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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.
  • « March 2014 | Main

    April 22, 2014

    Make Your Spring Cleaning Green With Plant-Based Cleansers

    Don’t you think it’s ironic that many cleaning products actually contain ingredients that, while maybe not dirty, can still make you sick? No wonder millions of people have decided to make their spring cleaning ‘green’ by choosing plant-based cleansers free of synthetic ingredients and harsh chemicals. This post, sponsored by Source Supply Company, highlights the value of using plant-based cleansers for counters, walls, tile, mirrors and more.

    What’s Wrong With Synthetic Chemicals?

    A better question is, what’s right? And the answer?  Not much!!

    Some of the synthetic chemicals you’re likely to find in conventional cleaning products include:

    ·       Phthalates – linked to birth defects in children exposed in utero; can cause headaches, nausea and other discomfort when inhaled via the artificial fragrances they’re usually found in

    ·       Phosphorous – overloads fresh water systems; when washed down a drain, it ends up in streams, rivers, and lakes, where it can rob the waters of precious oxygen and make it difficult for fish and other aquatic wildlife to survive

    ·       Bleach – releases powerful fumes that can cause headaches, nausea and general feelings of illness; when mixed with ammonia, can create a poisonous gas that can burn your lungs if you inhale it.

    What’s a Healthier Alternative?

    Responsible cleaning companies are manufacturing products that rely on plant-derived cleaning agents that use natural sources and contain essential oils, corn-based alcohol, earth-based minerals and filtered water. Though lemon oil is probably the most common essential oil used, many other citrus oils, plus essence of peppermint, spearmint and lavender, among others, may be included as well. Though there’s always a chance you might be allergic to one of these ingredients, they’re far less likely to pose serious threats that the more conventional cleansers you might currently be buying.

    If you’ve never tried a green cleaner before, in honor of Earth Day our sponsor is offering at a 10% discount green cleaners that can be used on bathroom and kitchen surfaces, including chrome, stainless steel, and glass; dishwashing detergents, laundry detergents, and more.

    You can find the full list of products available for purchase here.   Use promo code Earth10 for your discount!

    NOTE: Sponsors allow us to provide expert content at no cost to you. Our editorial opinion remains our own. Thanks!

    About Source Supply Company 

    SourceSupply Company is a janitorial supply company with over 20 years of experience in the industry, specializing in janitorial, facility, and maintenance products. With more than 14,000 products and access to more than 300 manufacturers, Source Supply Company makes it easy for you to find the products that best meet your need while benefitting from our competitive pricing and superior service.  For more information, visit




    April 21, 2014

    Money-Saving Green Tips for Earth Day and Every Day

    Are you one of those people who say, “I’d love to go green, but it costs too much money!”?

    On Earth Day, all of us here are sharing our stories so you know that just the opposite is true! My own experience is that going green actually saves me several thousand dollars a year while increasing my quality of life. That’s because I’ve figured out how to reduce what I buy, reuse what I have, and save energy and water, two items (especially energy) that could otherwise cost me hundreds of dollars a year.

    Happily, I’m not alone. Here’s how a lot of people I know and respect are also saving money by being green:

    Betsy at Eco-Novice offers very concrete ways to save money on products that otherwise increase your exposure to toxic chemicals. Her helpful post includes 6 switches she’s made that you can, too, including a switch from disposable plastic baggies to reusable food bags in food-safe fabrics in a variety of sizes, from snack to gallon. 

    Kristina of The Greening of Westford recommends using local libraries to borrow books and movies for kids and adults alike rather than go out and buy them brand new. Also, she says, if you do want to buy, drop in to your library’s book sales, where they generally sell used books at greatly reduced prices. Kristina notes that she brings the process full circle by donating the books she buys back to the library at some point so they can be re-sold again. 

    Brittney Gordon-Williams, Communications Manager for EPA’s ENERGY STAR products, ticks off some specific ways consumers can save money by saving energy. For example, did you know that ENERGY STAR certified LED light bulbs use 70-90% less energy and last 25x longer than your old incandescent bulbs?  Or that enabling your computer and monitor’s power management fatures can save you up to $90 a year?  Brittney invites you to check out My ENERGY STAR for more tips and energy-saving suggestions. 

