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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.
  • « December 2008 | Main | February 2009 »

    January 31, 2009

    Where can you find safe peanut butter?

    Peanut butter What peanut butter products are safe to eat?

    Earlier this month, products containing peanut butter produced by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) were disovered to be tainted with salmonella. Over 488 people have become ill; six have died.

    The government has issued this list of products consumers should avoid. It is quite extensive and probably includes some of your favorite brands, so please review it carefully.

    The FDA says so far, no brand name peanut butter sold in grocery stores is linked to the outbreak. Your Jiffy, Skippy and Peter Pan should be safe.

    Many schools do not serve peanut butter because so many kids are allergic to peanuts. Schools that do serve peanut butter that they got from PCA have had their supplies recalled.

    The FDA says you would be wise to avoid foods like processed cakes, candies, cookies and ice cream that contain peanut butter or peanut paste.  The Kellog Co. voluntarily recalled 16 products, including Keebler and Famous Amos peanut butter cookies, because they contain peanut butter that could have come from the Peanut Corporation of America.

    If you think you have consumed contaminated peanut butter or peanut products, look for these signs: 
    diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after eating the questionnable food.  Though most people recover without treatment, in some cases salmonellosis, as the infection is called, can kill. Take antibiotics immediately, and stay under a doctor's watchful eye.

    What about the peanut butter treats you give your dogs? Pet Smart has recalled seven Grrreat Choice dog treats; many other pet snacks have been recalled as well (check the FDA's list).  Allie's Answers asked Zuke's and Newman's Organics about the safety of their pet food. So far, no salmonella has been reported.

    The Girl Scouts say their cookies are ok, too.


    January 29, 2009

    Top Ten Eco Ways to De-Ice Your Driveway

     Penguin Tis the season for snow and ice – only fun if you’re a penguin or like to walk with an ice pick.

    For the rest of us, the big challenge is dealing with frozen precipitation once it hits the ground, especially if we want to be ‘eco friendly.’ These tips will help.

    What’s wrong with rock salt? Many consumers use rock salt to clear a path through the snow around their homes. But this is not ideal for the planet.

    * Excess salts build up in the soil, just as they do with chemical fertilizers.

    * Salt residue prevents plants from absorbing moisture and nutrients.

    * Salts can leach heavy metals, which eventually make their way into water supplies.

    * Salt on grass or sidewalks close to roads can attract animals, which may be hit by cars if they’re licking the salt from the ground.

    * Plus, salt can burn our pets if it lodges in their paws.

    Yes, salt does effectively melt snow. But is there a better way?

    Top Ten To Do's

    Snow shovel • Minimize snow and ice by shoveling, and the sooner after snow stops falling, the better. If shoveling is too challenging for you, pay a neighborhood kid a few dollars to help. 

    • If you prefer to use a snow blower, get an electric model. Gas-powered blowers generate a lot more air and noise pollution

    • Try a "snow melt mat." If you’re installing a new driveway or replacing an old one, lay down electric wires to heat the driveway from below and radiate heat upwards. Yes, you pay for electricity, so it’s not as “eco” as shoveling by hand. On the other hand, it may be better than using chemicals that pollute the water and endanger plants and pets. It would cost someone living in the Washington, DC area (where I live) about $14 in electricity each time the system was used – though that doesn’t include the cost of installing the system. Electricity costs will vary by region. (NOTE: I’m not recommending you tear up a perfectly good driveway to put in a snow melt system!)

    Scatter sand or even birdseed for traction. The grains won’t melt snow or ice, but they will give you more grip on icy surfaces.

    • Scrimp on the de-icer. Remember, the job of a de-icer is to loosen ice from below to make it easier to shovel or plow. Don’t pile on the de-icer thinking you’ll remove the ice completely. You won’t. The recommended application rate for rock salt is around a handful per square yard you treat. Calcium chloride will treat about 3 square yards per handful.

    • Pick your salt carefully. If you do use salt, choose wisely. Sodium chloride (NaCL) may contain cyanide. Calcium chloride (CaCl) is slightly better since less goes farther, but it is still not ideal, since its run-off still increases algae growth, which clogs waterways. Potassium chloride is another salt to avoid. • Whatever you use, keep it away from landscape plants, especially those that are particularly salt-sensitive, like tulip poplars, maples, balsam firs, white pines, hemlock, Norway spruce, dogwood, redbud, rose bushes and spirea bushes.

