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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.
  • March 20, 2014

    Don't Replace Trans Fats with Conflict Palm Oil. Neither are Healthy For Your Family.

    When you read the label on the processed foods you buy at the supermarket, what do you look for? I've mostly been on the hunt for information about calories, sugar and fat content, transfats, and synthetic chemicals like food dyes and preservatives.

    Rainforest Action Network (RAN), along with Dr. Andrew Weil, an expert in integrative medicine, says we should look at what they call "Conflict Palm Oil" as well. RAN's Ashley Schaeffer Yidliz tells us why in this guest post sponsored by RAN.

    Palm oilConflict Palm Oil is often used to replace artery-clogging trans fats. It makes a convenient substitute because palm oil, like partially hydrogenated oil, is solid at room temperature. But is it actually healthy?

    According to Dr. Weil, "Fresh palm fruit oil, sometimes called ‘red palm oil,’ is a nutritious and beneficial oil. However, it’s important not to confuse this raw oil with palm kernel oil, or the highly processed versions of crude palm oil that are commonly used as ingredients in the industrially produced packaged foods found in most Americans’ diets. These types of palm oil are unhealthy for the human body. And their irresponsible cultivation in tropical areas is unhealthy for the planet.”

     Dr. Weil joins a chorus of voices expressing concern that, when it comes to replacing trans fats, we may be jumping out of the frying pan and into the deep fryer. The World Health Organization, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the USDA's Agricultural Research Service all recommend against consuming palm oil and other tropical oils because their saturated fat content is so high.

    Beyond the health issue, environmentalists and human rights activists are concerned that the FDA ban on trans fats will lead to a repeat of the mistakes companies made ten years ago when the FDA mandated trans fat labeling. That mandate led to a 500% increase in demand for Conflict Palm Oil, which is produced in ways that cause large scale rainforest destruction and human rights abuses.

    In fact, palm oil can now be found in roughly half the packaged food products sold in grocery stores. It is added to teething biscuits, baby formula, granola bars, peanut butter, crackers, and more. When we feed our kids food that comes out of a bag, a box, or a package of any kind, chances are they're eating palm oil.

    Orangutan As a mom, I'm pleased to see the FDA taking steps to eliminate an ingredient from our food supply that is unhealthy for my family. But as a Palm Oil Campaigner for Rainforest Action Network, I know that replacing trans fats with Conflict Palm Oil won't do much for people's health and will cause dire consequences for the planet. In fact, not one of the nation's top 20 snack food manufacturers can verifiably ensure that their products do not contain Conflict Palm Oil. I know that my baby boy would never forgive me if I told him that the hidden ingredient in his teething biscuits was the reason he'd never be able to see an orangutan in the wild.

    That's why I'm so passionate about our Conflict Palm Oil campaign to pressure the Snack Food 20* group of companies to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from their products. And I'm pleased to report that it is working. A few months ago, palm oil mega-giant Wilmar International - which controls 45% of the global trade in palm oil - adopted a conflict-free palm oil policy. On Valentine's Day, Kellogg released a strengthened palm oil purchasing commitment, joining industry peers Nestle, Unilever and Ferrero. But we're still waiting for several other kids' snack makers to step up to the plate, including Kraft, PepsiCo, Heinz, Campbell Soup, ConAgra Food and Cargill.

    What can moms do to make a difference?

    1) Keep reading labels. Palm Oil goes by many names, including Palm Kernel Oil, Palmitate and Glyceryl Stearate. You'll be amazed how ubiquitous it is, once you learn to recognize its many names.

    2) Read RAN's Conflict Palm Oil report, which outlines the health, human and environmental impacts of this destructive product and lays out exactly what we are asking shoppers and companies to do to eliminate it.

    3) Take action online to tell the Snack Food 20: Don't replace trans fats with Conflict Palm Oil.

    Thanks to the support of RAN activists and allies, we are making progress and gaining traction. But we'll need to keep pushing to reach the tipping point. I am convinced that moms have the power to provide the added momentum we'll need to remove Conflict Palm Oil from our food supply.

