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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.
  • « February 2011 | Main | April 2011 »

    March 21, 2011

    What's the Link between Population and Nuclear Energy?

    Japan's nuclear disaster got me thinking about energy demand. Nuclear power advocates justify the decision to power plants with uranium as the best way to meet energy demands that are increasing because world population is growing. I couldn't help but wonder: why aren't we talking about reducing population as part of our global strategy to minimize dependence on power sources that pollute the environment and threaten people's health?

    Bob Engelman  I asked Bob Engelman, a Vice President at the Worldwatch Institute and one of the country's most respected experts on the link between population and the environment, to weigh in. Read his post, then let us know how you think population should figure into the calculations we're making about our energy future.

    Always sensitive to talk about, the topic of population is hard to keep under wraps when news keeps reminding us that we live in a finite world. The costs of food and energy are rising despite a global economy in low gear. The likelihood of stemming the rise of the atmosphere’s greenhouse gas concentrations seems farther away than ever. And as Japan’s nuclear nightmare has reminded us yet again, there is no truly safe way to provide the energy that 6.9 billion people need to live decently. We’re pressing hard against limits set by the laws of physics and biology. The idea that we can easily trim our individual consumption to come into balance with nature—worthy as that effort is—looks increasingly naïve.

    If people in the developed world slash their per capita greenhouse emissions by half, their effort could be counterbalanced by people in developing countries boosting theirs by just 11 percent. Global per capita emissions would still be inequitable—and unsustainably globe-warming.

    Are there too many of us?

    Peachtreeroadrace When I ponder how hard it will be to save the global climate, the oceans, forests, fisheries and non-human species, the answer seems obvious. But that answer is dangerous. To say we are too many is to imply some of us should go away fast, or at least that people should be made to have fewer children than they’d like.

    The conversation looks easier if we start with some core values:

    Continue reading "What's the Link between Population and Nuclear Energy?" »

    March 15, 2011

    Nuclear disaster in Japan, oil disaster in the Gulf. What's next?

    Japan fire The nuclear meltdown in Japan and the recent oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico may seem unrelated, but they're not. Both catastrophes occurred because we've made three fundamental mistakes in the way we generate energy.

    1) We have relied on centralized power plants that use dangerous fuels to meet energy demand. Most countries that can afford it build large power plants so they can centralize energy production. Big centralized power plants are easier to regulate than a bunch of smaller, dispersed facilities. And because they generate a lot of energy at once, big plants appear to streamline power production. But in addition to being outrageously expensive, centralized generating facilities require massive amounts of dangerous fuels to operate consistently. If that fuel is oil or coal, recovering it usually wrecks the physical environment (we saw that in spades during last year's Gulf Oil disaster); burning it causes global warming and sickening air pollution. If the fuel is uranium, using it generates radioactive nuclear waste that must be stored for thousands of years.

    Continue reading "Nuclear disaster in Japan, oil disaster in the Gulf. What's next?" »

    March 08, 2011

    Top Ten Ways to Use Less Gas

    Gas pump2 Here we go again: gasoline prices are soaring close to $4.00 a gallon, and several of the countries that export oil to the U.S. are in such political turmoil, we can't be sure our supplies will continue. When, oh when, will we say, "Enough, Already!" and get serious about reducing our dependence on petroleum? 

    The problem isn't just "foreign" oil. Using any kind of fossil fuel to meet our transportation needs is a losing proposition. Drilling for oil wrecks the planet, or have we already forgotten the Gulf Oil disaster? And burning oil generates climate-changing carbon dioxide and nasty particles that create asthma-inducing smog.

    If you're in the market for a new car, take a look at electric options like the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf. Gas-electric hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius or Ford Fusion merit consideration, too. Aim to buy the most fuel-efficient vehicle in your price range; this site maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy, will help you compare your choices.

    But most of us can't just go out and buy a new set of wheels (unless they're on a bicycle). These ten tips offer the fastest, easiest ways you can save gas and money, no matter what kind of car you drive.

    1. Drive smart - Avoid quick starts and stops, use cruise control on the highway, and don't idle.

    2. Drive the speed limit - Remember - every 5 mph you drive above 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.10 per gallon for gas.

    3. Drive less - This should be a no-brainer. Walk, bicycle, use a scooter or moped, combine trips, and telecommute to work.

    Continue reading "Top Ten Ways to Use Less Gas" »

    March 04, 2011

    How to Shop for Eco-Friendly Clothes - Part 2: Try TENCEL or Lyocell

    Tencel_the_new_age_fiber If we were to separate clothing into categories, somewhere in between natural fibers like cotton or hemp and man-made petroleum fibers like polyester, we'd find Lyocell, "a natural cellulose" product. Lyocell  is made by processing wood pulp into fiber so it can be woven into fabric and sewn into socks, underwear, pants, and blouses, among many other fashion options.