    • Skip the kitty litter or wood ashes. Neither melts snow and ice, and they have a tendency to get messy when it warms up.

    • Avoid products that contain nitrogen-based urea. They’re more expensive and are not effective once the temperature drops below 20°F. Plus, the application rate for urea during a single deicing is ten times greater than that needed to fertilize the same area of your yard. Remember that the urea you apply to the ground will eventually run off into the street, down the drain, and into lakes and streams. 

    YaktraxWear boots that have a solid toe and bottom treads to help increase your grip on icy surfaces. Or try "YakTrax," lightweight, flexible rubber treads studded with steel coil grips so you won't fall. The YakTrax slip over the soles of your shoes like snow chains slip over tires. $19.95 - $29.95 - kids', women's, and men's sizes available.

    January 22, 2009

    Why Did Mom Shift $1,000 to Green Cleaners and Organic Food?

    Here's another One in a Million success story! Carolyn, a Phoenix, Arizona wife and mother of two sons aged five and seven, spent the last year shifting her spending to greener cleaners and organic food. Here's why:

    Carolyn Family "Early in 2008 I read an article in the Arizona Republic about the One in a Million campaign and it matched my own thinking so well that I went right into the computer and registered.

    I feel that, even though I can't solve all the problems on my own, I should do whatever I can and if other people do the same the cumulative effect could really make a difference. I tell my husband this is my way of taking care of great grandchildren I won't be around to take care of directly.

    I focused my spending shift on food and cleaners because it was an area of my spending I hadn't really made any changes in yet. Also, I have been trying to green my life for awhile so I'd already done many of the obvious changes. For instance, among other things, I had already replaced all the light bulbs in my house (and my parents house) with compact fluorescent bulbs, I'm a vegetarian (which reduces a bunch of green house gasses) and we had replaced the 25 year old energy sucking air conditioner with a new high efficiency unit.

    Though I was trying to have my family eat healthy, I hadn't really evaluated our food (or our cleaning supplies) for their environmental impact. The shift was kind of tough at first, I found that some of the places I had been shopping weren't going to work out for things I was used to buying there because the greener alternatives they had available were just way to expensive. So I had to go hunting, sometimes trying new stores altogether, sometimes looking at stores I already went to for things that I didn't normally buy there.

    I have to say that Target and Trader Joe's have really come to my rescue on more than one instance. Trader Joe's has such good prices on so many organic things and Target is constantly increasing their inventory of environmentally friendly cleaners as well as organic food. Shopping habits aren't easy things to change, but now I'm not going back, this has become my new normal routine. I haven't decided on our green goals for the new year yet, but I am so pleased with what we have done so far that I definitely want to make additional changes to keep us getting greener all the time."

    How did Carolyn shift her spending?

     Date            Item                                    Money Spent
    all year        organic foods                              $ 755
    all year        non-toxic cleaners                       $ 350

    Total …………………………………………….. $ 1,105 (or more)

    Want to join the campaign? Sign up here; you'll get a handy balance sheet you can download to help you keep track of your environmentally friendly choices. The idea isn't to spend more money; it's to shift money you already spend to greener products and services. Once you've shifted $1,000, send us your story so we can share it with others.

    Thanks to One in a Million, over $3 million in spending shifts have already occurred.


    January 21, 2009

    At Green Ball, Obama's Cabinet Pledges Support for Clean Energy

    I'm usually not one for hobnobbing with the hoi poloi.  But it was hard not to get into the groove last night at the Environmental and Clean Energy Ball in Washington, D.C., where many Obama cabinet appointees dropped by to dance, savor chocolate truffles and talk about their hopes in Obama-nation.

    Jackson-190 Lisa Jackson, who's been tapped to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was the first Obama pick to grace the podium. I had a long chat with Lisa late last year at the Glamour magazine shoot we both did in New York in October. At the time, she was chief of staff to New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine after having completed a stint as the state's top environmental regulator. She spoke then of the frustration of trying to reduce pollution in a state riddled with out-of-date manufacturing facilities. Tonight, she told the cheering throng how thrilled she was to be taking the helm at EPA and pledged to work with us all to set a new, cleaner energy course for the U.S. BTW - Lisa personifies the new brains Obama is bringing to government. She graduated summa cum laude from Tulane University's School of Chemical Engineering and has a Master's Degree in chemical engineering from Princeton.

     Stephen-chu_v100 Department of Energy Secretary nominee Steven Chu, another brainiac (Nobel-prize winning physicist, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), was all smiles as he told the audience he shared our goals to reduce climate change and develop  more clean energy resources. Chu is famous in my crowd for saying "Coal is my worst nightmare." We couldn't agree more.