     

    *  "Snack Food 20" group of companies are Campbell Soup Company; ConAgra Foods, Inc.; Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.; General Mills, Inc.; Grupo Bimbo; Hillshire Brands Company; H.J. Heinz Company; Hormel Foods Corporation; Kellogg Company; Kraft Food Group, Inc.; Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Corp.; Mars Inc.; Mondelez International, Inc.; Nestle. S.A.; Nissin Foods Holdings Co., Ltd.; PepsiCo, Inc.; The Hershey Company; The J.M. Smucker Company; Toyo Suisan Kaisha, Ltd.; and Unilever.

    NOTE: Thanks to RAN for sponsoring this post. Sponsors allow us to provide expert content at no cost to you. Our editorial opinions remain our own.

    February 10, 2014

    EcoCentric Mom Box: Soap, Serum and Chocolate

    EcoCentric Mom pulled together a fun and helpful collection of new green products to try this time around. They included:

    Ecocentric Mom Jan 2014 Soap - Not just any soap, but a full-sized bar of Wildly Natural Seaweed Detoxi Cellulite Soap featuring coffee and cinnamon to help cleanse and nourish the skin. Like most Ecocentric Mom products, it's also paraben, sulfate, gluten and dye-free.

    Lip Balm - This may be the last lip balm you ever try, because it's so soothing, nothing else will ever feel as good. LIPS by Healthy Houseful uses coconut oil, shea better and quality essential oils to moisturize and protect against chapped lips. Plus, as they say, "Nasty chemicals not included!"

    Facial and Hydrating Serum - Two sample bottles of Pure + Remedy serum included Vitamin C Facial serum, formulated with pure vegan hyaluronic acide to moisturize and plump skin cells; and Precious Drops, a super hydrating serum to firm and tone the skin.

    Continue reading "EcoCentric Mom Box: Soap, Serum and Chocolate" »

    February 04, 2014

    Resources to Help Environmental Lawyers Succeed

    Earth in our hands Citizens, non-profit organizations, civic and community groups, and governments rely on environmental law to ensure their rights to health and safety and protect our natural resources. To succeed in the courtroom, it’s critical to stay abreast of what environmental laws are being passed and how they’re being implemented. LexisNexis, our sponsors for this post and a publisher of several resources that keep environmental lawyers up-to-date, recommends the following:

    ·         Research is key. This notion is so obvious it can easily be overlooked. To argue cases with authority, it may be critical, for example, to know that a certain chemical in the groundwater, although thought to be harmless, actually has a chronic long-term negative health effect on local animal populations or on the water coming out of someone’s tap. Such knowledge will help the environmental lawyer argue the case for stricter dumping regulations. Much case law already exists, of course, but it may not include recent scientific reports and analyses. That’s where research plays a crucial role.

    Continue reading "Resources to Help Environmental Lawyers Succeed" »

    December 06, 2013

    Idling Engines Make Air Quality Worse, Especially in Winter

    No idling The colder it gets outside, the more people want to heat up their cars inside - even before they get in the car. Leaving an engine to idle -- in other words, turning the car on and leaving it on when it is parked for longer than about the wait at a stop light -- wreaks havoc on clean air. That's because when your vehicle burns gas, it emits dirty particles and toxic chemicals that combine in the atmosphere to produce acid rain and ground-level ozone or smog that can be very harmful to our lungs. Air pollution is particularly tough on kids, reports the terrific non-profit group Moms Clean Air Force, because they actually breathe faster than grown-ups and inhale more air per pound of body weight. Some communities, like this inspiring group in Nova Scotia, Canada, have banded together to put a stop to idling at schools, sporting events, and shopping malls.

    Continue reading "Idling Engines Make Air Quality Worse, Especially in Winter" »

    May 24, 2013

    What Makes EPIC So "Epic"? Great Animation, Green Message

    Tiny, champion Leaf Men. Evil, creepy "Boggans." A talking snail and a comical slug. A handsome rogue who can ride a sparrow faster than anyone around. A teenage girl who tries to run away but learns to ride a hummingbird instead. And a big magical forest that will die unless the Leaf Men, the runaway and the slimy things prevail.

