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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.
  • « June 2008 | Main | August 2008 »

    July 30, 2008

    Green Moms Create a (Blog) Carnival

    In the true spirit of the "web," moms who blog about green issues are joining together to launch a blog carnival to share information and resources related to protecting their kids as well as the planet.

    The brainchild of Lynn Miller, who blogs at OrganicMania, "Green Moms Carnival" will feature submissions around rotating themes related to, well, being a Green Mom.The carnival will cover a wide range of topics, including global warming, raising green kids, sustainable living, healthy eating, non-toxic gardening and lawn care, and much more.  Like other carnivals, Green Moms will be hosted by each member of the carnival on a rotating basis. Blogposts will appear the first Monday of each month.

    The "founding members" of the carnival, most of whom  were recently listed (again, thanks to Lynn) on AllTop Blogs, include:

    OrganicMania   Big Green Purse   Crunchy Chicken  La Marguerite  The Not Quite Crunchy Parent Best of Mother Earth  GreenBeanDreams  eco 'burban  Mindful Momma   Surely You Nest  TheSmartMama  Green Talk

    Drop by for the first Green Moms Carnival post Monday, August 4. We'll be talking about climate change.

    July 29, 2008

    ANTIBACTERIAL SOAP IS TOXIC: Could harm fetus and infants; Pollutes breast milk

    Dial_soap_75_oz_pump6210 Thinking about buying some handy 'germ fighting' dish soap or bathroom cleanser? Think again. In all likelihood, those cleaners contain triclosan, a toxic pesticide that's marketed as an "antibacterial agent" but is powerful enough to threaten children's health and pollute mothers' breast milk.

    According to a study by researchers at the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), triclosan has been:

    * linked to cancer in lab animals

    * targeted for removal from some stores in Europe for its health and environmental risks

    * recommended against use at home by the American Medical Association

    Thumb_brownbmp_2  Triclosan's human health and environmental impacts are serious:

    * It may disrupt the thyroid hormone system, which is essential for proper growth and development, particularly for brain growth in utero and during infancy.

    * It breaks down into very toxic chemicals, including a form of dioxin; methyl triclosan, which is acutely toxic to aquatic life; and chloroform, a carcinogen formed when triclosan mixes with tap water that has been treated with chlorine.

    * It pollutes the environment. Scientists surveying 85 U.S. rivers and streams found traces of triclosan in more than half. Studies done at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada show that triclosan exposure endangers frogs and other aquatic wildlife.

    Even though there is no evidence that triclosan is keeping homes cleaner, the toxin is showing up in the most unlikely products: toothpaste, shower curtains, cutting boards, and mattresses as well as liquid hand soap, dishwashing detergent, and window cleaner. It is touted by leading brands like Softsoap, Dial and Bath & Body works. EWG's research shows it is an ingredient in almost half of 259 hand soaps.

    "It¹s time to ban triclosan from all personal care and household products," says EWG Staff Scientists Rebecca Sutton, PhD.

    Dr. Stuart Levy, director of the Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, says "No current data demonstrate any health benefits from having antibacterial-containing cleansers in a healthy household."

    The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to determine whether and how to regulate triclosan and other antibacterial agents. Their review could take months, even years.

    In the meantime, here's how you can protect yourself:

    * Worry less about germs. Dr. Levy and other medical professionals note that people who are exposed to household germs usually develop stronger immune systems and are healthier overall. Aim to be clean, not germ-free.

    * Read product labels. If you see the words "antibacterial," "kills germs," or "triclosan," find an alternative.

    * Talk to store managers. Tell them you're refusing to buy antibacterial products because they threaten human health and the environment.

    * Shift your spending to safe, eco-friendly cleansers:

    Bonami *  Bon Ami

    Baking soda, vinegar and water

    Greenworks All Natural Cleaner

    * Method Non-Toxic, Fragrance-Free All Surface Cleaner

    For triclosan-free toothpaste, consider UltraBrite Advanced Whitening or Tom's of Maine, both of which are available in most grocery and drug stores. For other alternatives, consult the Safe Cosmetics Data Base.

    For liquid hand soap, try Kiss My Face Self-Foaming Soaps.

    July 25, 2008

    Sustainable Seafood is Coming to a Supermarket Near You

    Fishing_boat  Consumer demand for seafood has been depleting fish and shrimp populations for decades. The Marine Stewardship Council has helped protect marine animal populations by creating standards retailers and consumers can follow to choose wild-caught fish from better-managed fisheries. Wal-Mart and Whole Foods are among the retailers that sell MSC-Certified seafood.

