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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.
  • « October 2012 | Main | December 2012 »

    November 24, 2012

    Shop Local on Small Business Saturday...and Every Day

    Small biz saturday Today is "Small Business Saturday" or "Shop Small" day, a day designed to encourage consumers to shop at local stores and boutiques rather than global chain stores. What's the diff? Think about both your community pocket book, and the planet.

    On the pocket book side, according to this nifty info graphic from, "if the people of an average American city were to shift just 10% of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would bring an additional $235 million per year to the community’s economy." How? By keeping profits at home rather than sending them abroad. Plus, favoring local stores keeps neighborhoods vibrant. I see this in my own town, where our mainstreet bustles with boutique shops that offer one-of-a-kind treasures, the post office and hardware store provide the basics, and the restaurants support shoppers and shop keepers alike. If we didn't have local stores, our downtown would be a dead end: bleak, dreary, and drab.

    On the environmental side, it turns out that buying products made locally helps reduce the climate change impact associated with shipping goods made in China or India half way around the world. We've gotten used to the idea of buying food produced locally - it tastes better, is fresher, and is often treated with fewer chemicals and preservatives because it goes from farm to farmers market to table in short order. Buying locally made clothes, crafts, and housewares may have the same benefits: better quality, more unique characteristics, and plus, it's fun to know who made the items you buy.

    Wondering where you can find items on your shopping list that are sold by local stores or made locally? Plug your zip code into this cool "finder" at American Express, grab your reusable shopping bags, and go!

    November 20, 2012

    These “Green” Shoes Will Fight Sweat Shops with Fashion – If You Give Them a Kick Start

     There’s more to shoes than style, if the shoes are made by the new brand for women, I Know Jane.
      Shoes on model Here’s why I love them, and why I hope you’ll support their new KickStarter campaign to raise $35,000 so they can bring you a line of eco, vegan, and woman-friendly shoes you’ll want to add to your wardrobe.

      First, “Jane’s” shoes are fashionable and fun. They’ve been designed by hipsters who took a couple of years to create a collection that’s both practical and trend-setting. Janes come in neutral shades for maximum wardrobe appeal – but the bright, bold insoles (with arch support) will make their own snazzy statement when you slip them off the next time you go through airport security. They can fold up flat into a sleek carrying case if you travel a lot, or want to keep a spare set in your purse so you have something stylish to slide into when you can’t stand to wear your heels another second. They’ll work as well with leggings or jeans as with skirts or capris. I can imagine wearing them shopping, to work, to the movies, or out to dinner with family and friends.

    Shoe designs But you know me. Style without substance just ain’t enough for those of us who care about people and the planet as well as products. What sets I Know Jane apart from other shoes is that they are both eco-friendly and empower the women who make them. How? They’re animal-free: no leather or wool here. The upper is made from 70% recycled cotton and 30% PET that comes from recycled plastic bottles. The outsoles are biodegradable. Water-based glues are used in assembly to reduce use of conventional adhesives that contain more toxic chemicals.

     But there’s more. Most shoes are made in sweatshops by women who could be as young as 15 years old. These women often lack a voice to stop abuse from shop owners, Woman making shoes abuse that may even include torture and death. Through its socially responsible business model, I Know Jane seeks to raise awareness about these women and does not use exploitive labor to assemble their shoes. In fact, I Know Jane’s shoes are made in a small, woman-owned, unionized factory in Brazil   

     I Know Jane is taking pre-orders on their new flats for spring 2013 delivery. You can place your order over at Kickstarter, where I Know Jane’s founders, Jared (pictured right) and Simon, are selling their shoes and raising $35,000 in investment capital to ramp up production. (In case you don’t know about it, Kickstarter is a grassroots online tool that lets   Jared_Presspeople like you and me pre-buy products like Jane’s shoes as a way of investing in companies we believe in and products we want to support.) You can get a gift certificate if you want to order a pair of Janes as a holiday gift.

     Even if you don’t want to order shoes today, I hope you’ll consider giving I Know Jane a start with a small contribution. Say Jared and Simon “…whether it’s $10 or $90, any bit helps!”

      Logo One last point: Big Green Purse advocates shifting spending to greener products and services as a way to protect our health and the health of our world. Investing in new products like I Know Jane shoes is a perfect example of how we can make our money matter.

    November 15, 2012

    Today is America Recycles Day. What Are You Recycling?