    Beth from My Plastic Free Life has found many ways to save money by going plastic free. Of course, she saves a lot of money by using a refillable water bottle rather than buying bottled water, and she’s reused all kinds of glass jars for food storage, rather than by new plastic ones. She skips new plastic shampoo bottles and deodorant applicators by mixing up those products herself from baking soda and other ingredients, and then storing them in the same containers over and over.  And she’s learned how to fix many things when they break rather than replace them – the ultimate money-saving strategy. 

    Anna at Green-Talk offers lots of useful ways to go green in the kitchen and save money, too. For example, “don’t forget to install an inexpensive aerator for your faucet to reduce your water usage as well as your bill,” she suggstions. Plus, “Don’t stop there. Plants need water? Water them with leftover cooking water or half drunken glasses of water.” Good idea! 

    At Groovy Green Livin’, Lori has a great list of “15 Ways to Be Green Without Spending a Dime.” One that has saved me a bundle over the years is her #14: “use Freecycle, Craigs List or other sites that have free stuff.” It’s all about reusing and keeping good stuff out of landfills,” she says. Amen to that! 

    Paige of Spit That Out the Book recommends using coupons from green companies to offset their costs. She provides a long list of green couponers, green coupon aggregators and flash sale sites, which was totally new to me. 

    Leigh Ann at Green4U offers this unique suggestion to save money and go green, too: Invite friends over for dinner, rather than go to a bar or the movies. Make it potluck so everyone participates, and rotate houses so the same person isn’t hosting all the time. Great idea!

     Sommer at Green & Clean Mom reminds people that “Less Meat Means Less Money.” Generally, she reminds us, “veggies, rice and beans cost much less than meat products. In this economy, as fuel prices and food prices rise, we can expect meat to become an expensive habit. Reduce your meat consumption and save a little.”

    Karen at EcoKaren offers a terrific list of "11 Things You Should Never Buy to Be Safe and Save Money." For example, skip the pre-cut drumsticks and chicken breasts - a whole chicken is half the price. Chicken stock in a box? Not when you can make it yourself much more cheaply from the bones of that chicken you just cut up. As for canned tomatoes, many cans are lined with BPA, a toxic chemical linked to birth defects. Maybe it's time to learn how to can or freeze tomatoes yourself?

    Jen of Jen and Joey Go Green doesn't shy away from the fact that sometimes, "eating healthy is going to cost you more than pre-packaged food. That is just the way the kale crumbles!" However, "pre-planning will help you spend less on healthy food than you would buying processed foods that are full of chemicals." That sounds like a good trade to me!

    Trina at O’Boy! Organic also focused on food, offering real food money saving tips that help her on a weekly basis.  She says she’s able to keep her food bill down to $150 a week by planning her menus, using foods she already has, having at least one leftover night in the week, buying meat in bulk, and buying staple items online. Her links to the various shopping sites she uses are very helpful, too. 

    For a few more ways to save money buying food, here’s my list of Top Ten Organic Food Price Busters.

    As Stacy of Move The Market says, "If money is energy, I want to invest mine in creating the world I want to live in...As I've happily discovered, what's best for my body and the planet is often best for my budget, too." That is so true!

    How do you save money going green? Please share you suggestions!

     Want More Money-Saving Tips? 

    Top Ten Ways to Beat the High Price of Gas

    Top Ten Ways to Save Energy and Money at Home





    April 15, 2014

    Put a Little Yuzen in Your Life

    Treat yourself or someone you love to a little zen - not through meditation, though you may certainly do that on your own, but with the help of a beautiful Yuzen box and the thoughtful, organic and plant-based balms, fragrances, moisturizers and creams it contains.

    Yuzen boxWhat's In a Yuzen Box?

    There are actually three types of boxes to choose from. I recently received two of the boxes at no charge to review, and was delighted with them both.

    The seasonal box arrives four times a year - in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.

    My spring box included Acure Organics Facial Treatment, Balanced Guru skin balm, Sranrom's Urban Wellness Calm Down Hand Cream, Lotuswei Infinite Love Mist, an Essio Aromatherapy shower Kit, and Sumbody Bath Fizzers, plus a Chocolove Cherries and Almonds Chocolate Bar. 