    "Farming" fish and shrimp has helped meet consumer demand, but at a cost. The fishmeal salmon eat, for example, is often loaded with dangerous PCBs. Farmed salmon can contract sealice, which can spread to wild salmon. Shrimp aquaculture can destroy the mangrove swamps that protect barrier islands and coastlines from hurricanes.

    Now some retailers - including Whole Foods Market, Wal-Mart, and Wegman's -  are using their marketplace clout to demand seafood that's farmed more sustainably. Their goal: protect sensitive marine habitats, reduce or ban antibiotics, treat waste water, and mimize or eliminate the use of toxic chemicals. Whole Foods will also require its suppliers to pass independent, third-party audits to ensure they are meeting sustainable seafood standards.

    Here's a good overview from the Washington Post.

    Seafood_alliance_2Meanwhile, the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions is working with fishermen, retailers, environmental organizations and consumer groups to increase understanding of the nation's fisheries and make more sustainable seafood available in the marketplace. As a result of its work with the Alliance, the Giant supermarket chain said it has recently started selling Pacific long-line cod, which is relatively abundant, and that it will stop selling shark, orange roughy and Chilean sea bass until their populations rebound.

    Greenpeace_2  Greenpeace recently issued a state-by-state scorecard to let consumers know whether their grocery store has instituted a sustainable seafood policy. Check out your favorite grocer here.

    V1_3   USE YOUR PURSE:  Most grocers are falling far short in offering shoppers sustainably raised or caught fish and shellfish. Don't hesitate to let the manager at your favorite fish counter know you expect retailers to support sustainable seafood standards. And do your part by buying seafood that's sustainably certified.

    July 23, 2008

    Go Green, Live Rich

    Go_green With all the belt-tightening going on, most people seem ready to give up whatever eco-friendly actions they've adopted in order to economize. In his new book, Go Green, Live Rich, best-selling author David Bach makes a convincing case that saving energy and resources will not just save you money, but make you money, too. He offers four steps for greener living that could save you $10 a day every day of the year. They are:

    1) improve your car's fuel economy: save $884 annually

    2) seal leaks in your home to reduce heating and cooling needs; save $129

    3) adjust thermostat in either direction 3 degrees: save $85

    3) Bring lunch to work (in reusable containers): save $1,560

    Total savings: $3,758 per year, or approximately $10 a day.

    Green_pig_2And, says Bach, if you invest that $10 a day (instead of finding new things to spend it on), and you earn a 10 percent annual return (which you can earn through investments in green funds, by the way), in 30 years you would have $678, 146.

    So...before you think you can't afford to live green, think again. Not only will you enjoy immediate savings, but you'll have extra investment income to help fill your green piggy bank for the future.

    July 16, 2008

    What about Nanoparticles in Sun Screen?

    The recent post on sunscreen generated several e-mails that are worth sharing here.

    One reader worried that many sunscreens rely on nanotechnology, which manipulates particles that are smaller than 100 nanometers (nm); for comparison, a human hair is about 80,000 nm in diameter. Some research indicates that nanoparticles of titanium dioxide, which makes it easier for sun screen to soak into the skin, are small enough to bypass the body's defensive "blood-brain barrier," enter the brain and damage brain cells. (Larger particles are blocked by that barrier and don't pose this problem). Environmental Working Group notes that, while several studies have found that nanotechnology does not penetrate healthy skin, they can still pose a danger to consumers or the workers who manufacture them. It is possible to find sunscreens that do not contain nanoparticles – but they may contain other undesirable chemicals. You can address the conundrum in part by staying out of the sun between the intense solar hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and wearing protective clothing.

    Speaking of which, another reader noted that clothing specifically manufactured to resist the UV rays that cause sunburn and skin cancer may be coated with nano-based chemicals. It is difficult to determine which clothing relies on nanotechnology and which doesn’t. Question the manufacturer if you’re concerned. Or follow recommendations on and chose tightly woven, dark garments when you’re out in the sun. Tightly woven cotton, wool and polyester offer better protection than linen, acetate, rayon and other thin fabrics. Rule of thumb: if you can see your skin through the clothes you’re wearing, they’re probably not blocking UV rays very effectively. While you’re at it, protect your eyes with sunglasses that specifically offer UV protection. Look for photochromic lenses, which reduce glare, sun and UV radiation without reducing visibility.

    Finally, a doctor wrote to say that the skin needs some sunlight, since that is how the body restores its supply of Vitamin D. While this is true, most health professionals agree that the body can get enough Vitamin D supply from about 15 minutes of sun exposure in a day. You’ll get that walking back and forth to your car, walking in and out of work, or taking the dog for a stroll. You certainly don’t need to expose your skin to 15 minutes of blazing sun in the middle of the day.

