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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.
  • « March 2011 | Main | May 2011 »

    April 29, 2011

    It's Arbor Day. Can't you plant just one tree?

    Sure you can.

    PlantingTrees Here's how:

    1) Scope out possible planting locations. Trees need room for both branches and roots to spread out, so adequate space is key. So is good soil. Is yours loose and loamy, or dense and full of clay? And what about water? Is your spot high and dry or low and prone to flooding? The place you pick determines what tree will do best in your yard.

    2) Choose your tree. Consider how big the tree will get and how fast it will grow, as well as its sun, soil and water requirements. Arbor Day's ‘right tree in the right place’ guide will help you find options that work for your "micro" climate. Consider species native to your area to help promote biodiversity.

    If you live in a zone that is prone to drought, one of these trees could do well:

    Silver maple
    Chinese elm
    Red oak
    Purpleleaf plum

    If your region gets a lot of moisture, one of these trees would be better:

    River birch
    Weeping willow
    Austrian pine
     
    3) Put your tree in the ground. How you plant a tree will depend on whether the roots are bare, wrapped in burlap, or potted in a container. Regardless, you'll need to dig a hole that's deeper and wider than the roots and add aged compost. After your tree is in the ground, clear grass at least three feet away from the trunk in every direction and mulch with wood chips or shredded bark to help the roots retain moisture and act as a buffer against temperature extremes. Water deeply upon planting, then regularly until the tree roots get established.

    If you like to do things from scratch, you can plant a seed. Again, consider seeds that are native to your location. You might want to start the seed in a container so you can nurture it along over the couple of years it will take to grow into a seedling you can transplant. Fill a one- or -two gallon container with dirt that contains some rich organic matter, then make a hole about 1 inch deep, pop in the seed and cover with soil. It doesn’t get easier than that. 

     Once you plant a tree, keep it healthy so you can enjoy all the benefits it offers. It will attract birds and other wildlife, and provide shade to keep you cooler in summer. The leaves will help filter soot and dust, clearing the air, and convert carbon dioxide back into oxygen, reducing global warming and climate change. Plus research shoes that trees and the sound of their leaves tend to make people feel more relaxed. In fact, hospital patients recover more quickly when their room offers a view of trees! Having some trees to look out on from your porch or patio could have an equally calming effect on you.

    RESOURCES:

    If you don't have enough space in your own yard to accommodate a tree, plant one in your community. Work with your local public works department to choose a species or location.

    Or support global tree planting campaigns, like the one Avon is running through its Hello Green Tomorrow program.

    Some cities, like Pittsburgh, require residents to obtain a tree planting permit. You may want to check to see if this is the case where you live. 

    For more information on tree planting and organizing community planting in your area visit American Forests  or  Sustainable Horticulture.

    For gardening supplies, visit our store.

     

    (Disclosure: I provide green living tips to Hello Green Tomorrow.)

    (Thanks to research assistant Tracy Gaudet of Inspire Planning for research help.)

    April 20, 2011

    What Do Kids "Calculate" When It Comes to Conservation? It's Not $$$!

    For Earth Day, author Terra Wellington offers this guest post brimming with suggestions on how to get closer to nature with your kids. You'll find other great ideas in her new book, The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins at Home.

    Huggaplanet_1962_1682327 "One of the sweetest things about children is that when you get their attention, it is 100 percent.  They aren’t thinking about politics, or what bills are due, or planning a million things in their head.  Nope, they are just in the here and now.

    Likewise, if you explain to children why you want to conserve water, protect habitats, or keep bees healthy they're also right with you.  They don’t calculate costs, or party affiliation, or what their friends might think.  Kids are natural conservationists.

    Here are some fun ways you can explore conservation with your children for Earth Day or any day:

    Momdaughter Make a Date: Check the online event calendars for your local science center, arboretum, zoo, aquarium, or nature center.  These calendars are full of fun days that make an average excursion unforgettable, and the focus is nearly all on hopeful conservation.  They also often list kid camps, classes, and volunteer opportunities for teens.  Look for ways to get your kids engaged by touching, feeling, learning, and helping.