       Americarecyclesday (1)  Today is America Recycles Day. Recycling is important, because it saves energy, reduces trash, and helps stop climate change. Here's what I recycle, and how I've changed what I buy so I can buy less in the first place, reuse more and throwaway less. And keep reading for information on how you can recycle and reduce the number of catalogs you receive.

    Can recycle * Food and soda cans - I recycle glass, metal and plastic containers in my community's curbside recycling program. But I also use a Soda Stream water spritzer so I almost never buy bottled drinks anymore. I spritz water myself, then add various flavorings and sweeteners depending on what I want to drink. I'm saving a lot of money doing this, too.

    * Beer and wine bottles - I generally buy glass rather than cans or plastic bottles. If I'm having a party, I buy larger bottles of wine, which use less material per serving than regular-sized bottles.

    * Plastic milk jugs - I can buy milk in glass bottles at my local food coop (though they cost about $2 a gallon more than milk in plastic jugs).

    * Plastic laundry jugs (when I use liquid detergent) - I generally prefer to use powdered detergent in cardboard boxes, which are better to recycle than plastic jugs. I also use concentrated detergent, so I use less per load of laundry, and extend the life of the package.

    * Clothes - I recycle old socks and t-shirts into cleaning rags. I donate most of my used clothes to the local thrift shop or the neighborhood church.

    Recycle_computer * Electronics - I recycle old monitors, computers, fax machines, chargers, phones, and pretty much anything else with a cord on it, taking most of it to Best Buy or Staples, which accept almost any reasonably-sized electronics at no charge. I even recycled my TV!

    * Lightbulbs - I can now recycle my light bulbs at my city's community waste facility. Some stores, like Ikea and Home Depot, also accept them.

    * Paper (newspapers, junk mail, magazines) - All of my paper goods can be recycled curbside, but the trick is to reduce the amount of paper coming into my house in the first place. I read most newspapers and magazines online, and have used Catalog Choice to reduce the number of unwanted magazines and catalogs I receive.

    * Plastic bags - I use reusable cloth bags instead of plastic bags, but if I have excess bags, I recycle them at my grocery store.

    * Toys - I have given my kids' used toys to neighborhood kids or donated them to the local thrift store.

    * Furniture - I have sold unwanted furniture through my neighborhood list-serv, or simply given it away to others who can use it., and are also great ways to unload sofas, chairs, lamps, and dining sets you no longer want or need.

    Refrigerator * Appliances - The easiest appliance to recycle in my neighborhood is actually my refrigerator. Here's how I not only recycled my old refrigerator, but received $200 when I did it.

    * Food - The ultimate way to recycle food is to compost it. I have a barrel composter in my backyard that helps me turn fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, and other non-meat or dairy waste into a rich fertilizer I can put on my garden.


    This year, America Recycles Day has teamed up with Catalog Choice to help consumers reduce the number of unwanted catalogs they receive in the mail. It's free and quick to sign up, and much easier than calling individual companies to try to get your name off their list.

    What do you recycle? Please let us know!



    RecycleTop Ten No-Brainer Things You Should Recycle

    Can You Recycle Your Car?


    November 14, 2012

    Tune in to the Climate Reality Project's "Dirty Weather Report"

    "Dirty" fuels, like coal, oil and natural gas, emit gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) when they are burned. This CO2 lurks in the atmosphere, creating a gaseous blanket that is smothering the earth, causing temperatures to rise, and disrupting the climate. We've all seen the impacts of climate change, whether it's the destruction caused by Super Storm Sandy earlier this month and Hurricane Katrina a few years ago, or the increasing poison ivy in our own backyards. The Climate Reality Project is a non-profit organization started by former Vice President Al Gore to raise global awareness about the threats we face from climate change and to advocate actions we, our elected officials, and leaders around the world can take to get this problem under control.

    Maggie_Fox I asked Maggie Fox, the Executive Director of the Climate Reality Project, an old friend, and a colleague from my days when we both worked for the Sierra Club, to explain why we all need to make climate change a personal and public policy priority

    * Maggie, when you and I met, you were working to protect public lands in the Western U.S. for the Sierra Club. Why did you shift your focus to climate change?

