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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.
  • September 16, 2008 makes shopping for sustainable products a little easier.

    Newgreenzerlogo If you've been hankering to use your big green purse to buy green goods but haven't been able to find the goods, Greenzer may be just what you're looking for.

    The recently launched website lists over 15,000 products that have been evaluated based on specific green attributes and environmental certifications. You can browse, compare and shop from more than 65 merchant partners who, while perhaps not ecologically perfect, offer a significant improvement over the standard or conventional option.

    Co-founder Jeremy Arditi says Greenzer chooses its products based on four criteria:

    * Green labels and certifications (to include products rated, labeled or certified by groups like the Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Star, the Forest Stewardship Council, Green Guard and EPEAT);

    * Green attributes (e.g., organically grown, solar-powered, post-consumer recycled, cruelty-free);

    * Green categories (focusing on product options that are inherently greener than conventional alternatives. Think rechargeable batteries, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and reusable water bottles).

    * Green companies and brands that have made it a priority to conduct their business in an environmentally beneficial way (such as Seventh Generation or Bi-O-Kleen).

    Shopping categories range from apparel & accessories and babies & kids to electronics, home & garden, office products and travel. Regardless of the category, shoppers can compare both the eco-qualities and the price of the options they're considering. Some categories, like computers, give individual products a "greenzer score" based on aggregates of several leading data sources that track the environmental performance of products and brands. However, all products listed on Greenzer have met the company's minimum green filtering criteria.

    One feature unique to Greenzer is its "Green Face Off." Sometimes, a conventional product is paired with its eco alternative. Sometimes two eco options appear side-by-side. The face-offs compare costs, environmental impacts and a sense of "the big picture" -- what you, and the planet, have to gain or lose depending on what you buy.

    Thumb_green Ultimately, it would be ideal to see third-party certification for all products listed. In the meantime, this is a great step in the right direction.

    Thumbs up, Greenzer!

    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.

    February 27, 2008

    General Motors Shows Its True Colors - And They're Not Green

    Gm_logo General Motors’ Vice President Bob Lutz created a firestorm earlier this week when it was reported that he told reporters he thought climate change was a “crock of s**t”.

    Over at Grist, David Roberts noted,  “GM has been, and continues to be, a strongly reactionary force in American energy politics, thwarting progress at every juncture... the company, with Lutz's vocal backing, has been a long-time opponent of any boost in U.S. fuel efficiency standards. Even now, as the Minnesota legislature considers signing on to California's tailpipe standards, GM is working behind the scenes to stop them. Arizona has provisionally decided to adopt the standards, and will finalize them on March 3, but GM is leading a last-ditch, behind-closed-doors effort to stop it.”

    Mary Hunt chimed in at In Women We Trust, asking, “Why would I support a company with such an idiot at the top of it? Especially when he goes on to say "I'm motivated more by the desire to replace imported oil than by the CO2..." Wait a minute, isn't this the same company that killed the electric car?”

    Lutz tried to douse the fires on his blog, claiming, “My opinion doesn’t matter.” He urged critics to look at what the company is doing on the ground.

    “General Motors is dedicated to the removal of cars and trucks from the environmental equation, period. And, believe it or don’t: So am I! It’s the right thing to do, for us, for you and, yes, for the planet. My goal is to take the automotive industry out of the debate entirely. GM is working on just that – and we’re going to keep working on it — via E85, hybrids, hydrogen and fuel cells, and the electrification of the automobile.”

    That may be their goal, but I attended several presentations by GM executives at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month, and they gave far more lip service to their big gas guzzlers – Hummers, Cadillacs, light trucks and SUVs – than they gave to true energy-saving cars. And even the vehicles they trumpeted as energy-saving, like the 24/32 mpg Malibu hybrid, don’t compare to the fuel efficiency of the 50-mpg Toyota Prius.

    In light of today’s news that gas prices could hit budget-busting $4 a gallon by spring,  and increasing research that the polar ice caps are melting beyond repair, General Motors should not only embrace climate change as a real motivating force for industrial innovation, but do everything possible to achieve vehicle fuel-efficiency gains that actually save Americans money and generate far less CO2.

    And that’s not a crock of “s**t”.

    Thumb_brownbmp Thumbs down, GM.

    December 17, 2007

    Big Green Purse Principles Can Help You Make the Right Eco-Choices

    When should you spend your money to protect the planet – and when should you keep it in your purse?

    Given the thousands of green products being introduced these days, and the vague marketing claims being used to sell them, you don’t want to blow your budget just to keep up with the newest “eco,” “herbal,” or “biodegradable” fad – especially if the claim turns out to be more greenwashing than green.

    On the other hand, genuinely earth-friendly products do help minimize your environmental impact. Every organic cotton T-shirt you buy, for instance, helps reduce the use of toxic agricultural chemicals, protecting the air and water. Moreover, the same tee waves like a bright green flag in front of conventional cotton producers, reminding them that your money is filling their organic competitors’ coffers -- and giving them an incentive to switch to organic practices if they haven't already done so.

    The challenge is in knowing how to avoid the “greenwash” so you can promote more green. A few clear principles, excerpted from the upcoming Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World, will help you identify an ecobargain from a rip-off, while getting manufacturers to transition as quickly as possible to the most earth-friendly practices available.


    1) Buy less.
    2) Read the label.
    3) Support sustainable standards.
    4) Look for third-party verification.
    5) Choose fewer ingredients.
    6) Pick less packaging.
    7) Buy local.

    1.  Buy less. This should be a “no brainer.” Consumerism – buying what we don’t need, over and over again – drives unnecessary manufacturing that fuels climate change, pollutes the air and water, and destroys the places in Nature we love. Remember “reduce, reuse, recycle”? It still makes sense. Plus, when you’re not buying, you’re not getting fooled by dubious marketing claims. If you don’t trust the source, don’t buy it.

