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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.
  • July 30, 2010

    Test Drive the New Chevy Volt With Me

    The Chevy Volt is electrifying the car market - especially in the wake of the oil disasters in the Gulf of Mexico and now, Lake Michigan. Every one of us needs to stop using oil so the Volt, which can drive 40 miles on a battery powered by electricity rather than an engine fueled by oil, has a lot of appeal. General Motors, which is taking orders on the car for delivery this fall, claims the vehicle is "designed to move 75% of America's daily commuters without a single drop of gas. That means for someone who drives less than 40 miles per day (which is most Americans), Chevy Volt will use zero gasoline and produce zero emissions." After 40 miles, a smaller, 4-cylinder internal combusion engine uses premium-grade gasoline to produce more electricity, extending the car's range an additional 300 miles.  

    Australia 065 I'd already been on Fox News talking about the Volt; now I jumped at the chance to do a test drive. I regularly get 45 mpg on my 2002 Prius, which I love. And last summer I test drove the Ford Fusion Hybrid for a week and loved it (even though its mileage, while better than a regular sedan, is still lower than the Prius.) But a car I can drive that gets 0 mpg - and still covers 40 miles? That sounded pretty good.

    I drove over to nearby University of Maryland, where test drives were being conducted. I waited around for a few minutes until it was my turn to get behind the wheel. I slid into the driver's seat, and turned the car on. Like the Prius, the car is very quiet - if you don't know it's coming, you won't hear it, that's for sure.

    Continue reading "Test Drive the New Chevy Volt With Me" »

    February 01, 2010

    Tax Credits Can Help You Save Money and Shift Green

    energy efficiency tax credits Buying energy-efficient home energy systems, appliances, and cars can save you loads of money by reducing your energy consumption.  But the upfront cost of investing in efficient technologies can make ditching your old energy guzzlers for new energy sippers seem prohibitive. Federal and state tax credits help defray your purchase costs (image source). Here's how: 


    Federal Energy Efficiency Tax Credits

    Home Renovations: You can earn up to 30% in federal tax credits on the first $1,500 you spend on improving the energy efficiency of your home.  These credits apply only to existing home renovations and not to new construction. Remember: a tax credit is better than a deduction because it actually reduces the amount of money you pay tax on at the end of the year.

    Qualifying products include energy-efficient:

    • windows and doors
    • insulation
    • roofs
    • central air conditioners, furnaces, and boilers
    • water heaters
    • biomass stoves (like those that burn wood, wood pellets, dried corn, etc.)

    This credit expires at the end of 2010, so act sometime in the next eleven months to take advantage of this benefit.

    Alternative Energy Substitutions: If you've been thinking of transitioning to a renewable home energy system, you have until the end of 2016 to use tax credits to help defray the expense.  These credits are also being offered at 30% of cost, but with no upper limit (in other words, if you spend $20,000 putting solar panels on your roof, the credits could generate as much as a $6,000 tax credit). Qualifying systems include:

    • geothermal heat pumps
    • solar panels
    • solar water heaters
    • small wind energy systems

    The EnergyStar website offers more details on what systems qualify and which ones don't.


    Federal Hybrid Vehicle Tax Credits

    When I bought my hybrid Prius in 2002 for around $20,000, I received $4,000 in tax credits: $2,000 from the IRS, and $2,000 from my state government. Today, the rules for hybrid vechicle credits are a little more complicated.  Hybrids purchased after December 31, 2005 are eligible for a credit up to $3,400, but that number declines once the car manufacturer sells over 60,000 units of a particular hybrid model.  GM and Chrysler are still offering full credits; Ford is offering reduced credits until the end of March 2010.  The credits are subject to change, so check back frequently.


    State Credits

    Many states have created their own financial incentives for going green.  Check out DSIRE.org for a comprehensive list of what your state can offer you, including tax credits, rebate programs, and much more.

    January 22, 2010

    Eco-Friendly Tips Will Reduce Your Car’s Environmental Impact

    fuel-efficiency, save gas High-tech electric and hybrid vehicles are all the rage right now. But you don't need to shell out big bucks for a new "eco" car if you give your own driving habits an environmental tune-up: 

    Learn how to drive as efficiently as possible.  Take note of these gas-saving tips and driving techniques and you'll visit the pump less often. Plus, you'll save $20-$50 a month on gasoline (photo credit).

    • Carpool and use mass transit as much as possible. When you share the ride, you reduce your costs - and your impact on the air your breathe and the water you drink.
    • Walk, bicycle. Well, these are more "non" driving tips, aren't they? But they do help you guzzle less gas; and manufacturing a bike or a pair of walking shoes uses far less resources than producing a car!

