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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.
  • « October 2008 | Main | December 2008 »

    November 28, 2008

    How to Separate "Green" from "Greenwashing" When You Shop

    In their eagerness to cash in on consumer demand for eco-friendly products and services, many companies are calling their goods "green" despite their decidedly un-environmental qualities. When you shop, these 5 steps can help you distinguish what's green from what's being greenwashed. 

    1) Read the label. Look for meaningful claims, not words like "natural" or "planet friendly" that aren't  backed up by standards or third-party verification (see below). When it comes to cleansers and other household goods, avoid products labeled "caution," "warning," "danger," and "poison," all of which indicate the item is hazardous to you and the environment. Ignore products that are inherently contradictory, like "organic cigarettes," or "most energy-efficient Hummer." Leave goods boasting irrelevant claims - like something is "CFC-free," true but misleading since CFCs have been banned since the 1980s.

    FSC logo ES_Logo         Usda_seal


     2) Look for third-party verification. In the absence of universal sustainable standards, if a company says its product is good for the earth, your first question should be, "Who else says so?" Reliable eco claims are backed up by an independent institution or nonprofit organization that has investigated the manufacturer's claim so you don't have to. Look for labels from groups like Forest Stewardship Council, Energy Star and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Organic.

    3) Choose fewer ingredients. A long list of ingredients often indicates the presence of questionable chemicals that may be harmful to you or the environment. This is especially true for personal care products, food, and cleansers. Simplify what you buy. Needless to say, buying less is the greenest option of all.

    4) Pick less packaging. Choose goods that come wrapped as simply as possible. For starters, buy in bulk, favor concentrates, and pick products in containers you can easily recycle (hint: glass, cans, paper and cardboard are more easily recycled than plastic). Carting home your packages in your own bags helps reduce packaging, too.

    5) Buy local. Avoid the higher energy costs involved in transporting goods long distances. Supporting local farmers and businesses also increases the likelihood that U.S. environmental and health laws and regulations will be followed.

    Bottom Line: Ignore boasts that a product is eco-chic, earth-safe, or planet-neutral. Follow the steps above to ensure that when you buy green it is green.

    Want more greenwashing tips? Visit Green Home Huddle.


    November 24, 2008

    Green Holiday Wrapping Can be Reused, Recycled - and Free

    I love surprises, so using some kind of wrapping adds to the fun of giving the present. Otherwise, why not just throw the gift at the giftee and say, "Hope you like it!"

    What I hate is seeing so much beautiful paper just being ripped up and tossed aside. Honestly, these days, it's a little embarrassing to put bags full of ripped up paper out on the curb for trash pick-up. And I just can't get beyond the fact that making paper is one of the most polluting industries on earth. The less I use, the better.

    Hence, my list of green wrapping paper alternatives:

    Envirosax Reusable cloth bag These Envirosax bags are really beautiful and can be used all year long. $7.95 - $8.50 Bring It in a Bag bags also make wonderful holiday wraps.

    Reusable shopping bag - $.99 at almost any grocery store

    Holiday gift bags – free;  reused from gifts people have given me

    Homemade gift bags - the price of fabric (free if you reuse what you already have); my neighbor makes gift bags of all sizes from beautiful but inexpensive holiday fabric she buys at the local craft store. Use pinking shears to give the top edge some flair after you sew the other three sides together, then bunch the top and tie with a reusable ribbon.

    Reused gift wrap – free (I “capture” it as it’s coming off the present, fold it up, and put it in a box so I can easily find and reuse it next year)

    Giftwrap 1 New recycled gift wrap - Pristine Planet offers recycled, recylable paper online (see Reindeer paper, right). If you're buying when you're at the mall, ask the sales clerk for the most eco-friendly option they sell.

    Kitchen towels - ideally, made from organic cotton, but anything reusable is a good choice

    Scarves - rather than wrap an entire box, tie a decorative scarf around the box and attach a tag made from a recycled gift card

    Sunday comics - free

    As for gift tags, reuse last year's holiday cards. Cut off the card that has the signature, thread a ribbon through a corner of the remaining card, and voila! 

    One caveat about any kind of printed wrapping paper: the inks and foils used in wrapping paper may contain chemicals that become toxic when burned. If you can't reuse the paper, don't burn it: recycle it.