    Grow with a Purpose: Plant a garden this year with a lifecycle and habitat in mind.  For lifecycle growing, have your kids help you start and maintain a compost pile(which in itself is fascinating science at work!) that prepares and feeds your garden.  Also, encourage your children to help you plant and keep up native flowering plants for the bees and trees, with seeds and other fruits for birds and little tree critters, plus your vegetables – all organic, of course!

    Bee Happy: Get into beekeeping.  It’s one of the fastest growing hobbies right now, and importnat giving the way bee populations are dying, a likely consequence of industrial pesticide and herbicide use.  Have your children learn with you about the necessity of bees, how to take care of them in a non-toxic way, and set up and take care of the bee hives together.  Enjoy delicious honey as a reward.  Check with your local municipality for any ordinances or permits.

    Entertain for Good: There are a lot of television, film, and print resources that educate on conservation, the environment, and nature in a fun and entertaining way that kids embrace. Examples include the Ranger Rick Magazine from the National Wildlife Federation, Disneynature films like “Earth” and “African Cats,” and the captivating Discovery Channel series “Life” narrated by Oprah Winfrey which is now available on DVD or through a subscription service like Netflix.

    Put on Your Flip-Flops: If you are going on vacation this summer, pick a beachside getaway that coincides with a local beach cleanup day.  Heal the Bay and Surfrider Foundation are great resources.  Your kids will spend two inspirational hours helping nature – and they’ll think twice about where trash goes after that!

    Pump Up the Tires: Dust off your bikes and peddle to the local store or explore bike paths to make conserving energy fun.   You will be surprised how much kids enjoy biking and the diversity you will find outside your car window.  To find safer biking routes, if you go to Google Maps, type in your city and state, and then click on “Get Directions,” and you’ll see a bicycle path layer that clues you into designated safe bike paths in your area.  Many states also list nearby recreational bicycle paths for weekend adventures – do a browser search."

    Terra Wellington is the author of The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Terra Begins at Home (St. Martin’s Press).  Her family finds a lot of fun in cleaning up Southern California beaches, especially when it includes an ice cream treat!

     

     

     

     

    RELATED POSTS:

    Kids Start Food Fight to Bring Back Re-Usable Lunch Trays

    Kids Launch "Green My Parents" to Save the World

    April 19, 2011

    "Inception" and "The Adjustment Bureau" Ain't Got Nothin' on the New Disney Movie

    Matt Damon and Leo DiCaprio move over. Sita, cheetah mother, gets my vote for "action hero" when it comes to thrillers that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

    Cheetahs "African Cats," Sita's star vehicle and this year's Earth Day release by DisneyNature, doesn't at first seem like an obvious nail-biter. Gorgeous shots of Kenya's extraordinary Masai Mara grasslands open the film before it homes in on the animals that steal the show: Sita and her mischievous cubs, and Fang, the patriarch of a large pride of lions and their playful offspring. But you know what's coming next: The breathtaking scenery is only a backdrop to the life-and-death struggles that play out between these cat "families" and the animals that prey upon them. It's the "Lion King" in the flesh.

    African cats The Mara is one of the few remaining places in Africa where lions, cheetahs and leopards live in large numbers and in close proximity. The River Pride, a dominant group of lions led by "Fang," roams the hills south of the Mara River. A second group of male lions—a powerful father and his four sons—rules the area to the north. The River Pride is threatened by these lions from the north who are awaiting the perfect opportunity to move in, depose Fang, and take over his pride. Meanwhile, Sita must defend her babies against the lions, as well as ravenous hyenas and even other cheetahs.

    The young cheetah and lion cubs are gosh-darn cute, and the filmmakers make the most of their playful antics and mewling cries to set the stage for the inevitable clashes between protective mothers and their hungry adversaries. The films' directors insist on building suspense by creating a very human story line intent on driving home the point that a mother will do anything to protect her babies. But the story and its corny script get in the way of the pictures unfolding on the screen. The movie would have been wonderful to watch with music alone, sans narration. 