    Margo Oge, EPA's Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, echoed the sentiments of her colleagues and the crowd with an enthusiastic endorsement for a greener, cleaner future.

    Newly elected New Mexico Senator Tom Udall - not a member of the Obama cabinet but still a Democrat with a solid environmental protection track record - pledged his support for an energy future based more on solar and wind than fossil fuels. Sen. Udall has been appointed to two key committees - Commerce, Science and Transportation, and Environment and Public Works - where he can make good on those goals.

    Then there was a surprise. General Wesley Clark, former Democratic presidential candidate and former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces for NATO, stepped on to the podium. Anyone who's been following the debate on energy and national security knows that Clark has become a vocal advocate for reducing American dependence on petroleum. He made it clear that he sees the next four years as an opportunity to craft new energy policy that could help restore America's economy as well as our standing in the world.

    Emcee Jan Hartke, a long-time personal friend and colleague and now an official at the Clinton Foundation's Climate Initiative, spoke as forcefully as any of the guests about the new environmental opportunities our nation faces. Jan and I have worked together in Washington on and off for the last 20 years. "This is the first time I have real hope," he said. Don't we all!

    January 20, 2009

    Of course my gown is "green"!

    I'll be dancing up a storm at the Environmental and Clean Energy Ball tonight, and am happy to say I've found a "green" gown.

    Well, technically, it's a beautiful deep chocolately brown color, layered over with a silver sheath. But it's "green" in almost every way that counts! It's not new - in fact, I fished it out of the back of my daughter's closet (she got it on sale from BCBG and wore it to a prom a couple of years ago). I incurred no carbon footprint going shopping. No environmental impact from fabrication of a new dress. No trash generated by throwing out a department store shopping bag or plastic dress bag.

    Silver heels My shoes are recycled, too. I wore them to President Bill Clinton's first inaugural 16 years ago! Fortunately, the size of my foot hasn't changed. Whether I can still dance in spike heels remains to be seen.

    I'll protect myself against the cold with a long black overcoat that's still in admirable shape after at least ten years of wear. You just can't beat wool.

    Make-up will be at a minimum - though what I do use will be paraben-free and mineral-based.

    All I can say is...the food tonight better be organic!

    January 15, 2009

    I'm going to the ball! Now all I need is a gown...

    Environmentalists will be decked out in a hundred shades of green over the next few days as they celebrate Barack Obama's inauguration with no less than three "green" balls  -- and I'm going to two of them!

    Green ball  The Green Inaugural Ball: Maximum Celebration, Minimal Impact kicks things off Satuday, January 17 at 8 p.m. in the Mellon Auditorium, just a stone's throw from the White House. Various speakers will incude Chris Paine (producer of the film 'Who Killed the Electric Car?'), Margie Alt, Executive Director of Environment America, and Graham  Hill, Treehugger founder and now a muckety-muck at The Discovery Channel (The Discovery Channel's Planet Green network is the prime sponsor of the event). But the highlight of the evening will no doubt be the performance of Wyclef Jean, the Haitian-born Grammy Award-winning "musician/producer/social activist." 

    Every facet of the Green Inaugural Ball has been designed to reduce its impact on the environment, say event organizers.  That means the "heavy hors d'oeuvres" will be organic, many of the drinks will be organic, throwaways will be at a minimum and recycling will be done to the max (hence the mantra of the party). Event organizers are even purchasing carbon credits to offset the transportation of all truck deliveries and staff commutes.

    In addition, five percent of each ticket sold will be donated to one to the event's non-profit partners, including a few of my favorites (Environment America, Green Corps, Assateague Coastal Trust, and Environmental Working Group). At $500 a ticket, it sounds like many groups will benefit.

    Eballbanner4 On Tuesday, January 20, the actual evening of the inauguration, I'll be kicking up my heels at the Environmental and Clean Energy Ball. This is the sixth ball this crowd of renewable energy advocates has organized, and I think I've been to almost all of them.

     Even though tickets cost $200 a pop, the event sold out in no time. It's being held at the beautiful Sequoia restaurant right on the Potomac River in the heart of Georgetown. I'll be sitting at a table with the crowd of enviros I worked with at Environmental Action in 1977 and 1978 (yes, some of us have been at this that long!). 

