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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.
  • March 27, 2013

    Fragrance, Fitness and Fig Bars? Only in this Month's EcoCentric Mom Box

    Ecocentric mom logo  If you like surprises, an EcoCentric Mom Box is just the thing for you. Every month, this box full of eco-goodies shows up at my door and I have no idea what's going to be inside. I hate to admit it, but I always hope there will be some new food try, and generally there is. But I'm also likely to find new cosmetics, some new kind of soap, coupons that offer significant discounts for e-stores I didn't know existed and lately, perfume. This month's box contained all that and more. The biggest surprise was a $50 gift card to, an online source for downloadable workout programs, music, and HD videos.

    I decided to use the gift card when I would need it most: after I snarfed down the food.

    Nature's Bakery Fig Bars - These are not your normal gummy Fig Newtons! The actual cookie (see photo)  is made from stone ground whole wheat flour; yes, it tastes "healthy" - but it's delicious, too. The filling is thick, 20130327_114710hearty and flavorful. Fig filling is what you expect for a fig bar, of course. But the raspberry-filled bar was just as tasty. Other benefits: these bars are dairy free, contain zero transfats, are kosher, and are made in the USA. Definitely something I'd put in my or my kids' lunch or take to the gym with me instead of a power bar.

    Go Raw Spirulina Energy Bar - I was expecting this crunchy snack to taste, well, icky. But it's light, flavorful, and the faint banana taste might make it very popular with kids. PLUS: it's free - as in gluten, wheat, nut and GMO free. Organic, too.

    EBoost - Here's an alternative to the powdered sugary energy drinks you might be mixing up. EBoost is sugar-free, contains no artificial flavors, and has only 5 calories per serving. Add it to still or sparkling water for a refreshing drink.

    Continue reading "Fragrance, Fitness and Fig Bars? Only in this Month's EcoCentric Mom Box" »

    September 30, 2012

    September's EcoCentric Mom Box Review

    This month's "Mom Box" from EcoCentric Mom contained a great assortment of cleaning products, personal care products, and even a few snacks.  

    IMG_2044  On the laundry front, the box included two sample pouches of Ecover Natural Laundry Powder ZERO, as in fragrance-free.  I'm partial to laundy powder as opposed to liquid in a plastic bottle, so I particularly like this sample. I should get four loads of laundry out of the pouches, given how little detergent my efficient, "high e" washing machine uses.

    The personal care products featured:

    Lotus Wei Joy Juice Mist, a combination of blood orange, Davana (strawberry-like) and Marigold essences, plus pink daisy. It comes in a glass bottle, with just a minimum plastic spray pump attached, which I appreciate, as I'm trying to keep my bathroom plastic-free.

    Beauty Without Cruelty Facial Cleanser. This is a lightly-foaming, soap-free cleanser, that is paraben free and has never been tested on animals. I like the slightly fruity scent. 

    Continue reading "September's EcoCentric Mom Box Review" »

    June 18, 2012

    I Joined the Go Green, Get Fit Challenge!

    Starting today and continuing on for the next 12 weeks, I'll be part of a group of inspiring women, coaches, nutritional experts, fitness trainers, and health and wellness companies that will be working together to get fitter and healthier -- and maybe even lose a few pounds.

    Get FitActually, weight loss is not as much a goal for me as getting strong and staying healthy! I generally don't have a big appetite, and I've gotten the message about fatty, sugary foods and how they screw up your body, so my weight has been pretty manageable over the last 10 years or so. I actually trained for the Marine Corps marathon some years back, and like to think I would have finished it, had I not blown out my knees somewhere along mile 16.

    Where I need help is in the strength department. I've never had much upper body strength, but isn't it about time I had the power to open a jar of spaghetti sauce without needing the help of a brawny guy? Besides, as I get older, I'd like to do what I can to ward off osteoporosis, arthritis, and other illnesses. Load-bearing exercise, like lifting weights and walking or running, helps build strong bones and muscle power. It sounds like it's worth the effort.

    Continue reading "I Joined the Go Green, Get Fit Challenge!" »

    May 03, 2012

    As Climate Change Heats Up, Poison Ivy Gets Worse

    Poison ivy is getting more poisonous, and climate change is to blame.

    Poison_ivy_rashWhat's the connection? Climate change is occurring because burning oil, coal and other fossil fuels releases gases like carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 builds up in the atmosphere, trapping heat that causes temperatures on the ground to rise, creating a "greenhouse" effect on the earth.  Poison ivy, and its equally annoying "cousins," poison oak and poison sumac, are all growing bigger, spreading faster, and becoming more toxic in response to this "greenhouse effect." 

