogs. You can use a service like 41pounds.org who will contact junk mailers on your behalf. What I've found, however, is that the most effective solution is to call the contact number directly on the mail or magazines I don't want and ask them to remove me from their lists. Here are more services that will help you stop junk mail from cluttering your house. You can also put a "No Solicitations, Please" sign on your door or mailbox so people won't leave their sales fliers at your home.

    5) Skip paper receipts. I don't take receipts at the ATM, the gas pump, or the grocery store. I've discovered that grocery stores will usually take back a product they sell without a receipt; but honestly, I almost never take anything back to the grocery store, so why bother with the receipt? I only take receipts when I buy hard goods, like clothing or some kind of equipment. I keep all receipts in a file, just one file per year, so they're not on my desk. NOTE: Whole Foods market gives its customers the option to receive receipts online, though I don't want this clutter in my e-mail box, either.

    6) Limit business cards. I recently threw away a shopping bag half-full of business cards I'd accumulated over the last couple of years because they were just cluttering up my office. I couldn't remember who most of those people were, anyway - and I'm sure they don't remember me. Now, I only give out business cards to people whom I really should be networking with, and I only take business cards so I can follow up with people I really want to be connected to.

    7) Carry reusable bags. In addition to grocery bags, you can use small mesh bags for produce or grains you buy in bulk. I have a couple of snazzy shopping bags I use when I go clothes shopping, too. Plus, I just say "not" to the extra tissue paper some stores like to wrap around the items I buy. 

    8) Use a blackboard. Note pads and stickies are supposed to keep people organized, but they're a big source of clutter for me, given how easily they stack up. A clutter-free alternative? Blackboards. Put one in the kitchen where you can leave "notes" for family members, put one in your office or workroom so you can write notes to yourself.

    9) Consolidate.  Right now, I'm in the process of consolidating the contents of five different notebooks into just one. It will make my life sooooo much simpler. I'm also consolidating paper files into fewer folders that have only the essential papers in them. Everything else is headed to the recycling bin. Speaking of which...

    10) Make recycling easy. Keep a recycling bin nearest to where the most paper comes into your house or where it creates the most clutter. Some options: 1)Near the front door, so you can deep-six unwanted mail before it makes it to the dining room table. 2)In the kitchen, so you can easily recycle packaging. 3)In your office, so you can keep paper from piling up on your desk.

     For more anti-clutter strategies, don't miss this month's Green Moms Carnival, hosted by Amber at strocel.com.

     

    January 10, 2011

    Loving Our Mother Earth

    In the wake of the atrocious shootings in Arizona this past weekend, it seems essential that we turn our thoughts, not to revenge or retribution, but to love. In this powerful guest post excerpted from her new book Love For No Reason: 7 Steps to Creating a Life of Unconditonal Love, New York Times best-selling author Marci Shimoff offers an inspiring vision for using love to protect the world in which we live.

    Marci Shimoff 2011 photo "The global transformation we’re in the midst of today is being powered by love. What’s unusual about this shift is that it’s not coming from the top down—the world’s established leaders aren’t dictating laws that force people to live in love. Instead, this shift is coming from the hearts of a large number of people like you and me. Each day more of us are contributing our heart’s energy to the giant wave of love that’s enveloping the planet.

    When you live with an open heart, you treat the world as your family and the earth as your mother. Your unconditional love extends not just to people but to the planet, too. Unfortunately, for some time now, we haven’t been treating our mother very well, and the effects of this are endangering us all. If we want to preserve this beautiful blue ball that we live on, it’s time to take action. But we need to approach this on all levels, not just the outer ones.

    Many of us are already committed to living sustainably. We drive fuel-efficient cars, we buy organic, we recycle, we do everything we can to reduce our negative impact on the environment. These loving actions are important, yet what I learned from Love Luminary Jeddah Mali is that the most effective way to help Mother Nature is by fully experiencing your inner nature—the unconditional love at your core.

    Continue reading "Loving Our Mother Earth" »

    January 06, 2011

    Need Help Getting Inspired for 2011? Learn From These Great Green Role Models.

    Pondering woman What environmental lifestyle shifts are you planning for 2011? If you still haven't been able to make up your mind, take a minute to read about the folks below. In the last couple of weeks in December 2010, they all answered the question, "What's Been Your Biggest, Coolest, Eco-Friendliest Change This Year?" Some people switched to greener cleaning products. Others started their own organic gardens. A few launched their own companies. One person is even building a house from scratch. Hope they give you some great ideas for 2011!

    Saving Energy

    Reader Bonnie installed a programmable thermostat. It cost her $35, but she expects to easily recoup the cost on her heating and cooling bills. StudioJMM of http://profile.typepad.com/studiojmm put solar panels on her roof. Ann started a "no idling" campaign to get buses to turn off their engines when they're waiting to pick up kids at school. Saves energy AND keeps the air cleaner.

    Cleaning woman Green Cleaning

    Hana, aka the Green Granma http://thegreengrandma.blogspot.com/ discovered "the unending merits of vinegar" for greener cleaning. Celine spent a few dollars on cleaning rags she purchased at Goodwill. Lynne at http://greenertoday.blog.ca/ is now making her own green cleaners, plus buying local and kicking the throwaway water bottle habit.

    In the Kitchen

    Continue reading "Need Help Getting Inspired for 2011? Learn From These Great Green Role Models." »

    January 04, 2011

    How about a Goal instead of a Resolution – Like Shifting $1,000 to Greener Products and Services

    I’d like to applaud you if you’re making 2011 New Year’s Resolutions to live a greener life, I really would.

    Confused woman But how many “resolutions” have you made over the years? And – be honest, now – how many have you actually kept?

    The truth is,resolutions are as easy to abandon as they are to embrace. Yes, they’re noble. They may even be inspiring. But do they usually work?

    No. They’re just too vague, too lofty; they leave too much wiggle room. And if there’s anything the planet doesn’t need more of, it’s wiggle room!

    That’s why, rather than make resolutions this year, I hope you’ll consider setting a specific goal. Something not just to aim for, but to surpass. A benchmark. A way you can prove to yourself that you’re actually DOING something. Making a difference.

    If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’d like that goal to be about how you spend your money. In fact, I’d like to encourage you to set a specific goal of shifting at least $1,000 of your normal household budget to the greenest products and services available: no-VOC paints, BPA-free bottles, energy-efficient cars or mass transit, organic food. You get the idea. The “green” version of what you buy anyway.

    Why does it matter?

    Continue reading "How about a Goal instead of a Resolution – Like Shifting $1,000 to Greener Products and Services " »

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