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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.
  • November 03, 2010

    Politics Shmolitics. You Can Still Make a Difference Based on How You Live and What You Buy.

    Happy sad 3 My apologies to any of you who are elated with the results of yesterday's elections. And my condolences to any of you who think that the world has come to an end.

    I'm in neither camp.

    Though I still canvas, and phone bank, and vote for candidates I support, I've come to terms with the limitations our political system imposes on any candidate who is "lucky" enough to be elected. The reality is, we live in a polarized world run by people who are convinced that creating more polarization is more important than creating civil society or protecting the planet. Yes, it would be grand if our political leaders could collaborate and compromise, not in the name of power, but in the name of the people. But is that going to happen? As we have been reminded, ironically, ever since the last major "candidate for change" was elected two years ago -- and repudiated yesterday -- not any time soon.

    Rosie Nevertheless, we are not helpless. If anything, yesterday's elections have reinforced how important it is for you and me to continue to make meaningful changes that offer direct and measurable benefits. I'm talking about turning off our own lights, or insulating our own homes, or buying products that save energy or contain no toxic chemicals, actions which may seem insignificant, but are not.

    Can we make a difference, even if our elected officials don't?

    Continue reading "Politics Shmolitics. You Can Still Make a Difference Based on How You Live and What You Buy." »

    August 30, 2008

    How "Green" is Sarah Palin? Not very (unless you count her experience).

    Before women get too excited about the nomination of Sarah Palin to the GOP Presidential ticket, they should pause long enough to take a look at her record. Political pundits have focused on her cred as a social conservative. But where does she stand on the environment? This summary compiled by tells all:

    * She favors oil drilling on the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the calving ground for thousands of migratory caribou. The Refuge is considered sacred wilderness by environmentalists, biologists and millions of Americans. Even McCain opposes drilling here. Her response? Bring on the derricks!

    * She opposed a statewide ballot initiative to prohibit or restrict new mining operations that could affect salmon in the state's streams and rivers.

    * She sued the Interior Department over its decision to try to protect the polar bear by listing it as a threatned species. 

    * She opposes a windfall profits tax on oil companies, even though most of their profits come from drilling on public land that you and I and every American citizen own.

    * She faces an immediate conflict of interest in developing national energy policy: her husband is an oil production operator for BP on Alaska's North Slope.

    * She believes intelligent design should be taught along with evolution in science classes.

    Says Carl Pope of the Sierra Club, "Senator McCain has lost any chance of having a balanced or moderate ticket with this choice and has instead opted for the same, business-as-usual reliance on the outdated oil companies that has been the hallmark of the Bush-Cheney administration. On the third anniversary of the hurricane that knocked loose oil rigs and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf Coast that is bracing for another hit, McCain is sending a terribly indifferent message by selecting a candidate who only repeats Big Oil's talking points."

    The only thing "green" about Palin is her level of national and foreign policy experience.

    May 31, 2008

    Hot, Flat and Crowded: Tom Friedman Heats Up

    Hot_flat_and_crowded_full Global warming is overheating the planet. Globalization is heating up politics and radicalizing local economies. And overpopulation is putting pressure on the planet, economies and politics, making for a dangerous equation whose solutions aren't entirely clear. In his new book, Hot Flat and Crowded: Why we need a green revolution and how it can revitalize America, to be published this fall by Farrar Strous Giroux, Thomas Friedman argues that a true green revolution - one where "companies change or die" - must take place if we're going to get ourselves and the earth out of this mess.

    Speaking at BookExpoAmerica, Friedman provided an early bird view of the book and his belief that "Since 911, America has lost its way."  "Bad habits" like increasing our dependence on petroleum and ignoring the geopolitical implications of our efforts to dominate oil-rich countries have "weakened our ability" to solve the world's biggest problems: global climate change, the rise of petrodictatorships, and the increasing vulnerability of disadvantaged populations - not just around the world but in the U.S. as well.

    Friedman seems to believe that the U.S. is the only country capable of leading the world to a more peaceful and environmentally secure place. However, to do so requires us - citizens, consumers, politicians, CEOs - to accept that the time has come for far-reaching solutions involving massive energy supply breakthroughs. Rather than continue to focus on the Code Red alerts being issued by the Department of Homeland Security, Friedman argues we need to alert Americans -- and the world -- that we're living in a "Code Green" situation that demands our immediate and bold attention.

    In other words, Friedman is calling for a truly green revolution, not the "green party" he says we're currently having. "It's a revolution when someone gets hurt," he says. "Companies need to change or die or the revolution will never make a difference."

    In fact, changing the way we live and work is at the heart of Friedman's message. "If we want things to stay as they are -- if we want to maintain our leadership in the world and sustaina a habitable planet -- things will have to change...and fast!"

    March 13, 2008

    New EPA Clean Air Standards Show Why Consumer Action is so Critical

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - the federal guardian of clean air - has issued new standards to control smog that scientists and environmental organizations are criticizing for not going far enough. EPA's action offers a stark reminder that, in the absence of meaningful regulations, consumer action is critical if we're going to reduce air pollution now and in the future.

