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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.
  • 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.

     

    June 29, 2011

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

    Lips If you're anything like me, when you buy lipstick or eye make-up, it's because you want to look better, not feel worse. But many cosmetics contain questionnable ingredients that have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and asthma and respiratory disease. I've switched to more eco-friendly, non-toxic personal care products, but shouldn't EVERY cosmetic be eco-friendly and non-toxic?

    With your participation and some determined work on Capitol Hill, it will be. Several members of Congress recently introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act, legislation that would phase out toxic ingredients in our make-up and other personal care products that have been linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental harm. The act would also create a health-based safety standard to protect not only us adults, but kids, the elderly, and people who work in salons and the cosmetics industries.

    Plus, the legislation would require companies to fully disclose all the ingredients their products contain so we consumers can read the labels and decide what we want to be exposed to. Finally, the new law would boost funding for the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Cosmetics and Colors so it can effectively oversee the cosmetics industry and better protect consumers.

    Continue reading "Putting on Lipstick Shouldn't be so Risky. It Won't Be - if You Support the Safe Cosmetics Act" »

    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

    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." »

    July 26, 2010

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

    Lips Cosmetics and personal care products literally touch every part of our bodies. We've been convinced that they'll make us beautiful. They often make us feel better. But evidence is emerging that the cumulative use of these products may be contributing to asthma, the onset of puberty in girls as young as three years old, and even the feminization of baby boys. Because cosmetics, soaps and shampoos are washed down the drain, they get into our water system, where they're wreaking havoc on wildlife. And what about their relationship to breast cancer?

    While there's no specific link between any one product and breast cancer, scientific evidence is growing that women face some risk of contracting the disease due to their cumulative exposure to the chemicals in cosmetics and personal-care products.

    "Is there a direct connection we can make between the use of these products and breast cancer?" asks Dr. Julia Smith, the director of breast cancer screening and prevention at the Lynne Cohen Breast Cancer Preventive Care Program at the NYU Cancer Institute and Bellevue Medical Center, in New York City.  "No. But there are strong scientific suspicions that some of the chemicals found in the environment, including those used in cosmetics and other personal-care items, might increase the risk, especially if there is heavy exposure before the age of twenty-five." 

    That's because these are the years when breast tissue is developing and most susceptible to outside influences. It is possible that multiple exposures to common cosmetics could create a cumulative or "domino effect" that could ultimately result in the disease.

    Why aren't we safe?

    Eye makeup Despite these concerns, lipstick, eye liner, nail polish, shampoo, perfume, deodorant and the other concoctions we liberally apply to our faces, lips, eyes, noses, nails, heads, necks, legs, armpits and vaginas are among the least-regulated substances in the marketplace.

    It's true. The makers of cosmetics and personal-care products are not required to meet specific federal standards that guarantee our personal health and safety. The fedral Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires manufacturers to put a warning statement on the front of products that have not been tested that reads, "WARNING -- The safety of this product has not been determined." But not many of them follow the rules.

    Continue reading "Beauty...or the Beast? Depends on the Safe Chemicals Act." »

    February 16, 2010

    What Does "Natural" Mean?

    Carrots Dictionary.com defines natural as "not artificial" or "having undergone little or no processing and containing no chemical additives." When I think of "natural" I think of things "as Nature made them" - a tree, a flower, an apple, a bunch of carrots. I can recognize natural products in more or less their original form and can usually figure out whether they're good for me or instead pose some kind of threat (think "natural" poison ivy).

    Cheese puffs Businesses have long appreciated how much they have to gain by marketing their goods as "natural." It's why they've plastered the word all over products that, ironically, couldn't be farther from their natural state...like "natural" cheese puffs, crayola-colored gummy worms, ice cream that contains partially hydrogenated soybean oil and cocoa processed with alkali, and cleansers, soaps, toothpaste, and make-up that contain lye or lead.

    Gummy worms Products like these slide by as "natural" because no law prevents any manufacturer or retailer from claiming they are (unlike the label "organic," which is strictly defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and whose use is policed by both the federal government and consumer groups.) That's why I and many other consumer advocates encourage shoppers to ignore words like natural, earth-friendly, or something else equally appealing but ambiguous. There's no way to know what they really mean.

    NaturalSeal_Homecare_150px The Natural Products Association wants to clarify the debate. The group, which represents more than 10,000 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of natural foods, dietary supplements, and health/beauty aids has issued a Natural Products Association Standard and Certification for Home Care Products like household cleaners, laundry detergents, and concentrated and ready to use hard-surface cleaners (they've previously issued a similar standard for personal care products). Only products certified under the standard can bear the NPA natural home care seal, which is supposed to signal to consumers that the product can be trusted.

    Can it? Or is the standard just a clever attempt by companies better known for harsh and toxic ingredients to greenwash their products and cash in on the "natural" craze?