    You may have already noticed that there's more poison ivy in your yard or in the parks where your kids play. Dr. Lewis Ziska, a plant physiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, told National Public Radio last year that "the poison ivy plant of, say, 1901, can grow up to 50 to 60 percent larger as of 2010" because there's more CO2 in the atmosphere today than there was a hundred years ago.

    "As a result of that change," says Dr. Ziska, "we see not only more growth but also a more virulent form of the oil within poison ivy. The oil is called urushiol, and it's that oil that causes that rash to occur on your skin when you come into contact with it."

    Because greenhouse gases are on the rise, poison ivy is likely to get worse in the coming years. It's just one more reason why it's so important to do everything we can to use less energy and switch to renewable energy sources that don't emit carbon dioxide.


    Poison_ivy_whole_full1) Learn to recognize the plant, and where it grows. It prefers shady, wooded areas and open forests. (I usually get some poison ivy every year in the shadier parts of my yard.) You might recognize the leaf, but do you know what it looks like as a bush? Remember that the plants can change color during the season, varying from green to bright red. Poison ivy and oak have leaflets of three petals, while poison sumac has leaflets of seven to thirteen. Sometimes the plants have clumps of berries visible, and sometimes they do not. These pictures will help you identify poison ivy, oak and sumac.

    2) Dig it up. If you see it in your yard, use a long-handled shovel to dig it up. Make sure to wear a long-sleeved shirt, gloves, pants and boots to avoid any skin exposure. Dispose of the dug-up ivy in a large paper bag (like a paper shopping bag or leaf bag); don't put poison ivy in your compost pile!

    3) If you're walking in the woods, stay on maintained trails. Chances are, if you or your kids go bushwhacking through an untamed woods, you'll run into poison ivy somewhere along the way.

    4) Wash your clothes as well as your skin. Urushiol, the toxic oil in poison ivy, can stay on clothes and rub off on your skin. You should wear protective clothing when dealing with this plant, then remove the clothes carefull and wash in hot water.

    5) Keep your pets leashed when in the woods. Your dog won't actually get poison ivy, but the urushiol oil can rub off on its fur, then transfer to you when you pet it. Keep your dog leashed when walking in woods where poison ivy could be lurking.


    1) As quickly as possible after exposure, wash the exposed area with soap and water. You have only eight to ten minutes before the oil will be absorbed through your skin and into your system. Wash your pet, too. Wear gloves, use a grease-cutting soap, and don't forget the paws!

    Tecnu2) Try Tecnu. I keep a bottle of this in my car as well as in my medicine chest at home. I have found it to be very effective at neutralizing poison ivy, but using it as soon after exposure as possible is key. You can find Tecnu in most CVS stores, or order it now from the Big Green Purse store here.

    3) Try an oatmeal bath. When I was pregnant with my first child, I got a horrible case of poison ivy. My baby wasn't in any danger, but I was really miserable. My doctor recommended I create a poultice out of oatmeal, or take an oatmeal bath. The bath was somewhat soothing; it was certainly more effective on my skin than calomine lotion, which is what many people typically use for poison ivy relief. You can probably find oatmeal baths at your local drugstore; they're also easily available in our store.

    Please share any other ways you've treated poison ivy. Thanks.


    Top Ten Ways to Save Energy and Money at Home

    For more impacts, don't miss this month's Green Moms Carnival: Climate Change Affects Our Health, Our Homes, Our Families and Our Future


    (Note: When you purchase any product from our store, we earn a small commission that helps us continue to provide you with free information about products and services. Our recommendations are unbiased and based on our research and impartial product reviews. Thanks.)

    March 18, 2012

    Clean and Green Dry Cleaning Methods Reduce Your Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

    "Dry" cleaning is one of those things that sounds like a much better idea than it is. You might have an inkling of that when you step into a dry cleaners to drop off or pick up your laundry and get an overpowering whiff of ...yeah, what IS that smell?

    Thumb_brown.bmpIt's actually a toxic solvent called perchloroethylene, or PERC. I get an instant headache if I'm exposed to it after as little as ten minutes; I don't know how the cleaners themselves can tolerate it.  It's also known to cause nausea and dizziness, has been linked to reproductive problems, including miscarriage and male infertility, and been blamed for disorders of the central nervous system. Bringing clothes that exude PERC into homes and cars can leave behind a residue that can rise above levels that are considered safe to breathe. How "clean" is that?

    PERC poses an environmental threat, too. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the chemical generates toxic air pollution and hazardous waste in many of the communities where it's used. In fact, says NRDC, three-quarters of PERC-using dry cleaners in the U.S. are estimated to have contaminated soil and groundwater where they're located. 