    January 21, 2010

    Green Vehicles Net Top Honors at Auto Show

    Fsn10_models_detailflip_apppkg Two gas-saving vehicles were recently awarded the top honors at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

    The Ford Fusion Hybrid was named Car of the Year while Truck of the Year went to the Ford Transit Connect

    The Fusion Hybrid, pictured above, is notable both for its fuel efficiency and for details like its environmentally-friendly interior fabric.  An efficiency rating of 41 miles per gallon places it among America's most fuel-efficient mid-size sedans: the average US passenger car mpg rating hovers in the low 20s.  Read about my impressions when I test-drove the Fusion.   

    2010-ford-transit-connect The Transit Connect, a commercial cargo van, achieves a fuel-efficiency rating of 22 city/25 highway miles per gallon, placing it on par with most large cars.  While this may not seem like a lot, it's significant when compared to similarly-sized vehicles on the market: the least-efficient cargo vans top out around 13 city/25 highway miles per gallon.

     

    Here's the low-down on more green vehicles being featured at the show.

    How Green are the Cars At the 2010 Auto Show?

    George_clooney The 2010 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) has been bragging about how green its vehicles are this year, so we decided to review the lot for ourselves (and you, of course!). Here’s what we found (you'll have to read the whole story to get why George Clooney snagged our best photo slot).

    NAIAS is showcasing what it calls the most recent advances in automotive technology at Detroit’s Cobo Center through January 24th.  Although NAIAS is featuring plenty of gas guzzlers, it is also highlighting dozens of electric, hybrid, and fuel-efficient vehicles.  On the ground floor, a 37,000 sq. foot exhibit called the “Electric Avenue” has been devoted solely to electrics.

    Here are the highlights:

    Chevy Volt

    Chevy-volt-concept-07

    Price: TBA estimated $30,000-$40,000

    Production Begins: 2010

    Although the Volt appeared as a concept car previously, Chevrolet’s much-hyped hybrid electric is on display in anticipation of its launch later this year.  Drivers can travel up to 40 miles per charge on the Volt’s electric battery before the car switches to gasoline, at which point the car can go up to an additional 600 miles without a refill.  Personally, I believe the Volt is a game-changer.  Why? Click here to see what I told Fox News

    Continue reading "How Green are the Cars At the 2010 Auto Show?" »

    January 19, 2010

    Can You Recycle Your Car?

    The North American International Auto Show is shining the spotlight on new cars. But what should you do with an old car you can't really re-sell? Before you contact the junk yard, consider this:

    Junked car Manufacturing a car creates pollution you probably never thought about. Extracting and transporting the raw materials that go into components like seats and the steering wheel generates twenty-nine tons of solid waste and 1,207 million cubic yards of air emissions. In fact, while the majority of pollution is generated by driving, a third is incurred in car manufacture. Disposing of tires, lead-acid batteries, air conditioners, upholstery, and other materials adds to the trash pile, reports Katie Alvord in Divorce Your Car: Ending the Love Affair with the Automobile. (Photo credit)

    Manufacturers are taking notice by increasing the amount of recycled materials they weave into new-car production:

    * Ford Motor Company integrated recycled material into the cloth seating of the 2008 Escape. If it expanded the program, InterfaceFABRIC, the materials supplier, estimates that Ford could save at least sixty thousand gallons of water, 1.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents, and the equivalent of more than 7 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually.

    * Mazda and Toyota recycled used bumpers to make components for new ones.

    * Cadillac's SRX uses 50 percent recycled tire rubber for its radiator side baffles, a process that in 2004 kept two thousand scrap tires out of landfills.

    * Both Honda and Toyota recycle the battery packs in their hybrids to capture everything from the precious metals to the plastics and the wiring. Edmunds.com reports that Toyota even puts a phone number (for recycling information) on each battery and pays dealers two hundred dollars for each battery pack.

    * Ten percent of the plastic in a new Mini Cooper consists of recycled material.

    According to Ward's Motor Vehicle Facts and Figures, at least 84 percent of an average car's material content gets recycled; automotive recycling ranks as the sixteenth-largest industry in the United States. Recycling those vehicles provides enough steel to make nearly thirteen million cars, while also providing jobs for 46,000 people.

    You can keep the cycle going:

    Make sure to recycle your own motor oil. If you change the oil yourself, take it and the oil filter to a recycling center. If you have it changed, double-check that the service center recycles all used oil.