    In my mind, the two are one and the same: protecting our planet from climate change also means protecting some of our most precious natural wonders. I have spent a happy portion of my lifetime in the outdoors: mountaineering, leading expeditions, and exploring some of the most beautiful and wildest places in the world. A few years ago, I flew over Glacier National Park, a place where I have hiked and climbed, and I could not believe the change I had seen. Where once there had been deep, vast glaciers, the glaciers are now largely gone with only a few small snowfields left. And this is both incomprehensible and frightening to me. Despite all our technological advances, we are still deeply connected to the natural world. Climate change affects our natural landscape, the ecosystems around us, and ultimately all of humanity in profound ways. That makes it one of the most pressing crises we face as a species and a planet. It is the challenge that brings us all together to solve.

     * I'm fascinated by the description of this project as the Climate REALITY Project. What is that about? Do you think people don't take climate change seriously, or don't consider it a real threat?

     Unfortunately, while the science has long been settled on the fact that climate change is real, happening now, and caused by human activities, there is still a loud and too powerful denier industry out there. The Dirty Energy industry has spent hundreds of millions to foment denial and doubt about whether climate change is even happening. It's the same playbook the tobacco industry used for years to hide the health impacts of cigarettes. Our goal is to break through the fog and shine a light on the reality of climate change and the available solutions.

     In fact, these are exactly our goals for 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report, a worldwide, online live event on November 14 and 15. We're convening many of the world’s most powerful voices from science, government, business, foreign policy, and culture, in a timely dialogue about how climate change impacts all of us. You can learn more about the event on our website,

     * You and I both, along with many other scientists, environmentalists, and citizens, have been trying to raise awareness about climate change for decades. At this point, what are the biggest obstacles that still prevent the public from embracing solutions to our climate problems?

     Climate change has been a big, slow-moving problem. Its impacts at first seemed diffuse, far away in time and place, and hard to pin down. But we’re seeing greater and greater evidence of our warming planet and changing climate on a day to day basis, as Dirty Weather — extreme heat, floods, storms, droughts, and fires — become more intense, more destructive, and more local. In New York City, where I am this week for 24 Hours of Reality, Superstorm Sandy brought climate change into reality in particularly devastating ways — affecting people's lives, homes, and incomes.

     This new reality requires our communities and elected leaders to step up to take action on climate change. That's why during our event, we are inviting all our viewers to take the Climate Reality pledge:

     "I pledge my name in support of a better tomorrow, one powered by clean energy. I demand action from our leaders to work on solutions to the climate crisis. I pledge to get involved. I pledge to share this global promise. By uniting my voice with a million others, we have the power to change the world."

       ClimateReality * What specific solutions does The Climate Reality Project support for reducing climate disruptions? A carbon tax? More investments in renewable energy? A more vegetarian diet?

     There is no silver bullet for solving the climate crisis. Instead, there are a broad array of solutions, from individual choices we make every day that reduce energy consumption, to broad, sweeping legislative changes that require serious action at the state, national, and international levels. Every action at every level that combats climate change is one we support. During 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report, we will be dedicating a portion of nearly every hour to discussing the solutions people all over the world are implementing right now, from the comprehensive climate legislation passed in Australia and South Korea, to the groundbreaking program to limit carbon pollution in California. These are some of the places that are showing us the way forward.  

     * Do you have a particular message on climate change that will resonate with women, who are the primary readers of my blog?

     Unfortunately, and unfairly, women are particularly hit hard by the impacts of climate change. Not everyone may realize this, but women make up a majority of the world's poor. In developing countries, they are most often the ones responsible for growing and cooking food. And they depend on the farmland, forests, and sources of water that are easily damaged by extreme weather and sea level rise.

     But women are not just impacted by climate change; they are critical agents of change. To quote Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: "We are 50% of the population around the world and we represent more than 50% of the solution."

    Around the world and across the United States, women are standing up for their livelihoods, their communities and their families. We are using our voices to call on the leaders of the world to confront and solve this crisis. And we will be heard."



     Why Climate Change  Matters to Women

    Top Ten Reasons to Take Climate Change Seriously

    As Climate Change Heats Up, Poison Ivy Gets Worse

    How Has Climate Change Affected You? Please Take This Quick Survey

    Woman eyeing globeThe Climate Reality Project kicks off tomorrow with 24 hours of events that will raise awareness all around the world. Emily McKhann of The Motherhood wants to know how climate change has affected you, your family, and the community where you live.

    Could you take just three minutes (really!) to complete this survey, so she can include your experience into solutions she's working on to help reduce climate change?

    Thanks so much. 

    And really - it will only take you three minutes to answer these questions! Here's the link to the survey again. 