    That said, I loved the film's high definition cinematography and "you are there" shots. I've been on two safaris, including one in the Masai Mara. I saw first-hand lions eating their way through the steaming belly of a zebra they'd just killed, and watched a cheetah kill an eland then effortlessly haul it up into a tree for safe-keeping. The filmmakers show the animals exactly as I remember them in the wild, foregoing special effects, animation, and other cinematics in favor of spellbinding close-ups of animal eyes, rippling muscles, and jaws dripping with fresh blood.

    DisneyNature hopes "African Cats" will do more than entertain. The company is partnering with the African Wildife Foundation in a campaign to "Save the Savanna" where these big cats live. Throughout Earth Week, April 22-28, a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to support AWF's program to protect the Amboseli Wildlife Corridor. The corridor is the expanse of land that stretches across the Savanna between three national parks in Kenya. Lions, elephants, cheetahs, zebras, and other wildlife traverse it when they migrate and look for food and water. AWF's work will help insure that the corridor stays open and wild enough to help these animals thrive despite the pressures put upon them from tourism and encroaching development.

    NOTE: "African Cats" is sometimes graphically violent and may not be appropriate for children younger than 13. The scenes of predators chasing down and devouring their prey are totally realistic - which means they're brutal and bloody. At one point, the little girl sitting next to me in the theater just put her head down and covered her ears.

    African Cats is DisneyNature's third Earth Day feature. Here's a review of last year's film, "Earth."

     

    April 14, 2011

    Recycling Your Computer Just Got Easier

    Tired of how inconvenient it can be to recycle your cell phone, laptop, MP3 player or PDA? A new ECycling Leadership Initiative will make it easier for you to find more than 5,000 recycling locations around the country so you can keep your e-waste out of the trash.

    Ewaste Consumer electronics industry leaders have launched this first-ever industry-wide electronics recycling initiative with an ambitious goal: To recycle one billion pounds of electronics annually by 2016, which would be a more than threefold increase over 2010. One billion pounds of electronics, if not properly recycled, would completely fill the equivalent of a 71,000-seat NFL stadium. (The picture to the left shows a mountain of electronic keyboards in need of recycling.)

    E-waste is the fastest growing element of the waste stream, so recycling it rather than throwing it away must be done. Electronic equipment contains many heavy metals that are better captured than left to get loose in landfills or trash heaps, where they can contaminate groundwater and soil. Plus, given how much energy, water and other resources it takes to make a computer or a phone, it's much more environmentally friendly to recapture and reuse those materials than tp throw them away.

    "The billion pound challenge is about both the quality and quantity of electronics recycling,” said Walter Alcorn, CEA’s vice president of environmental affairs and industry sustainability, in a company press release. “But we won’t stop at a billion pounds. The eCycling Leadership initiative is an ongoing, permanent initiative that will ... prohibit the use of recyclers and downstream processors who dump end-of-life electronics in developing nations.” 

    To that end, CEA supports certifying third-party recyclers to verify that the electronics are, in fact, being recycled rather than trashed when they're out of sight.  In the future, look for new mobile apps to help make recycling used electronics as easy as buying new ones. The eCycling Leadership Initiative will also bolster the number of collection sites by working with state and local governments and charities to make more ecycling sites available.

    NO NEED TO WAIT! GET STARTED NOW

    Best Buy - I regularly recycle my electronics at Best Buy. Here's their policy: "We'll take just about anything electronic, including TVs, DVD players, computer monitors, cell phones and more. You can bring in up to two items a day, per household, and most things are absolutely free. However, there is a $10 charge for TVs 32" and under, CRTs, monitors and laptops — but we'll give you a $10 Best Buy gift card to offset that cost." Along with an in-store drop off program and kiosks, Best Buy also offers a TV haul-away service when a new product is delivered, and a Tech Trade-In program compensating consumers with gift cards for valuable products. In early 2011, Best Buy stores nationwide collected nearly 400 pounds each minute for recycling.

    Goodwill - Businesses and consumers can donate computers to Goodwill for recycling. Check with your local Goodwill office before dropping equipment off.