    July 11, 2008

    Recycling your bottles and cans? Get a reward from RecycleBank

    Everybody may be talking about recycling these days, but not everybody is doing it. Most communities still don't have access to curbside recycling programs, so consumers who want to recycle must schlep their cans, bottles, paper and plastic to a sorting center, an inconvenience that can become a major obstacle for someone whose time is already tight. Curbside recycling makes the process easier, but still, there's no guarantee someone is taking complete advantage of the opportunity to separate their recyclables from the rest of their trash. It's easy to get careless and just toss everything into the garbage, especially given how much confusion clouds issues like which plastics or magazines can be recycled and which ones have to be landfilled.

    Rb_logo   Enter RecycleBank, an innovative program that boosts community recycling rates by rewarding people for recycling as much as they can.

    Here's how it works:

    RecycleBank arranges with a municipal government or the company that hauls its trash to encourage citizens to recycle more and to actually monitor how much of their trash they're recycling. Participants receive a large trash container that's embedded with a computer chip so that the sanitation workers  picking up a participant's recycled goods can weigh, measure and scan each container before emptying it. The scanned data is stored in the participant's account. For every pound recycled, the participant earns 2.5 RecycleBank points.

    That's where the rewards come in. RecycleBank points can be redeemed against new consumer purchases from a variety of local and national sponsors, including Kraft, Coca-Cola, and Target, as well as neighborhood restaurants and other businesses. But there's another, and perhaps more important, reward: participants can also see what the environmental benefit of their individual recycling amounts to in terms of oil and trees saved. Anyone asking, "Does what I recycle really make a difference?" will get a strong "YES!!" every time they put their container of recyclables out for pick up.

    Ideally, such a program would also encourage less consumption, whether products can be recycled or not. And hopefully, participants will use their rewards to favor the greenest products and services available.

    For the moment, RecycleBank's Monique Hartl says the company's goal is to raise recycling rates in communities nationwide. With 300,000 households already participating, they're well on their way.

    Thumb_green Thumbs UP, RecycleBank!

    July 02, 2008

    Best Electronics Create Least E-Waste, Climate Change

    Ewaste8 Greenpeace has just issued its annual electronics guide. Given that women buy 14% more electronics than men, the guide can help female consumers make their money matter by favoring the mobile phone, computer, TV and games console manufacturers that have the best policies and practices on toxic chemicals and equipment take-back. Consumers can also favor electronics companies that do the best job reducing their climate change impact.

    According to the Greenpeace website, "Companies are scored on disclosure of their greenhouse gas emissions, commitment for absolute cuts in their own emissions and support for the mandatory global emissions reductions that are needed to tackle climate change. On energy efficiency, a selection of each company’s product range is assessed to see how far they exceed the current de-facto global standard, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star. Energy Star sets minimum standards for energy efficiency for many types of electronic products. The overall percentage of renewable energy in a companies total energy use is also assessed.

    The climate impact is important, since the information and communications technology sector currently accounts for two percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, equal to the aviation industry. Notes Greenpeace, "As one of the most innovative and fastest growing industries, the biggest electronics companies must show leadership in tackling climate change by reducing both their direct and indirect climate change footprint."


    Philips scores well on chemicals and energy criteria, but scores a zero on e-waste since it has no global take-back polices. Greenpeace recommends that Philips establish an effective global take-back program to reduce the environmental impact of its e-waste. 

    Thumb_green The best performers on energy efficiency are Sony Ericsson and Apple, with all of their models meeting, and many exceeding, Energy Star requirements. Sony Ericsson stands out as the first company to score almost top marks on all of the chemicals criteria. With all new Sony Ericsson models being PVC-free, the company has also met the new chemicals criterion in the ranking, having already banned antimony, beryllium and phthalates from models launched since January 2008.

    On the other hand, according to the Greenpeace analysis, Apple "missed a big chance" to advance its score by not improving the environmental performance of the new version of the iPhone.

    Thumb_brownbmp_2  Some companies that promote their "green" policies come up short when measured against global standards of measuring impacts on climate change. Dell scored relatively poorly and Toshiba, Samsung and LGE scored close to, or zero, on climate change criteria.

    Among the games console makers, Microsoft dropped to second bottom of the Guide with a low score on climate criteria. Nintendo’s score increased slightly over last year with some improvement on toxic chemicals and climate policy. However, even Nintendo’s relatively energy efficient Wii console does not meet Energy Star standards that cover minimum energy efficiency standards for PCs and consoles.

