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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.
  • « January 2012 | Main | March 2012 »

    February 16, 2012

    Lead-Free Lipstick? Well...duh!

    LipsIsn't it common sense that we should NOT eat lead, even in minuscule amounts?

    We've gotten it out of paint and gasoline because of its links to birth defects and mental retardation. Says Health Canada, "Exposure to lead may have subtle effects on the intellectual development of infants and children. Infants and toddlers are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead because they are undergoing a period of rapid development; furthermore, their growing bodies absorb lead more easily and excrete lead less efficiently than adults. In addition, infants and young children are more likely to ingest lead because of their natural habit of putting objects into their mouths.

    "Once in the body, lead circulates in the blood and either builds up in bone or is eliminated from the body, mostly in urine. Lead can stay in the body for over 30 years following exposure."

    So the message should be: don't use lead, and especially don't eat it.

    Yet updated research from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found noticeable amounts of lead in over 400 brands of lipstick, including Revlon, Clinique, L'Oreal, Maybelline, Cover Girl, and Estee Lauder.  FDA says that it is not concerned because lipstick is a "topical" product that is not intended to be "ingested." In other words, the agency is acting as if lipstick stays on lips.

    But if you wear lipstick, you know that's not true. We lick our lips all day long, which means that we're eating lipstick all day long, and applying it all day long, too.

    Besides, says Mark Mitchell, M.D., MPH, the policy advisor of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice and co-chair of the Environmental Health Task Force for the National Medical Association, lead “builds up in the body over time and lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels.”

    In January, reports Forbes, an advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared there is no safe level of lead for children and stressed the importance of preventing lead exposure for kids and pregnant women. While lipstick is not sold to children, if you're a mother, aunt, grandmother, or babysitter, you know how hard it can be to keep kids away from make-up, especially lipstick.

    To be clear, the cosmetics companies are not intentionally adding lead to their product forumulations. But because lead is so prevalent in air, water, and minerals, it can appear as a trace contaminant in the raw ingredients companies use in manufacturing.

    Avon-CherryJubilee-Lpstck08-lgIf you want to buy lipstick, here are 11 brands that tested lead-free in 2007. Note that many are made by companies you'll recognize, like Avon, and are very affordable.


    February 07, 2012

    Think Twice Before You Buy Hershey's Kisses for Your Valentine

    This Valentine's Day, before you cover your sweetheart with Hershey’s kisses, or toss a few of those treats into your kids’ lunch box, consider the alternative: organic, fair trade, bite-size bars made from cocoa produced by companies that care about people and the planet.

    Hersheyhaveaheart_small_0-300x186Why not Hershey’s? The company has been under fire for years from international organizations that monitor child welfare. Most of the world’s cocoa is produced in West Africa, where cocoa farmers typically live in poverty and where forced labor, especially among children, and human trafficking, are tragically common. Reports from concerned humanitarian groups describe how children often work long hours on cocoa farms performing hazardous work like using machetes, carrying heavy loads, and coming into close contact with toxic pesticides.

    Several non-profit groups organized a “Raise the Bar” campaign to ask Hershey to take meaningful steps to combat child, forced and trafficked labor in its supply chain, and an online petition drive generated over 100,000 letters to the company asking it to improve its cocoa sourcing practices.

    Happily, the company announced recently that it will commit to sourcing independently certified cocoa for its Bliss line by the end of 2012. However, Hershey’s produces many products that contain chocolate, including Almond Joy, Kit Kat, Whoppers Malted Milk Balls, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. What about responsibly sourcing ALL the cocoa it uses in all these products? Eighth grader Jasper Perry-Anderson has created a follow-up campaign on to ensure that the Hershey Company expands its commitment to certified cocoa to all its products in the future.

    Which gets us back to alternatives to Hershey’s Kisses for Valentine’s Day. Look for chocolates that are certified both fair trade and organic. Fair trade helps protect kids, and organic helps protect the environment. Here are some yummy options you should be able to find in your grocery store, at food co-ops, and at chains like Whole Foods that have made a commitment to carry more sustainably produced products.