    Free (Mostly Eco) Holiday Gifts To Keep Your Christmas Green

    Even though a "green Christmas" means you're cutting way back on gift-giving this year, you may still want to give friends and family members some token of your love and appreciation. Consider these earth-friendly options that won't break your bank. They'll help simplify your holidays, too.

    Your time!

    * Give friends or family with small children at home a gift certificate for three hours of free babysitting they can redeem any time.

    * For friends who like to garden, offer to help them weed in the spring.

    * If you have particular electronics expertise, donate a few hours of training or support.

    * Offer to make supper on a school night when parents can get frazzled and kids cranky if dinner’s not ready on time.

    Pictures and memories

    Scrapbook * Create a scrapbook of favorite memories or heirloom photos.

    * Beautifully frame meaningful photographs.

    * Make your own calendar illustrated with photos of family and friends.

    * Take everyone to your favorite museum on its "free" night; organize a hike to a beautiful spot; get back to Nature -- even in the winter -- with an afternoon at your local botanic garden (if you get cold, dash into the greenhouse!)

    Play games

    * Invite friends and family to game night. Play your favorite game, pick up something new at the local thrift shop, or play charades for free. Set up game tables so you can have several games involving lots of people going on at once.

    * Food and Games: Ask everyone to bring their favorite game along with their favorite dish. Play a game during appetizers, after the main course, and again after dessert.


    By Shifting Spending to Bamboo, Organics and Green Cleaners, Mom-to-Be Becomes "One in a Million"

    HoneyLynn, a soon-to-be-mother who joined the Big Green Purse campaign back in March, has shifted almost $2,000 of her household spending to products and services that benefit the environment as part of her commitment to live a greener life. Here's her story:

    Honey Summer 2008  "Over the last 4-5 years, I have really become committed to environmentally conscious living, but have realized that it doesn't and can't on a practical level, happen overnight. So, slowly I have shifted our household's spending to more environmentally conscious products. Whenever I need to replace or or buy something new, I take the time to seek out environmentally friendly alternatives, and if it costs a little more than I thought and we don't need it right away, then I save up to make the purchase (no credit card purchases here). 
    "The idea of seeing exactly how much of our household spending was directed to environmentally friendly products, was what inspired me to get involved in the One in a Million campaign. Regarding the biggest lesson, like I mentioned above, is that sometimes it takes a little research (thank goodness for the Internet) to find environmentally friendly alternatives, but it is worth it. Also, those skeptical partners out there eventually come around. My husband half-jokingly gives me a hard time about being an Eco-nut, but over the last four+ years, I have noticed that when he does the shopping by himself, our reusable shopping bags are filled with the organic groceries and Eco-friendly products that we have become accustom to purchasing. It has become a part of our lifestyle.
    "We live in Mankato, MN which is in south central MN, so sometimes it is difficult to find the products that we are looking for locally, so I will order on line when necessary. We just bought our first house this past July and have committed to using Eco-friendly products and services as we make the place our own. We don't have any pets, but we are expecting our first child in April and our close friends and family already expect that our child will be one of the 'greenest' around.

    "Most definitely I will continue to shift our spending!"

    One_in_a_million HoneyLynn became "One in a Million" when she pledged to shift at least $1,000 of her household budget to more eco-friendly products and services. The idea is not to spend more money. Rather, the campaign inspires consumers to swap out conventional products for ones that are greener and cleaner. If a million women make the shift, we'll create a billion-dollar incentive for manufacturers to "go green." Already, thousands of women have joined the campaign.

    If you're interested,visit Big Green Purse online and download a balance sheet to help you keep track of your budget shifts. When you reach (or exceed) your $1,000 pledge, email us your story, and we'll post it, just like HoneyLynn's.

    Take a look at HoneyLynn's Balance Sheet to see how she shifted her spending:

     Date                   Item                                                          Money Spent

     3/28             Aveda Men’s Shampoo & Women’s Facial Bar             49.22
     3/28             Organic Spinach, Yogurt, & Cereal                              16.00
     3/31             Groceries from Local Food Co-Op                                36.91