    EBay.com, CraigsList.com, and FreeCycle.org - These sites also enable you to sell, trade or donate your computer rather than toss it in the trash.

    Earth911.com enables you to find more local computer recycling locations. Just go to their website, plug in your zip code, and you'll find electronics recyclers nearest your home or office.

    WHAT ARE COMPANIES ALREADY DOING?

    Apple 
    Ipod_hero20100525 All e-waste collected by Apple programs worldwide is processed in the region where it was collected. The company says nothing is shipped overseas for recycling or disposal. Apple has instituted recycling programs in cities and college campuses in 95 percent of the countries where its products are sold, diverting more than 130.2 million pounds of equipment from landfills since 1994. Apple also takes back Apple computers, iPods, iPads and iPhones at no charge.

    Dell
    A partnership between Dell and Goodwill Industries International lets consumers drop off any used computers for no-cost recycling, whether they're Dell brand or not. Donated equipment meeting Reconnect’s criteria are resold, and devices needing repair are either refurbished or broken down into parts to be recycled by Dell partners. The program supports Goodwill’s job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs for people who have disabilities, lack education or job experience, or face other challenges to finding employment.

    HP
    HP currently operates recycling services in 56 countries or territories worldwide. In the United States they launched a buyback program in January 2009 that includes free recycling if an HP- or Compaq-branded system has no value for consumers. HP recycled more than 200 million pounds of hardware globally in 2009, resulting in an estimated 210,000 tons of avoided carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions. Since 1987, HP has recovered over 2 billion pounds of electronic product (for recovery and recycling) and HP print cartridges (for recycling).

    LG
    LG’s recycling program lets consumers drop off unwanted electronics at a Waste Management designated eCycling Center, or other alternative methods may be available. LG has recycled more than 7 million pounds since 2009, of which 3.3 million pounds were through LG’s voluntary program.

    Nintendo of America
    Because video game systems and games retain their value for many years beyond their retail lifecycle, Nintendo of America offers a number of customer support options to maximize their continued use, while also offering a free courtesy Take-Back Program to minimize the waste disposal of its products. The Take-Back Program provides for recycling of Nintendo hardware, software, accessories, and rechargeable batteries.

    Panasonic, Sharp and Toshiba (Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Company, LLC)
    Among other things, the Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Company, LLC (MRM) operates a voluntary nationwide collection and recycling service for brands produced by Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba, Mitsubishi and Vizio. Since October 2007 MRM has established 840 collection sites across the U.S. and recycled more than 78 million pounds of electronics.

    Samsung
    Launched in the fall of 2008, Samsung Recycling Direct[SM] offers drop off locations in all 50 states.  Samsung holds its recyclers accountable for environmentally responsible recycling, including no landfill, incineration, or export to developing countries of hazardous electronic wastes as commonly defined. Last year, in 2010, Samsung recycled over 50 million pounds of e-waste across the U.S., most of which was done voluntarily.

    Sony
    The Sony Take Back Recycling Program was the first national recycling initiative to involve both a major electronics manufacturer and a national waste management company. Since its inception in 2007, Sony has established a goal of collecting a pound of electronics for every pound it produces. To date Sony has collected and recycled more than 43 million pounds of electronics.

     The eCycling Leadership Initiative is a collaboration among consumer electronics manufacturers, retailers, collectors, recyclers, non-governmental organizations and governments at all levels, and is coordinated by the Consumer Electronics Association.

    You can find more information on the eCycling Leadership Initiative here.

     

     

     

    April 13, 2011

    Earth Day Health & Beauty Countdown: Switch Your Liquid Shampoo to a Bar

    Earth Day is Friday, April 22. Why not use it to set some new goals that will help you green your health and beauty routine?

    Woman shampoo Let's start with shampoo. Conventional shampoo contains ingredients that may cause asthma or other human health problems and wreak havoc on water systems when they wash down the drain. Plus, they usually come packaged in plastic bottles that many communities can't recycle.

