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Green Purse Alerts!

Why My Purse is Green

Because I believe…

  • the fastest, most effective way to stop polluters is by pressuring them in the marketplace
  • women can be the world’s most powerful economic and environmental force if we intentionally shift our spending to the best green products and services
  • women have the power right now to solve many of our most serious environmental problems by using our green purses to make a difference
  • women must act – intentionally, collectively, and with the full force of our purse power behind us – if we hope to leave our children and grandchildren a better world.
  • January 17, 2014

    Consumer Choice in Electricity: An Easy Way to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

    I live in Maryland, where it is possible to source my electricity from clean, renewable energy instead of from coal-fired power plants. That's because in my state (and several others), the utility industry has been deregulated so that competitors can also provide power to meet consumer needs. One of my neighbors, Maurice Belanger, has been buying renewable energy for quite a while. He graciously offered to share his expertise with Big Green Purse readers to help people around the country opt for cleaner energy, too.

    Here's his advice. I hope it helps you choose cleaner, greener energy where you live.

    Windmill  The start of the New Year is time for resolutions. If you live in a state with consumer choice in electricity, you can resolve to reduce your carbon footprint and keep that pledge with just a little bit of time spent researching your options and filling out a form or two on the Web—no need to invest in solar panels or doing anything more complicated than a few clicks of the mouse. 


    For several years now, I have purchased electricity from a supplier that offers me 100 percent wind-generated electricity. It was surprisingly easy to switch. Yet, talking to my environmentally-conscious friends, I find that many of them are not even aware that they have a choice.

    I encourage you to look in to it. Here are a few tips on getting started.

    Continue reading "Consumer Choice in Electricity: An Easy Way to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint" »

    September 19, 2013

    What's so bad about fracking? Here's what you need to know.

    Don't Frack NY rally If you've been wondering what fracking is and whether it's good or bad, you're not alone. It's a complicated, high tech process whose advocates say it produces abundant clean energy. As an environmentalist as well as a consumer, though, I've been concerned about the impacts fracking is having on drinking water, clean air, and farmland. To try to chip away at my confusion, I electronically interviewed expert Maya van Rossum (pictured left). Maya is the Delaware Riverkeeper, the spokesperson for and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN), a nonprofit environmental organization working to preserve, protect and restore the Delaware River Watershed, an area that extends into four states: New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Here's what she had to say.


    Maya, in a nutshell, can you explain what fracking is and why it worries you?


    Fracking is the process of discharging massive volumes of water under high pressure into a drilled well in order to fracture the shale found under ground. The fracking process requires 5 to 9 million gallons of water for each well frack. Often this water comes from aquifers, streams and rivers. To that fresh water has been added toxic chemicals. Water that stays underground after the fracking has occurred is highly toxic, but the water that comes back to the surface is even more toxic.


    The toxified fluid trapped underground can make its way to our freshwater aquifers, threatening drinking water supplies. Toxified water that gets back to the surface of the earth is often stored in open pits or transported to other sites by truck or piping. In all of these activities, failures happen, contaminating streams, farmlands, our air and our communities.

    Continue reading "What's so bad about fracking? Here's what you need to know." »

    June 12, 2013

    Rebuild Sustainably After Natural Disasters Strike

    If there's any silver lining in the dark weather clouds hanging over most of the country right now, it's in the opportunity they're creating to transform our cities and towns into the energy-saving, water-saving, safe and healthy communities they should be.

    Greensburg car   Greensburg, Kansas provides a perfect example of how a town sheared down to the very ground it was built on has become a model of sustainability, not just for the U.S., but for the entire world.

    At 9:45 pm on May 4, 2007, an EF5 tornado whipped through rural Greensburg, essentially destroying the entire town. (Photo at right from the website; see more amazing photos on the blog of professional photographer Galen Buller.)

    Within days, the community decided to rebuild their homes and businesses sustainably. Yes, they wanted to get their lives back on track. But they also wanted to create a "model green town" for the future. They formed a non-profit organization called Greensburg GreenTown, with an ambitious and inspiring vision (taken directly from their website,


    Greensburg GreenTown exists to:

    • Make it easier for residents to ascribe to and adhere to green practices, and to make green living appealing to people.
    • Engage as many residents as possible in the enthusiastic pursuit of making Greensburg a model green community.
    • Establish incentives in order to maximize the participation of businesses and residents in rebuilding Greensburg as a model green community.
    • Bring in resources and support from around the country to make the dreams of Greensburg as a model green community a reality.
    • Make it easier for builders, building supply companies, and local businesses to do business as green as possible.
    • Work to spur economic development with a green emphasis.
    • Serve the residents in an unbiased consumer advocate capacity, striving to get them the best value for their money as they rebuild their homes and businesses.

