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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.
  • June 21, 2012

    Earth Summit Delegates Refuse to Recognize Women's Reproductive Rights

    At Rio+20, the "Earth Summit" taking place in Brazil, the slogan is "The Future We Want."

    What "We" are they talking about?

    Family planning photoCertainly not the more than 200 million women in the U.S. and many developing countries who lack access to voluntary family planning. That has become abundantly clear as the summit prepares to wrap up without including either family planning or a broader agenda for gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, and women’s empowerment in the primary summit agreements.

    This refusal to acknowledge reproductive rights as a core tenet of sustainability is outrageous. It also flies in the face of previous UN conferences that supported family planning for a host of human and environmental rights. Indeed, the International Conference on Population and Development  (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994 was a watershed moment when women’s rights advocates, demographers and 179 governments came together to design a new model for development that made the empowerment and health of women and girls a  top priority. Cairo transformed a term that few people knew—reproductive rights—into a concept recognized around the world.  The ICPD not only affirmed the right of every girl and woman to quality sexual and reproductive health care and freedom from discrimination, it underscored its centrality towards achieving a harmonious and sustainable environment.   

    Continue reading "Earth Summit Delegates Refuse to Recognize Women's Reproductive Rights" »

    June 06, 2012

    Tired of Telling Your Kids to Turn Off The Lights? Let Team ENERGY STAR Do It!

    Using energy efficiently can be as simple as turning off the lights or computer when they’re not being used. The challenge is getting people – especially kids – to pay heed.  Starting today, the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program is going to make that task much easier, especially for us parents!

    TeamES_Badge_FINENERGY STAR is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program that helps us save money and protect the environment and our health through energy-efficient products and practices.  In 2011 alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 41 million cars — all while saving $23 billion on their utility bills and reducing the pollution that contributes to heart disease, asthma and allergies.

     As impressive as that is, the job is far from done. Climate change is still rising, and our health and the health of our kids is still at stake.  We can make a difference by teaching our kids to save more energy at home. That’s where Team ENERGY STAR comes in.

     Team ENERGY STAR is EPA’s new initiative to engage and educate American youth and their families about saving energy at home. Team ENERGY STAR gives kids and families knowledge and tools they can use to preserve our environment, help protect the climate and create a healthier world.

     I’ve already joined the team myself. But one person a “team” does not make. We all need to join in and do our part. Here are three important reasons why I think it’s worth your while.

      Team_ENERGYSTAR_Screenshot
    First, without question, energy efficiency makes life healthier for our children and family. Climatechange will likely increase the number of people suffering from illness and injury due to more pollution, extreme heat, floods, storms, droughts and fires as well as allergies and infectious disease. The elderly, the very young, the disabled, and the poor alone are especially vulnerable, as are people with heart disease or asthma. Climate change is also expected to cause more severe allergy symptoms because a warmer climate promotes the growth of molds, weeds, grasses and trees that cause allergic reactions. The more efficiently we all use energy, the less likely we are to get sick.

    Second, Team ENERGY STAR will make your job explaining energy efficiency to your children easier. I know that sometimes my kids think I’m a broken record, the way I nag them to turn off the lights and their computers. But the activities Team ENERGY STAR has come up with offer a creative and fun way to motivate the whole family to feel like they’re doing their part together to save energy. With Dr. Seuss’ the Lorax as the engaging theme for Team ENERGY STAR, kids can learn and have fun at the same time. 

    Finally, joining Team ENERGY STAR will help you save money. The typical household spends more than $2,100 per year on energy. With ENERGY STAR, you can save over one-third, or more than $700, on your household energy bills without sacrificing features, style or comfort. 

     Team ENERGY STAR has already lined up some important and influential partners, like the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Do Something, one of the largest organizations in the U.S. for teens and social change. But it’s up to each and every one of us to reach our own kids and families.

    Energy star resourcesKids can join Team ENERGY STAR by visiting energystar.gov/team where they will get easy-to-download educational and interactive materials, such as a comprehensive Action Kit, the ENERGY STAR Home Check-Up, a Lorax activity booklet and a Lorax mustache-making kit. Kids are also encouraged to come back and share their stories about protecting the environment by saving energy, which will be showcased on energystar.gov/changetheworld and throughout social media.

    In fact, Team ENERGY STAR is part of a multi-year EPA campaign, Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR, developed to engage Americans of all ages in saving energy and money and protecting the environment with ENERGY STAR. Millions of people are getting involved, joining their neighbors in this grassroots movement to help protect the climate by saving energy. You can see how people and organizations all over are making a difference with ENERGY STAR by viewing EPA’s ENERGY STARs Across America map.

      Energy Star pledgeBTNYou can also attend an event in your area to learn ways to take control of your energy bills while contributing to a cleaner environment. Plus, if you take the ENERGY STAR Pledge at energystar.gov/pledge, you’ll join 2.8 million other Americans who are taking action to protect the climate.