    If you'd prefer not to bring PERC into your home, beware of cleaners that claim to be "organic" or green but aren't. "GreenEarth" is the brand name for siloxane D5, a silicone-based chemical the manufacturer says degrades into sand, water and carbon dioxide. However, the EPA is still assessing whether siloxane could cause cancer. A 2003 study showed an increase in uterine tumors among female rats that were exposed to very high levels of these chemicals.

    Also avoid petroleum-based solvents, sometimes marketed as Stoddard, DF-2000, PureDry, EcoSolve, and Shell Solution 140 HT. Yes, they contain organic chemicals, but they're the "volatile organic chemicals" or VOCs that cause some of the same problems attributed to PERC.

    The good alternatives?

    "Wet" cleaning: This method uses water and specially formulated, nontoxic, biodegradable detergents to clean sensitive fabrics such as wool, silk, linen, and rayon. It is one of two processes considered environmentally preferable by the Environmental Protection Agency. It does not create toxic air or water pollution, nor does it appear to have negative health effects.  Just be sure that, before you turn your special fabrics over to shops that offer wet cleaning, you discuss the fabric with them to make sure wet cleaning is appropriate.

    Laundress* Liquid carbon dioxide (CO2): EPA also considers this method preferable to dry cleaning, but it's more difficult to find because the equipment it uses is expensive. Some CO2 cleaners also use a Solvair machine, which adds the toxic solvent glycol ether to the process; ask the cleaning company to explain their entire process before you do business with them.

    * Find safer cleaning companies. Go to to find the safest dry cleaners near you.

    * Do it yourself? The Laundress has developed non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning agents you can use at home to launder your own fine and sensitive fabrics.


    What else can you do to avoid PERC?

    * Buy "wash and wear" clothes you can launder at home. Before you buy new clothes, check the label on the inside seam for laundry directions. If it says "dry clean only," you might want to reconsider.

    * Treat stains and dirt when they occur. For most fabrics other than silk, you can treat stains with soda water and a little gentle liquid soap, saving you the trouble of having to wash the entire garment.

    * Wear cotton camisoles and t-shirts under hard-to-launder fashions. The underwear will absorb sweat and body odor and help extend the life of your more delicate sweaters and blouses.

    * If you do need to go to a traditional dry cleaners, expose your clothes to the fresh air. Put the windows down if you're driving home with the clothes in the car. Once home, take the clothes out of the plastic bag they came in and hang them outside.


    Related Posts:

    Dry Your Clothes for Free


    For more great ideas on how to keep toxins out of your house, don't miss this month's Green Moms Carnival, hosted by Lori Popkewitz Alper at Groovy Green Livin.



    June 29, 2011

    Putting on Lipstick Shouldn't be so Risky. It Won't Be - if You Support the Safe Cosmetics Act

    Lips If you're anything like me, when you buy lipstick or eye make-up, it's because you want to look better, not feel worse. But many cosmetics contain questionnable ingredients that have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and asthma and respiratory disease. I've switched to more eco-friendly, non-toxic personal care products, but shouldn't EVERY cosmetic be eco-friendly and non-toxic?

    With your participation and some determined work on Capitol Hill, it will be. Several members of Congress recently introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act, legislation that would phase out toxic ingredients in our make-up and other personal care products that have been linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental harm. The act would also create a health-based safety standard to protect not only us adults, but kids, the elderly, and people who work in salons and the cosmetics industries.

    Plus, the legislation would require companies to fully disclose all the ingredients their products contain so we consumers can read the labels and decide what we want to be exposed to. Finally, the new law would boost funding for the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Cosmetics and Colors so it can effectively oversee the cosmetics industry and better protect consumers.

    Continue reading "Putting on Lipstick Shouldn't be so Risky. It Won't Be - if You Support the Safe Cosmetics Act" »

    June 28, 2011

    Skin Cancer is Scary and Ugly. Here's What Mine Looks Like.

    Skin cancer Skin cancer is scary and ugly. I should know. I've had it seven times. And every time, I've had to have it cut out or burned off in order to control it.

    Why do I get skin cancer so often? In part, I'm genetically pre-disposed. My ancestors were northern Europeans from Scotland and Poland, which means they were fair skinned and likely to burn if they spent too much time in the sun. I'm the same way. I freckle first, especially on my face. But then the burn sets in. It takes my skin a very long time to tan, but I can burn in half an hour.