    SHAMPOO BARS

    Shampoo that comes as a bar rather than in a bottle treads more lightly on the planet - and reduces the amount of trash you throw away. Why?

    * It uses less packaging.

    * The packaging is probably paper or cardboard, thus easier to recycle than plastic.(If you do buy shampoo in a plastic bottle, rinse it out and recycle it.)

    * Since it's not liquid, it's lighter than bottled shampoos and therefore uses less energy to be shipped from the manufacturing plant to the store where you buy it.

    Most shampoos contain various chemicals to ensure they suds up a lot. In fact, you might not feel like your hair is getting clean unless it's had a good lather. These shampoo bars don't lather like liquid shampoo, but they do a great job cleaning your hair. None of them contain parabens, phthalates, or the antibacterial triclosan; they haven't been tested on animals, either.

    Burt's Bees Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar

    Seed soap Seed Grape seed enriched conditioning hair shampoo bar - unscented

    Chagrin Valley All Natural Solid Shampoo Bars

    Herbaria Herbal Soaps

    For more online options, check the Skin Deep Cosmetic Data base. Aim for products that have a hazard rating of between zero and three, which means they contain the fewest questionnable ingredients. 

    Do you have a favorite shampoo bar? Please share!

    Related Posts

    Antibacterial Soap...Could Harm Fetus and Infants

    Green Shampoos and Lotions for Guys

    Should Soap Bubbles Make Your Baby Sick? Tell J&J No! 

     Beauty or the Beast? The Safe Chemicals Act

    April 06, 2011

    GoDaddy or NoDaddy? It's about more than the elephant.

    Does GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons have any believable excuses for shooting an elephant in a village in Zibabwe, Africa a few weeks ago?

    Bob-Parsons-Elephant-Kill3-300x190 If he does, the public ain't buyin' it. Neither am I.

    In early March, Parsons killed an elephant and later posted the video footage on his website. Outrage was swift and explosive as the news went viral, leading to widespread condemnation and prompting some of GoDaddy's biggest customers to switch to other web hosts (I am currently a GoDaddy customer but am in the process of switching the Big Green Purse domain to a different host).

    Parsons told ABC News he shot the "problem" elephant at the request of local villagers who were trying to prevent the animal from crushing their crops. Parsons also claimed that the elephant, which he shot in the middle of the night, provided needed food for the hundreds of people who showed up in the morning to butcher it.  The way he talked, he implied that he has killed elephants and other big wildlife in previous years as a favor he bestows on demand.

    Here's my problem with his rationale:

    Continue reading "GoDaddy or NoDaddy? It's about more than the elephant." »

    April 01, 2011

    Is your environmental "glass" half empty, or half full?

    Woman hands over face Are you hopeful about the state of the world, or filled with despair?

    Japan's nuclear disaster is only the latest in a string of environmental catastrophes that might make anyone question whether we're doomed. I'm normally a "glass half full" kind of person. But after almost four decades of working as an environmental activist, I can't help but wonder: "Are we making a difference?"  After all these years of public education, political campaigns, and citizen protests, are we any further along today than we were when the first Earth Day happened on April 1, 1970?

    My neighbor is so pessimistic about progress on climate change that he's learning to shoot a gun to protect his vegetable garden.

    Not so members of the Green Moms Carnival.

    Harriet of Climate Mama expresses sentiments many of us feel when she writes: "I have to say, that in my “darkest moments” as we watch our new Congress seemingly delight in delivering body blows and exhibiting bad behavior as they attempt to set us back years on environmental policy…waves of disappointment wash over me...But then my hope is renewed. I am exposed to someone inspiring and optimistic, as I was recently on a visit to a public middle school in Brooklyn. I met so many incredible teachers, a dynamic principal and 1200 kids from all walks of life who feel empowered to “change the world.” I am also heartened by the overwhelming and positive outpouring of support by my neighbors to our town’s Environmental Commission’s “call” for volunteers for a “Green Team” which will work towards a state certification program on sustainability. Maybe we just need to set a positive path, and people will walk down it.”

    Continue reading "Is your environmental "glass" half empty, or half full?" »

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