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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.
  • « May 2011 | Main | July 2011 »

    June 30, 2011

    What the Heck is Fracking? And Why Don't You Want It Anywhere Near Your Water?

    It sounds like it could be a new dance ("Let's do the frack!"). Or maybe it's a cool way to clean your house ("I really fracked my floor this week; it looks great now!")

    Fracking But it's not. Fracking is short for "hydraulic fracturing," explains Chris Bolgiano in this Bay Journal article. "It involves drilling a hole a mile down, then thousands of feet horizontally, and pumping down millions of gallons of water laced with sand, salt and chemicals to crack the shale. Gas is forced up, along with roughly 25 percent of the contaminated wastewater, often hot with radioactivity."

    Chris adds, "Fracking chemicals include formaldehyde, benzene, and others known to be carcinogenic at a few parts per million. Municipal plants can’t handle fracking wastewater, and it’s stored in open pits until trucked elsewhere. If enough fresh water can’t be sucked from streams on site, trucks haul it in.

    Continue reading "What the Heck is Fracking? And Why Don't You Want It Anywhere Near Your Water? " »

    June 29, 2011

    Meatless Monday is on July 4th; How About These Veggie Burgers?

    Before you fire up the barbecue for your 4th of July picnic, take a minute to read Ten Reasons Why You Should Eat Less Meat. Then, instead of automatically serving up hamburgers, hot dogs, steak or chicken, get creative! Need some help? Try this recipe for a delicious veggie burger courtesy of the wonderful vegan cookbook, The Happy Herbivore, by Lindsay S. Nixon.

        Black Bean Burger-Nixon Black Bean Burgers


    1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

    1/4 c fresh cilantro, minced

    1 tsp ground cumin

    1/2 tsp dried oregano

    cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste

    Breadcrumbs (buy at store or make your own - toast whole-grain bread until dry, then pulse in food processor)

    Whole-wheat hamburger buns

     To do:

    * Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease grill pan, or cookie sheet if you prefer to use your oven.

    * Pulse beans in food processor until mashed well, or mash manually using a potato masher or fork.

    * Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in cilantro and spices, plus salt and pepper.

    * Add breadcrumbs as necessary until the mixture can be handled and isn't terribly sticky, about 1/4 cup.

    * If after 1/4 cup it's still too sticky and difficult to work with, refrigerate 5 to 10 minutes

    * Shape mixture into three patties.

    * Lightly spray each patty with cooking spray and grill or bake 7 minutes.

    Happy Herbivore * Flip, re-spray,and bake 7-10 minutes more until crisp on the outside and thoroughly warm.

    * Serve immediately on buns, along with lettuce, tomatoes, and whatever other condiments you prefer.

    Note: This recipe makes three burgers; double to make six.

     (Photo courtesy of The Happy Herbivore Cookbook, p. 87)

    Related Posts:

    Meatless Monday: Here's How You Can Do It

    Want to be Almost Meatless? These Cookbooks Can Help

    Charcoal is Out. What's In - And Eco?

    Putting on Lipstick Shouldn't be so Risky. It Won't Be - if You Support the Safe Cosmetics Act

    Lips If you're anything like me, when you buy lipstick or eye make-up, it's because you want to look better, not feel worse. But many cosmetics contain questionnable ingredients that have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and asthma and respiratory disease. I've switched to more eco-friendly, non-toxic personal care products, but shouldn't EVERY cosmetic be eco-friendly and non-toxic?

    With your participation and some determined work on Capitol Hill, it will be. Several members of Congress recently introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act, legislation that would phase out toxic ingredients in our make-up and other personal care products that have been linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental harm. The act would also create a health-based safety standard to protect not only us adults, but kids, the elderly, and people who work in salons and the cosmetics industries.

    Plus, the legislation would require companies to fully disclose all the ingredients their products contain so we consumers can read the labels and decide what we want to be exposed to. Finally, the new law would boost funding for the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Cosmetics and Colors so it can effectively oversee the cosmetics industry and better protect consumers.

    Continue reading "Putting on Lipstick Shouldn't be so Risky. It Won't Be - if You Support the Safe Cosmetics Act" »

    June 28, 2011

    Skin Cancer is Scary and Ugly. Here's What Mine Looks Like.

    Skin cancer Skin cancer is scary and ugly. I should know. I've had it seven times. And every time, I've had to have it cut out or burned off in order to control it.

    Why do I get skin cancer so often? In part, I'm genetically pre-disposed. My ancestors were northern Europeans from Scotland and Poland, which means they were fair skinned and likely to burn if they spent too much time in the sun. I'm the same way. I freckle first, especially on my face. But then the burn sets in. It takes my skin a very long time to tan, but I can burn in half an hour.

