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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 26, 2013

    US-China Greener Consumption Forum Lays Groundwork for Future Projects Together

    How can the world's two consumer "superpowers"- the U.S. and China - work together to reduce the impact that consumption has on us and our world?

    Group  That was the topic a capacity crowd addressed on March 22 at the U.S. - China Greener Consumption Forum. The event, held at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. and co-sponsored by Big Green Purse and the International Fund for China's Environment, pulled together scientists, consumer advocates, public policy advocates, and green entrepreneurs to share ideas about strategies to inspire manufacturers to create greener goods -- and get consumers to buy them.

    HIGHLIGHTS:

    The Forum focused primarily on women because women spend 85 cents of every dollar in the  marketplace – and we’re not just buying cheese doodles and diapers. As I say here on CCTV, the national television network of China, we buy more clothes.  More food.  More cosmetics and personal care products than men. We also buy more electronics, more home furnishings, almost as many tools, just as many cars. Women are spending billions of dollars, day in and day out, year in and year out.

    But even with all that clout, we won’t be able to use this power of the purse effectively until we achieve true gender equity worldwide, points that both Ban Li, Deputy Counsel of the Shaanxi Women's Federation, and Liane Shalatek, Associate Director of the Heinrich Boll Foundation North America, made very powerfully.

     Christine Robertson of Earth Day Network facilitated a provocative panel on the impacts consumption has on our health and the health of the planet. Sarah Vogel of Environmental Defense Fund (pictured  8589602452_4cbfc26167 right) was peppered with questions after her presentation on the way the toxic chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) affects the reproductive systems of men and women alike.

    Ping He of the International Fund for China's Environment, the co-sponsor with Big Green Purse of the Forum, moderated the session on barriers to sustainable consumption and solutions that help surmount them. Meaningful eco-labels and standards can make a big difference, pointed out Arthur Weissman, President and CEO of Green Seal, especially when those standards are set by an indendent third party (like Green Seal is) whose primary interest is not in selling products, but in helping manufacturers become more sustainable over time.

    LISA JACKSON, Former EPA Administrator

    Lisa J podium Lisa Jackson's luncheon keynote address was the highlight of the day for many people. As a mom, scientist, and long-time public servant, Lisa has a unique appreciation for the impact consumption has on us as individuals and on society as a whole. She spoke movingly about being the first African-American to serve as head of the EPA and how important it is to bring women as well as people of color and low-income populations into the conversations we're having about pollution and climate change.

    Lisa noted that her favorite law is the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act because it empowers people to protect themselves wherever they live. She is also proud of technology EPA has shared with the city of Shanghai to help monitor air pollution there.

    Lisa agreed that the way we use both the purse and the pocketbook can inspire manufacturers to reduce pollution and energy consumption.

    Continue reading "US-China Greener Consumption Forum Lays Groundwork for Future Projects Together" »

    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 25, 2013

    Green Consumer Clout Motivates Tide to Clean Up Its Act

    Think you can't tell a Fortune 500 company what to do?

    Think again.

    Tide When Women's Voices for the Earth released a report noting that Tide detergent contained chemicals that could actually be harmful to kids, millions of consumers were outraged. They were buying the Procter & Gamble (P&G) product to keep their children clean and safe. Yet according to the report, Tide actually contained the cancer-causing chemicals 1,4- dioxane at levels safety experts considered threatening.

    Mom blogger and consumer activist Lori Alper sprang into action by launching a petition drive on Change.org.  urging the company to ditch the dangerous compounds. 

    Today - 78,000 signatures later - Tide capitulated. In response to consumer demand and a lawsuit filed in California by As You Sow, P&G agreed to phase out the carcinogens by September 2013.

    Alper-462-200x300 “When I started my petition on Change.org, I knew that Procter & Gamble listened to consumer feedback, and I was hopeful we could get this dangerous chemical out of our laundry,” said Alper. “I can’t wait to see what we can do next.”


    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." »

    October 15, 2012

    Protect Us and Our Kids from Toxic Chemicals Now!

    Why are we still exposed to so many toxic chemicals?