    I also received a gift box containing Jurlique Rose Hand Cream, Kerstin Florian foot balm, a travel candle from Level Naturals, a PINO facial mask, some Sanitas Moisture Mist, nail lacquers from Sparitual, Tara Spa Therapy Stress Relief Roll-On Remedy,  and some Sun cups Dark Chocolate Mint Cups. The gift box can be sent at any time of the year.

    Plus, there's a box specifically designed for men, which includes items like PHYT's Men's Cleanser to help reduce ingrown hairs, Honey Stinger Energy Chews, Level Naturals Active charcoal Soap, and Eco Armour Shaving Foam.

    You can get a complete description of the contents of each box here. All of the products are full-size, rather than small samples, so you will get the benefit of each item included.


    Whose Idea Was This?

    Ted NingYuzen was founded by my friend Ted Ning and his wife Jen. I first met Ted through his role as Executive Director of LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability), where he works closely with companies that are focused on providing products and services that promote health, well-being and the environment. Ted and Jen closely curate the items they include to make sure they contain no ingredients harmful either to people or the planet.

    I thought the name "yuzen" was a combination of "you" and "zen," which made sense, given that the products in their boxes seem the perfect complement for a lifestyle focused on living in harmony with nature and the world around us.

    But that's not exactly right. Ted and Jen picked the name "yuzen" because it is a type of exquisite Japanese paper, also known as chiyogami, that's made by Japanese artisans who layer patterns and color to make gorgeous designs. I have to admit, when I opened my first Yuzen box, it was so lovely, I hated to disturb it (see the gift box, below). I'm combining the paper strips from two boxes together to make a lovely bookmark.


    YUzen gift new_boxWhat Does a Yuzen Box Cost?

    Each box costs $33. You can buy the men's box or gift box individually, or subscribe to the four seasons' worth of boxes at once (though you will be charged only when the box is shipped). You can cancel your subscription at any time.

    Yuzen would make a special gift, but it's also ideal if you want a seasonal infusion of zen body products. If you give it a try, please come back and share your experience.


    Ecocentric Mom Box Review

    Ecocentric mom (1) My Ecocentric Mom Box is always full of an interesting and surprising array of product options I never knew existed. Here's what I discovered in the March/April box:

    For your body:

    Bach Original Flower Remedies - Bach has distilled 38 flower and plant essences into concentrated clear liquids, each of which is reputed to help deal with some kind of stress. My box contained a bottle of the essence of elm. It smells good enough to use as a perfume, though the recommended application is on the tongue.

    Treefort Naturals Comfrey Salve - My hands always seem to be on the dry side. This salve soothes and softens and leaves no greasy residue.

    MarieNatie All-Natural Lip Gloss - It's free of parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances and dyes, petro-chemicals and phthalates. I also like how moist it is on the lips. The company also makes eyeliner, eye shadow, blush, lip balm and mascara.

    Oatmeal Grapefruit Face Wash Powder by Homespun Northwest - This powder consists of freshly ground organic oats, Kaolin clay and grapefruit essential oil. Put a little in your hand, add a few drops of water until it makes a paste, and scrub. Easy peasy, and safe as can be.

    House Blend Organics Coconut Body Wash - I already use coconut butter as a body lotion because it is so moisturizing. This body wash both cleans and moisturizes, too.

    Essio $10 Gift Card - Essio is an aromatherapy diffuser for the shower and uses 100% USDA-certified organic essential oils. Wouldn't a lovely essential oil be so much better to smell than chlorine when you take a shower?

    To help you relax:

    Organic Caffeine-Free Roman Provence Rooibos Tea - This tea is full of rooibos, elderberries, blueberries, rosehip pieces, lavender blossoms, and even rose petals. It is just as soothing to smell as to sip.

    Powernap 2-CD Set - The lovely ambient music on these CDs will help revive you in the middle of the day with a powernap that works with your schedule. Choose from three longer naps to two five-inute programs. Each nap ends with chimes and a gentle voice to away you from a refreshing sleep.

    2 Degrees Food Bar - Unlike many power bars or energy bars, this snack actually tasted like real food. It includes heritage grains like quinoa, cia and millet. Plus, they're gluten-free, vegan, GO-free and kosher. An added bonus: For every 2 Degrees bar sold, the company donates a meal to a hungry child in the US and abroad.