    The biggest challenge of the night will be getting to the ball. I know enviros take mass transit seriously, but things may have gotten a little out of hand this time around. The FBI or CIA or somebody has decided to close all driving bridges that link Virginia to Washington, DC  (that's what they get for being a red state for so many years...), so the friends we're planning to meet up with at the Sequoia may need to row their own boat across the Potomac to get to the event. We'll be looking for signals of their arrival: one if by land, two if by sea?.

    There's no talk yet of celebrity appearances at the Sequoia. Sixteen years ago, on the night of Bill Clinton's first inauguration, we partied at the same locale. Richie Havens, the sixties/Woodstock icon, performed "Here Comes the Sun," and Clinton's proposed EPA Administrator Carol Browner stopped by to say hello. We're not sure who'll be dropping in Tuesday night, though of course, Pres. Elect Obama and Vice-Pres. Elect Biden have been invited. Maybe Carol Browner, who is making a comeback as Mr. Obama's proposed energy czar, will show.

    Not surprisingly, the Clean Energy ball is co-sponsored by companies like the American Council on Renewable Energy, the National Hydropower Association, and Green Advantage. The American Coalition for Ethanol managed to sneak in there, too, though I'm not sure how, since everyone seems to have soured on the idea of turning corn into gas.

    Al-Gore-ait02 The only green event I haven't yet scored a ticket to is the one being hosted by Al Gore. In fact, I didn't even know about this ball until I noticed a disclaimer in the FAQs on the Green Inaugural Ball's web page. It says,  "According to the Washington Times, Al Gore is the honorary chair of "The Green Ball: Inauguration of a New Green Economy."  To the best of our knowledge, his event is invitation only." Al, even though it's late, if you send me an invite, I'll come.  

    Next: What should I wear?!!!

    January 13, 2009

    When it comes to packaging, Trader Joe's can do better.

    As much as I love the product variety at Trader Joe's, I hate the packaging waste.

    Trader joes Everything - apart from a few bananas - comes wrapped in excessive plastic or paper. What gives? On a recent shopping trip there, all the fresh produce seemed to be hermetically sealed: one barrel was full of pairs of zucchini trapped on small polystyrene trays bundled in plastic. Another featured pairs of apples similarly presented. Elsewhere, the store was selling oversized boxes of organic tea bags - the tea bag was the same size, but it was encased in a large cellophane wrapper, then packed in a box that seemed to be 30% bigger than the standard size. Is that ok because the tea is organic?

    Trader Joe's offers a good selection of organic milk, eggs and butter. Its cleaning products minimize dangerous chemicals. And it sells many of these choices at reasonable prices. But the company does itself and its customers a disservice, especially in these lean and green times, by not reducing the packaging used to sell its products.

    Maybe next time I'm there, I'll just unwrap all the overpacked goods and leave the waste at the cash register.

    Thumb_brown.bmpThumbs down, Trader Joe's.  

    January 09, 2009

    These Energy-Saving Steps Save More Than Fuel (Think CO2 and $$$)

    Saving energy makes sense any time, but particularly now, given our short supplies of oil  and the pollution and climate change we create when we burn any fossil fuel.

    Still, you may be among the millions of people who have not yet incorporated energy conservation into your daily routine. Why not? The number one reason for most people is money - not necessarily real money, but definitely the perception that it will require a lot of money to put energy-saving strategies to work in your home.

    I say "perception," because that's often what it is. Many consumers are under the generally false impression that adopting 'green' (i.e., energy efficient) technologies is beyond their financial reach. And especially during these economic hard times, even the suspicion that something will cost more is enough to deter its purchase.

    That's why the concept of Green ROI - return on investment - is so important. Green ROI offers a way to calculate what the purchase of a green product is worth both in the short term and a longer way down the road. In other words, if you spend xx $$$ on a green product today, how long will it take you to realize a gain - in real dollars - and make the purchase worthwhile?

    Well, consider a few of these Green ROI calculations, courtesy of, and based on a ten-year performance period:

    Programmable thermostat Programmable Thermostat – Automatically adjust indoor air temperatures to reduce the amount of gas or electricity you use.
    Cost: $115
    Annual Savings: $180
    ROI: 156.5%



     Power strip Standby Power Reduction – Use energy-saving power strips on office electronics and home appliances to reduce energy use
    Cost: $20 for two strips
    Annual Savings: $24
    ROI: 120%






    Cfl in hand Compact Fluorescent Lighting - Replace 20 incandescent bulbs that are 60 Watts and have a life expectancy of 1,500 hours, with CFLs that only use 14 Watts and last 10,000 hours.
    Cost: $3.00 - $6.00 per bulb
    Annual Savings: Each bulb saves on average $4 to $7 per year in electricity
    ROI: 133.3%

    See how saving energy saves money - a lot of money -- over the long-term? But what about climate change, you ask?