    CarsonWe know they threaten our health and wreck the environment. Fifty years ago, in her revolutionary book Silent Spring, scientist Rachel Carson drew a bright red line between the use of pesticides like DDT and threats to our environment. As Leigh at Green4U writes, "She was the canary in the coal mine..." who sounded the alarm about chemicals in our environment and, sadly, died before DDT, the chemical she most studied, could be banned. 

    The Environmental Protection Agency was founded a few years later, in part to protect people and the planet from dangerous chemicals like those Rachel Carson identified. Since then, dozens, if not hundreds of non-profit organizations and scientific institutes have documented the impact chemicals have on our ability to reproduce, bear healthy babies, raise thriving children, and live healthy lives. And yet, we're still exposed to dangerous chemicals that wreak havoc on our hormones, our brains, and our bodies.

    In honor of Silent Spring, in observance of today's Blog Action Day, and to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many concerned women have weighed in, expressing their ongoing belief that we must be protected from exposure to toxic chemicals at all costs. Shane at Environmental Booty captured the hopeful sentiment we all share when she wrote, "There is no other choice than to stand in spirit with Rachel Carson to create a sustainable future.  We must work together to create a future full of the most uproarious Springs.  Springs filled with the beautiful sounds of children playing, birds singing and mothers and fathers breathing huge sighs of relief because they fought for our future that will be healthy and sustainable for our planet as well as their families."

    Why Are We Still Threatened?

    Continue reading "Protect Us and Our Kids from Toxic Chemicals Now!" »

    September 26, 2012

    How You Can Avoid Eating Arsenic When You Cook Rice

    Alarming levels of arsenic, a toxin that can cause bladder, lung and skin cancer, are showing up in rice. Why? It has to do with the way we grow food. Soil naturally contains some arsenic. But many of the pesticides and herbicides used on conventional farms add much more arsenic to the ground.

    RiceConsumer Reports, which did the research on arsenic contamination in rice, reports that "According to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the U.S. is the world’s leading user of arsenic...since 1910 about 1.6 million tons have been used for agricultural and industrial purposes, about half of it only since the mid-1960s. Residues from the decades of use of lead-arsenate insecticides linger in agricultural soil today, even though their use was banned in the 1980s. Other arsenical ingredients in animal feed to prevent disease and promote growth are still permitted. Moreover, fertilizer made from poultry waste can contaminate crops with inorganic arsenic."

    Most plants absorb some arsenic when they are grown. But because rice is grown in water, it  absorbs significantly more arsenic, which ends up in the rice grains we eat. 

    What can you do?

    Continue reading "How You Can Avoid Eating Arsenic When You Cook Rice" »

    August 29, 2012

    "Baby" Box Helps New Moms Find Safer, Greener Lotions, Jammies & Food

    Mom-and-baby  Whether you're a new mom or your kids are a little older, you're probably always on the look-out for non-toxic and healthy products that will help keep your child happy and safe. EcoCentric Mom makes your job a lot easier every month by sending out sample boxes of new products you should at least know about when you go shopping.

    I have the enviable job of reviewing EcoCentric Mom's samples each month. My August "baby box" arrived recently, full of products I wish had been around when my own two children were younger. Thanks to EcoCentric Mom, I now know about some terrific options that are worth switching to if you use more conventional brands:

    Ecover Natural Dishwashing Liquid - I've used Ecover clothes washing detergent and dish washer powder for a while now, but I hadn't given their dishwashing liquid a try until now. It foams nicely, does a great
    Ecoverjob cutting grease, and given my sensitivity to synthetic fragrances, I appreciate that the scent is naturally derived from grapefruit and green tea. This month's box came with a nice sized sample, plus a coupon for $1.00 off any Ecover dishwashing products.

    Lunch Skins - Just in time for day care, pre-school, or full-day school lunch boxes, these reusable sandwich bags can be used a thousand times. They're BPA, lead, and phthalate free, and handsewn in the USA by a local family business. If they get dirty, just toss them in the dishwasher.

    Molly's Suds - This laundry powder does the job minus fragrances, dyes, formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane and phosphate. It has not been tested on animals, and is ultra concentrated so a little goes a long way. Though formulated for kids, you can wash your laundry in it, too.  

