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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 18, 2013

    Compost: Crack for the Garden

    Compost is crack for the garden.

    Compost When you add it to your soil, it makes the earthworms shimmy, the bugs boogie, and plants positively pop.

    (From what I've read, crack has a similar effect on the people who use it; let me say for the record that I've never tried it!)

    Just as good, compost strengthens your soil and reduces your need to use synthetic fertilizers or toxic pesticides. If you're NOT using compost, why are you bothering to garden at all? Really!


    Composting is Nature's way of turning waste into organic gold.
    • Through good old-fashioned biological processes, composting converts kitchen scraps, yard waste, and other organic matter into rich and crumbly, soil-like material that attracts healthy worms, fights disease and improves the fertility of the soil.


    • Composting saves money by reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers and toxic chemicals.
    • Composting could save communities money, too. Yard trimmings and food waste together constitute 23 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That's a lot of garbage to send to landfills when it could become useful and environmentally beneficial compost instead!

      Compost bucket I compost fruit and veggie kitchen scraps in my backyard. My town picks up our fallen leaves every autumn, lets them biodegrade at a municipal site, and delivers them back to us in the spring to use as mulch on our gardens and around our bushes and trees. You can also buy ready-made compost at most hardware stores and garden centers, or online at places like Amazon (we sell some in our store here). NOTE: If you buy compost, make sure it has been made from certified organic plant sources.


    You can make compost from kitchen waste, debris from your lawn and garden, or both. You can either build your own compost pile, or buy a compost tumbler or bin. You can even get composting bags to keep on your back porch, deck or patio.

    Continue reading "Compost: Crack for the Garden" »

    April 17, 2013

    #EarthDay Insights: 13 Ways to Make Your Food More Eco

    Maybe you already eat organic produce. You've cut down on meat. You grow your own lettuce. That's  great! But Earth Day is nothing if not a time to consider...what else can we do, especially when it comes to the food we buy and eat?

    Food Tank Danielle Nierenberg of The Food Tank suggests 13 important ways we can reduce the environmental impact of growing, processing, marketing, and disposing of our food. Take a look at the list. I hope you'll add your own recommendations!

    1) Eat more colors
    The colors of fruits and vegetables are signs of nutritional content. The American Cancer Society reports that richly colored veggies like tomatoes can help prevent cancer and heart disease. Eggs that have brightly orange-colored yolks are also high in cancer-fighting carotenoids, and are more likely to be produced by healthier chickens.
    Vegetables 2) Buy food with less packaging
    Discarded packaging makes up around one-third of all waste in industrialized countries,  impacting the climate, and our air and water quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s analysis of different packaging for tomatoes found that polyethylene terephthalate (PET) clamshell packaging increases tomatoes’ associated carbon emissions by 10 percent. What's better? Choose foods you can buy in bulk, and bring your own bags - even to the produce aisle.
    3) Choose seasonal produce
    Many farmers markets, including the New York City Greenmarkets, offer guides about which products are in season. Locally sourced, seasonal products can also be found at major grocery stores. Or sign up for a weekly CSA, which provides a mix of fresh, seasonal produce throughout the year. Other programs, such as Siren Fish Co.’s SeaSA in San Francisco, offer seasonal meats and seafood.

    Continue reading "#EarthDay Insights: 13 Ways to Make Your Food More Eco" »

    August 06, 2012

    7 Reasons Why You Should Get a Tree Survey

    A much-loved part of our natural scenery, trees bring harmony, tranquility, health and environmental well-being to a community. They add beauty to our yards and streets. They provide welcome shade on hot days. Tree2They act as a natural windbreak, muffle street sounds and other noise, and provide important habitat for wildlife. They help filter the air, keeping it cleaner and safer to breathe. Trees are also a great investment. A home with trees is consistently worth more than a home with no trees at all. 

    In Nature, trees thrive "on their own," adapting to the climate where they grow and the elements that shape them. But in our communities, trees can become an awkward obstacle instead of a valuable asset if they're not taken care of. Weather conditions or disease can make them dangerously unstable. Branches and roots may cause extensive damage to homes and buildings. Overgrown foliage can block light. 

    You might occasionally "eyeball" your tree to see if it's healthy. But especially if you have mature trees on your property, it's worth investing in a professional tree survey to make sure your trees are in good shape. Arbtech, the UK's leading provider of tree surveys and the sponsor of this post, says there are five specific reasons why it's a good idea to have an arborist survey your trees. 

    1) Keep trees healthy. Most of the plants in our landscape need to be fed, watered, and pruned to stay healthy and beautiful. But we have a tendency to ignore trees because they're so big! An arborist can examine your tree and recommend simple steps you can take to protect the investment you've already made in planting and maintaining the tree. This survey can become a valuable management tool for your property. 