    Burned feet Apart from my DNA, I'm getting skin cancer now because I spent so much time tanning and burning when I was a teenager and young adult. We thought sun tans made us look "cool" (our word for "hot" in those days). Getting a tan in the summer was as important to us as eating ice cream or going to camp. We would slather our bodies with baby oil to "speed the burn" then make sure we were out in the sun during the most intense hours of the day - 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. We wouldn't come in until our skin was so red it seemed radioactive. It seems ridiculous now, but it was what we did then, when no one ever talked about skin cancer. (These burned feet and other photos of sun burn are on Ellen Degeneres' website.I don't have photos of me all burned up as a kid.)

      Skin cancer eye My first skin cancer showed up when I was 38 years old. It was right in the corner of my left eyelid (the picture to the right is not my eye, but that bubble you see below this eye is exactly what mine looked like). My eye had to be anesthetized, and then the cancer was cut off. I walked around for about a week with some unsightly stitches on my face before the scar healed. Soon after, a much larger skin cancer showed up on my chest, right below my collar bone. This surgery was bigger and left a scar about an inch long. Pretty soon, every couple of years, another skin cancer would show up - on my shoulders, my hands, my back, my stomach. Often, my dermatologist could simply freeze the cancer and kill the cells. But recently, a new skin cancer appeared on my upper chest. This one was the most serious of all and required MOHS surgery, a more complicated procedure in which the doctor must cut deeply into the skin and all around the cancer to make sure the entire cancer is removed. It took a week for the incision to scab over, and a few months for the red swelling around the scar to subside.

    Continue reading "Skin Cancer is Scary and Ugly. Here's What Mine Looks Like." »

    Eco-Friendly, Non-Toxic Sunscreens: Everything You Need to Know

    Coolibar1 The best way to protect yourself from skin cancer is to avoid getting a sun burn.

    But after you've taken all the right steps - stayed out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., worn a hat and long sleeves, put on sunglasses to protect your eyes from the UV exposure that causes cataracts - you'll still need sunscreen. When you do, what's the best, most environmentally friendly, and safest sunscreen you can use?

    The scientists at Environmental Working Group have done the research, and have identified the "greenest" sunscreens you should buy. But just in case you can't remember product names, here are the qualities you should look for:

    #1) Choose sunscreens that contain zinc, titanium dioxide, avobenzone or mexoryl SX. Avoid oxybenzone, Retinyl palmitate/Vitamin A, and added insect repellent. FYI, oxybenzone is a synthetic hormone that can penetrate the skin. Retinyl palmitate can make your skin more susceptible to tumors and lesions. Not good.

    #2) Creams you can rub on are more protective than sprays and powders.

    #3) Broad-spectrum protection that is water-resistant for the beach or pool as well as exercise is optimal.

    #4) Choose an SPF of at least 30 when you're at the beach or pool, but you don't need an SPF higher than 50.

       Sunscreen chart

    Thumb_green What sunscreens does EWG recommend? For your convenience, we're selling several of the safest, most protective sunscreens in our store. Brands include Aubrey, Aveeno, and California Baby. You can also ask for these brands the next time you go shopping.

    Want more info? See our related posts:

    Is your sunscreen giving you a false sense of security?

    Sun-Smart Skin Care

    DEET-Free Mosquito Repellents that Work

     Have any other suggestions? Please leave a comment below.


    June 10, 2011

    Top 10 Eco-Ways to Keep Cool While the Planet Heats Up

    Do you love summer but hate the heat? Me, too, especially when it’s combined with the high humidity we have where I live in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Here’s how I keep cool when 100+degree heat waves roll through town:

    Fan 1)    Use an air conditioner AND fans. A fan doesn’t affect the temperature of a room. It just creates a “wind chill” effect by moving air around. An air conditioner will actually lower the temperature of a room and remove humidity, too.  We cool the house to around 78 or 80 degrees (down from the high nineties or low hundreds!), then circulate the cooled air with small room fans. We only use fans in the rooms we’re actually occupying to save energy.

      Programmable thermostat 2 2)    Set our thermostat as high as comfortably possible. For us, that means somewhere between 78 and 80 degrees F. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests keeping your house warmer than normal when you are away, and around 78°F (26°C) only when you are at home and need cooling. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
    •    Find out how to operate your thermostat for maximum energy savings.

    3)    Cover sunny windows. Our sunniest windows are shaded by porch overhangs that prevent the hot sun from streaming into our house and heating things up. We have double-paned blinds we can pull if the sun gets too intense. In previous years, we planted several deciduous trees in front of the house. Now their shade also helps us keep our home cool in the summer.