    Notes Greenpeace, with most companies now scoring less than 5/10, only a company that phases out toxic chemicals, increases the recycling rate of e-waste, uses recycled materials in new products and reduces its impact on climate change can seriously hope to make the claim of being green. Companies that undergo life-cycle analysis of their entire production, distribution, and reclamation policy have the best shot at meeting this goal.

    Read a snapshot of the report here.

    Or peruse the full Guide to Greener Electronics report.

    July 01, 2008

    Sun-Smart Skin Care

    My family is really susceptible to skin cancer. My father's had it, my brother's had it, and I've had it - several times. Needless to say, I'm a borderline fanatic when it comes to wearing sunscreen.

    Coolibar_2 My daily face lotion contains SPF15, and if I'm at the beach I always use at least SPF 45, along with a hat, sunglasses, a breezy long-sleeve shirt and light pants. Yes, it took a while to get over wanting a "summer tan." But there's nothing like a few bouts of skin cancer to put vanity into perspective, especially considering the facts:

    Every year, more than 800,000 Americans are affected by basal cell skin cancer alone. The percentage of women who are younger than 40 when they develop the disease has tripled in the past three decades, says the National Women's Health Resource Center; the same age group has quadrupled its rate of squamous cell skin cancer. More than 77 percent of cancer-causing exposure occurs after the age of 18. (By the way, tanning beds are no safer than the sun. Using tanning beds before age 35 increases your risk of the even deadlier skin cancer, melanoma.)

    The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays appear to trigger most lip cancer, too. What's more, too much sun can prematurely age your face and make you look as pinched as a prune. UV rays even take their toll on eyes, causing cataracts and other ailments.

    UVA is the most abundant source of solar radiation; it penetrates beyond the top layer of human skin. UVB is a factor, too. The hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (9 a.m. - 3 p.m. during standard time) pose the greatest risk, and that's true whether it is sunny or cloudy

    What Can You Do?

    • Follow the "shadow rule." Avoid the sun during the late morning and early afternoon when the sun is strongest - and when your shadow is shorter than you are.

    Ca_baby • Use enough sunscreen. Apply one ounce of sunscreen (about the amount that fills your palm or a shot glass) at a time. Larger people will need more. If you're swimming or sweating a lot, apply sunscreen immediately after drying off. Don't miss ears, around the eyes, neck (all the way around), hands, feet, toes, and backs of knees.

    • Use the right SPF. Different skin types need different SPF (sunburn protection factor) ratings. The American Academy of Dermatology advises choosing a sunscreen with at least SPF 15. If you are fair, burn easily and often suffer bad sunburns, choose higher SPF numbers such as 30 or 45. But don't stay in the sun longer. An SPF 45 "probably provides 3 to 4 percent more protection than a SPF 15," says Dr. Susan C. Taylor, MD, a Philadelphia dermatologist and the Founding Director of the Skin of Color Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York. According to Dr. Taylor, even though skin pigment, or melanin, in the "average" African American gives protection equivalent to SPF 13, brown- and black- skinned people should still use sunscreen with at least SPF 15.

    • Apply early and often. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends applying sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before going outside to let your skin absorb it, then reapply every two hours. Because no sunscreen is truly "waterproof" or "sweatproof," reapply after 40 minutes of sweaty activity or swimming.

    • Dress for the occasion. Wear protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants. Protect your eyes with wraparound sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV ray protection. Beach umbrellas and other kinds of shade help, but UV rays can still bounce off sand, water, and porch decks. Use sunscreen whenever outside.

    What to Buy?

    • First, throw away last year's lotions, as some ingredients lose effectiveness over time.

    • Pick the best product. According to Environmental Working Group, 54 percent of sunscreens become unstable when exposed to light and might not offer the advertised protection. The group recommends the "best" sunscreens here.

    • Consider self-tanning lotions and sprays. However, you can still burn in the sun, as these only contain an SPF of 4. Use a sunscreen every two hours with an SPF of at least 15.

    Thumb_green If you want to cover up, consider these two "thumbs up" options:

    Solarweave® is a revolutionary fabric specially manufactured to block more than 97.5% of all UVA and UVB radiation. Available in bathing suit cover-ups, long-sleeve shirts, t-shirts, pants, and hats.

    Coolibar clothing comes packaged with a hang tag that includes an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (or "UPF") rating. Some clothes claim to block 98% UV. Available in tunics blouses, hoodies, pants, and cover-ups.

    Want to learn more? See our Personal Care Page, or visit the National Women's Health Resource Center .

    EcoCentric Mom
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