    Continue reading "7 Reasons Why You Should Get a Tree Survey" »

    October 24, 2011

    Woman Inspired to Build a Hoop House to Grow More Food

    One of the ways we can eat healthier food that doesn't harm the environment is by growing our own fruits and vegetables. My dear friend Carol is a real inspiration in that department.

    Sitting with hoop houseCarol, who lives in Arlington, VA, has transformed her backyard into a beautiful oasis brimming with gorgeous flowers and a wonderful variety of edible plants, all of which she grows using no toxic chemicals.

    Normally, in our part of the world (mid-Atlantic), the growing season ends right about now - late October/early November. Carol decided to build a  "hoop house" to protect some vegetables from frost and extend her growing season by a couple of months. (She finished it just in time for Food Day!)

    When I asked her about it, here's what she said:

    (Diane) You're an avid gardener! Your flower beds are gorgeous, and you already grow an abundance of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other vegetables. Given how much time you put in during spring and summer, I'd think you'd want a rest come fall! (Carol) I LOVE to garden.  It was Becky's idea (Carol's daughter) to keep me happy in the late fall and early spring - plus the heat, mosquitoes, and gnats are   better when it's cooler outside! 

    So why did you decide to build a hoop house, which some people also call a cold frame?  It's supposed to extend the growing season by about two months - one at each end. 

    How did you figure out what materials you would need and how big to make it?  I searched hoop houses on the Internet, watched several videos, and decided to start with a small hoop.  This was my favorite on how to build a hoop house and raised bed. 

    Nuts and bolts Did you actually construct it all yourself?  Yes, it was a challenge - having grown up at a time when girls took home ec and boys took shop.  But I did OK.  Home Depot cut one of the three pieces of 8 foot lumber in half at no charge, so I could have two  pieces 8 feet long and two 4 feet long for the raised bed.  Home Depot also sold 10 foot pvc pipes, which they cut into 8 foot sections for free.  I bought the plastic in a roll there, too, as well as the screws.  I bought the screws (wood screws and screws with wing nuts) too short, but I was able  to walk to the hardware store and get what I needed - including a special drill bit so I didn't have to screw them in by hand.  

    Cold frame 1Building the raised bed was by far the hardest part of the job.  I had to drill 28 holes, then  re-drill them because the holes were too small.  Then I had to go to the hardware store twice for the right screws.

     Wow! That's so impressive! What will you be planting in it? I am hoping to have a month or two more of cold weather crops:  lettuce, arugula, kale, Swiss chard.   I want to pick up some spinach seedlings at the farmers market this weekend to put in there, too. 

    Finished housePlus, I moved some warm weather plants - basil, dill, cilantro - to protect them. Otherwise, they'll die in a week or so from the cold weather.



    Carol kneelingGreat! I can't wait for my next dinner invitation!





    January 06, 2011

    Need Help Getting Inspired for 2011? Learn From These Great Green Role Models.

    Pondering woman What environmental lifestyle shifts are you planning for 2011? If you still haven't been able to make up your mind, take a minute to read about the folks below. In the last couple of weeks in December 2010, they all answered the question, "What's Been Your Biggest, Coolest, Eco-Friendliest Change This Year?" Some people switched to greener cleaning products. Others started their own organic gardens. A few launched their own companies. One person is even building a house from scratch. Hope they give you some great ideas for 2011!

    Saving Energy

    Reader Bonnie installed a programmable thermostat. It cost her $35, but she expects to easily recoup the cost on her heating and cooling bills. StudioJMM of put solar panels on her roof. Ann started a "no idling" campaign to get buses to turn off their engines when they're waiting to pick up kids at school. Saves energy AND keeps the air cleaner.

    Cleaning woman Green Cleaning

    Hana, aka the Green Granma discovered "the unending merits of vinegar" for greener cleaning. Celine spent a few dollars on cleaning rags she purchased at Goodwill. Lynne at is now making her own green cleaners, plus buying local and kicking the throwaway water bottle habit.

    In the Kitchen

    Continue reading "Need Help Getting Inspired for 2011? Learn From These Great Green Role Models." »

    June 02, 2010

    You Want Me to Buy Worm Poop?

    Castingsworms It's not really as disgusting as it sounds. Worm poop is known in the world of organic gardening as worm castings (though really, they are poop).

    You want to add them to your garden because they're so naturally rich in the kind of bacteria, enzymes and water-soluble nutrients that really give plants a kick in the pants (well, in their leaves, stems, flowers and fruits or vegetables) when the plant absorbs them through its roots. 

