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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.
  • 10 Ways to Be a Green Valentine

    Roses in burlap bagValentine’s Day is for lovers – and for people who love Nature, too! Here are a few natural ways to celebrate your special someone, with thanks to Fresh Flowers for sponsoring this post.

     Candles – Choose candles made from beeswax or soy as opposed to petroleum-based paraffin. They’ll burn cleaner and smoke less. I prefer those that are fragrance-free or scented with plant-based oils, such as essence of lavender, rose or orange blossom, rather than synthetic fragrances and perfumes that can trigger allergic reactions.

     Chocolate – Enjoy the abundance of organic, Fair Trade chocolates available, including truffles, bars, drops, powdered cocoa and even ice cream.  Look for them online, in neighborhood markets, or at specialty shoppes.

    Continue reading "10 Ways to Be a Green Valentine" »

    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" »

    Plug-In Hybrids: Pros & Cons

    Ford_C-Max_Energi Hybrid cars have been around for years now, but if you take a look at the latest electric models available many of them are advertised as "plug-in hybrid" cars. What’s the difference between regular hybrids and plug-ins?

     Hybrids

     Generally, hybrids are any vehicles that use more than one source of power. This usually entails using a traditional gasoline engine as well as an electric battery or engine. The car can often switch between gas and electric mode as needed to save energy depending on the conditions, providing a much more efficient driving experience. (Full Disclosure: I drive a 2002 Toyota Prius Hybrid, one of the first hybrids to be sold in the U.S. The car’s mileage varies depending on who is driving it; I usually get more miles to the gallon than do my (hotrodding) kids. Overall, I average around 40-42 mpg driving in the city. My car easily gets over 50 mpg on the highway.)

      How do Plug-Ins Work?

    Continue reading "Plug-In Hybrids: Pros & Cons" »

    How to Plan an Eco Vacation That is Fun, Affordable, and Makes a Difference

    Like the idea of being an eco-tourist, but not exactly sure what that means? Most of my trips meet three criteria: they're fun; affordable; and make a difference in some concrete way.

    Gc_camp The fun part is simple to define. I'm the "active adventurer with a cultural twist" type, so for me, a trip is really fun if it gives me a chance to hike, snorkel, scuba, mountain bike or otherwise get my adrenaline pumping, preferably in a place with gorgeous scenery that connects me to Mother Nature. But I also love exploring new cultures, enjoying the local art and restaurant scene, and meeting people who actually live where I'm just visiting.

    What makes a trip fun for you?

    Expense is always a factor, especially in this economy. Fortunately, there are more affordable options available than ever before. From couch surfing to camping to hostels and the budget hotels you can find through companies like Accor, our sponsors for this post, it should be possible to locate accommodations within your price range almost anywhere you want to go.

    Continue reading "How to Plan an Eco Vacation That is Fun, Affordable, and Makes a Difference" »

    Solar Charging Tables Power Up Campuses, Malls, Disaster Areas & More

    When your power supply goes on the fritz, or even if you simply need to supplement the power available on the regular grid, what can you do to keep electricity flowing and your electronics working?

    Cafetbl2  Increasingly, communities are turning to compact solar energy charging stations to help meet energy demand. One of the most flexible and easy-to-install that I've seen is the ConnecTable Solar Charging Station, produced by CarrierClass Green Infrastructure.

    The ConnecTable resembles a nicely designed picnic or cafe table with one notable addition. It has an "umbrella" made from photovoltaic cells that convert solar energy into electricity. Sockets on the PV pole let consumers plug in to charge cell phones, iPads, lap tops and other mobile devices. They can also be used by crews in times of emergency to power any number of communications devices.

    A big benefit of the ConnecTable is its portability. While some models can permanently be installed at college campuses, office complexes, resorts, parks, or shopping malls, they can also be brought in if an area's utility grid goes down as a result of a big storm or other natural disaster. While several people can sit around one table, multiple tables can be combined to form a micro grid and backup power source during extended power outages.

    As for affordability, qualifying organizations may be eligible for low-interest financing of the tables through the Sustainable Energy Fund. Tables qualify for the 30% investment tax credit offered to businesses that install solar. Colleges can also use designated green funds to purchase tables.

    Keep an eye on other products CarrierClass Green Infrastructure (CCGI) has in the works. The company designs, sells and installs solar electric, solar thermal and custom off-grid solar power products for both commercial and residential customers.  As the reliability of traditional power supplies come into question, innovative solar technologies like those being developed by CCGI can be expected to play an increasingly important role in helping all of us stay plugged in.

    Consumer Choice in Electricity: An Easy Way to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

    I live in Maryland, where it is possible to source my electricity from clean, renewable energy instead of from coal-fired power plants. That's because in my state (and several others), the utility industry has been deregulated so that competitors can also provide power to meet consumer needs. One of my neighbors, Maurice Belanger, has been buying renewable energy for quite a while. He graciously offered to share his expertise with Big Green Purse readers to help people around the country opt for cleaner energy, too.

    Here's his advice. I hope it helps you choose cleaner, greener energy where you live.

    Windmill  The start of the New Year is time for resolutions. If you live in a state with consumer choice in electricity, you can resolve to reduce your carbon footprint and keep that pledge with just a little bit of time spent researching your options and filling out a form or two on the Web—no need to invest in solar panels or doing anything more complicated than a few clicks of the mouse. 