    Take programmable thermostats. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the federal Energy Star program, calculates that in 2006, consumers using programmable thermostats not only saved a total of $14 billion on their utility bills; they also saved enough energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 25 million cars off the road.

    Want to know how additional investments will create Green ROI? Click here.

    And for more background on climate change, don't miss the Green Moms Carnival, which is tackling global warming in this month's postings.

    January 08, 2009

    Think Eco-Shoes Stop at Birkenstocks? Think Again.

    There’s a lot of talk about greening your closet these days. With cotton production accounting for 10% of the world’s insecticide use and 25% of its pesticides, choosing alternative fabric options like organic cotton, hemp or bamboo can send a powerful message to the conventional cotton industry.

    Rachel_sarnoff_2008_lowres_head But as Rachel Sarnoff, CEO and Founder,, points out in this guest column, greening your closet doesn’t stop at your ankles. Here's what Rachel recommends for the shoes in your life:

    "Obviously, the greenest thing to do when you’re updating your closet is to start with vintage stores. But I'll be the first to admit: Although reusing and recycling can go a long way towards reducing your "footprint," because most shoes mold to their wearer’s feet, it can be difficult to find pre-worn pumps and other footwear that fit right.

    Most shoes are made from conventionally processed leather. And processed leather is a by-product of the meat industry, a resource-intensive business that consumes 25% of our world’s land surface and one-third of our grain while generating a majority of our carbon emissions: 18 percent —that’s more than cars. Processing leather from meat animals adds environmental insult to injury, given that it requires an estimated 225 toxic chemicals during the tanning process.

    What to do?

    Choose "Eco-Leather" - If you do plan to buy new and still want to wear leather, look for shoes made from so-called “eco-leather,” leather tanned without heavy metals like chrome. Reputable companies will also recycled materials and packaging. Consider El Naturalista (, Coclico ( and PURE by Rickard Shah (

    Try "Faux" Leather - With so many faux leathers and suedes out there, it’s easy to eliminate leather completely from your footwear repertoire. Consider shoes made from dioxin-free polyurethane (a slightly more environmentally-friendly option than PVC) or natural elements like hemp. Kailia ( and Charmone ( both manufacture completely vegan shoe lines in artisan factories in Italy, but it’s the hemp Nadia Ankle Boot from Sui Generis by Beyond Skin ( that we EcoStilettoistas are head over heels for.

    Don't Forget Birkenstocks - Oh and about those Birkenstocks, the symbol of social consciousness since 1966: They’re leather, but the company uses every ounce of its scraps, and recycles the cork from the soles. ( Plus, with the right outfit, today’s Birkies can look downright chic.

    Fashion_beyondskin_thumb Want a smaller carbon footprint? Beginning in January 2009, will give away a free pair (or pairs) of eco-friendly shoes worth $500 or more each and every month! Get on the list now, and get the lowdown on shrinking your carbon footprint from an Ugg boot to a Manolo with daily green fashion, beauty, lifestyle, parenting, celebrity and eco-events nationwide."

    Thanks, Rachel!

    For more ideas on sustainably made, shoes, don't miss these links! Toepaz shoe

    January 01, 2009

    Clean Coal? Not Really...

    Reality logo The subway billboards are stark, stunning and attention grabbing.

    Against a black backdrop, bright yellow letters shout:

    "Burning coal is the dirtiest way we produce electricity."

    "There are no homes in America powered by clean coal."

    "CO2 emissions from coal-based electricity are greater than emissions from all the cars and trucks in America."

    The video version features a bright yellow canary dropping dead - an unmistakable stand-in for the "canary in the coal mine" that lets miners know when mine gases have become so toxic that they're about to expire.

    It's a briliant campaign, intended to debunk the quickly growing myth that "clean" coal can solve our energy problems.

    Says the sponsoring group,, "Coal cannot be called 'clean' until its CO2 emissions are captured and stored safely." That's not likely to happen any time soon. There are roughly 600 coal plants producing electricity in the U.S. Not one of them captures and stores its global warming pollution.

    "Clean" coal? I don't think so.

    EcoCentric Mom
    Everbuying led light
    Green by