    Dag-tsmoonDagoba – Ironically, Hershey owns this company, which was already organic and fair trade when it was acquired. Dagoba sources cacao, the primary ingredient used to make chocolate, from Latin America, South America and Madagascar. Their entire line of drinking chocolate, syrup, and cacao powder has been certifed Fair Trade by Transfair. You can buy a box of "bites" or choose full-fledged bars.

    Endangered speciesEndangered Species ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE CHIMP MINTS They're certified organic, vegan, gluten-free, kosher Non-GMO and the cacao is sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified™  ethically traded cacao farms ensuring fair trade, responsible labor practices and sustainable farming. Plus they taste good!

    Wei of Chocolate -  This organic and fair trade chocolate, also certified by the Rainforest Alliance, is infused with "energetic" flower essences that they claim lead to greater tranquility, peace and joy. They're beautifully wrapped; a box-ful would certainly enhance my peace and joy, at least as long as they lasted!

    Lake Champlain Chocolates makes some delicious organic chocolates - but they're NOT Fair Trade: Organic Chocolate Truffles from Lake Champlain Chocolates -  or organic chocolate squares in flavors that include cinnamon, sea salt and almonds, milk, and dark.

    Then there's Ghirardelli. It promotes some of its bars as "100% all natural," but offers no explanation of what that means. There's no mention of Fair Trade or organic on its website, either. What gives?

    If you prefer chocolates from these companies, please go to their websites and encourage them to adopt certified fair labor and organic practices.


    Fill Your Heart With Organic Chocolate

    Environmental In-Box: Seeds of Change Chocolate


    Later this year, look for Hershey’s Bliss® products made with 100 percent cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Rainforest Alliance Certified farms have met comprehensive sustainability standards that protect the environment and ensure the safety and well-being of workers, their families and communities. Hershey’s Bliss® chocolates are available to U.S. consumers at more than 35,000 retail outlets. Meanwhile, you can read more about Hershey’s sustainability plans here.

    What Did I Miss?

    If you make an organic, Fair Trade chocolate we didn't mention here, please leave a comment with all the pertinent information. If you love an organic, Fair Trade chocolate we failed to notice, please let us know! Thanks.

    February 02, 2012

    What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You, Warns "The Non-Toxic Avenger"

    Is there a direct link between cancer, autism and all the toxins in our environment?

    Nontoxic avengerDeanna Duke, author of the new must-buy book, The Non-Toxic Avenger: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You, believes there is. And with good reason: In 2007, Deanna's husband Hank, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable, extremely life-shortening form of leukemia. That news on its own would have been devastating enough; but it came in the same week that her son Henry was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism.

    Though both cancer and autism have genetic links, Deanna, who also blogs at The Crunchy Chicken, couldn't help but wonder whether toxic chemicals she and her family encountered every day could also have contributed to the illnesses. In addition to helping her husband and son come up with treatment plans, Deanna decided to do two things: track down the sources of dangerous chemicals she and they were exposed to, and figure out how to avoid them in the future. This illuminating and inspiring book charts Deanna's quest.

    Here is just a short summary of the extent of her research:

    * She had her body tested for a wide array of toxins, both those under her control based on products she willingly chose, like cosmetics or food, and those that exist in the environment but that she has little control over, like air and water pollution.

    * She tested common houshold projects, like rubber toys and her computer equipment, to see if they contained nasty PVCs (they did).

    * She started making her own safe personal care products, like deodorant and hair dye, to avoid parabens, phthalates, and other cancer-causing chemicals.

    * She changed her shopping habits to buy more organic food.

    * And of course, she wrote this book: part heart-wrenching story about trying to deal with the illnesses of her husband and son, part manifesto on what we all can do to protect ourselves from environmental hazards, especially those we think won't do us any harm.

    I hope you'll pick up this book as soon as you can and read it cover to cover. You'll cry. You might laugh at all of Deanna's exploits. And then, hopefully, you'll get busy -- clearing out your cupboards, writing to your elected officials, and telling everyone you know that they MUST read this incredible, courageous, inspiring book, too.



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