    Continue reading ""Baby" Box Helps New Moms Find Safer, Greener Lotions, Jammies & Food" »

    August 22, 2012

    Simple, Non-Toxic Ways to Protect Yourself from West Nile Virus

    Mosquito biteWest Nile Virus is on the rise in the United States, a consequence of the climate change that is bringing more extreme weather conditions to many parts of the country. The Centers for Disease Control report that, "since 1999, 30,000 people have been reported as getting sick with West Nile Virus. Occasionally, an infected person may develop more severe disease such as “West Nile encephalitis,” “West Nile meningitis” or “West Nile meningoencephalitis. refers to an inflammation of the brain, meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord, and meningoencephalitis refers to inflammation of the brain and the membrane surrounding it. Almost 13,000 of the individuals who have been reported as having West Nile virus since 1999 have been seriously ill, and more than 1,200 have died."

    There are two ways to protect yourself from mosquitoes: reduce the number of mosquitoes in your area, and reduce your chances of being bitten.

    REDUCE BREEDING

    Mosquitoes breed anywhere there is standing water. The key to reducing mosquito populations is to limit the places where they can reproduce.

    * Empty standing pools of water. Especially after it rains, keep an eye out for standing pools of water that provide perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Those include baby pools, watering cans, old tires, gutters and drains, buckets, and pretty much anything else that can trap water long enough for a mosquito to lay its eggs.

    * Keep water moving in ponds and fountains. Use a small pump to keep water circulating, or put some fish or frogs in the pond to eat up mosquito larvae.

    Continue reading "Simple, Non-Toxic Ways to Protect Yourself from West Nile Virus" »

    August 16, 2012

    Safe, Eco-Friendly Lunch Boxes Save Money and Reduce Waste, Too

    Research commissioned by the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, California showed that the lining in some kids' lunch boxes contained high levels of lead. Lead can harm children even in minute amounts because it hinders brain development and can cause a variety of behavior and other developmental disorders. Children may be exposed to the lead in lunch boxes if they eat food that's touched the box directly or if they handle the boxes and then put their hands in their mouths.

    Other lunch boxes may be made from PVC plastic. Says the National Institutes of Health, "Because of PVC’s heavy chlorine content, dioxins are released during the manufacturing, burning, or landfilling of PVC. Exposure to dioxins can cause reproductive, developmental, and other health problems, and at least one dioxin is classified as a carcinogen. Dioxins, phthalates, and BPA are suspected to be endocrine disruptors, which are chemicals that may interfere with the production or activity of hormones in the human endocrine system. Exposure to PVC dust may cause asthma and affect the lungs." In other words, avoid PVC!

    Because you can't tell by appearance whether a vinyl lunch box may contain lead, CEH advises parents to avoid buying vinyl lunch boxes altogether. You can test any vinyl lunch boxes you already own using a hand-held lead testing kit. If your hardware store doesn't carry one, you can find one from LeadCheck. There is no independent way you can determine whether the plastic lunch box you buy also contains PVC. My recommendation is that if you have a vinyl lunch box - one that seems to be made from soft, flexible plastic - you should probably throw it away. 

    SAFER LUNCH BOX OPTIONS

    Pack your kids' lunch in a stainless steel box, cloth bag, or bag that has been independently tested to prove that it is lead- and PVC-free.  Many hardware stores now carry cloth and stainless steel options. Here's what we've found (and that we sell for your convenience in our Amazon store):

    Kids konserve lunch bagKids Konserve Insulated Lunch Sack - This reusable lunch sack (left) is made with no BPA, lead-free insulation. An inside pocket holds an ice pack. When kids are finished with it, they can roll it down and tuck it away in their backpack.

    Blue Avocado Insulated Lunch Tote - This tote features a PVC insulated liner, an exterior holster for housing a water bottle, and an over-the-shoulder messenger style adjustable strap. The bag can be folded into an attached pouch when kids are done with it. The exterior fabric is constructed from 50% recycled polyester made from plastic bottles and recycled yarn.

    Mimi the Sardine Organic Cotton Lunch Bag -This organic cotton bag is coated on both sides with a PVC-free, water-based acrylic that is water- and stain-resistant. It can be wiped clean, or throw it in the machine (wash in cool or warm water, not hot), and tumble dry on low or air dry.  

