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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.
  • April 17, 2013

    Hate Throwaway Plastic or Paper Cups? KLEAN KANTEEN's Pint Cup Is the Perfect Reusable Alternative

    Klean kanteen 4 pack Throwaway drinking cups made from plastic, paper and polystyrene be gone! KLEAN KANTEEN's new reusable, stainless steel pint cup is now available to replace the trashy disposables you're used to seeing at convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, and keggers (college students, I'm talkin' to you!).

    The durable and easy-to-clean cup is made of food-grade stainless steel, making it perfect for the juice you serve at your kids' party or the beer you serve at your own. It won't break, so you don't need to worry about throwing it into a backpack, cooler, or beach bag. And it's dishwasher safe; whenever you're finished with it, just pop it into the dishwasher and it will come out safe and sparkly.

    KLEAN KANTEEN has been a pioneer in the world of reusable drink containers ever since it launched its reusable stainless steel water bottles more than ten years ago. KK recently became certified as a B Corp, meaning that the entire company operates to meet rigorous standards for social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

    Klean Kanteen PINT-KID_A_300 KLEAN KANTEEN is also a wonderful partner when it comes to promoting important causes. I recently  partnered with them to provide their cups to the attendees at the first ever US - China Greener Consumption Forum, which I organized at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.

    Thanks, KLEAN KANTEEN, for doing so much to help the rest of us kick our throwaway habits!

    December 21, 2010

    How to Keep Drinking Water Safe for You and Your Family (Bottled Water is Not the Answer)

    Water2 Being able to get clean, safe drinking water straight from the tap is a right we're all entitled to. Yet today's news stories report, once again, that the water we drink every day may contain dangerous chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, and other illnesses.

    This time, the chemical in question is a compound called hexavalent chromium, or chromium 6. If it sounds familiar, it may be because you saw the movie "Erin Brockovich," starring Julia Roberts. In the film, based on a true story, Roberts as Brockovich campaigns to protect residents of a small California town whose drinking water has been contaminated by hexavalent chromium. In real life, Brockovich, a legal aide, helps the town residents win a $333 million lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric, the company responsible for the contamination.

    But that's not the end of the tale. It turns out, hexavalent chromium persists in drinking water in dozens of American cities, including Bethesda, San Jose, Ann Arbor, Pittsburgh, Albuquerque, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City (note: If your city is not on the list, it might only mean that the water in your city wasn't analyzed). The toxic chemical is released when plastics, steel, and paper pulp are manufactured; it's also discharged by leather-tanning and metal-plating factories. It can pollute water when soil and rock erode as well. It exists in our drinking water for two reasons: because companies can release it into the environment without much legal or financial consequence; and because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not currently impose regulations on municipalities to eliminate chromium 6 in our water -- or at least, to reduce it to much safer levels.

    You can get more information from the answers to this list of frequently asked questions; you can also read the full report on hexavalent chromium here. But don't just read the report: take action to protect the water you and your family drink! Here's how:

    1) Don't buy bottled water. Much bottled water comes straight from the same source as our drinking water. It looks healthier because it sports a fancy label touting how "pure" it is - but unless the label also says the water has been tested and proven to be free of hexavalent chromium and other contaminants, you'll just be wasting your money. Instead, use your purse power to invest in a reverse osmosis filter (see below).

    Continue reading "How to Keep Drinking Water Safe for You and Your Family (Bottled Water is Not the Answer)" »

    October 18, 2010

    10 No-Brainer Ways to Use Water Wisely. Plus, a Bonus...

    As I pointed out previously, we're drinking the same water Cleopatra drank.

    Water faucet That's another way of saying, the world just doesn't make more water. What's here is what's always been here. And it's what's always going to be here, even though there are more and more people using the limited water we have. Which is why we have to figure out how to make every drop of H2O count.  In honor of Blog Action Day's focus on water, here are 10 No Brainer Ways to Use Water Wisely.

    1) Give up bottled water. How many reasons do you need? Toxic plastic is used to contain bottled water. Bottled water generates mountains of trash. Making bottled water and moving it around the globe wastes enormous amounts of energy. Bottled water may not be as safe to drink as tap water.  Here's the real kicker: bottling water wastes water. Two gallons of water are wasted for every gallon bottled. Stupid, no?