     

    For several years now, I have purchased electricity from a supplier that offers me 100 percent wind-generated electricity. It was surprisingly easy to switch. Yet, talking to my environmentally-conscious friends, I find that many of them are not even aware that they have a choice.

    I encourage you to look in to it. Here are a few tips on getting started.

    Continue reading "Consumer Choice in Electricity: An Easy Way to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint" »

    Fight the Polar Vortex With Warm Wool Sweaters and Socks

    Wondering how you can stay warm when the polar vortex and other cold winter weather strikes? I turn to wool, for everything from socks to sweaters to underwear.

    CHOOSE SAFE AND HUMANELY PRODUCED WOOL

    Wool coatThe trick is to find wool that is not just eco friendly but humanely produced. Many people feel like wool is the ultimate natural fiber. But remember - it comes from sheep, which may be brutally injured during the shearing process. In fact, popular merino wool has been particularly singled out because it can be so cruel to the animals. Why? Merino sheep have wrinkly skin. That allows them to produce more wool, but it also means that the sheep may suffer from greater infestations of flies. Many farmers employ a painful technique called mulesing: without using painkillers, they cut chunks of skin from the sheep to discourage flies from laying their eggs in the skin or wool. Ouch!

    Plus, many farmers spray toxic chemicals directly on to sheep to kill other pests. Those chemicals may do more harm to the sheep than kill pests; they may also get into the surrounding environment and threaten the farm workers who are managing the sheep.

    If the sheep are farmed in Australia or New Zealand, they may be exported to the U.S. or other countries before they're shorn. According to Hearts.com, about 1% of those sheep die during the journey due to crowded, disease-infested ships and inhumane conditions. (In comparison, here's how one Maine farmer raises his sheep organically and humanely.)

    Continue reading "Fight the Polar Vortex With Warm Wool Sweaters and Socks" »

    Planning a Trip to Europe? Ride a Bike When You Get There.

    According to cycletoworkday.org, there are currently more than 760,000 commuters cycling to work regularly in the UK alone. This two-wheeled trend is happening all over Europe, with bike hire schemes becoming one of the most popular ways for vacationers and holiday makers to explore a city. 

    Because hiring or renting a bike is so flexible, travelers can design their own personal tour and see a city at their own pace. Because biking uses pedal power rather than fossil fuels, it's also a great way to see the sites without contributing to air pollution or climate change. Travel comparison site momondo, the sponsors of this post, have created this helpful round up of five top European cities and their top tips on how to make the most of their bike hire schemes.

    Bike-sharing-infographic-head (1)

    If you've rented a bike before while on vacation, or you regularly commute to work by bike, please share your experiences with us.

    NOTE: Sponsorships allow us to bring you excellent content and expertise at no cost to you. Our editorial opinions remain our own. Thanks.

     

    When Should You Sue to Protect the Environment?

    When should you take polluters, companies, governments or other citizens to court for failing to protect the environment?

    Air pollution The simple answer is, "When they break the law."

    In most nations of the world, important laws now exist to protect clean air and clean water, minimize the environmental impacts of destructive practices like logging and mining, prevent toxic dumping and require companies to clean up hazardous waste, safeguard wetlands and wilderness areas, and keep watch over wildlife.

     In the U.S., the bedrock of environmental law is the National Environmental Policy Act, which was passed in 1970 to protect the environment against both public and private actions that might harm eco-systems. In Australia, it is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Other countries have other legislation in place.  The power of these laws lies in the ability they provide to hold polluters accountable for the havoc they wreak on natural resources as well as human well-being.

    Continue reading "When Should You Sue to Protect the Environment?" »

    5 Ways to Drive More Efficiently and Save Money, Use Less Gas

    Speedometer As you shop around to find a fuel-efficient vehicle, you'll notice different average mileage figures given for driving in the city and on a motorway.

    Yet there are many other reasons why a car's mileage could vary. Fuel economy can fluctuate not only according to the car you drive, but also to how you drive it.

    You might be driving a car that is supposed to achieve 50 mpg, but if you gun the accelerator and leave the engine idling, you won't get anywhere near such mileage in real life.

    Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you maximize your car's fuel economy, courtesy of the fuel-efficiency minded folks at Carsales. Don't forget that fuel efficiency leads up to big money savings at the gas pump. 

    1. Stick to the speed limit.

    It's a surprisingly common misconception that if you can reduce the length of your trip by driving faster, you'll burn less fuel. In reality, you burn fuel at a more rapid pace when you exceed speeds of 65mph. Wind resistance increases at higher speeds, meaning your car has to work harder to keep up the pace. The most efficient speed you can travel is between 55 – 65mph, after which efficiency will rapidly decrease. Driving at a speed of 85mph would use 40% more fuel than if you drove at 70mph. When on the motorway, try using cruise control to maintain a safe and consistent speed. 

    2. Reduce your car's weight.

    Another way to boost efficiency is by reducing your car's weight and drag. Remove extra roof racks if you're not using them, because these increase wind resistance. Try to eliminate extra weight from inside the car, as well. If you've been carrying around spare luggage or packages in the backseat or trunk, it's time to clear them out. You can save 1% on fuel for every 45kg/99lbs that you remove from the vehicle. 

    Continue reading "5 Ways to Drive More Efficiently and Save Money, Use Less Gas" »

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