    Continue reading "Safe, Eco-Friendly Lunch Boxes Save Money and Reduce Waste, Too" »

    May 29, 2012

    Safe, Effective, Non-toxic Sunscreens Protect Against Sunburn & Skin Cancer

    Burned feetSunburn season officially kicked off Memorial Day weekend. Are you prepared? After all, you don't want to get skin cancer like me, do you?

    SHADE AND CLOTHES: YOUR FIRST LINES OF DEFENSE

    To be protected, you need to reduce your exposure to two kinds of sun rays:

    1) UVA, which causes wrinkling and ageing, and

    2) UVB, which can cause basal cell (what I got) and squamos cell carcinoma.

    Most people rely on some kind of sunscreen or sun block to keep them safe. But according to the EWG Sunscreen Guide compiled by Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research institute that analyses sunscreens and sun block every year right before summer begins, only about 25% of the 1800 products analyzed deliver great protection from the sun without using dangerous chemicals you probably don't want to apply to your skin.

    I've linked to some of the sunscreens that pass muster for safety and effectiveness below. In case you can't remember brand names, here are the ingredients you should look for when you shop:

    ZINC OXIDE-BASED CREAM OR LOTION SUNSCREEN WITH AN SPF OF AT LEAST 30

    * Read the label of any product you're considering carefully. Choose a sunscreen that contains the active ingredient of zinc oxide (NOTE: EWG also recommends titanium dioxide or 3 percent avobenzone, but Marie Veronique Organics, one of EWG's highest rated sunscreen manufacturers, makes a convincing case here for sticking with zinc oxide-based products).

    • Avoid oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor,  and vitamin A (retinyl palmitate or retinol), which may actually increase the risk of skin cancer or other skin problems.

    • Use creams or lotions, not sunscreen sprays or powders.

    • Use an SPF of at least 30, and apply it at least 20 minutes before you need protection.

    • Buy sunscreens that do NOT contain bug spray. Apply bug repellant separately if needed.

    EWG says "the major choice in the U.S. is between “chemical” sunscreens, which break down in the heat and sun, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone systems, and “mineral” sunscreens (like zinc), which often contain micronized- or nanoscale particles of those minerals."

    After reviewing the evidence, EWG determined that mineral sunscreens offer the safest choice currently. They are stable in sunlight and do not appear to penetrate the skin. Plus, they protect against UVA, a leading contributor to skin cancer. If you don't like mineral products, EWG recommends you use a sunscreen containing 3 percent avobenzone and without oxybenzone, but scientists recommend parents avoid using oxybenzone on children due to penetration and toxicity concerns

    BRANDS RECOMMENDED IN EWG'S SUNSCREEN GUIDE

    Among the best sunscreens EWG recommends are the following, which you can find online, in our own Amazon store, or possibly in your local drugstore or supermarket. All of those listed below have an SPF of at least 30.

    Marie VeroniquesMarie Veronique Organics  - Moisturizing Face Screen SPF 30

    Badger - Lighlty Scented Lavender Sunscreen and Baby Sunscreen with Chamomile and Calendula

    Blue Lizard - Australian Sunscreen, Face

    Burt's Bees - Baby Bee Sunscreen Stick

    California Baby - Everyday/Year-Round Sunscreen Stick and No Fragrance Sunscreen Stick

    Seventh Generation - Baby Sunscreen

    (Here is the complete list of EWG's Sunscreen recommendations)

     PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE SUN!

    Even before you buy sunscreen, think about ways you can protect yourself from the sun.Why? Because people who use sunblock alone may be more likely to get skin cancer, since they actually spend more time out in the sun than those who don't use sunscreen. If at all possible, avoid direct sunlight, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is most intense.

    That doesn't mean you need to stay inside! It's summer, after all, and a great time to enjoy the outdoors. If you're at the beach, take shelter under a shady umbrella when you're not in the water. If you're out gardening, biking, walking, or picnicking, wear long-sleeved cover-ups and capris to protect your arms and legs. If you're strolling about, don a hat and sunglasses to protect your face, neck and eyes.

    WEAR COOL CLOTHES LIKE THESE...

    Here's are some clothes that are cool and sheer but still effectively prevent powerful sun rays from damaging your skin.

     

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