    2) Give up the idea that you have to drink water all the time. Where did that notion come from, that somehow, your outfit isn't complete without a bottle of water by your side? I've gotten along just fine drinking from drinking fountains and -- believe it or not -- going for a couple of hours at a time without drinking water. Try it. You won't die.

    Continue reading "10 No-Brainer Ways to Use Water Wisely. Plus, a Bonus..." »

    October 15, 2010

    We're Drinking the Same Water as Cleopatra. Is It as Clean?

    Water2 Did you get a drink or throw in a load of laundry before starting to read this blog, written in honor of Blog Action Day? You probably could have, given the easy access most of us have to clean water.

    One person of every three on the planet today isn't nearly so fortunate, according to the International Water Management Institute, given their lack of reliable access to fresh water. Even here in the U.S., the federal Government Accountability Office reported in 2003 that "water managers in thirty-six states anticipate water shortages locally, regionally, or statewide within the next ten years."

    The rest of the world looks equally thirsty. By 2025, worries the Water Management Institute, all of Africa and the Middle East, and almost all of South and Central America and Asia, will either be running out of water or unable to afford its cost.

    Dirty Water Kills Kids

    Continue reading "We're Drinking the Same Water as Cleopatra. Is It as Clean?" »

    September 20, 2010

    Bamboo Clothing: Green, or Greenwashed?

    If you’re looking for more eco-friendly clothing, should you choose bamboo?

    Bamboo Annie Bamboo has been touted for the last several years as being one of the most environmentally-responsible fabrics on the market. A hardy grass, it grows like a proverbial weed, sometimes sprouting 4 feet in a single day – and that’s without the assistance of pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers let alone irrigation. Bamboo sounds like the kind of “green” fabric you’d love to love – were it not for the process needed to transform it from a plant into something like a pair of socks.

    In August 2009, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission issued "Have You Been Bamboozled by Bamboo Fabrics?" a report that questioned the fiber’s green bonafides. While not challenging how the grass is grown, the FTC warned that transforming the plant’s tenacious stalks into soft fabrics requires the use of toxic chemicals that pollute the air and water,” reducing the cloth’s natural appeal. Many consumers have been wondering ever since if bamboo is green – or being greenwashed.

    What concerns the FTC is the manufacturing process. Because bamboo is so hardy, it is also hard to refine into fiber – unless a manufacturer uses toxic chemicals like sodium hydroxide, which can cause chemical burns or blindness, to break down bamboo’s cells into something pliable called viscose.

    Some manufacturers claim that sodium hydroxide poses no health hazard if used and disposed of properly.  I’m more reassured by companies that use fabric from bamboo  which has not only been certified as organically grown, but where the chemicals used in processing bamboo into viscose are captured in a “closed loop” system that is supposed to prevent them from being released into the environment. The resulting viscose is Oeko Tex 100 certified, which means that no harmful substances lurk in the finished textile, where they might rub off on your skin. Conventionally produced and polluting "bamboo" might be labelled simply bamboo, or rayon from bamboo.  You can get a more comprehensive explanation on the entire process, and the controvery surrounding the selling of bamboo, here.

    So...Cotton, or Bamboo?

    Continue reading "Bamboo Clothing: Green, or Greenwashed?" »

    July 12, 2009

    Can Pepsi Learn From 7-11?

    The Pepsi company has an impressive sustainability effort underway. It's working on improving the packaging of its snack brands like FritoLay so the bags can biodegrade quickly once they're thrown away. Pepsi is reducing the carbon footprint of its production factories and offices. The beverage giant is encouraging employees to adopt personal sustainability goals. I spoke at the FritoLay headquarters for Earth Day, and was impressed at the many steps being taken to save energy and reduce waste. (Full disclosure: They gave out a couple of hundred copies of my book to employees.) Pepsi is also working with entrepreneurs like Terracycle to capture single-serving snack bags from school lunchrooms and recycle them into a variety of other consumer products. Matt Smith, of Frito Lay's Social and Environmental Sustainability department told me that, with guidance from uber-enviro Al Gore, the company wants to be the most sustainable enterprise in the world.

