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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.
  • « October 2011 | Main | December 2011 »

    November 17, 2011

    Jessica Alba Joins Movement to Pass Safe Chemicals Act

    Jessica_alba_safer_chemicalsThe Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition is working hard to get Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act. The legislation would require chemicals to be proven safe before they can be used in toys, clothes, furniture and other products that kids are likely to encounter. Actress Jessica Alba, left, is probably one of the highest-profile supporters of the Coalition and SCA, but tens of thousands of people also endorse this effort to protect people from the toxic chemicals that cause cancer, asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, and other illnesses.

    Like the Campaign on Facebook, then go to the Campaign's website to learn more and take action. It's particularly important for you to send your members of Congress a letter or e-mail urging them to support a strong Safe Chemicals Act.

    Here's Why We Need the Safe Chemicals Act:

    Beauty...or the Beast? Depends on the Safe Chemicals Act

    Putting on Lipstick Shouldn't be so Risky. It Won't Be - If You Support the Safe Chemicals Act

    Little Girls Are Worrying About Bras When They Should Still be Playing with Play Dough

     

    If you're in the market for...

    Looking for Non-Toxic Clothes and Toys for Yourself and Your Kids? Check out our Amazon store.

    November 15, 2011

    Do Natural Scents Make You Happy?

    Dishliquid1_25oz_clementineFNFSeventh Generation, the green cleaning products company, has used natural plant oils to create three new scented dishwashing liquids: lavender and mint, lemongrass and clementine zest, and fresh citrus and ginger (they still offer their "free and clear" option). In honor of their new products, they asked me to think about favorite scents that bring back fond memories.

    For me, those scents - and the memories associated with them - are seasonal. Walk into my house right now and here's what you'll smell: cinnamon sticks and orange rind simmering in a small pot of fresh apple cider. Take a whiff. Mmm... I don't know about you, but one whiff of that for me and ... I relax. I kick off my shoes, snuggle up on the couch with my cat, and enjoy the autumn.

    At Christmas time, it's fresh boughs of pine and fir, which I stick liberally into holiday baskets or strew on the red and green table runner I put out the beginning of December and leave until New Year's Day.

    In February, my amaryllis and narcissus bulbs start blooming, their scent so sweet they can infuse an entire room.  In Easter, the lillies do the same. My  spring and summer tulips and daffodils DON'T smell, but plenty of other flowers, bushes and herbs do. In fact, I always have pots of rosemary growing on my back porch just so I can roll a few sprigs between my fingers whenever I want to breathe in that wonderful, ennervating smell.

    Then there's lavender. When I was writing the Big Green Purse book, I holed up in a writer's colony at Point Reyes Station, California to complete the bulk of the research. Only one thing made the daily grind tolerable: the smell of lavender that wafted through my open windows. As luck would have it, my small writer's cabin was surrounded by fields of this beautiful flower, and they were all abloom. I started and ended every day breathing in that scent as deeply as I could. Maybe it's why I was able to finish the book under an impossibly tight deadline.

    If you've never had the pleasure of wandering through such fields, your luck could change. Seventh Generation is offering sweepstakes trips for two to Italy, France, and Vermont to give people like you a chance to see where the company gets its plant-based essential oils. As they would say, they come from "fields, not factories." Do me a favor, will you? If you win, take a big deep breath...and think of me!

    WHAT ABOUT YOU?

    Do you have a favorite smell? Does a particular fragrance trigger a memory - happy or sad - that stops you in your tracks? If you could bottle the oil from one plant, what would it be?

    DISCLAIMER:

     I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Seventh Generation blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

    Top 10 "No-Brainer" Things You Should Recycle on America #RecyclesDay

    America Recycles DayToday is America #RecyclesDay, a national event designed to encourage you, me and millions of other Americans, businesses, governments, and institutions to throwaway less trash and recycle more.

    Here's my Top 10 "No Brainer" List of what you should be recycling today - and every day. I call them "no brainers" because they're relatively easy to do in many communities, because it doesn't cost you anything to do them, and because they have a big environmental impact.