    Have your tires changed at a shop that recycles them. Recycled rubber may become asphalt, playground material, athletic track, furniture, or apparel (like purses and jewelry).

    Donate your car to a local non-profit. In my suburban Washington, D.C. community, organizations like  Good Will and the local public radio affiliate will pick up your car for free and repair it or recycle the parts, giving you a tax benefit when you do. Habitat for Humanity does the same.

    Close the loop. Remember that the best way to ensure that recycling works is to buy goods made from recycled materials. The soles of my Simple Shoes are made from recycled rubber tires. You can also find a variety of tools and garden gear made from recycled rubber, plastic and steel.   

    August 14, 2009

    Is the Chevy Volt Good for the Environment?

     Chevy-volt-a01 General Motors has started manufacturing an electric vehicle called the Chevy Volt. It claims the car will drive up to 40 miles on its lithium-ion battery, which can be recharged at home or work using a regular electrical outlet. According to GM, more than 75 percent of Americans live within 20 miles of where they work. If that sounds like your commute, you could drive the Volt to your job and back on 100% electricity without generating any of the emissions that cause air pollution or climate change, at a cost of about 80 cents in electricity a day.

    If the battery does run down, the 1.0-liter, three-cylinder gas engine acts as a generator to charge the battery and provides enough power for up to an additional 600 miles. Says Chevy, the Volt will get 50 mpg with the generator running in what’s called "extended range" mode. If you drive 60 miles, with the last 20 miles in this mode, you'll enjoy a 150 mpg equivalent for the trip.

    Does the car's high fuel efficiency rating mean it's "good" for the environment? That begs the question, is ANY car good for the environment?

    After all, manufacturing a car is still a polluting, resource-intensive process. Fom an environmental perspective, driving a car is still inferior to using mass transit, biking, walking, and telecommuting,  Americans need better transportation options, not necessarily better cars.

    However, I think it's fair to say that the Volt is "better" for the environment, in several ways:

    It shows that any company - even one like General Motors, maker of one of the world's most polluting, least efficient vehicles, the Hummer - can make great strides in creating new products to protect the planet and human health.

    It demonstrates to consumers that their demands for more environmentally-responsible products create a powerful incentive to businesses to clean up their act.

    It fuels competition. General Motors may be the first to market with its electric car, but it won't be the last. It has set a standard other manufacturers will now be in a race to emulate.  Remember the history of hybrids in the U.S.? In 1998, there were virtually no hybrids being sold. In 1999 Honda introduced its first hybrid model, followed by the Tyotoa Prius hybrid in 2000. The wild popularity of these cars, especially the Prius, inspired a frenzy of re-design among all car companies. These days, every automobile manufacturer has at least one hybrid in its showroom - and over a million hybrids are being sold every year.

    Should we all get out of our cars more?

    Continue reading "Is the Chevy Volt Good for the Environment?" »

    July 01, 2009

    Environmentally Friendly Car Wash - Not in Your Driveway!

    Are you one of those people who think you'll save energy and water if you wash your car at home? 

    Sorry. Just the opposite is true.  When you wash your car in your driveway or on the street, the wash and rinse water – loaded with dirt, exhaust fumes, oil and detergent – runs off down the storm drain and eventually into rivers, lakes and streams.  All that dirt can contaminate the water and threaten the fish, birds and other wildlife that live there. Plus, washing a car at home usually uses far more water than at a car wash, since so many people just leave the hose running while they wash the car.

    The alternative?

    A commercial car wash.

    * By law (in both the U.S. and Canada), commercial car washes must drain their wastewater into sewer systems so it can be treated before being discharged back into waterways.

    * An added advantage? Commercial car washes use computer-controlled systems and high-pressure nozzles and pumps to minimize water use.

    * Many facilities also recycle and re-use the rinse water. As a result, automatic car washes may use 50% less water than someone who washes her car at home: 45 gallons per car at the car wash compared to between 80 and 140 gallons at home.

    If you must wash your car at home:

    * Do so on lawn or gravel to minimize run-off into the street.

    * Use a biodegradable liquid soap that contains no phosphates or synthetic fragrances. like Dr. Bronner’s , or brands like Greenworks or Bright Green that are easily available in most grocery and big box stores. 

    * Turn off the hose while you’re soaping the car up; rinse quickly.

    * Skip throwaway paper towels in favor of sponges to scrub and cotton towels, used t-shirts or microfibers towels to dry.

    My little trick: I often wipe down my car when it’s raining. The rain loosens the dirt and grime; I wipe off the vehicle with towels  I can launder. When the rain stops, the car is clean. It didn’t cost me anything, and it didn’t pollute, either.