    Continue reading "What Does "Natural" Mean?" »

    September 16, 2009

    Tampons- The Planet's Most Extreme Case of PMS

    Vaginal-hygiene If you’re like most women, you'll use as many as 11,000 tampons during your lifetime. Add to that a couple of thousand pads and panty liners, and the ecological impact of your monthly cycle really starts to add up. Particularly egregious are the plastic applicators that come with some tampons. They can escape from any landfill- or wastebasket, for that matter- and plop down in a lake, river, playground, or just about anywhere else you’d rather not see them. The darn things are so indestructible even a car can run over them and not destroy them.

    Conventional products may contain a mixture of rayon and cotton. Rayon has been implicated in toxic shock syndrome, particularly for superabsorbent tampons. Cotton is highly pesticide-intensive; 25 percent of pesticides used globally are devoted to growing cotton. To look as white as possible, conventional pads and tampons are usually bleached with chlorine, a process that can create dioxin, a known carcinogen.

    Tampons, pads, and panty liners made from organic cotton are becoming increasingly available online and in the marketplace. If you’re going to use conventional products, choose those sold in the simplest packaging.

    Options:

    Continue reading "Tampons- The Planet's Most Extreme Case of PMS" »

    July 20, 2009

    Environmental In-Box: Softlips Pure Organic Lip Conditioner

    Lips Are you paying attention to your lips?

    Considering how many times you lick them each day, maybe you should. Many conventional lip products are made from ingredients you'd never DREAM of wiping your tongue on, like pesticides, dyes, and parabens. Lipstick may even contain lead. Ewww!

    Good news: Conventional cosmetic companies like Softlips are extending their product lines to include pure organic lip conditioners in a variety of flavors.

    About the Product: Pure Softlips is USDA Organic Certified. It's made of 100% natural ingredients, 95% of which are organic. You can get it in five different flavors, including Acai Berry, Honeydew, Papaya, Pomegranate, and Peppermint.

    Softlips What We Like: In addition to the fact that Softlips uses certified ingredients, its price is comparable to conventional products (see below) and it's easy to buy in many retail outlets. Pure Softlips is cruelty free (animal testing is not conducted). In addition, the balm is sold in recyclable materials that include a minimum of plastic and are printed with vegetable-based ink. It's not too greasy but still leaves lips feeling soothed. The flavors are pleasant, and the fragrance is not overwhelming.

    There are no dyes or tints in Softlips, so don't expect it to impart anything more than a subtle shine - which is just fine if you're planning to pucker up and don't want to leave any evidence behind.

    Are you are allergic to gluten? Softlips pure organic lip conditioner is gluten-free (other lip glosses may list wheat as an ingredient). 

    What We Don’t Like: Softlips' entire product line needs the same make-over it's given to its "Pure" brand. The company's standard products contain nasty compounds like petroleum, toluene and parabens. That's a no-no for Big Green Purse fans. We hope the company will raise its entire product line to "Pure" standards.

    Plus, five of us in the office tried different Pure Softlips flavors. We all liked the tastes - but we found the applicator tube itself way too small...and not because we have big lips! Softlips could double the size of the applicator, make the product last twice as long, and reduce packaging that comes from having to buy two applicators rather than one.


    Product Comparison:

    Continue reading "Environmental In-Box: Softlips Pure Organic Lip Conditioner" »

    July 13, 2009

    Environmental In-Box: Barely Native Soap

    “Invigorate the way nature intended.”  That’s the motto of Barely Native soaps and after trying the soap myself, I have to say, I feel pretty fresh. 

    Barely native soap What is it? Barely Native Organic Soaps are entirely plant-based bar soaps.  They contain no artificial fragrances, dyes, or preservatives.  The line of 12 soaps is made with ingredients like coconut, palm, sunflower, and safflower oils.  Berries, fruits, or herbs provide natural colors and gentle skin cleansers. 


    What I like:  The soaps are certified USDA Organic products, cruelty-free, and contain no parabens. 

    Barely native soap wrappedThey're wrapped with recycled wallpaper scraps salvaged from material that would otherwise go to a landfill and marked with a very small label.  The pure essential oils make the soaps very fragrant and the natural glycerin retained in the handmade process keeps your skin soft after use.  I used a bar of the Thyme soap and was left smelling great and feeling moisturized.   For ultra-sensitive consumers, Barely Native produces a version sans fragrance and coloring.  If you join the company’s Soap of the Month Club, you can receive a bar of each flavor of soap on your doorstep every month.

    What could be improved? Because Barely Native is a small company, it appears you can only order the soap online.  Plus, it is a bit pricey. One barcosts $5.95. Unless you buy six or more bars of the product, you must pay a five dollar shipping cost, bringing the total for one bar of soap to $10.95. Ouch!

    Continue reading "Environmental In-Box: Barely Native Soap" »

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