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Why My Purse is Green

Because I believe…

  • the fastest, most effective way to stop polluters is by pressuring them in the marketplace
  • women can be the world’s most powerful economic and environmental force if we intentionally shift our spending to the best green products and services
  • women have the power right now to solve many of our most serious environmental problems by using our green purses to make a difference
  • women must act – intentionally, collectively, and with the full force of our purse power behind us – if we hope to leave our children and grandchildren a better world.
  • « November 2010 | Main | January 2011 »

    December 21, 2010

    How to Keep Drinking Water Safe for You and Your Family (Bottled Water is Not the Answer)

    Water2 Being able to get clean, safe drinking water straight from the tap is a right we're all entitled to. Yet today's news stories report, once again, that the water we drink every day may contain dangerous chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, and other illnesses.

    This time, the chemical in question is a compound called hexavalent chromium, or chromium 6. If it sounds familiar, it may be because you saw the movie "Erin Brockovich," starring Julia Roberts. In the film, based on a true story, Roberts as Brockovich campaigns to protect residents of a small California town whose drinking water has been contaminated by hexavalent chromium. In real life, Brockovich, a legal aide, helps the town residents win a $333 million lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric, the company responsible for the contamination.

    But that's not the end of the tale. It turns out, hexavalent chromium persists in drinking water in dozens of American cities, including Bethesda, San Jose, Ann Arbor, Pittsburgh, Albuquerque, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City (note: If your city is not on the list, it might only mean that the water in your city wasn't analyzed). The toxic chemical is released when plastics, steel, and paper pulp are manufactured; it's also discharged by leather-tanning and metal-plating factories. It can pollute water when soil and rock erode as well. It exists in our drinking water for two reasons: because companies can release it into the environment without much legal or financial consequence; and because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not currently impose regulations on municipalities to eliminate chromium 6 in our water -- or at least, to reduce it to much safer levels.

    You can get more information from the answers to this list of frequently asked questions; you can also read the full report on hexavalent chromium here. But don't just read the report: take action to protect the water you and your family drink! Here's how:

    1) Don't buy bottled water. Much bottled water comes straight from the same source as our drinking water. It looks healthier because it sports a fancy label touting how "pure" it is - but unless the label also says the water has been tested and proven to be free of hexavalent chromium and other contaminants, you'll just be wasting your money. Instead, use your purse power to invest in a reverse osmosis filter (see below).

    Continue reading "How to Keep Drinking Water Safe for You and Your Family (Bottled Water is Not the Answer)" »

    December 15, 2010

    What's Been Your Biggest, Coolest, Eco-Friendliest Change This Year?

    Did you finally give up using paper towels?

    Did you switch out all the incandescent bulbs in your house to LEDs?

    Maybe you gave away your car and bought a bike.

    Or planted a huge organic garden to grow more of your own food.

    Started raising chickens in the back yard? (Free range, of course!)

    Finally got a clothesline so you can use the sun to dry your laundry?

    Whatever environmental change you made, we want to hear about December 30!

    Book_icon If you let us know how you went "eco" in 2010, we'll automatically enter you in a contest to win a free, autographed copy of my latest book, Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World.

    Just leave a comment on this post with the following info:

    * The change you made.

    * Why you made it.

    * How much it cost (or saved you).

    * What you plan to do next.

    If you've thought about going green in some way but have yet to make it happen, do it now so you can tell us about it.

    What's the biggest change I made? I stopped getting printed newspapers delivered at home. I did it because I hated to see all the paper wasted, especially on advertising supplements that I never use. Right now, it's saving me the cost of the subscription. Next year, I think I'll have to start paying to read the paper online. But this wasn't a cost issue for me as much as it was an environmental one.


    I'm looking to you all for inspiration! Please share your changes. We'll highlight your stories on December 31 when we announce our prize winner.




    December 13, 2010

    Sign Up For Free Green Shopping Newsletter

    Poinsettia2_jpg You don't need to buy clothes made from hemp or another compact fluorescent light bulb to be a greener shopper this holiday season. Sign up by 2:00 p.m. ET Tuesday, December 14, for our free holiday newsletter and get discount links to soy and beeswax candles, natural wreaths and organic poinsettias.

    December 08, 2010

    One Way to Solve Climate Change: Cleaner Cookstoves

    Can a simple stove help solve something as complex as climate change?

    Children-with-clean-stove-Lisa-Feldman1 The United Nations Foundation and its partners at the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other institutions and organizations think so - at least, in part, which is why they've launched the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. This new partnership between government agencies, non-profit organizations, international aid groups and corporations aims to replace 100 million dirty stoves in developing countries with cleaner versions by 2020.

    How can a lowly cookstove play such an important role in the climate debate?

    REDUCE BLACK CARBON: The traditional cookstoves used in Asia, Africa and parts of Latin America rely on "biomass" like wood, cow dung, and coal. When any of these fuels is burned, they produce soot, also known as "black carbon." Biomass cooking accounts for 20 percent of the world’s emissions of black carbon, which some scientists believe is the second largest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide.

    Black carbon is so powerful because it is extremely effective at absorbing sunlight -- 1 million times more effective than carbon dioxide (CO2), in fact. Black carbon warms the atmosphere and creates a "greenhouse effect" by absorbing thermal infrared radiation from the ground and within clouds. Plus, because it directly heats surfaces on which it falls and reduces the amount of sunlight surfaces reflect back into the atmosphere, black carbon accelerates the melting of Arctic sea and land ice, glaciers, and seasonal snow cover.

    Continue reading "One Way to Solve Climate Change: Cleaner Cookstoves" »

    December 03, 2010

    Holiday Traditions that Mean the Most to Me: Family, Friends, Food!

    This weekend begins a chain of traditions I've been building with my family for twenty years.

    Holly berries Early Saturday morning, I'll climb up in the attic and pull down the holiday lights, bunting, evergreen trim, and ribbons and bows we use to decorate our house for Christmas every year. I'll tap my "inner Martha Stewart" as I weave the trim around the staircase and across the balcony railing, then thread white lights through the trim to turn our day-to-day home into a holiday wonderland. 

    While I'm trimming the stairs, one of the kids will be out in the yard cutting holly branches bursting with bright red berries. The holly goes everywhere - in vases of other yard cuttings, around the base of lamps, behind framed photos on the walls, around the candles that are now sitting on the window sills and in the middle of the dining room table. All the while, apple cider, infused with cinnamon sticks and whole cloves, will simmer on top of the stove. In a matter of a couple of hours, it will look and smell in here the way it does every year about this time: which is to say, just like Christmas.

    Sunday, we'll get our Christmas tree. We have a high ceiling, so we usually aim for a fir about seven feet tall. When we can, we buy our tree from a local farmer who grows it organically on his farm in Pennsylvania. It is not perfectly shaped; a stray bird's nest may be hiding in the crotch of a couple of tall branches. No matter. "Oh...that smells sooooo good," everyone says in his or her own time. We'll trim the bottom to fit into the Christmas stand, and save the branches to add more Christmasy smells to the house or put on the porch to make a bed for the candles we'll light there on Christmas Eve.

    Continue reading "Holiday Traditions that Mean the Most to Me: Family, Friends, Food!" »

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