    4/5                Groceries                                                                  58.00
    4/12              Electric-Wind Energy                                                  28.00
    4/13              Bamboo hangers & spatula                                         12.00 
    4/13              Groceries                                                                   19.00
    4/15              Cosmetics-Honey Bee Gardens                                   15.44
    4/18              Groceries                                                                   29.73
    4/18              Blue Canoe-Yoga Clothes                                            57.00
    4/19             Groceries from local Food Co-Op                                   48.92
    4/21             Klean Kanteen                                                             34.70
    4/26             Bamboo Hangers                                                            4.00
    4/27             Groceries                                                                     18.00
    4/27             Thrift Store Clothing Purchase                                        37.00

    5/03              Groceries                                                                    20.15
    5/04              Bamboo Cooking Utensil                                                3.00
    5/04              Groceries & Purchase of shares in Co-Op                    138.09
    5/10              Groceries                                                                    25.50
    5/10              Bamboo Hangers & Dishwasher Detergent                       9.38
    5/15              Shopping at local Co-op                                                  9.16
    5/17              Bamboo Hangers & Tom’s Deodorant                               8.23
    5/17              Groceries                                                                     20.58   
    5/25              Groceries                                                                     29.31
    5/25              Apothena-organic facecare                                             79.95
    5/26              Bamboo Hangers                                                            4.00
    5/31             Groceries                                                                      24.97

    06/7             Groceries                                                                      35.34
    06/7             Bamboo Hangers                                                             4.00
    06/7             Bamboo Hangers & Toms Toothpaste                                8.18
    06/7             Local Honey                                                                    5.59
    06/7             Nurture My Body-Organic Hair Care                                 27.00
    6/15             Laundry Detergent & Bamboo Hangers                            17.00
    6/15             Farmer’s Market                                                            10.00
    6/15             Groceries                                                                      24.30
    6/16             Klean Kanteen                                                               33.00
    6/16             Alima Cosmetics                                                            15.00
    6/17             Bamboo Socks                                                                6.00
    6/21             Bamboo Hangers                                                             4.00
    6/21             Groceries                                                                      19.63
    6/21             Aveda-Makeup Brushes                                                  99.51

    7/01             Rain Barrel                                                                   200.00
    7/05             Bamboo hangers & Eco-friendly mop                                40.00
    7/05             Groceries                                                                       30.75
    7/05             Farmer’s Market                                                             15.00
    7/08             Bamboo Hangers & Compostable Dusters                          9.00
    7/10             Bamboo Hangers & Toothpaste                                         7.70
    7/12             Farmer’s Market                                                             48.00
    7/13             Groceries                                                                       34.65
    7/17             Composter & Compost Scrap Keeper                             151.00
    7/18             Farmer’s Market                                                             19.00
    7/18             Groceries                                                                       21.80
    7/18             Local Food Co-op                                                           29.15
    7/24             Cleaning Products & Bamboo Hangers                             30.54
    7/25             Farmer’s Market                                                             16.00
    7/25             Groceries                                                                       35.93

    8/03             Groceries                                                                       41.10
    8/05             Local Food Co-op                                                            45.88
    8/10             Bamboo Hangers                                                              4.00
    8/15             Groceries                                                                         6.82
    8/17             Groceries                                                                         4.76
    8/18             Groceries                                                                         3.99
    8/22             Groceries                                                                       13.10
    8/27             Groceries & Bamboo Hangers                                          10.26
    8/28             Groceries, Hangers, & Dish soap                                     10.26
    8/30             Cleaning Product                                                              3.29
    8/29             Groceries                                                                       15.52

                        Total                                                                          $1,992.29


    November 21, 2008

    Give to Your Favorite Charity During the Holidays or Whenever You Shop - At No Extra Cost to You

    I honestly believe people should spend less money during the holidays and focus more on creating lifetime memories. But when you do shop, wouldn’t it be great if you got something more for your money than the material item itself? What if you could donate a percentage of every online purchase you make to your favorite nonprofit, school, or association – at no additional cost to you?

    We care lets you do just that. Its “click through” website gives you access to more than 600 online merchants you can shop as you normally would. But when you buy, a percentage of the purchase price is automatically donated to the charity you choose. Merchants include retail, travel, financial services, and  more. Book your flight and hotel. Rent a car. Shop for books. Buy furniture and household items. Subscribe to magazines, newspapers, DVD services, and even satellite TV. The sky is (almost) the limit. Participation costs nothing for organizations; there's no extra charge to you, either. Many merchants also offer special money-saving deals and coupons.

