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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.
  • January 04, 2010

    She shifted $1,000 of her budget to eco-friendly goods...and chickens!

    If you’re looking for ways to live a greener life, take some pointers from Fran Martin.

    Snookey Fran is the newest member of the One in a Million campaign, a feat she achieved by switching more than $1,000 of her household budget to products and services that offer the greatest environmental benefit. The campaign doesn’t ask people to spend MORE money. Instead, it encourages consumers to throw their marketplace clout behind non-toxic, eco-friendly alternatives that often end up saving people more money in the long run.

    Who is Fran?

    Fran, who is married, 67, and the mother of grown children, has lived in Butler, PA for the past 43 years. Her husband trains and breeds Labrador retrievers; “We have two,” she says. Fran is retired, but works part-time conducting food demonstrations where “I really push the organic products whether it is my demo of the day or not.”

    "At home I am an avid cook - everything from scratch,” says the One in a Million devotee.  “After the Women for a Healthy Environment conference last year, and after reading Omnivore's Dilemma, I extended my organic garden and got two hens so I could have organic eggs.  I erected a hoop house in October to have a winter garden which proved to be quite successful.  The only red meat we eat is venison, and I can and freeze everything possible.”

    “I also made homemade mouthwash and fabric softner,” she said.

    How did she shift $1,000?

    Here are the actual eco budget shifts Fran made between October 2008 and December 2009:

    Organic Grains, Beans - $40
    Organic Coffee - $208
    Organic Dairy - $155
    Organic Nuts –  $52
    Organic Pasta - $21
    Household Products (like eco-safe laundry detergent, dish soap, and cleaning soap) - $115
    Nontoxic Health/Beauty Products - $66
    Organic Chicken Feed - $26
    Beverages - $23
    Soymilk (2 cases) - $25
    Meats/Fish - $123
    Snacks - $8
    Veg/Fruit - $90
    Organic garden fertilizer and soil amendments: $75
    Stopped using clothes dryer almost completely: undetermined energy savings

    Total: at least $1,025


    When I asked Fran why she made the shifts, here's what she said:  
    * What inspired you to join the One in a Million campaign? I attended the Women’s Health and the Environment Conference in Pittsburg and heard you describe the difference we can make based on how we spend our money. I thought, “I can do that.”
    * What change was unexpectedly easy to make? Keeping track of my purchases!
    * What proved to be most challenging? Finding the best prices (ed. Note: This is true for many people, but a little bargain shopping can make organic food and recycled products very affordable)’
    * What's your next step? Continue to purchase present organic products and add new ones as I find them.

    Great job, Fran! Thanks for sharing your success with us.

    Join Us!

    And for all of you who are inspired to make your own spending shifts, get started here.

    How "Organic" Is Organic Dry Cleaning?

    Organic drycleaners Are "organic" dry cleaners popping up in your neighborhood?

    Are they legit, or another greenwashing scam? Here's the low-down:

    What Makes A Dry Cleaner Green?

    It's not PERC.

    Just because a dry cleaner claims to be "organic" doesn't mean it's free of toxic chemicals. That's because, scientifically speaking, any chemical is considered to be organic if it contains carbon. So even cleaners that use a solvent like perchloroethylene (PERC), which has been classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a probable human carcinogen, can claim to be organic. An ad for "green" dry cleaners doesn't necessarily mean much, either, since there is no standard definition for what makes cleaning green.

    Hydrocarbon solvents are in the same boat. Hydrocarbon solvents are petroleum-based, says Sierra Club, and contribute to greenhouse gases by emitting volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Solvents to avoid are: DF2000, PureDry, EcoSolve, Shell Solution 140 HT and Stoddard.

    And that GreenEarth method you may have seen around? It does not necessarily translate into 'green-for-the-earth.' GreenEarth cleaners replace PERC with a silicone-based solvent called methyl siloxane or D5, which is similar to the base ingredients used in deodorants and shaving creams. The solvent itself is currently considered safe for the environment because it degrades to sand, water, and carbon dioxide, says the Union of Concerned Scientists, but it has caused cancer in lab animals in EPA studies. In addition, it is manufactured using chlorine, which can generate harmful dioxin emissions.

    The good news?

    Safe, non-toxic alternatives do exist. And they are just as effective as traditional dry cleaning, minus the negative impacts on the environment.