    KIDS AT EPIC THUMBS UP PLUS animation so vibrant and lively you'll feel like you're defending the forest, too -  rather than watching it unfold in 3-D.

    That's EPIC in a nutshell, a fantastic eco-blockbuster opening Memorial Day weekend. Thanks to Team ENERGY STAR, I was invited to attend the movie's star-studded "green carpet" premiere in New York City - along with several of the celebrities who voiced the movie's characters. Team ENERGY STAR hopes EPIC raises awareness about the importance of protecting the planet and stopping climate change, especially among kids.

    Continue reading "What Makes EPIC So "Epic"? Great Animation, Green Message" »

    May 23, 2013

    Do Your Kids Think Saving Energy Is Important? Enter Contest by May 31.

    Mom sonTeam ENERGY STAR, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's program to help kids and families understand why saving energy is important, has launched a contest to encourage kids to tell us in their own worlds why energy efficiency makes a difference.
    To enter, all kids need to do is share their stories on the Team ENERGY STAR web page. The "story" can be told in words, pictures, video, slides, animation, drawings...the sky's (almost) the limit! The deadline for entering is May 31.
    EPA and ENERGY STAR will recognize those who tell the best, most inspiring stories with a variety of energy-efficient electronic prizes from LG, including:

    ·      Smart phones

    ·      Feature phones

    ·      27 inch LED televisions

    ·      Computer monitors

    ·      MP3 Docking Stations

    Energy star computer PLUS: YOUR CHILD'S NAME IN LIGHTS

    Winners’ names and photos will be broadcast on LG’s billboard in New York's Times Square in conjunction with a Twitter Party on June 7, #TeamENERGYSTAR.

    Go to the Team ENERGY STAR website now to get more details and encourage your kids to share their story! (https://www.energystar.gov/team)

    Continue reading "Do Your Kids Think Saving Energy Is Important? Enter Contest by May 31." »

    January 29, 2013

    Looking for New, Non-toxic Lotions, Cremes & Cleansers? Try the January EcoCentric Mom Box.

    IMG_2365 This month's EcoCentric Mom box is chock full of exactly what I need in dry winter months: soothing organic skin lotions and cremes to moisturize my hands and face, gentle soaps, and cleansers and laundry "berry drops" that put the "clean" back in cleaning.

    But first, the food.

    I've said before that, as much as I enjoy the new non-toxic products from EcoCentric Mom that I get to try every month, I particularly like sampling the different taste treats that come in each box. This month, those treats included:

    Simply 7 Snacks Lentil Chips - These flavorful snacks are made with gluten-free, non-GMO ingredients, have no preservatives, and contain nothing artificial.

    Pure Matters Pea Protein Powder, in Chocolate and Vanilla - The vegan, non-GMO, plant based protein powder can be mixed with water or milk for a shake, or added to yogurt or fruit to make a smoothie.

    PROBAR Meal Bar - A lot of energy bars disappoint - they seem too sweet, too airy, and way too full of processed ingredients. The PROBAR Meal Bar was surprisingly the opposite: very dense and chewy, tasty without being cloying, and so "natural" you could see some of the raw ingredients with every bite. I've got to say, I really liked it.

    For my dry skin...

    Continue reading "Looking for New, Non-toxic Lotions, Cremes & Cleansers? Try the January EcoCentric Mom Box." »

    January 20, 2013

    At 2013 Green Ball, Send Pres. Obama Your #GreenWish for the Next 4 Years

    What do you hope President Obama will do to protect you, your family and the environment during his second term?

    Green Wish At tonight's Green Inaugural Ball, environmentalists, celebrities, elected officials and "green" citizens will make their wishes known as they celebrate not only Barack Obama's re-election but their hopes for the planet during his next four years.