    Says The Tasteful Garden, "Worm castings are packed with minerals that are essential for plant growth, such as concentrated nitrates, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and calcium. They also contain manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, borax, iron, carbon and nitrogen. However, the best of all is that these minerals are immediately available to the plant, without the risk of ever burning the plant. Remember that animal manure and chemical fertilizers have to be broken down in the soil before the plant can absorb them."

    You can use castings in potting soil, in soil for trees, shrubs, and flowers, and as mulch. You can even mix them with water to make a liquid fertilizer (otherwise known as "worm poop tea.")

    If you're really bold, you can build your own worm bin and produce plenty of worm poop on your own.

    On the other hand, if that idea totally disgusts you, go ahead and pick up castings from your local nursery or online here, here or here.

    August 25, 2009

    Natural Weed Control: Battle the Hassle and Banish the Herbicides

    Dandelionflower Weeds! Don’t you hate em?

    And no wonder.

    Weeds are like those prank candles people put on top of a beautifully decorated birthday cake. You go to make your birthday wish --only to have it thrown back in your face when the candles refuse to blow out. No matter how often you blow, the flame reappears. Then, just when you think you’ve finally won, you realize you’ve sprayed wax all over the cake, leaving you both defeated and wishless.

    Although the scenario is an obvious exaggeration, it highlights the challenge you face every time you try to control weeds. They keep coming back. And if your only solution is to use chemicals to control them, well, it’s a lot like spraying wax all over your delicious cake.

    There are some environmentally friendly herbal and biodegradable sprays you can use to control unwanted plants. But before you take that step, try these practical, eco, and cheap cultivation techniques.

    Go back to the beginning. The key to safe, environmental weed control lies in creating great growing conditions for your desired plants. Weed seeds exist in every garden, but healthy soil will discourage them from growing . What can you do? Aerate your lawn to keep the soil loose and fertile. Water foundation plants so they’ll stay healthy and grow to the appropriate size. Add compost and sunlight to build a nourishing environment for the plants you want to thrive. 

    Play around with your planting.  Space your plants closer together. As the plants reach maturity their leaves will touch and help block out light to the ground below, making it more difficult for weeds to survive. You can also try competitive planting, such as putting some bushes or fast-growing annual plants in your bed to prevent  weed seeds from germinating. To avoid buying expensive nursery plants,  save money by swapping plants with friends and neighbors instead. 

    Mulch heavily. A thick layer of mulch keeps the light from reaching the weeds. Bonus? Organic mulch such as straw, grass clippings, leaves and shredded bark will nourish your soil as they decompose.

    Continue reading "Natural Weed Control: Battle the Hassle and Banish the Herbicides" »

    May 17, 2009

    Don't Buy Plants. Swap! (I did, and saved $50.)

    One of the most economical gardening moves I ever made was to join my local horticulture club.

    For just $12 a year, I get access to great gardening advice, some lovely garden tours, and a list-serv of other gardeners who are not only willing but eager to swap plants with me so we can all save some money.

    I put that list-serv to good use this past weekend. After a harsh, dry winter, my yard needed a face lift. The sunny spot in front was completely overgrown with weeds. The mostly shady back yard had been overtaken by senecio daisies and creeping astilbe, let alone all manner of weeds. I wanted to restore the front with native plants that would thrive in hot afternoon sun, and add variety to the shade plants out back.

    A quick trip to the nursery made me realize that my ideas would cost me some serious cash - at least $50 just for the plants in front, even without adding an accent bush or two.

    Rudbeckia I bought a few tall zinnias to add some immediate color, but headed home to see if I could "shop" for free on the club list serv. I put out a call for plants like rudbeckia, also known as black eyed Susans, and native grasses. I described my growing conditions so folks could look at what they were cultivating under similar conditions and give me some transplants. I offered to share my plants with whomever dropped by. 

    Bingo! Within half an hour of offering to exchange some of my astilbe, daisies, and a few other wildly growing specimens (like hellebores and native phlox), the responses came pouring in. My fellow gardeners would be delighted to swap with me!

    I spent an hour digging up the plants I could trade, potting them in old planting containers I save for just this purpose. Then I puttered around in the garden and waited for the "booty" to arrive. Throughout the morning, people stopped by with a motherlode of perennials. I hauled in celandine poppies, three varieties of rudbeckia, a native columbine, goldenrod, mondo grass, echinacea (purple cone flower), and more.

    At this point, I've saved even more than $50 by exchanging plants rather than buying them.

    But as much as I love the bargain, I think I got more pleasure from the gardeners who dropped by with their own plants in tow. It was great fun to walk around, shovel and spade in hand, digging up plants I'd cultivated so my friends could enjoy them in their yard. By the same token, it was particularly satisfying to plant what my gardener pals had carefully dug up for me.

    I'll be savoring that camaraderie all summer long.

    EcoCentric Mom
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