    Waterless Car Care? Yup. Try Eco Touch and
    Freedom Waterless Car Wash, both of which are phosphate-free and biodegradable.

    Want to green clean the inside of your car? Here's how.

    Want more green living tips? Get your own copy of Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World.

    Healthy Green Car Care - Top Ten "Insider" Tips

    When it comes to buying a “green” car, most consumers focus on fuel efficiency. The more miles per gallon, the more eco-friendly the car.


    But what about keeping the car clean?

    From washing off the grime that accumulates outside to cleaning up the dashboard inside, how you maintain your vehicle matters to both you and the environment. Why not choose the greenest options? In most cases, they’ll save you money, too.

    Here’s how:

    1) Window Cleaner: There’s enough road rage to go around these days. Don’t make matters worse by using commercial cleaning products whose chemicals leave you cranky or give you a headache. Keep things  cheap, simple and safe. Make your own window wash.

    Recipe:

    Mix 1/2 cup white vinegar with two cups water in a spray bottle.

     Add a few drops of pulp-free lemon juice for fragrance. 

    Apply directly on a lint-free cotton cloth so the cleaner doesn’t spray all over the car.

    Once you wipe the windows clean, buff them with a micro-fiber cloth for extra shine. 

     
    Air Freshener: My personal car pet peeve is those creepy little fragrance bobbles that hang from rear view mirrors and completely stink up the car with some sickeningly sweet odor. They give me an immediate headache that lasts long after the car ride is over. And no wonder: most commercial fragrances contain toxic chemicals like benzene and diethyl phthalate that can become particularly insidious if you’re inhaling them in a space as small and closed as a car interior. 

    The alternative? If your car stinks, find out why. Usually, it's from something like food scraps (from fast food or snacks) that have started to rot under the car seat or in the grooves of a floor mats.Solution?  

    2) Take trash with you. Whenever you leave the car, take a quick look to ferret out the smelly stuff.

    3) Open the windows for a few minutes while you’re driving to let fresh air circulate through the car.

    4) Use hot soapy water to wipe down interior doors, handles and vinyl seats.

    5) Rinse off floor mats (which will force you to lift them up and out of the car, possibly discovering more stink bombs you’ll need to toss).

    6) At a car wash, don't let them spray the interior with air freshener when they finish vacuuming. If they’ve done their job properly, the car should smell just fine without it.

    Seats and cushions: Keeping a car clean shouldn’t require the use of industrial strength chemicals.

    7) Use a whisk broom or hand-held vacuum to remove dirt and dust from floor mats and seat cushions.

    8) Keep a cloth napkin within reach so you can wipe up spills when they occur.

    9) Dust surfaces with a damp cloth once a week to keep grime from building up.

    10) For spots on the steering wheel or console, sprinkle a little baking soda on a wet towel and gently rub. Wipe with a clean damp cloth.

    NEXT:  Getting a Green Car Wash

    Excerpted from Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World

    Want more Green Living Top Ten Tips? Check these out.

    June 21, 2009

    Ford Fusion Hybrid: Good Choice for Family Looking for High MPG

    Ford's 2010 Fusion Hybrid delivers the goods:

    * It meets my minimum standard for high fuel efficiency for a family car by getting 37 mpg on the highway, 41 in the city, and 39 mpg overall, goals achieved thanks to the car's gasoline engine boosted by an electric battery.

    * It's roomy enough to seat three adults comfortably in the back, for total seating capacity of 5 overall.

    * The in-car GPS system can direct you to the nearest, cheapest gas station or the most direct route, saving you money on gas and reducing the amount of gas you use.

    What's the downside - apart from driving a fossil-fuel burning car at all? It's expensive, around $28,000 base price and as much as $32,000 for a "fully loaded" car that includes skylights, leather seats, a Sirius radio system, and GPS.

    I test drove the vehicle for three days, morning, noon and night, and in the rain. Here's what I had to say:

    Intrigued? Here's a good explanation of how the Fusion Hybrid technology works.

    USA Today compares the Ford Fusion hybrid to its Camry and Nissan Altima counterparts here.

    For a cheaper hybrid option, you might want to compare the Fusion to the new Prius and the Honda Civic hybrids.

    Want a hybrid minivan? Sign this petition urging Toyota to bring its Sienna hybrid minivan to the U.S.

    Don't forget to check fuel efficiency ratings for all vehicles at fuelefficiency.gov.

    These eco-friendly suggestions will help you save money using less gas driving the vehicle you currently have.

    EcoCentric Mom
    Everbuying led light
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