     If every American household took part in the Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR Pledge, we would: save more than 126 billion KWh/yr of electricity, save $18 billion in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 20 million cars.

     Get more information and join Team ENERGY STAR here.

    Please leave a comment below when you join Team ENERGY STAR.

    And please come back on June 12, when Big Green Purse will be hosting a carnival of posts from many bloggers who support energy efficiency and Team ENERGY STAR.

     

    Full disclosure: I am a long-time independent advocate of energy-efficiency and the ENERGY STAR program. I am currently working as a paid consultant to introduce Team ENERGY STAR to parents and families.

    May 10, 2011

    I took her camping; she took her iPod.

    We started taking our kids camping when they were both still in diapers. They were used to playing outside anyway, so camping seemed normal, only better, since they got to sleep in a tent and roast marshmallows around a live fire.

    Dan Dana Monet By the time they were five and seven, they could hike all day -- as long as we included picnics, tree climbing, rock skipping, tag and other games to keep them engaged and their minds off what they were actually doing: walking up a big hill, then walking down again.We also bicycled to local parks, visited horse stables, went to the zoo, and prowled the botanic garden. Going with friends whose kids were the same age as ours made it more fun for us all.

    During several spring breaks, we camped at Cinnamon Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It's a wonderfully safe place where children can flit about wild as birds and find endless fascination in hermit crabs, land iguanas, bats, and the myriad fish they see when they snorkel. My son eventually joined the Boy Scouts. My daughter became a dancer and a musician as she entered middle school, but we still made it a point to go hiking as a family a few times a year.

    Continue reading "I took her camping; she took her iPod. " »

    April 20, 2011

    What Do Kids "Calculate" When It Comes to Conservation? It's Not $$$!

    For Earth Day, author Terra Wellington offers this guest post brimming with suggestions on how to get closer to nature with your kids. You'll find other great ideas in her new book, The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins at Home.

    Huggaplanet_1962_1682327 "One of the sweetest things about children is that when you get their attention, it is 100 percent.  They aren’t thinking about politics, or what bills are due, or planning a million things in their head.  Nope, they are just in the here and now.

    Likewise, if you explain to children why you want to conserve water, protect habitats, or keep bees healthy they're also right with you.  They don’t calculate costs, or party affiliation, or what their friends might think.  Kids are natural conservationists.

    Here are some fun ways you can explore conservation with your children for Earth Day or any day:

    Momdaughter Make a Date: Check the online event calendars for your local science center, arboretum, zoo, aquarium, or nature center.  These calendars are full of fun days that make an average excursion unforgettable, and the focus is nearly all on hopeful conservation.  They also often list kid camps, classes, and volunteer opportunities for teens.  Look for ways to get your kids engaged by touching, feeling, learning, and helping.

    Grow with a Purpose: Plant a garden this year with a lifecycle and habitat in mind.  For lifecycle growing, have your kids help you start and maintain a compost pile(which in itself is fascinating science at work!) that prepares and feeds your garden.  Also, encourage your children to help you plant and keep up native flowering plants for the bees and trees, with seeds and other fruits for birds and little tree critters, plus your vegetables – all organic, of course!

    Bee Happy: Get into beekeeping.  It’s one of the fastest growing hobbies right now, and importnat giving the way bee populations are dying, a likely consequence of industrial pesticide and herbicide use.  Have your children learn with you about the necessity of bees, how to take care of them in a non-toxic way, and set up and take care of the bee hives together.  Enjoy delicious honey as a reward.  Check with your local municipality for any ordinances or permits.

    Entertain for Good: There are a lot of television, film, and print resources that educate on conservation, the environment, and nature in a fun and entertaining way that kids embrace. Examples include the Ranger Rick Magazine from the National Wildlife Federation, Disneynature films like “Earth” and “African Cats,” and the captivating Discovery Channel series “Life” narrated by Oprah Winfrey which is now available on DVD or through a subscription service like Netflix.

    Put on Your Flip-Flops: If you are going on vacation this summer, pick a beachside getaway that coincides with a local beach cleanup day.  Heal the Bay and Surfrider Foundation are great resources.  Your kids will spend two inspirational hours helping nature – and they’ll think twice about where trash goes after that!

    Pump Up the Tires: Dust off your bikes and peddle to the local store or explore bike paths to make conserving energy fun.   You will be surprised how much kids enjoy biking and the diversity you will find outside your car window.  To find safer biking routes, if you go to Google Maps, type in your city and state, and then click on “Get Directions,” and you’ll see a bicycle path layer that clues you into designated safe bike paths in your area.  Many states also list nearby recreational bicycle paths for weekend adventures – do a browser search."

    Terra Wellington is the author of The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Terra Begins at Home (St. Martin’s Press).  Her family finds a lot of fun in cleaning up Southern California beaches, especially when it includes an ice cream treat!