    Climate Change Affects Our Health, Our Homes, Our Families and Our Future

    As Climate Change Heats Up, Poison Ivy Gets Worse

    Top Ten Reasons to Take Climate Change Seriously

    Why Climate Change Matters to Women

    November 13, 2012

    Women's Voices for the Earth Champions Healthy, Safer, Non-Toxic Cleansers for Moms and Kids

    Women's Voices for the Earth is among the most effective organizations in the country when it comes to protecting women and children from exposure to toxic chemicals. I sat down with Cassidy Randall, the Outreach and Campaign Manager for WVE (pictured below) to find out more about how Women's Voices makes a difference - and what you can do to help.

    CassWhy does WVE focus so directly on toxic chemicals? Aren't laws like the Toxic Substances Control Act protecting us already?

     Unfortunately, the Toxic Substances Control Act is outdated and fails to protect us from harmful chemicals like BPA, lead, and phthalates. Of the more than 80,000 chemicals out there in consumer products, only 200 of them have ever been adequately tested for safety.

     Most of those chemicals that have been tested have been looked at only for their short-term impacts to adult men in industrial settings. That’s one of the reasons why WVE focuses on toxic chemicals and women’s health: how women are exposed and the health impacts on women–especially girls, women of color, and women of childbearing age–are unique and have been mostly overlooked in the past.

     There are a number of reasons that women are more impacted by toxic chemicals. First, women are much greater users of consumer products that can contain toxic chemicals:

    * Women use an average of nine personal care products each day, exposing themselves to a mixture of over 100 individual chemicals. 25% of women report using an average of 15 products daily.

    Continue reading "Women's Voices for the Earth Champions Healthy, Safer, Non-Toxic Cleansers for Moms and Kids" »

    November 07, 2012

    Tell Tide to Clean Up Its Cleaning Products

    Before or after the election, protecting our kids from toxic chemicals is a top priority. Please read this guest post from Cassidy Randall, Campaign and Outreach Manager for the great group Women's Voices for the Earth, who is leading a campaign to get toxic ingredients out of Tide detergent.'

    OMG_sm "Baby Emma just found out Tide’s toxic secret—and she’s shocked that her favorite detergents are contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical!

     Women’s Voices for the Earth’s recent report, Dirty Secrets: What’s Hiding in Your Cleaning Products, revealed a secret cancer-causing chemical called 1,4-dioxane hiding out in both Tide and Tide Free & Gentle – which, appallingly, is marketed to moms as a healthier choice for their children’s laundry.

     Emma decided that Tide can’t hide their secret anymore. We’re blowing their cover by spreading this image on Facebook revealing that Tide® and Tide Free & Gentle® contain a chemical known to cause cancer.

     We need your help to get this photo to go viral. Help Emma convince Tide to take the cancer out by posting her image on Tide’s Facebook wall and sharing it with your friends.

     Tide® and Tide Free & Gentle® are two of the top-selling detergents in the country, which is why the company doesn’t want people to know they contain 1,4-dioxane, a chemical known to cause cancer.

     You know what makes this even more appalling? (Aside from the fact that 1,4-dioxane doesn’t need to be in there, and that Tide knows how to take it out—they just won’t.) Tide Free & Gentle® is marketed to unsuspecting moms as a “healthier choice” for their children’s laundry! If only those moms knew…

     That’s why, even if you don’t use Tide®, Emma needs your help. There are millions of people out there who have no idea that Tide is toxic, who are unknowingly washing their clothes in a product that contains a carcinogen. You can be the one to open their eyes to this toxic detergent by helping us spread this image.

     What is 1,4-Dioxane?

    1,4-dioxane is classified as a probable carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a known carcinogen under Proposition 65 in California. 1,4-dioxane is sometimes found in products that create suds, like shampoo, liquid soap, and bubble bath. It is an expected contaminant when chemicals like sodium laureth sulfate, PEG compounds, and others are present.

    We know that it’s possible to strip this harmful chemical out of products. Procter & Gamble (makers of Tide) reformulated its Herbal Essences® shampoo in 2010 to strip out 1,4-dioxane. Tide Free & Gentle® contains three times the amount of this cancer-causing chemical!

    Johnson & Johnson, another massive consumer products company, announced in July that is stripping 1,4-dioxane from all of its products worldwide. There’s no reason that Procter & Gamble can’t do the same.

     Tide is providing us with the perfect example of why we need to pass the Safe Chemicals Act, which will actually provide a baseline for what “safety” means. Because we obviously differ from Procter & Gamble (makers of Tide®) on what is safe when it comes to toxic chemicals.