    Burned feet Apart from my DNA, I'm getting skin cancer now because I spent so much time tanning and burning when I was a teenager and young adult. We thought sun tans made us look "cool" (our word for "hot" in those days). Getting a tan in the summer was as important to us as eating ice cream or going to camp. We would slather our bodies with baby oil to "speed the burn" then make sure we were out in the sun during the most intense hours of the day - 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. We wouldn't come in until our skin was so red it seemed radioactive. It seems ridiculous now, but it was what we did then, when no one ever talked about skin cancer. (These burned feet and other photos of sun burn are on Ellen Degeneres' website.I don't have photos of me all burned up as a kid.)

      Skin cancer eye My first skin cancer showed up when I was 38 years old. It was right in the corner of my left eyelid (the picture to the right is not my eye, but that bubble you see below this eye is exactly what mine looked like). My eye had to be anesthetized, and then the cancer was cut off. I walked around for about a week with some unsightly stitches on my face before the scar healed. Soon after, a much larger skin cancer showed up on my chest, right below my collar bone. This surgery was bigger and left a scar about an inch long. Pretty soon, every couple of years, another skin cancer would show up - on my shoulders, my hands, my back, my stomach. Often, my dermatologist could simply freeze the cancer and kill the cells. But recently, a new skin cancer appeared on my upper chest. This one was the most serious of all and required MOHS surgery, a more complicated procedure in which the doctor must cut deeply into the skin and all around the cancer to make sure the entire cancer is removed. It took a week for the incision to scab over, and a few months for the red swelling around the scar to subside.

    Continue reading "Skin Cancer is Scary and Ugly. Here's What Mine Looks Like." »

    March 21, 2011

    What's the Link between Population and Nuclear Energy?

    Japan's nuclear disaster got me thinking about energy demand. Nuclear power advocates justify the decision to power plants with uranium as the best way to meet energy demands that are increasing because world population is growing. I couldn't help but wonder: why aren't we talking about reducing population as part of our global strategy to minimize dependence on power sources that pollute the environment and threaten people's health?

    Bob Engelman  I asked Bob Engelman, a Vice President at the Worldwatch Institute and one of the country's most respected experts on the link between population and the environment, to weigh in. Read his post, then let us know how you think population should figure into the calculations we're making about our energy future.

    Always sensitive to talk about, the topic of population is hard to keep under wraps when news keeps reminding us that we live in a finite world. The costs of food and energy are rising despite a global economy in low gear. The likelihood of stemming the rise of the atmosphere’s greenhouse gas concentrations seems farther away than ever. And as Japan’s nuclear nightmare has reminded us yet again, there is no truly safe way to provide the energy that 6.9 billion people need to live decently. We’re pressing hard against limits set by the laws of physics and biology. The idea that we can easily trim our individual consumption to come into balance with nature—worthy as that effort is—looks increasingly naïve.

    If people in the developed world slash their per capita greenhouse emissions by half, their effort could be counterbalanced by people in developing countries boosting theirs by just 11 percent. Global per capita emissions would still be inequitable—and unsustainably globe-warming.

    Are there too many of us?

    Peachtreeroadrace When I ponder how hard it will be to save the global climate, the oceans, forests, fisheries and non-human species, the answer seems obvious. But that answer is dangerous. To say we are too many is to imply some of us should go away fast, or at least that people should be made to have fewer children than they’d like.

    The conversation looks easier if we start with some core values:

    Continue reading "What's the Link between Population and Nuclear Energy?" »

    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." »

    August 23, 2010

    Salmonella-poisoned eggs make a strong argument for local, organic, family farms.

    I love eggs, but I hate food poisoning more.

    I'm betting so do the more than 2,000 people who have been sickened by eating tainted eggs produced by factory chicken farms in Iowa. After all, no one I know enjoys the impact salmonella has on their digestive tract, since it induces vomiting, dizziness, diahrrea, fever, abdominal cramps, blood infections and even death. 

    Egg hand  Investigators are still trying to understand how this potentially lethal bacterium was able to infect so many eggs in such a short period of time. One possible cause is getting a lot of attention: the way the laying hens were raised. Conventional poultry operations raise millions of chickens at a time, often in confined spaces and under filthy and inhumane conditions that reduce the ability of the animals to fight off germs. When disease hits, it spreads like wildfire. But with a fire you can see the flames coming. With salmonella, you don't know it's got you until you're doubled over in pain or on your way to the emergency room.

    For now, eggs in 14 states in the midwest have been recalled. The good news is that this amounts to less than 1 percent of all eggs produced in the U.S. Still, disease outbreaks like these remind all of us to be vigilant about the food we eat. The following precautions will help you stay healthy:

    Continue reading "Salmonella-poisoned eggs make a strong argument for local, organic, family farms." »

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