    There are over 325 charities to choose from, including public health, animal welfare, women’s advocacy, k-12 education programs, peace and justice, arts, culture and more. In the environment category, you can contribute to such organizations as Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Environmental Working Group, and the Center for a New American Dream.  If you don’t see the cause you support, it’s easy to add it to the database. You can also contact your cause and encourage them to join

    Goodshop is another online shopping mall that donates a percentage of each purchase  to the charity of your choice. Its 800 retailers range from Amazon to Zappos. Like We-Care, you’ll find coupons and deals that make shopping more affordable. Look for anything from baby and maternity products to computer hardware and electronics. Browse earth-friendly outlets like Organic Style, Viva Terra, Only Natural Pet Store, Organic Bouquet, Gaiam and Patagonia. Currently, more than 69,000 organizations earn money from the sites. If your favorite charity is missing, it’s easy to add it to the list.

    Another good bet: if you want to donate to protect the environment but don't know where to start, give a gift to EarthShare. I've been a fan of this organization for almost 20 years, and I completely vouch for them.

    EarthShare_RGB As they say on their site, "EarthShare's member groups represent the most respected and responsible environmental and conservation organizations in the country. Our groups work locally, nationally and internationally to protect and preserve human health and all aspects of our environment. EarthShare also protects its donors by ensuring that each of its member groups adheres to strict eligibility criteria, and operates with the highest possible ethical and professional standards."
    For more options, check with the Nonprofit Matrix or at Yahoo’s Virtual Charity and Fundraising Malls.

    Ted Stevens May Be Gone, But Arctic Refuge Still in Peril

    Alaska Republican Ted Stevens has finally been ousted from the U.S. Senate, but that's not necessarily good news for people who care about protecting wilderness and wildlife..

    Polar bears The victorious Democrat who beat Stevens, Mayor Mark Begich of Anchorage, strongly favors drilling for oil in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, despite the potentially devastating environmental consequences. 

    Reported the LA Times, Mark Begich settled in Wednesday as Alaska's newest U.S. senator-elect by doing what almost no other Democrat in Washington would ever do: declaring his support for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge...

    Begich said he was confident he would be able to act as a powerful new advocate on Capitol Hill for opening up Alaska's northernmost wildlife refuge to oil drilling. The idea has been blocked for years because of concerns it would threaten caribou, migrating birds, polar bears and other wildlife whose survival depends on the Arctic coastal plain and nearby waters.

    "For the last 28 years, there hasn't been a Democrat sitting in the caucus talking about ANWR," he said. "My goal is to educate them about how big ANWR is to this state."

    ...The Alaska Wilderness League criticized similar statements Begich made Wednesday morning about Arctic drilling during an interview with National Public Radio.

    "It's surprising that on his first day as senator-elect, Mr. Begich chose to directly contradict his own party platform and the position of President-elect [Barack] Obama," the league's executive director, Cindy Shogan, said in a statement. "It seems that in Alaska, the only party is the oil party."


    Awllogo-web Join the Alaska Wilderness League and add your voice to the thousands of Americans who believe we must protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. As President-elect Obama has said, we can't drill our way out of our addiction to oil. But we can protect wilderness and wildlife -- and we must.

    November 20, 2008

    Big Green Purse a Finalist for "Books for a Better Life" Award


    I'm honored! Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World, is a finalist for the prestigious "Books for a Better Life" Award given annually by the New York City Chapter of the National MS Society. The winner will be announced Monday, February 23, 2009 during an awards ceremony at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in Manhattan hosted by Meredith Vieira, co-anchor of NBC’sToday show.

    Keep your fingers crossed for me!

    November 18, 2008

    Top Ten "Green" Thanksgiving Tips

    Thanksgiving is one of the easiest holidays to green up. With the focus on giving thanks rather than gifts, we honor not only our family and friends but Nature's bounty, too.

    Holiday feast   1.  Simplify the day. Celebrate being with those you love. Don't overdo the cooking - and savor whatever you make. Linger over dessert, play games, watch football or a favorite movie, take a walk. Revive special traditions from the past and create new ones you can turn to next Thanksgiving, and the holiday after that.

    2.  Decorate with boughs and berries. There's no need to buy fancy Thanksgiving decorations. Head out to your yard with a pair of shears and find tree branches, bush stems loaded with berries, flowers whose seed heads have dried on the stem, and flowering grasses to fill tall vases, hollowed out pumpkins, and autumnal baskets.