    To be held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., the Ball will offer a perfect example of how to throw an eco-friendly party. Guests -- who are being encouraged to arrive via mass transportation, of course -- will dine on organic, locally grown food, including vegetable sushi rolls, butternut squash shooters, and a variety of other vegan and vegetarian offerings. Personally, I'm looking forward to sipping the "OM-bama" cocktail that's been created for the evening (the OM stands for Organic Mixology -- whatever that is.). There'll be plenty of entertainment, too, from the likes of Grammy award winners will.i.am and Paul Winter, New Orleans master trombonist Trombone Shorty, Rock & Roll cover band Camp Freddy, and many more.

    Wish you could be at the ball but can't? You can follow it all on Twitter, at #GreenBall2013. And don't forget to tweet your wish, using #greenwish. National Wildlife Federation, whose guest I will be at the ball, will be showcasing the green wishes all around the Newseum. Make one wish, or a dozen. There's no limit on what you can wish for!

     RELATED STORIES:

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    I'm going to the Ball! Now, All I Need is a Gown...

    Of Course My Gown is Green!

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    January 18, 2013

    Shopping for a New Car? There are Plenty of Gas Sippers to Choose From.

    What kind of car do you need? Coupe? Sedan? Sports car? Mini van? Something you can zip the kids to school in before you head to work? A small truck to help you cart around your merchandise when you make a sales call or delivery? Whatever your needs, you can probably find what you're looking for not just in style, but in gas-sipping substance, too.

    CMAX SE That's the good news at the North American International Auto Show, currently under way in Detroit and soon to be visiting a city perhaps near you. Almost every car manufacturer seems to have gotten energy-saving religion. Big or small, snazzy or sedate, if you're buying a new car, you will have lots of gas-sippers to choose from.

    I went to the show as a guest of the Ford Motor Company, but I spent as much time looking at everyone else's cars as I did at Ford's. Overall, I came away encouraged. If people are going to drive (and they are, an average of 14,000 miles per year), they may as well get as many miles to a gallon of gasoline as they can. I've written here, here and here about the impact burning gas has on the environment and human health. The less fuel we use to get where we're going, the better.

    Plus, increasing your miles-per-gallon average can save you a ton of money. In the ten years I've owned my Prius, a car that on a bad day averages 37 or 38 mpg and more frequently gets in the mid to high 40s, I calculated recently that I've saved over $6,000 on gasoline. Even after replacing the car's tires and batteries, I came out several thousand dollars ahead.

    Here are a few gas-sippers I saw at NAIAS that I particularly liked:

      Fusion hybrid Ford Fusion - In my book, the best vehicles achieve at least 40 mpg on average and are made with some percentage of recycled materials. I test drove the Fusion hybrid when it first entered the market; I updated the story recently with a report on the strides being made to maximize the use recycled materials in the car's body and replace the plastic stuffing in seat cusions with biodegradable soy material. The 2013 model keeps pushing the limits further, averaging 47 mpg in the city or on the highway. The car's Auto Start-Stop feature automatically powers down the car when you come to a stop, then gently starts it up again when you press on the gas. Regenerative braking means that every time you tap on the brakes, you're sending energy back to the battery to recharge it. On the plug-in model, you can travel up to 62 miles on the power of the electric battery alone, more than enough for most commutes. Not for nothing was this car named 2013 Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal.

    Ford C-MAX Hybrids - There are actually three models of the new C-Max to choose from. The standard C-MAX Hybrid, pictured above, is projected to operate electrically up to 62 mph, with the gasoline engine kicking in when extra power is needed. At maximum fuel efficiency, the car could attain an average of 47 mpg in the city or the highway, or over 570 miles per tank. The C-MAX  Energi is a plug-in  Cmx13_feat_green_smartguage hybrid, or what Ford calls a "hybrid plus."  The plug-in capability allows drivers to charge fully in less than three hours using a 240-volt charging station, or overnight using a standard 120-volt oulet. The driver can choose to drive electric only, gasoline only, or a combination of gas and electric. Both the Hybrid and the Energi come with a "Smart Gauge with EcoGuide" (pictured at right) to help drivers maximize fuel efficiency. Third C-MAX, the SE, is also for sale. You can compare features of all three here. Note that prices range from $25,200 for the SE to $32,950 for the Energi, though that doesn't include the $7,500 federal tax credit available when you purchase a hybrid or any related state tax credits.

