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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.
  • « January 2011 | Main | March 2011 »

    February 25, 2011

    How to Shop for Eco-Friendly Clothes - Part 1: Read the Label

    Woman with blouse If we want our apparel to be "eco," most of us start by buying vintage or second-hand, swapping with friends or family, or dragging out the sewing machine to pull together a pattern or alter an old style into something more trendy. We recycle our clothes in a lot of creative ways, too. But even with all that, we may still need to buy new at some point.

    When that time comes, what should you look for? We've previously tackled the problems with buying apparel made from bamboo, even if it claims to be "eco friendly." Organic cotton is among the most reliable options to choose; it's gotten pretty easy to find socks, t-shirts, maybe even some lingerie made from this "green" fiber. But beyond that, the choices are pretty slim, especially if we still do most of our clothes shopping at the mall.

    So if bamboo is out and organic cotton is hard to find, what does that leave? We'll attempt to answer that question and more with this primer on how to shop for eco-friendly clothes.

    Here's Part #1 - Read the label.

    When shopping for "greener" clothes, ignore words like "environmentally friendly," "nature safe," and "eco." Instead, look for third-party certifications  for claims that mean the shirt or shoes or pajamas were predominantly made from sustainable fibers by adults, not kids, in a Fair Trade process that minimizes its environmental impact. The following companies certify companies that meet these criteria.

    GOTS - The Global Organic Textile Standard

    The raw materials that GOTS certifies must first be approved organic by a trusted company such as The Institute for Marketecology.GOTS will then review every step in the manufacturing process, from the harvesting of raw materials right through to proper product labeling. GOTS pays special attention to the dyeing process, as this can be extremely harmful to the health of workers as well as the environment. GOTS will not certify any manufacturer that uses any heavy metals, formaldehyde, GMO enzymes or carcinogenics.

    GOTS is also very strict about environmental discharge during production and chemical residues in the finished product. GOTS will grade a product as an "Organic Textile" if it has at least a 95% organic origin. They will grade a product as "Textile containing organic fibers" if it has at least 70% organic origin. Several companies partner with GOTS and share their standards, including ICEA, based in Italy, ECOCERT, based in France , the Organic Trade Association in the U.S., Soil Association, based in the UK , and the Japan Organic Cotton Association.

    Global Enfant sells baby and children s products that are both COTS and SA8000 (see below) certified.
     Recycle a Tee also uses GOTS certified materials.


    Oeko Oeko-Tex® Standard 100

    Oeko-Tex is also recognized globally as a reliable and independent 3rd party eco-certification. The company will test and if applicable, certify textile raw materials, as well as intermediate and end products at all stages of production.  Oeko-Tex will allocate a product into one of four classes based on how much contact it has with skin. Products intended for babies, for example, must meet more stringent requirements than those woven into a woman's blouse.  

    Eden Home and Green Earth Bamboo  both offer Oeko-Tex-certified clothing for the whole family.


    If a company states that it is SA8000-certified, it means it has passed a globally recognized social accountability standard for fair and humane working conditions. Specifically, products must meet the following criteria to be considered for SA8000 certification: No Child Labor, No Forced Labor, Proper Health and Safety, Workers' Freedom of Association and Right to Collective Bargaining, No Discrimination, Reasonable Working Hours, and Fair Wages.


    Fair Trade Fair Trade Certified™ You may already be purchasing Fair Trade coffee or chocolate. This certifying group now also certifying apparel and linens. If you are buying apparel that has been Fair Trade Certified, you can feel good about your purchase knowing that you are helping fight poverty and develop sustainability for some of the world’s most indigent cotton farmers and factory workers.

    In the US, HAE NOW and Tompkins Point Apparel are among a handful of companies that have been Fair Trade Certified.

    Read more about sustainable and eco-friendly clothing here. And check back soon for Parts 2 and 3 of our eco-friendly clothing series.