    According to the New York Times, 345 counties currently violate the new standards EPA has set to reduce smog and clean up the air. Bringing those counties into compliance would prevent 900 to 1,100 Asthma premature deaths a year and result in 5,600 fewer hospital or emergency room visits. Even with these benefits, groups like the Association of Clean Air Agencies worry that the standards are still too low.

    The timetable for meeting the smog standards could be decades, reports the Times, depending on the severity of the problem in each city. Industries like the electric utility industry are expected to resist  reducing the pollution from power plants to meet EPA's clean air directives. In tones that harken back to the debate around global warming, the Edison Electric Institute, a utility trade association, is challenging the scientifically-accepted cause-and-effect relationship between smog and human health -- even though millions of people already suffer increased asthma, heart attacks, and other ailments from polluted air.

    While consumers should contact their member of Congress to support stricter standards, they shouldn't wait for more government action to take steps to protect their air. Smog results directly from burning fossil fuels. Consumers can help improve the air in their cities and towns by reducing the amount of energy they use. If every household installed just one compact fluorescent light bulb, for example, it would have the equivalent benefit of taking 800,000 cars off the road.

    Consumers can also use programmable thermostatsand energy efficient appliances, take mass transit or carpool, and buy electricity generated by windpower or biomass.

    February 25, 2008

    None of the Candidates is Talking About Environmental Health

    Who would do a better job protecting the environment as president? Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or John McCain?

    Thumb_green Hillary_smile_2 A glance at the records the three senators have racked up over the last three years makes it pretty clear that either of the Democrats would be a greater advocate for the planet than the Republican. The League of Conservation Voters releases a voting scorecard that rates all members of the House and Senate in every Congressional session. In the109th Congress (2005-2006), Obama_2 Barack Obama voted to protect the environment 96% of the time; Hillary Clinton did so 89% of the time. So far in the 110th Congress, Obama has supported the environment 67% of the time, while Hillary has a 73% favorable rating (both of the candidates missed several votes, presumably while they were out campaigning, which counts against them in the tally).

    Thumb_brownbmp Mccain Meanwhile, Senator John McCain racked up a mere 41% positive approval rating in the 109th Congress; so far, in the 110th, he's got zero. That's right: in 2007 on no issue did he vote to protect the environment, according to the LCV scorecard. So the choice between the candidates -- or at least between the parties the candidates represent -- is very clear.

    But what happens when you look specifically at the issues? Among all candidates, the entire debate right now essentially revolves around their positions on energy policy, and specifically on global warming. (You can read a quick summary of each candidate's positions over at New American Village, along with links to each of the candidates' web sites.)

    While our energy future is clearly a priority, it's startling that none of the candidates' environmental proposals consider citizens' exposure to toxic substances, water pollution, or air pollution - the issues that connect human health and the environment. Where do any of the candidates stand on reauthorizing Superfund legislation to clean up toxic waste sites? Closing loopholes in the Clean Air and Clean Water Act to decrease threats to our health as well as that of wildlife? Quelling the rise in asthma rates, especially among kids? Initiating research to understand what appear to be the increasing links between environmental health and breast cancer, autism, and learning disabilities?

    These issues aren't on any candidate's agenda - but they should be, especially given the importance of the women's vote in the 2008 election. Women and children are disproportionately impacted by environmental degradation (e.g., women suffer more heart attacks than men in cities with poor air quality). The candidate who breaks away from the party line on energy to address the links between pollution and human health could muster a real advantage as the race tightens and voters look for ways to distinguish among their choices.

    August 14, 2007

    Leo DiCaprio's "11th Hour" is a "Must See"

    The11thhourposterweb_2 Leonardo DiCaprio's "The 11th Hour", opening this week in Los Angeles and New York, does not paint a pretty picture. The feature length documentary doesn’t want you to be able to hide from the environmental crises caused by human actions, so it splashes them across the screen with dramatic footage you won’t easily forget. Hurricanes. Melting polar ice caps. Pipes discharging sewage and toxic waste into waterways with sickening speed. Thousands of environmental refugees packed into decrepit shanty towns that look like garbage dumps. DiCaprio’s film tries hard to drive home its point that we – and the planet – face our “11th hour,” our last chance to fix the problems we’ve caused – or humanity is doomed. By and large, it succeeds.

    Unlike Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” “The 11th Hour” does not use slick powerpoint presentations, charts, and graphs to make its case. DiCaprio lets the footage of an earth under siege tell its own story, punctuated by commentary from fifty prominent eco thinkers and activists, including Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai. Says DiCaprio, “We face a convergence of crises…” and he wants to ensure his audience knows what those crises are.

    ISplash_leo_2t’s a dark, disturbing message, and would make for an unbearable film, if DiCaprio didn’t also extend some rays of hope to his audience. The film concludes with insights into new technologies that can help communities build a sustainable future, from “smart” cars to “green” roofs. “The time is now. The hope is you,” encourages DiCaprio through the film’s website,  “Let's begin.”

    To preview the film and find out when it will be shown in your area, visit

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