    Ecofina_600-590x393 How, then, does bottled water fit into the equation? Pepsi continues to push bottled water as a greener, cleaner alternative to much cheaper tap water. At my Earth Day presentation, I was amazed to note that virtually everyone who attended brought a bottle of Pepsi's water with them. Yes, it was in the new "Eco-Fina" bottle, which they say is made using 50% less plastic than their conventional AquaFina bottle. Still, it made me wonder: why are thousands of people in the company drinking bottled water every day when they can get healthy water from the tap?

    It's not like bottled water has been a public relations boon for Pepsi. To the contrary, Eco-Fina bottle or no, Pepsi has taken a lot of heat from green mom bloggers, social justice advocates, and consumer groups who feel that bottled water is an environmental nightmare. Pepsi has made some strides in reducing the environmental impact of the bottle, but still: they're selling water, a local resource that is becoming more and more scarce in communities grappling with drought, burgeoning populations and unchecked development.

    Is Pepsi likely to abandon selling a product that generates millions and millions of dollars in revenue each year? Not unless there's a compelling alternative -- or competition. So how about this:

    Get Pepsi to follow the example of cleaning companies like Arm & Hammer, which sells one empty bottle, plus cartridges of cleaning concentrate the consumer can mix with water at home. Couldn't Pepsi sell a reuseable bottle that could be refilled at convenience stores and restaurants as well as at home? If Pepsi is mostly interested in selling water, it can market an in-store dispenser so people can fill up their reusable water bottles rather than purchase a new one each time they're thirsty.

    This idea is not only doable - it's already being done, sort of. Consider 7-11. Every day, millions of people make their own Slurpees at 7-11 with nary a complaint. I haven't met a person yet who is not capable of putting a cup underneath the Slurpee faucet and filling up. Why not figure out a way for people to bottle their own Eco-Fina water in the same way? True, this strategy wouldn't put a dent in the proportion of bottles being sold out of vending machines. But it would severely reduce the number of plastic water bottles being sold at 7-11, Stop and Shop, and thousands of other convenience stores.  Restaurants, meanwhile, could serve water in Eco-Fina-labeled pitchers. Since most of the water Pepsi puts in its bottles is tap water, there's not much difference if it's served in a branded bottle or a branded carafe.

    I'd recommend that Pepsi not drag its heels too long waiting to make a change like this. Otherwise, some entrepreneurs at 7-11 just may take it into their heads to market their own branded refillable bottles, and then sell refills from the tap for the same amount of money they earn for stocking each bottle of Eco-Fina on their shelves (which usually amounts to about half the retail price of the product).

    There's nothing like a little competition to get someone to rethink their approach. 7-11, I hope you're paying attention. Pepsi, you too.

    NOTE: This post is part of this month's Green Moms Carnival selection on food. Water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration...though not very well. 

    July 08, 2009

    Bottled Water Not as Safe as Tap Water, says GAO

    Water sold in plastic bottles is not as safe as tap water because bottled water is allowed to be contaminated by chemicals that cause "reproductive difficulties, liver problems, and cancer."

    Marketing hype and inadequate labeling entice consumers to buy bottled water even though it is far more expensive and usually not as healthy as tap water.

    Bottled water also takes its toll on the environment. At least 3/4 of the millions of plastic water bottles produced each year are thrown away rather than recycled. Plus, producing bottled water actually uses more water and is far more energy intensive than providing the same amount of water to the public via the tap.

    These are among the most damning conclusions reached by the U.S. General Accounting Office upon completion of a thorough comparison of the health, safety and environmental benefits of tap vs. bottled water.

    The GAO attributes the dangers in bottled water to the fact that it is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whose safety requirements are far less stringent than those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates tap water. The GAO recommended that the FDA adopt EPA's requirements within the year.

    Consumers should not have to wait a year for plastic water bottles to be safe. Take action now:

    * Stop buying bottled water, or any beverage sold in a plastic bottle. Remember the power of the purse: the way you spend your money sends a signal loud and clear to polluters that they will lose market share unless they provide you with safe products and services. 

    * Shift to healthier, safer reusable bottles. Aluminum and stainless steel bottles are better, as are bottles with filters that are free of the chemicals most throwaway water bottles contain.

    * Contact manufacturers and tell them to pull bottled water off the market. Just because a company makes a bottle that uses less plastic doesn't mean that bottle is a good choice.

    Throwaway plastic bottles need to go. 

    EcoCentric Mom
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