     For example, the Tide website says: Safety: The Most Important Ingredient in Tide®. If that’s true, 1,4-dioxane should never have been in the product in the first place from our perspective.

     But Procter & Gamble continues to claim that levels of 1,4-dioxane are “safe” in its detergents. The bottom line is that there is no safe level of a known cancer-causing chemical.

    We’re done being ignored by Tide. It’s time to turn up the volume, and it’s time to take it viral.

     Help us reveal Tide’s secret and force them to remove this harmful chemical by spreading the word all over social media!

     **Not on Facebook? You can still take action by sending a quick email telling Tide to take the cancer out.


    Tell Tide to Come Clean and Ditch the 1,4-Dioxane Now

     Protect Us and Our Kids from Toxic Chemicals Now

    November 03, 2012

    Vote on Tuesday. Your Life Depends on It.

    Tuesday, November 6, ELECTION DAY, is the most important day of this year, and maybe of this century.

    That may sound extreme - until you consider the utter devastation Super Storm Sandy has caused in New Vote James Cook Jersey, New York, and in many communities along America's East Coast, including in my own backyard. Storms like Sandy, hurricanes like Katrina in the Gulf Coast, the spread of poison ivy and dengue fever in many parts of the U.S., are all part of the same extreme weather conditions we're experiencing nationwide - and will continue to experience unless we make a national commitment to reduce our use of the coal, oil, and other fossil fuels 

    On Tuesday, as I write here, we have a choice. We can either elect a President and legislators who support strategies that will reduce our dependence on coal, oil and other fossil fuels that, when burned, emit the carbon dioxide that is wreaking havoc on our climate. Or we can vote for candidates who refuse to acknowledge that climate change is real and requires immediate action.

    In this first-ever Green Moms election carnival, many women who regularly blog about environmental health and safety have come together to raise awareness about why it's so important that we all vote on Tuesday. In many states, President Barack Obama, who advocates strong policies to stop climate change, is running neck and neck with challenger Mitt Romney, who heretofore has rejected the need for national policies to stop climate disruption. Please read these important posts and share them as widely as you can.


    Continue reading "Vote on Tuesday. Your Life Depends on It." »

    November 02, 2012

    I am Voting for Barack Obama because We are Greener than We were Four Years Ago.

    Are we “greener” than we were four years ago?

    Barack_Obama Yes, we are, and Barack Obama deserves a lot of the credit.

     Despite strident anti-environmental opponents on Capitol Hill, President Obama has managed to use the power of his office – deployed primarily through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Department of the Interior – to make our air and water cleaner, to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, to protect our public lands, and to attack the climate change that causes extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy.

    Is his job done? Not by a long shot. But are we making progress? Definitely. I’m supporting the President for a second term because I think he offers our best hope in this election to continue to make progress in the future. 

    This all became extremely clear to me earlier this week, as Hurricane Sandy was ripping away part of my roof. While I huddled in my basement listening to the terrifying wind and the torrential rain, I found myself getting mad, not just about what it would cost me to repair the damage, but about the reasons behind this catastrophic storm. Meteorologists, scientists, environmentalists, public health professionals, concerned citizens, and yes, President Obama, have all made the link between burning fossil fuels like coal and oil and extreme weather events like Sandy, let alone Hurricane Katrina and many others. And they’ve tried to throw the weight of their various offices behind solutions that would help wean us from fossil fuels.  

     Meanwhile, conservative forces in Congress and many state houses around the country have blocked legislation that would reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and opposed efforts to increase energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Bolstered by their conservative colleagues on Capitol Hill and pressured by Tea Party activists, Republican challenger Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, his running mate, have dismissed climate change, have literally said they “love” coal, and would strive to cripple the EPA if they were elected to office.

     Maybe to some people, this is just “talk.” But as someone who has worked in Washington, D.C. to promote environmental protection during the Carter years, the Reagan years, the Bush 1 years, the Clinton years, the Bush 2 years, and now the last four years of the Obama Administration, I can say, and say unequivocally, that environmental policy consistently fares worse under Republican administrations than under Democratic ones. As Sandy has shown, the planet very much faces a climate change tipping point. Obama is on one side, Romney on the other. For me, siding with Obama is a no brainer.

    Has Obama accomplished nearly enough? No.

     Do I wish more change had happened? Of course.

     But we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    Continue reading "I am Voting for Barack Obama because We are Greener than We were Four Years Ago." »

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