    3. Let there be light. Illuminate your table with candles  of varying heights and widths. Use votives in small glasses or carved sugar pumpkins.

    4. Serve locally grown food. Even in colder, northern climates, farmers markets are still selling locally grown greens, potatoes, apples, pears, spices, breads, and cheeses. You'll find lots of good recipes for salads, side dishes and vegetarian entrees here, as well as heritage turkeys.

    5. Offer organic beverages. From apple cider to wine and beer, you have plenty of organic drinks to choose from.

    6. Eat all the food you make. Send guests home with leftovers in glass jars rather than wrapped in plastic or aluminum foil. Freeze leftovers in easily re-heatable portions.

    7. Use reuseables. Serve your meal on cloth tablecloths and napkins, accompanied by "real" silverware and plates. Worried about cleaning up after a large crowd? Let everyone pitch in - that's half the fun!

    8. Simmer cinnamon. Roasting vegetables and baking pies should infuse your home with delicious holiday aromas. For even more fragrant smells, simmer a few sticks of cinnamon and a few cloves of allspice on the stove. Dab a few drops of pine oil or other favorite fragrance on stones or pinecones that are part of your centerpiece.

    9. Turn down the heat. If all your holiday cooking doesn't heat up your house, your guests will. Turn your thermostat down 3-5 degrees - no one will notice the difference.

    10. Recycle and compost. Keep a bin handy for glass, plastic and paper trash you can recycle rather than toss. Make soup from vegetable peelings, leftover meat and bones. Picked-over vegetables can be composted, though remaining meat and bones will need to be thrown away. 

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    November 17, 2008

    Pity the Poor Thanksgiving Turkey

    Pity the poor Thanksgiving turkey.

    Fattened up all year, it's devoured in a matter of minutes, eaten as leftovers for days thereafter, and then long forgotten - until next Thanksgiving, at least.

    If the turkey is the "Broadbreasted" variety - which most supermarket turkeys are - it's life has been particularly bleak. After being bred to produce an unnaturally large chest, its legs are so short it must be artifically inseminated to reproduce. Farmers remove the tips of these young turkeys' beaks to prevent cannibalism triggered by close living quarters in cages and warehouse. As for having the strength to fly? Forget about it.

    Fortunately, delicious vegetarian options abound -- and you should be able to find many of the ingredients at your local farmers market.

    Vegetarian_116 features such scrumptious courses as stuffed pumpkin and lentil croquettes with mushroom gravy.

    In a Vegetarian Kitchen with Nava Atlas offers a full-course meal, including salads, main dish options, side dishes, stuffing, and vegan pumpkin pie.

    The Veggie Table suggests an even broader array of delicious sounding soups, appetizers, and entrees, including  a vegetable gratin made from tomatoes, eggplant and onions that will be as beautiful on your table as it is yummy.

    If your Thanksgiving just won't be the same without a gobbler on the table, consider a heritage turkey. Heritage turkey This genetic ancestor of the Broadbreasted variety roams freely outside, mates naturally, and eats a traditional (well, for a bird) diet of insects and fresh grass. Don't be surprised when you notice that heritage turkeys are smaller and more expensive than their factory-farmed cousins. This is definitely a case of quality over quantity (and besides, the size may be perfect if you're one of those people who can't face eating leftover turkey for an entire week).

    You can find a heritage turkey at the Local Harvest website, or check with your local farmer's market.

    November 11, 2008

    When You Start Spending Money Again, Make a Difference: Choose Green Products and Services

    The current economic downturn has a "green" lining: reduced consumption is cutting environmental impact almost across the board, scaling back carbon dioxide emissions and trash piles as people drive less, buy less, and pluck more goods out of neighborhood yard sales and on-line swap shops before they get redirected to the dump.

    These are good habits to develop, even if many of us have been forced into them. But what will happen when the financial crisis eases (which it eventually will) and we start to feel money jiggling in our pockets again? It could be tempting to forgo our new behavior patterns and rush out to buy SUVs, the newest electronic gadget, and more clothes than we can possibly wear. That would be a shame. If the financial meltdown has taught us anything, it should be that the way we spend our money matters. When we have dollars to dole out again, we should do so not only to meet our material needs, but to bolster the green economy, too. 

    EcoCentric Mom
    Everbuying led light
    Green by