     

     

     

     

    RELATED POSTS:

    Kids Start Food Fight to Bring Back Re-Usable Lunch Trays

    Kids Launch "Green My Parents" to Save the World

    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)" »

    December 03, 2010

    Holiday Traditions that Mean the Most to Me: Family, Friends, Food!

    This weekend begins a chain of traditions I've been building with my family for twenty years.

    Holly berries Early Saturday morning, I'll climb up in the attic and pull down the holiday lights, bunting, evergreen trim, and ribbons and bows we use to decorate our house for Christmas every year. I'll tap my "inner Martha Stewart" as I weave the trim around the staircase and across the balcony railing, then thread white lights through the trim to turn our day-to-day home into a holiday wonderland. 

    While I'm trimming the stairs, one of the kids will be out in the yard cutting holly branches bursting with bright red berries. The holly goes everywhere - in vases of other yard cuttings, around the base of lamps, behind framed photos on the walls, around the candles that are now sitting on the window sills and in the middle of the dining room table. All the while, apple cider, infused with cinnamon sticks and whole cloves, will simmer on top of the stove. In a matter of a couple of hours, it will look and smell in here the way it does every year about this time: which is to say, just like Christmas.

    Sunday, we'll get our Christmas tree. We have a high ceiling, so we usually aim for a fir about seven feet tall. When we can, we buy our tree from a local farmer who grows it organically on his farm in Pennsylvania. It is not perfectly shaped; a stray bird's nest may be hiding in the crotch of a couple of tall branches. No matter. "Oh...that smells sooooo good," everyone says in his or her own time. We'll trim the bottom to fit into the Christmas stand, and save the branches to add more Christmasy smells to the house or put on the porch to make a bed for the candles we'll light there on Christmas Eve.

    Continue reading "Holiday Traditions that Mean the Most to Me: Family, Friends, Food!" »

    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?" »

    August 10, 2010

    Little girls are worrying about bras when they should still be playing with Play Dough.

    Two young girls Girls six and seven years old should not have to go shopping for a bra.

    But in this day and age, it seems like that's exactly what they have to do. A new study reported in the journal Pediatrics found that very little girls are developing breasts earlier than ever before, increasing their risk of breast cancer and other health problems and subjecting them to taunts from boys that undermine their self esteem. The study's authors say exposure to toxic chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA), some preservatives, and additives found in plastic may be among the reasons why.

    Red flags have been flying for several years about the threats toxic chemicals pose to girls' reproductive organs. “Young girls are exposed to dozens of potentially toxic chemicals on a daily basis,” Ted Schettler, M.D., M.P.H., Science Director for the Science and Environmental Health Network, told the New York Times. “Some of these can mimic the natural hormone, estrogen. Although individually their estrogenic activity may be relatively weak, their effects are additive. In the aggregate they could be having significant health effects, including contributing to the early onset of breast development. We need a new law to evaluate chemicals and protect our children from harmful exposures.”

    Continue reading "Little girls are worrying about bras when they should still be playing with Play Dough." »

    April 15, 2010

    Kids Launch "Green My Parents" to Save the World

    Can kids save the world?

    Gmp_logo3small The kids who founded GreenMyParents sure think so!

    This youth-led movement is officially launching on Earth Day with a plan to inspire peers, parents and millions of American families to go green.

    In the process, they aim to save $100 Million by this time next year. How? It will start with 100 "youth champions." Each of them plans to recruit 100 more kids, then train them to promote easy, everyday steps that protect the environment and save money, too, at least $100 per family. It’s hoped each of those kids will recruit another 100, and another 100, and another 100, until tens of thousands or even millions are involved.

    Gmp_Book_Cover_225X325 The program kicks off April 22 at 1 p.m. EST with a youth-led webinar  via The National Wildlife Federation's SchoolTube.com, plus the downloadable publication of the Green Your Parents book.

    But don't wait until then to learn more about the amazing kids behind this initiative. They include:

    •   Adora Svitak, a 12-year-old who is a published author and was the youngest speaker at the TED 2010 conference. 
    •   Jordan Howard, 17, a senior at Environmental Charter High in LA, Green Ambassador Youth leader, and prolific speaker and blogger who inspires at her blog jordaninspires.com;
    •   Alec Loorz, a 14-year-old who founded Kids Against Global Warming as a 12-year-old. He is  the youngest trained presenter with The Climate Project.
    •   Ally Maize, who three years ago, as a 15-year-old started the Green Youth Movement and
    •   Erin Schrode, a freshman at Columbia University and founder of Teens Turning Green  

    Adora Said Adora at the TED conference recently, “We kids still dream about perfection. Our audacity to imagine helps push the boundaries of reality.” Adora, could you deliver that message to members of Congress, please?!!!

    Though GreenMyParents begins on Earth Day, it doesn’t end there. The group’s organizers plan to run the program for at least a year with the hopes of creating chapters in every school in America.

    Here’s how you can learn more or get on their mailing list.

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