    Continue reading "Rebuild Sustainably After Natural Disasters Strike" »

    June 03, 2013

    Insulate Now to Reduce High Air Conditioning Costs

    Most people don't think about insulating their homes until the fall. With winter looming, consumers know that higher heating costs will hit them right where it hurts - in their pocket books.

    Electricity bill 2012But guess what? As climate change increases, it is becoming more expensive to cool your home in the summer than heat it in the winter. Here's a copy of my 2012 electricity bill, which shows how much electricity I use month to month and compares 2012 overall to 2011. (I have an electric heat pump for both heating and cooling). I use almost twice as much energy to cool my home in July and August than to heat it in November and December!

    All of which is to say that, as we face another blistering summer, now is a smart time to think about insulating your home to keep hot air out and cooled air in.

    Mark Group LogoThe Mark Group, a company based in the United Kingdom but with offices in Philadelphia, Delaware, and New Jersey, is sponsoring this post to let you know what energy-saving options you can take advantage of right now. They include:

    Continue reading "Insulate Now to Reduce High Air Conditioning Costs" »

    May 24, 2013

    What Makes EPIC So "Epic"? Great Animation, Green Message

    Tiny, champion Leaf Men. Evil, creepy "Boggans." A talking snail and a comical slug. A handsome rogue who can ride a sparrow faster than anyone around. A teenage girl who tries to run away but learns to ride a hummingbird instead. And a big magical forest that will die unless the Leaf Men, the runaway and the slimy things prevail.

    KIDS AT EPIC THUMBS UP PLUS animation so vibrant and lively you'll feel like you're defending the forest, too -  rather than watching it unfold in 3-D.

    That's EPIC in a nutshell, a fantastic eco-blockbuster opening Memorial Day weekend. Thanks to Team ENERGY STAR, I was invited to attend the movie's star-studded "green carpet" premiere in New York City - along with several of the celebrities who voiced the movie's characters. Team ENERGY STAR hopes EPIC raises awareness about the importance of protecting the planet and stopping climate change, especially among kids.

    Continue reading "What Makes EPIC So "Epic"? Great Animation, Green Message" »

    May 16, 2013

    Saving Energy is Easy & Fun With the Help of Team ENERGY STAR

    Epic Team ENERGY STAR  What does it take to get kids to save energy? Even if it’s just a simple reminder to turn off the lights, that message can get old after awhile – which is why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is inviting kids and families to join Team ENERGY STAR. Team ENERGY STAR makes saving energy fun for kids while giving parents free resources they can use to explain why energy efficiency needs to be a priority at home. The program is particularly unique because it empowers kids to help protect the climate and our air through easy-to-implement, money-saving actions.

     It also provides them an outlet for sharing their passion for preserving our environment. This year ENERGY STAR has partnered with the parents group PTO Today and LG Electronics to share Team ENERGY STAR with kids across the country. PTO Today has even brought in the heroic characters from a new summer animated eco feature film, EPIC, which is sure to excite kids of all ages. The movie, voiced by Amanda Seyfried, Beyonce Knowles, Colin Ferrel, and other celebrities you'll recognize, features a young girl who finds herself transported to a beautiful natural world, a world she needs to protect. 

    Continue reading "Saving Energy is Easy & Fun With the Help of Team ENERGY STAR" »

    March 26, 2013

    US-China Greener Consumption Forum Lays Groundwork for Future Projects Together

    How can the world's two consumer "superpowers"- the U.S. and China - work together to reduce the impact that consumption has on us and our world?

    Group  That was the topic a capacity crowd addressed on March 22 at the U.S. - China Greener Consumption Forum. The event, held at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. and co-sponsored by Big Green Purse and the International Fund for China's Environment, pulled together scientists, consumer advocates, public policy advocates, and green entrepreneurs to share ideas about strategies to inspire manufacturers to create greener goods -- and get consumers to buy them.


    The Forum focused primarily on women because women spend 85 cents of every dollar in the  marketplace – and we’re not just buying cheese doodles and diapers. As I say here on CCTV, the national television network of China, we buy more clothes.  More food.  More cosmetics and personal care products than men. We also buy more electronics, more home furnishings, almost as many tools, just as many cars. Women are spending billions of dollars, day in and day out, year in and year out.

    But even with all that clout, we won’t be able to use this power of the purse effectively until we achieve true gender equity worldwide, points that both Ban Li, Deputy Counsel of the Shaanxi Women's Federation, and Liane Shalatek, Associate Director of the Heinrich Boll Foundation North America, made very powerfully.