    Lyocell, which is also sold under the trade name TENCEL® or Lenzing Lyocell, offers several advantages over conventional cotton and even rayon, another fiber made from cellulose. The trees Lyocell is made from are grown without pesticides, often in sustainably managed forests on land that's not suitable for other crops. Though harsh chemicals are needed to soften the wood pulp so it can be converted into fiber, the chemicals are captured in a "closed loop" processing system so they can be reused rather than discharged into local water supplies. (NOTE: The Organic Clothing blog cautions people who are highly chemically sensitive to be alert to possible allergic reactions to TENCEL.)

    Lyocell also offers advantages over cotton when it comes to water. According to this excellent analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council, unless the cotton is only grown using rain water, Lyocell can end up using far less water to produce than either conventional or organic cotton. Sustainable textiles expert Coral Rose notes, "I strongly believe Lenzing’s products are a key component to any sustainable fiber strategy, when considering all the environmental impacts associated with fiber growing and production." 

    New Innovations in TENCEL® are giving way to several variations of the fabric. TENCEL® MICRO is a very smooth silky fiber, while TENCEL® with Multitouch can be used to make heavier fabrics like denim.
    Shopping for TENCEL®

    Forever 21 blazer TENCEL® products are widely available, some at very reasonable prices. Forever 21, for example, offers a severl TENCEL-based garments like this blazer.

    You can also find a huge selection of TENCEL® clothing at Tianello.

    To try out a TENCEL® sheet set, check out Downlite  or even your local Bed Bath and Beyond Store.


    Use Your Purse!

    The U.S. has an extremely high average fiber consumption per capita, approximately 41.8 kg per year compared to the international average of 10.5 kg per year. Clearly, how we choose to spend our money on clothing directly affects the environment. The next time you are faced with a choice between TENCEL® and cotton, choose the most eco-friendly option: TENCEL®.

    For More Information...

    Don't miss Part 1 of our series, "How to Shop for Eco-Friendly Clothing"

    You can learn more about Tencel if you read this interview with Coral Rose, who has been a featured speaker at events such as The ECO-SHOW, All Things Organic (ATO), and Texworld-New York, to name a few. In this article Coral points out how rare it is to find a company that answers the questions “what is the source of our raw materials? [and] Where were the materials harvested, processed, produced?” Her opinion on the environmental impact of fiber growing and production is that Lenzing Modal and Tencel come out on top.

     Modal, which is also manufactured by Lenzing, is made from beech trees. Modal is highly absorbent and, like Tencel, resists fading.  100% Modal  is most often made into towels or bedding, though it blends very well with cotton and is another great choice for clothing.

    March 03, 2011

    You Can Donate an Autographed Copy of Big Green Purse to Your Library. Here's How.

    Holiday book Big Green Purse makes a great reference book for anyone looking for simple, affordable ways to go green.

    If your library doesn't already have a copy, why don't you donate one now so they'll be prepared when Earth Day rolls around in April?

    To make the donation extra special, I'm happy to autograph a copy on your behalf. Just fill out this short order form and let me know the name of your library along with your name. If you want me to send the book directly to the library, include that address as well. Otherwise, I'll send the book to you and you can deliver it in person.

    Of course, if you want to give the book to friends and family for Earth Day, I'm happy to autograph copies for them, too.

    Order now so you get the book in time for Earth Day!

    Would You Use a Gun to Protect Your Lettuce?

    This is not a hypothetical question, at least in my neighborhood. And no, I don't live in the woods, or on some out-of-the-way country backroad.

    Gun guy I live in a suburb of Washington, D.C. And someone who lives around the corner from me is actually learning how to shoot a gun so he can "protect" his family in case someone else decides to steal the vegetables he is planting in his backyard.

    A long-time environmental activist, the guy has concluded that society is moving too slowly to stop climate change. As a result, he says, we all may be facing widespread food shortages and general chaos. If he were part of the Godfather's era, my neighbor might say, "it's time to go to the mattresses." His response today isn't far off. He's replaced the bolts on his doors with padlocks, is planting his own food, and is learning how to fire a weapon. Armed, and dangerous?

    The neighborhood is now very jumpy. People don't want to walk down the street where this guy lives.  Will we be taking our lives in our hands if we stop to admire his heirloom tomatoes? In the back of our minds, some of us are wondering, "Should WE buy a gun?"

    That's the conversation we're having around here. What a waste. Do we really want people asking, "What kind of GUN should we buy?"

    I, for one, don't think so. I think we want people asking, "What else can I do to use less energy? How can I pressure my elected officials to pass laws mandating energy conservation and the use of safe energy sources like solar and wind? How can we stop burning coal and oil altogether? What can we do on a global scale to reduce everyone's dependence on fossil fuels?" These are the questions we want people to ask, and then act on: rapidly, deliberately, peacefully.

     As I wrote in The Washington Post, "This is no time for hysteria. Real progress to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is being made on many fronts. Are we moving far enough fast enough? No. But I guarantee, if we all follow [my neighbor's] lead and create our own little neighborhood militias so we can protect our lettuce, climate change will be the least of our worries."

    Photo Credit: Dubswede

    More Info:

    Top Ten Reasons to Take Climate Change Seriously

    Ways to reduce the climate change impact of your house

    One way to solve climate change: cleaner cookstoves

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