    4)    Keep windows and doors closed. Once we’ve cooled the air, we try not to leave outside doors open too long when we’re going in and out. We use a back door to enter and exit because it lets in less heat than the front door.

    5)    Use oven only in early morning. If I need to bake anything, I try to do it before 9 a.m. Otherwise, I cook on my stove top, in the microwave and toaster oven, or on an outdoor grill.

    6)    Cook several meals at one time, then reheat as needed. This not only saves energy, but reduces the amount of time I spend cooking overall.

    7)    Make “sun” tea. I drink a lot of iced tea in the summer. Rather than boil water in a kettle on the stove, I either use an electric kettle to boil water in less than a minute, or just put a pitcher of water outside with a few tea bags in it. After a few hours, the heat from the sun will raise the water temperature enough to steep the tea.

    8)    Eat cold food. Summer is the perfect time for salads, smoothies, sandwiches, raw vegetables,  cold soups, and of course, ice cream. If you eat as much ice cream as we do, you might want to make your own. You can get popsicle molds that are either stainless steel or BPA-free plastic.

    Shower timer 9)    Take shorter showers in cool water.  Any of these timers will help you keep your shower under five minutes.

    10)    Take off some clothes. You know how, in winter, you put on a sweater to stay warm? In summer, we all walk around our house barefoot and in loose, sleeveless dresses or tank tops and shorts. It's surprising how much cooler we stay when we're lightly dressed.

    Want more energy-saving tips? Find them right here.

    Dry Your Clothes for Free

      Clothesline Want to do your laundry the eco-friendly way? It’s a simple, two-step process:

    1)    Wash most everything in cold water (The only thing I wash in hot water is towels.)

    2)    Hang your laundry out to dry.


    •    Save energy, lower your electric or gas bill, and reduce your carbon footprint (the amount of energy you burn that contributes to climate change).

    •    Longer-lasting clothes, since washing in hot water can fade colors and drying in hot air can shrink fabrics.

    •    No static cling, one of the hazards of hot air drying.

    •    Clean, fresh smell. No need for “natural fragrance” dryer sheets (which means more money savings).

    What Kind of Clothes Line or Rack Should You Buy?

    The Line

    You can use a length of rope you already have, but make sure it’s thin enough to be able to clip a clothes pin to. Otherwise, you’ll have to throw things over the top of the line, which works unless a strong (i.e., fast-drying) breeze is about. You can find several clothes line options in the Big Green Purse store, or at your local hardware store. NOTE: Most lines stretch over time, so you may need to buy a line tightener to keep the line taut enough so that the clothes don’t end up dragging on the ground.

    Clothesline 3 This foldable clothes line frame (pictured right) is terrific if you have a flat space you can mount it on. What I like about it is that it folds out of the way when not in use.

    You can also try a rotary line dryer. Hang the laundry, then use a hand crank to easily raise the whole load another 16 inches or so to catch the breeze and dry quickly. For something simpler, install a retractable clothes line in your bathroom or laundry room. These lines can’t accommodate a lot of laundry at once, but they’re great for socks and underwear.

    Dryer Rack

    Dryer rack Dryer racks can’t be beat for convenience, and many of them are large enough to handle an entire load of laundry at one time. I use a light-weight wooden rack I put on my sunny back porch in the summer. My washer and dryer are in a big utility closet behind louvered doors in my master bathroom; in the winter, I just set up the rack in there. The humidity from the clothes helps humidify the dry winter air. Here are several types of dryer racks you can try


    Use the sturdiest clothespins you can find. Choose wood, not plastic, and store the pins inside and away from the elements when they’re not in use to keep them from getting dirty or wet if it rains.

    If you hang your laundry in the sun…

    Sunshine naturally beats back germs and odors, which is why I used to dry the kids’ cloth diapers in the sun. But the sun can also bleach or fade clothes. Turn shirts, blouses, and pants inside-out before you hang them to keep their color bright, and bring them inside as soon as they’re dry.

    Stiff  towels? 

    Line drying is terrific for sports wear, underwear, jeans, pants, towels, sheets, blouses, socks, and shirts. But towels? They can get a little stiff  or crunchy when they line dry. Some people find that adding white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser helps soften their towels. I prefer to dry mine on the line almost completely, then toss them into the dryer to fluff up for ten minutes or so.

    What about pet fur?

    My throw rugs collect a LOT of fur from my dog and two cats. Tumble drying is still the most effective way to capture all that fur, even when I shake my rugs out before I was them. I tumble the rugs for about 15 minutes to capture the fur, then finish the drying on a rack or outside. See what works best for you. 

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