    2012_toyota_prius_4dr-hatchback_five_fq_oem_3_500 Prius Hatchback -The Prius Hatchback, left, is a roomy hybrid option that is comparably priced to the Fusion or C-MAX. Like the Ford hybrid models it seats five; the hatchback gives it some nice storage space that could accommodate a family vacation, camping trip, or even the dog. Toyota claims the car will get as much as 53 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway, for a combined average fuel efficiency rating of 50 mpg. Toyota also offers a Prius Plug-in with an estimated 95 miles on a charge, plus hybrids in its other popular models, including Camrys, Avalons, the RAV4, and the Highlander SUV.

     

    2012-tesla-model-s-fd Tesla Electric Vehicle - I have to say, I suffered a bit of car envy over the beautiful Tesla S (right), an all electric vehicle that is this year's MotorTrend Car of the Year. The car can travel anywhere from 160 miles to 300 miles on electricity only, depending on the size of the battery that's been installed in the car.

    Tesla interior I loved the big, clear computer screen sitting right next to the steering wheel on the front dashboard, which would be great for looking at a map. And it seems particularly clean, given that the battery pack is under the floor and there's absolutely no engine front or back.

    At $50k+, the car is waaaayyy out of my price range. But a girl can dream, right?

    BOTTOM LINE: Almost any type of vehicle you'd need is now available in a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or electric option. Have fun the next time you go car shopping!

     

    November 02, 2012

    I am Voting for Barack Obama because We are Greener than We were Four Years Ago.

    Are we “greener” than we were four years ago?

    Barack_Obama Yes, we are, and Barack Obama deserves a lot of the credit.

     Despite strident anti-environmental opponents on Capitol Hill, President Obama has managed to use the power of his office – deployed primarily through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Department of the Interior – to make our air and water cleaner, to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, to protect our public lands, and to attack the climate change that causes extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy.

    Is his job done? Not by a long shot. But are we making progress? Definitely. I’m supporting the President for a second term because I think he offers our best hope in this election to continue to make progress in the future. 

    This all became extremely clear to me earlier this week, as Hurricane Sandy was ripping away part of my roof. While I huddled in my basement listening to the terrifying wind and the torrential rain, I found myself getting mad, not just about what it would cost me to repair the damage, but about the reasons behind this catastrophic storm. Meteorologists, scientists, environmentalists, public health professionals, concerned citizens, and yes, President Obama, have all made the link between burning fossil fuels like coal and oil and extreme weather events like Sandy, let alone Hurricane Katrina and many others. And they’ve tried to throw the weight of their various offices behind solutions that would help wean us from fossil fuels.  

     Meanwhile, conservative forces in Congress and many state houses around the country have blocked legislation that would reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and opposed efforts to increase energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Bolstered by their conservative colleagues on Capitol Hill and pressured by Tea Party activists, Republican challenger Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, his running mate, have dismissed climate change, have literally said they “love” coal, and would strive to cripple the EPA if they were elected to office.

     Maybe to some people, this is just “talk.” But as someone who has worked in Washington, D.C. to promote environmental protection during the Carter years, the Reagan years, the Bush 1 years, the Clinton years, the Bush 2 years, and now the last four years of the Obama Administration, I can say, and say unequivocally, that environmental policy consistently fares worse under Republican administrations than under Democratic ones. As Sandy has shown, the planet very much faces a climate change tipping point. Obama is on one side, Romney on the other. For me, siding with Obama is a no brainer.

    Has Obama accomplished nearly enough? No.

     Do I wish more change had happened? Of course.

     But we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    Continue reading "I am Voting for Barack Obama because We are Greener than We were Four Years Ago." »

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