    Chlorine_3   2.  Read the label. We read food labels to avoid trans fats, sugar, salt and carbohydrates. We can read product labels to avoid greenwashing words like “natural” and “planet friendly” that aren’t backed up by standards or third-party verification (see below). When it comes to cleansers and other household  goods, avoid products labeled “caution,” “warning,”, “danger,” and “poison,” all of which indicate the item is hazardous to you and the environment.

    3.  Support sustainable standards. An increasing number of companies are proving they’re green byBuy SMART Certified manufacturing according to sustainable standards that govern the product’s “life cycle,” beginning with the raw materials and ending with its disposal or re-use. The SMART standard, for example, covers flooring, lighting, building materials, and other consumer products.

    Fsc_logo_2  4.  Look for third-party verification. In the absence of universal sustainable standards, if a company says its product is good for the earth, your first question should be, “Who else says so?” Reliable eco claims are backed up by an independent institution or nonprofit organization that has investigated the manufacturer’s claim so you don’t have to. Look for labels from groups like Forest Stewardship Council, Energy Star and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Organic.

    5.  Choose fewer ingredients. A long list of ingredients often indicates the presence of questionable chemicals that may be harmful to you or the environment. This is especially true for personal care products, food, and cleansers. Simplify what you buy.

    Earthtotetan 6.  Pick less packaging. Regardless of the marketing claims a product makes, you can make an immediate impact by buying goods that come wrapped as simply as possible. For starters, buy in bulk, choose concentrates, and pick products in containers you can easily recycle (hint: glass and cans are more easily recycled than plastic). Carting home your packages in your own bags helps reduce packaging, too.

    7.  Buy local.  Avoid the higher energy costs involved in transporting goods long distances. Supporting local farmers and businesses also increases the likelihood that U.S. environmental and health laws and regulations will be followed.

    Bottom Line: Ignore boasts that a product is eco-chic, earth-safe, or planet-neutral. Stick to the principles above to ensure that your Big Green Purse has the kind of big green impact that will make a difference both in the marketplace and on the environment.

    June 28, 2007

    Is Your Sunscreen Giving You a False Sense of Security?

    Sun_tan_3 If it’s not protecting you from UVA, the sun rays linked to skin cancer and immune system problems, it could be.

    According to the latest analysis from scientists at Environmental Working Group (EWG), only 16% of sunscreen products  are both safe and effective (i.e., they'll protect you from sunburn and skin cancer, remain stable in sunlight, and contain few if any ingredients with significant known or suspected health hazards).

    Among the chief concerns:

    * Sunscreens break down in the sun. Parodoxically, says EWG, many sunscreen ingredients break down in a matter of minutes or hours, and then let UV radiation through to the skin.

    * Questionable product claims are widespread. At least 48% of products on the market bear claims that are considered "unacceptable" or misleading under the Food and Drug Administration’s draft sunscreen safety standards. Claims like "all day protection," "mild as water," and "blocks all harmful rays" are not true, yet are found on bottles.

    * Many sunscreens contain nano-scale ingredients that raise potential concerns. Though micronized and nano-scale zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in sunscreen provide strong UVA protection, studies on nanotechnology question their unique, toxic properties. Options available in Europe could replace nano-scale ingredients here in the U.S., but the Food and Drug Administration has been slow to approve them.

    Thumbs UP: Despite these issues, you have at least 128 safe options, according to EWG, including Blue Lizard Australian Suncream SPF 30/Baby, California Baby Water-Resistant Hypo-Allergenic Sunscreen SPF 30-plus and Aveeno Baby Sunblock Lotion Continuous Protection SPF 55.

    Thumb_brown Thumbs DOWN: Sunscreens on EWG’s “Avoid” list? There are 37, including Coppertone Sport Sunblock Lotion SPF 15 and Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion SPF 15.

    See the entire database of recommendations at Environmental Working Group.

    June 02, 2007

    Greenwash in a Toothpaste Tube

    Will you get closer to Nature if you brush your teeth with Crest’s Nature’s Expressions? The company sure wants you to think so. Its new marketing campaign offers “a hint of nature with the protective power of Crest.” 

    Just how does Crest slip a little Nature into its tubes?  Mostly, by the power of suggestion.

    Crest_3 The company claims pure peppermint oil gives Crest “a natural peppermint twist.”

    The mint and green tea version seems designed to appeal to the millions of people who drink green tea for its many natural healing properties. (Thanks, but I’d rather drink my green tea than brush my teeth with it.)

    The lemon and mint option wins the prize for bragging it’s “natural” the most times: “Introducing a toothpaste with the fresh, clean sensation of natural lemon extract. With a natural twist of citrus, Citrus Clean Mint gives you a natural clean feeling all day and all night.” All those natural claims seem a little unnatural to me.

    Here’s the topper: Crest’s Nature’s Expressions web site provides 13 tips to help you “Add a little Nature to your life.” But out of the 13, none of them encourages visitors to go outside and actually experience the natural world.

    Tip #10 suggests you “hang a picture of your favorite elements from nature – sea, trees, flowers, animals – where your eyes frequently go. For instance, over the telephone.”

    Tip #12 encourages you to put your pillows outside in the sun to freshen up. Hmmm… what about brushing your teeth outside? At least, you’d be getting outdoors.

    The only thing that’s natural – from an advertising point of view -- about Crest’s new toothpaste is the way the company is trying to capitalize on the green marketing frenzy that’s driving commerce these days.

    Thumb_brown my circles, we don't call that natural. We call that greenwashing.

    Thumbs down, Crest.

    EcoCentric Mom
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