    February 22, 2011

    Big Green Purse receives "Image of the Future" Award at Davos Communication Forum

    Ist1_4051899-environmental-conservation The World Communication Forum recently recognized me and Big Green Purse with its global "Image of the Future" prize. The prize was awarded by a committee composed of 30 communications professionals from 20 countries in recognition of "the manager or designer who has created the best innovative brand and/or image," particularly when it comes to protecting the environment.

    "Thank you for your collaboration, for the wonderful work you're doing, [and] for your contribution to  communications and the eternal values you're successfully conveying to other people," said the Forum's Media Manager Helen Brandt . "We highly appreciate your work."

    (You can see more Big Green Purse honors here.)

    February 01, 2011

    Eco-Friendly, Pet-Safe De-Icers So You Won't Break Your Neck

    I just tried to take my dog for a walk - and almost broke my neck. Even though I can barely see the ice, I sure can feel it. It's turned my steps into a treacherous one-way down ramp, and my driveway into an Olympic luge. I should have bought some de-icer yesterday. But when I went to the store, I couldn't figure out which product was both better for the environment and safer for my pooch, too. This morning, I researched the options. Here's what I found.

    Safe paw It's one thing to protect yourself from fallen snow; here are the top ten tips for that. Banishing ice is much harder - literally. If it's thick, you have to chop it up before you can shovel it off. If it's thin, like the ice I'm dealing with today, you've got three choices:

    * Scatter something like sand or grainy kitty litter to create traction. The downsides? Neither actually melts ice, and both leave a big mess you'll have to clean up later so it all doesn't wash into the storm drains. Plus, you have to wait until after the ice forms. If you throw it down before hand, the ice will simply bury it, and you'll have to do it again later so it stays on the surface and actually creates resistance when you walk on it.

    * Just stay inside until the temperatures heat up and the ice melts on its own. Probably for most of you, that's not really an option!

    * Treat with an environmentally-friendly de-icer that's safer for pets, too. Upsides? You can pre-treat to prevent ice from building up, and treat again as the ice forms to keep your steps, driveway or sidewalk from getting too slick. Downsides? It's confusing to figure out which de-icer to buy. Some de-icing products are bad for wood (like my wooden steps). Some can't be applied to new concrete. Most salt-based de-icers can stain carpet and flooring when tracked into the house. Some products say they're eco-friendly, but turn out to contain ingredients like rock salt, urea, or sodium or magnesium chloride - chemicals that can burn plants and irritate pets that walk on them. Plus, they can claim they're "natural" or "eco friendly" because the use of those words isn't regulated by the government.

    Thumb_green Here are the best options I've found to date. All of them can be purchased online. Many of them may be sold in your local hardware or pet store; if they're not, ask the store manager to stock them so other shoppers can buy them, too.

    Safe Paw Ice Melter- This de-icer is the only one recommended by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a non-profit organization focused on environmental research and advocacy. It's 100% salt free and leaves minimal or no residue when it degrades. The green pellets make it easy to keep track of where you apply it. 

    Storm ice melt Storm Team Plus Liquid Ice Melt -  The advantage of Liquid Ice Melt is that it can be used on wood and all kinds of other surfaces, including concrete, asphalt, and even satellite dishes. If you order online, you'll need to buy a pack of four 1-gallon jugs, which can get expensive, and a sprayer if you don't already have one. Either share the cost with neighbors, or ask your local hardware store to stock and sell individually. Ice Melt Pellets are also available, but they can't be applied to wood or new concrete.

    Ice-clear-lg Ice Clear Liquid De-Icer - I haven't tried this, but it looks worthwhile. The ingredients are derived from agricultural products and contain no salts. It comes with a sprayer for easier application.

    Whatever de-icer you use, keep in mind that you will use less if you:

    1)   Apply before the snow and ice fall. Pretreat surfaces an hour or two in advance of precipitation.

    2)    Shovel snow and ice before they have a chance to accumulate. Once snow is deep, don’t throw de-icer on top of it. Wait until the snow stops falling, then shovel down to bare cement before applying de-icer again.

    3)  Shovel off the slush as the snow and ice melt. Otherwise, they'll refreeze and you'll have to apply all over again.


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