    1.  Newspapers and magazines (though to reduce how much you need to recycle, cancel subscriptions to magazines you don't read, and read newspapers and magazines online when possible)

    2. Junk mail, office paper, and catalogs (here's how to reduce the amount of junk mail you get in the first place; reduce office paper waste by printing on both sides, circulating documents electronically rather than on hard copy, and using software to reduce excess paper use; here's how to cut catalog overload)

    3. Paper bags and packaging from the grocery store, hardware store, or department store (reduce paper packaging waste by using reusable shopping bags.)

    4. Plastic bags (if your community recycling program won't take them, most grocery stores that still use them now take them back. Avoid them in the first place by using reusable bags.)

    5. Plastic milk jugs (choose paper cartons instead if those are easier to recycle where you live.)

    6. Plastic juice and beverage bottles (choose glass or cans if those are easier to recycle where you live.)

    7. Electronics, including computers, fax machines, and especially cell phones (Best Buy, Office Depot and Staples will recycle your electronics for you; most phone companies will take your old phone and recycle it.)

    8. Aluminum cans (pretty much all aluminum cans can be recycled, including those that contained soda pop, alcoholic beverages, and energy drinks.)

    9. Clothing (recycle your clothes by donating to charity, selling at thrift shops, giving to neighbors and friends, or repurposing them as rags and even pillow-stuffings; send your shoes to SolesforSouls.org)

    10. Food (recycle food waste into compost, to use in fertilizing vegetable and flower beds, trees and bushes)

    Want More Ideas?

    Top Ten Ways to Control Catalog Overload

    Recycling Your Computer Just Got Easier

    How to Recycle CFLs

    Can You Recycle Your Car?

    America Recycles Day

    What else do you recycle?

    November 08, 2011

    Use Black Friday Sales to Try New Green Products

    PurseIf the high price of some green goods has prevented you from buying them in the past, Black Friday - and Cyber Monday, the online shopping spree that happens four days after Thanksgiving - may offer the opportunity to finally give them a try. Retailers usually slash prices 30-50%, which helps make eco-friendly products more affordable. As we get closer to the big day - November 25 - I'll let you know about bargains I think are worthwhile, not because it's Black Friday particularly, but just because I think it's a smart way to use the power of your big green purse to send a message to manufacturers that green is the best "black" there is. For now, here are categories to consider if you want to make a shopping list.

    FOOD

    Organic food can cost as much as 30% more than food that's been conventionally grown using pesticides or under inhumane conditions for animals and people. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that staples like organic milk, meat, poultry and fresh vegetables will be on sale just because it's Black Friday. But specialty foods - like chocolate, tea and coffee, nuts, and dried fruits - are likely to have their prices slashed, particularly at more conventional grocery stores where they're seen as a premium item. I expect online retailers to offer bargains on gift packs of these items - but there's no reason why you can't buy them for yourself.

    ELECTRONICS and APPLIANCES

    I hate to encourage anyone to buy more electronics, given how much e-waste is piling up. However, if you're truly in need of a new phone, tablet, computer, or printer, Black Friday is the day to buy it. Do your research now so you can aim for the most energy-efficient, eco-friendly equipment; check this Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics to pick the most environmentally responsible company for the item you want. Plan now to recycle your old equipment when you replace it; stores like Best Buy, Staples, and Office Depot accept almost any electronic device, regardless of the manufacturer. If you still don't have an energy-saving power strip, get one of those while you're at it. Appliances will include the federal government Energy Guide sticker to help you choose the refrigerator, freezer, washer or dryer that uses the least amount of energy.

    CLOTHING

    VestWhile you'll find fashion bargains galore on November 25, not many of them are likely to be green, especially at the mall. Sadly, stores like Macy's, Target, Ann Taylor, Chico's, Express, Coldwater Creek, and the Limited are embarrassingly limited when it comes to dresses, shirts, pants, and other couture made from organic or eco-friendly fibers. You might have some luck at H&M; the last time I was in there, I found skirts and blouses made from organic cotton, and some sweaters made from recycled polyester. If you're not looking for dressy work clothes, head over to Lands End, Northface, Patagonia, and REI. Patagonia has done a particularly good job of using recycled fibers to make its vests and jackets; plus, you can recycle old t-shirts and other clothes at Patagonia when you shop.