    Bluapple for Produce Preservation - I've been wanting to try one of these for a while, so I'm glad to have a chance. It is a small plastic ball that resembles an apple. Inside, you add small pellets that absorb the ethylene gas that fruits and vegetables emit as they age. By absorbing the gas rather than leaving it in the fridge, the Bluapple aims to preserve food freshness and extend the life of the produce. I've just put it in my veggie drawer. I'll let you know how it works.

    Sport Suds Laundry Detergent - This detergent is specially formulated to remove stubborn stains and odors. I'm not sure exactly what is in it, but happily it doesn't contain phosphates, dyes, or synthetic fragrances. It could be very effective on t-shirts, socks, shorts and sweatpants that take a beating when you or your kids are playing sports, out biking or hiking, or otherwise working up a sweat.

    Acai Seed Bead Hair Barrett - All of the jewelry made by Terri Jean's adornments, including this barrett, are vegan, with a particular emphasis on organic nuts and seed beads.

    Get Your Own EcoCentric Mom Box - It's easy to sign up to get your own box. You'll find all the details here.

    Note: Big Green Purse earns a small commission on any boxes ordered through our site. Those fees help make it possible for us to provide you with expert content at no charge. Our editorial opinion of the products remains our own. Thanks.


    April 14, 2014

    The Nest Thermostat Can Help Build Your Nest Egg by Saving You Energy & Money

    We've long been advocates of programmable thermostats to save you energy and money. But have you heard about the Nest Thermostat? It's called the "learning thermostat" because it actually learns from your own behavior in your home to help you spend less and use less energy. I asked my colleague, general contractor David Glenn, to explain.

    NestWhat is the Nest Thermostat?

    Thermostats are devices that turn the heat up or down, or the air conditioning up or down, depending on the indoor temperature you want for your home. Usually, you can just turn your thermostat on and adjust the temperature to whatever feels comfortable. What makes the Nest thermostat different is that it is fully capable of programming itself. Here's how:

    As you adjust the temperature in your home throughout the day, Nest takes notice. In fact, it keeps a record of the times that you prefer more heat and the times you prefer less, eventually building a schedule for you. Within a few days, you won’t have to interact with Nest in order for it to change the temperature to your personal preferences throughout the day. So it becomes a very automatic way for your home to be heated or cooled to your exact preferences without you having to continually set and re-set the thermostat yourself.

    Once the schedule is set, you can still make quick, one-time alterations without disrupting the overall program. However, should you continue to make regular changes, the thermostat will adapt and create a new schedule to fit your new needs.

    Nest’s Auto-Away Setting

    Nest is just as useful when you're not home as when you are, maybe better, because you won’t have to worry about paying for unnecessary climate control while you’re away. The “Auto-Away” feature can do the following:

    ·       Uses sensors and algorithms to sense if you’re away from home

    ·       Reduces heat or AC use when it senses occupants aren’t home

    ·       Tracks and memorizes any times you may consistently be away from home

    How the Nest Thermostat Saves Money and Energy

    The end result of all of this innovation isn’t just increased thermostat autonomy. Nest designed its learning thermostat so that homeowners could waste less energy when they heat and cool their homes.

    The end result is that users can save as much as 20% on their monthly heating and cooling bills according to Nest. And, as they say, what’s good for the goose (your wallet) is good for the gander (the environment). Considering that 44% of the energy in the United States comes from coal-burning power plants - the single largest air polluters in the country - anything we can do to  reduce energy consumption can only help keep the planet healthy.

    The Nest Leaf

    Nest takes it one step further by including a feature called “Nest Leaf.” This feature does the following:

    ·       * Acts as a guide to help you save energy

    ·      *  When you decrease energy use, a small icon appears to let you know you’re saving more energy

    ·       * Encourages you to make any changes that might save extra energy

            Installing the Nest    

           There are videos available on YouTube that make installing the Nest yourself look easy. If you're pretty handy, go ahead and do it yourself. I'm not that comfortable when it comes to wiring, so I'd probably get the help of one of my DIY friends or neighbors who is. Otherwise, you can buy the Nest at most hardware stores, big box stores, and online.

           Here's more information on the Nest.