     Christine Robertson of Earth Day Network facilitated a provocative panel on the impacts consumption has on our health and the health of the planet. Sarah Vogel of Environmental Defense Fund (pictured  8589602452_4cbfc26167 right) was peppered with questions after her presentation on the way the toxic chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) affects the reproductive systems of men and women alike.

    Ping He of the International Fund for China's Environment, the co-sponsor with Big Green Purse of the Forum, moderated the session on barriers to sustainable consumption and solutions that help surmount them. Meaningful eco-labels and standards can make a big difference, pointed out Arthur Weissman, President and CEO of Green Seal, especially when those standards are set by an indendent third party (like Green Seal is) whose primary interest is not in selling products, but in helping manufacturers become more sustainable over time.

    LISA JACKSON, Former EPA Administrator

    Lisa J podium Lisa Jackson's luncheon keynote address was the highlight of the day for many people. As a mom, scientist, and long-time public servant, Lisa has a unique appreciation for the impact consumption has on us as individuals and on society as a whole. She spoke movingly about being the first African-American to serve as head of the EPA and how important it is to bring women as well as people of color and low-income populations into the conversations we're having about pollution and climate change.

    Lisa noted that her favorite law is the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act because it empowers people to protect themselves wherever they live. She is also proud of technology EPA has shared with the city of Shanghai to help monitor air pollution there.

    Lisa agreed that the way we use both the purse and the pocketbook can inspire manufacturers to reduce pollution and energy consumption.

    Continue reading "US-China Greener Consumption Forum Lays Groundwork for Future Projects Together" »

    February 18, 2013

    Climate Rally Shows Climate Change Concerns Parents, Kids, Students - and Polar Bears!

    Yesterday's rally to stop climate change brought together a wonderfully diverse crowd of American citizens. Take a look:

    Af Americans









    College students









    Mom baby









    Continue reading "Climate Rally Shows Climate Change Concerns Parents, Kids, Students - and Polar Bears!" »

    We Can Stop Climate Change. Yes, We Can!

    Climate change may be happening, but we can stop it!

    Crowd shots That was the message loud and clear at the climate rally held yesterday in Washington, D.C., delivered by the 40,000 or more people who congregated around the Washington Monument before marching to the White House in the largest climate-focused rally in history.

    Though the weather was absolutely frigid, the crowd could not have been more fired up. Parents and kids, students and seniors, people of all races and religions came together to demonstrate their love for the environment, their concern for their families and their communities, and their commitment to a cleaner, greener world.

    The biggest focus was on President Obama, who made climate change a top priority in his recent State of the Union Address and who must decide whether or not to greenlight the controversial Keystone Pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada, across the U.S. to the Gulf of Mexico. Former White House green jobs advisor Van Jones told the audience from the state, "This will define your legacy, Mr. President." Indeed, it will.

    Polar bears best I marched with the Alaska Wilderness League, a terrific organization that's been leading the fight to keep oil drilling out of America's Arctic Wildlife Refuge for more than 15 years. AWL staffers dressed like polar bears carried signs reading Save the Arctic as we chanted, "What do we want? Polar Bears! What do they need? Ice!"

    Moms and dads brought their children to the rally to demonstrate the impact that climate change is having on our families. In many parts of the world, poison ivy has gotten much worse because hotter than normal temperatures have created such ideal growing conditions for this noxious plant. Moms Clean Air Force was there, too, reminding us that the same fossil fuels that cause climate change are polluting our air, a big reason why so many more kids are suffering from asthma these days.

    Family sign Speaking of kids, they were everywhere at the rally: on their dad's shoulders, getting their pictures taken with the polar bears, clapping their hands in time to the music. It was great to see so many college students, too. In fact, they're the ones who led the "Yes, We Can!" chant when one of the stage speakers asked, "Can we stop climate change?"

    Thousands of people traveled from far and wide to lend their voices to the rally crowd. When I boarded my local subway to get down to the event, the car was brimming with folks from as far away as Texas and Oklahoma, two states that are directly in the path of the Keystone Pipeline. At the Washington Monument, a woman from my home state of Michigan sported a big cut-out poster to remind us that an oil leak into an important river in the northern part of that state still had not been cleaned up. Meanwhile, rallies were happening in many other cities in the U.S., too. Mary Clare Hunt was among the 2,000 or more who turned up in Los Angeles to say "not" to climate change. You can read her report here.

    Continue reading "We Can Stop Climate Change. Yes, We Can!" »

    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

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