    JEWELRY

    More and more fine jewelry stores are offering bracelets, rings, necklaces and earrings made from recycled gold, reclaimed stones, and diamonds sourced from humane and fair trade mines. Before you buy, ask to see certification that shows where the jewels originally came from.

    TOWELS AND SHEETS

    Organic towels and sheets are a real luxury, and their usual high price shows it. But even their cost might come down on Black Friday; if it does, go for it! JC Penneys, Target, and Wal-Mart stock organic linens regularly; hopefully, they'll put them on sale November 25 along with the conventionally produced items. Check online or in the newspaper for "money off on anything" coupons.

    WINE, BEER, SPIRITS

    Most liquor stores sell organically produced wine, beer, vodka, gin, and possibly other spirits. Whether you're stocking up for the holidays or want to refill your fridge or wine cellar, take advantage of storewide discounts or sales on individual brands.

    SOAP, SHAMPOO, PERFUME, PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS

    Stores like Bath & Body Works, the Body Shop, and Origins increasingly sell soaps, shampoos, lotions, and cremes free of parabens, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances. Read labels carefully, and look for products packaged in paper, cardboard and glass rather than plastic.

    YOGURT AND BREAD MAKERS

    If you buy a lot of yogurt and bread, chances are you're throwing away a lot of plastic yogurt containers and paper bread wrappers. Pretty much every department store will have these two items on sale on Black Friday.

    WRAPPING PAPER AND HOLIDAY CARDS

    The "greenest" option is to use paper you saved from last year and to send e-cards. You can also wrap presents in fabrics, towels, or table cloths and napkins or bundle them into reusable shopping bags. But if it's paper you must have, look for 100% recycled paper or tree-free paper options in both wrapping and cards from Hallmark and Papyrus, among other shops.

    Don't forget your own shopping bag... your reusable one, of course!

    Related Posts:

    Recycling Your Computer Just Got Easier

    What if You Buy Nothing?

    How to Shop for Eco-friendly Clothing (Parts 1, 2, 3)

    Top Ten "Green" Thanksgiving Tips

    Give to Your Favorite Charity Whenever You Shop - At No Extra Cost to You

    For more ideas on how to be a green consumer this holiday season, check out the Green Moms Carnival this month, hosted by Betsy over at Eco-Novice.

     

    November 07, 2011

    Your Big Green Muscle is Getting J&J to Make Its Baby Shampoo Safer

    Baby shampooMoms, consumer groups, nurses, and other health professionals have succeeded in getting Johnson & Johnson to begin to remove toxic chemicals from its baby shampoo.

    Two years ago, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reported that J&J's baby shampoo contained quarternium-15, which releases formaldhyde, as well as the chemical product 1,4-dioxane. Both formaldehye and dioxane are known carcinogens - which is why so many citizens rose up to pressure the company to produce a healthier, safer shampoo. This was a product for babies, after all!

    In a coordinated effort, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the American Nurses Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and 40 other groups, sent a letter to J&J outlining their concerns. Groups like our own Green Moms Carnival also raised awareness through blogs that reached hundreds of thousands of people.

    Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson announced that they are no longer introducing baby products that contain formaldehyde. They also announced that they have reformulated "approximately 70%" of their products with new formulas that keep trace levels of 1,4-dioxane below detectable levels.

    “Clearly there is no need for Johnson & Johnson to expose babies to a known carcinogen when the company is already making safer alternatives. All babies deserve safer products,” said Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund.

    Archer commented, “We’re glad to see that the Johnson & Johnson is taking this seriously. This commitment is a big step in the right direction. We look forward to the day when we can tell consumers the company’s entire product line is free of carcinogens and other chemicals of concern.”

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