    NOTE: While the learning thermostat has certainly been making waves, Nest’s other attempt at innovative home automation recently hit a snag. The Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector was pulled from the market due a design flaw that could possibly allow users to accidentally deactivate the alarm function, which in turn could lead to property damage, personal injury, or even death. Still, despite this apparent hiccup, Nest remains committed towards revolutionizing environmentally friendly home automation.


      David Glenn Profile David Glenn taps his 30 years of experience owning his own home-building business to review promising new technologies that offer consumers the opportunity to save energy and money and live greener lives. Connect with him on Twitter @davidglenn97.

    Follow the LEED: Breaking Down the Pros and Cons of a LEED Certified Home

    LEED 2You've probably heard about something called a LEED Certified Home, but do you actually know what it is? LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a program sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council. It encourages construction of buildings and, increasingly homes, that use energy as efficiently as possible and meet other environmental standards as well.

    Why should you as a homeowner care? I asked my colleague and general contractor David Glenn to explain in this guest post.

    "As a general contractor, I’ve spent years in the construction of commercial and residential buildings. You name it, and I’ve built it (or at least something like it), and I can tell you this: most structures—from the materials, to the overall design, to the location itself—just aren’t all that “green.”

    Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. And with the help of LEED, increasingly, it's not.

    What is LEED?

    LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It's actually a rating system created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) that offers a standard against which green design can be measured. It does this by assigning a rating to any building reviewed.

    The LEED rating is based upon factors such as:

    * the sustainability of the construction site

    * the renewability of construction materials

    * water efficiency

    * waste production, and

    * indoor environmental concerns, like air quality and the availability of natural light.

    LEED 1 When all of the pertinent data have been compiled and considered, LEED assigns the building in question points in the different categories. Buildings receive a rating based on their overall score.  Those that rate spectacularly well in every category and earn a total of 80 points or more receive a platinum certificate. 60–79 points earn a gold certificate, 50–59 a silver certificate, and 40–49 total points a basic certification. Anything below 40 gets no certification at all.

    Benefits of LEED

    Most LEED homes come with built-in home automation technology that allows homeowners to save energy, water, and money by learning a homeowner’s habits and adjusting to those. Companies like Nest and others have led the way with groundbreaking home automation technology like programmable "learning" thermostats that can save us consumers money on our energy bills.

    Builders and designers who adhere to sustainable practices and receive a high level of LEED certification benefit, too. Not only do they improve their own public image by demonstrating their commitment to the environment, but they're also able to reap certain monetary rewards. Especially for those building large buildings or office or residential complexes, LEED certification can increase property values and decrease energy, water, and waste costs. Additionally, certain government programs offer rewards for buildings that are LEED certified. Overall, LEED is creating a climate in which eco-friendly design and green materials are gaining an advantage. 

    Additional Value if You Own a Leed Certified Home

    Given enough time, LEED should be terrific both for the world you live in and your pocketbook. In addition to saving energy, LEED certification of privately owned homes has been known to increase residential property values. Of course, the effect that it has on the value will vary from area to area, but even in locations where the demand for green housing isn’t particularly high, potential buyers will still be impressed by reduced utility costs associated with LEED construction practices.

    Finding and Financing a LEED Certified Home

    If you're in the market, how can you find a LEED certified home? Your real estate agent or certain online sites such as might help you locate potential properties. Still, because they're relatively new, existing LEED certified homes may be a bit hard to come by.

    The good news is that building your own LEED certified home isn’t nearly as expensive as you might assume. For an additional 1 to 7% of construction costs, you’ll be able to create a platinum certified house from the ground up. Of course, you also have the option of renovating your existing home to make it more LEED compliant. This may be a bit more difficult for certain homeowners, given that some factors may not be alterable (location comes to mind), but there are nonetheless many ways you can upgrade your home if you're willing to undertake a renovation. 

    As a general contractor I’ve seen all sorts of buildings go up, but it’s only been during the last few years that people have really begun to take notice of the environmental and economic benefits these structures offer. The LEED certification program is a good way to judge just how “green” a building is. If you’re willing to invest a bit of extra time and money in the short term, you can get that same reassurance for your own property, and reap the benefits for many years to come."

    David Glenn Profile David Glenn taps his 30 years of experience owning his own home-building business to review promising new technologies that offer consumers the opportunity to save energy and money and live greener lives. Connect with him on Twitter @davidglenn97.
    Get more information on LEED from the U.S. Green Building Council.






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