    • Wet-cleaning replaces PERC with carefully controlled amounts of water and special non-toxic biodegradable detergents. Computer-operated equipment helps ensure that your delicate fabrics are cleaned without the risks to human health or the environment.
    • Carbon dioxide (CO2) cleaning relies on high pressure to convert carbon dioxide gas into liquid that acts as a carrier for biodegradable soaps. When the washing is complete, the pressure is released, turning the CO2 back into a gas to be used again and again. One drawback: the requisite machinery is expensive, so this method costs more than PERC-based dry cleaning.

    If you want to locate the nearest reliably green cleaner, check out this national directory published by Occidental College. It is slightly out of date, but will give you a start, at least, on locating a more eco-friendly dry cleaner.

    The U.S. EPA also offers a nationwide list of CO2 and wet cleaners that was compiled in 2003.

    Handwash Keep in mind that not all "dry clean only" garments need to be professionally dry-cleaned. Green living expert and editor Annie Bond provides safe, eco-friendly instructions on hand-washing silk, wool and rayon clothing here. My daughter regularly washes her wool sweaters on the cold, delicate cycle in the washing machine, then line dries them. Cheap, effective.

    The most obvious solution of all? Transition your wardrobe to wash-and-wear clothing that requires no dry cleaning. You'll save money on cleaning bills and breathe easier knowing you're reducing your exposure to questionable chemicals.

    BONUS: Discover easy, simple ways to clean out your closet this season, and how your wardrobe transition can make a world of a difference, here.

    August 23, 2009

    Shift Your Spending to Protect the Environment

    We launched the "One in a Million" challenge to encourage consumers to shift $1,000 of their usual household budget to products and services that offer the greatest environmental benefit. To date, almost 5,000 people have made the shift, resulting in a $5 million impact in the marketplace.

    Here's the inspiring story of Cassandra, one of our most recent shifters. Thanks for becoming One in a Million!

    Cassandra Hi Diane!

    I signed up for your "One in a Million" challenge last year at the beginning of May after I purchased your book. I am delighted to report I have achieved the goal of shifting $1000 towards organic products in one year. My total was $1153.06.

    Just after I signed up for your challenge I moved from Syracuse, New York to Salt Lake City, Utah. This made my challenge both easier and harder. I didn't know where to shop for organic foods and I had to start from scratch with appliances and furniture.

    I learned quickly and began shopping at Whole Foods as well as thrift stores for furniture for my new apartment, kitchen supplies, and clothes. I tried to share my excitement with my family and friends by buying them "green presents" - organic soaps, used books, organic chocolate, bamboo shirts, and organic cotton socks for their birthdays and Christmas. As a result my mother has begun to use her reusable grocery bags and buys organic fruits and vegetables. I'm working on convincing her to switch to organic laundry detergents.

    I work as a project manager for a small firm based out of Arizona. Currently, I am helping my company manage the construction of a large wind farm in southern Utah called the Milford Wind Corridor. My company acts as the third party compliance monitor ensuring the biological and cultural resources are protected during construction. It has given me a new perspective on the process of shifting to alternative energy.

    I enjoy being "green" at work and at home! Your book and blog has prompted me to be a better, more informed consumer.

    Thanks so much for your inspiration!


    How did Cassandra do it?

    Continue reading "Shift Your Spending to Protect the Environment" »

    March 11, 2009

    Big Green Declaration for Change Says It's Time for a New Biz Model

    There is a silver lining in the economic meltdown and environmental crises we face.

    Biz woman and globe These twin 'evils' have created an unprecedented opportunity to throw out old business models in favor of new approaches that will redefine prosperity in terms of health and wellness, work-life balance, and environmental protection.

    For decades, "old business" advocates successfully argued that we could not have both a clean environment and a thriving economy. We now know, nothing could be further from the truth. Safeguarding the planet is the linchpin to our economic renaissance.

    This realization could not come at a more critical -- or exciting time, especially for women? Why?

    For the first time, women are on the verge of overtaking men as the nation's breadwinners. Women are looking for meaningful employment in enterprises that are socially responsible and environmentally relevant as well as economically rewarding. Women are also seeking the kind of independence that allows them to fulfill their personal goals while cultivating their professional ambitions.

    I have just published: A Big Green Declaration for Change: Why Going Green is the Ultimate Success Strategy for Women Entrepreneurs. It lays out a vision for a new approach to business that I believe we must take to recover economically and get the planet back on track.

    Read it. Think about it. Do it.

    February 27, 2009

    Please don't squeeze the Charmin - or use it for anything else!

    Charmin, Kleenex Cottonelle, Quilted Northern and Scott are among the toilet papers and tissues that do the most harm to forests and the environment, according to a new report by Greenpeace.

    The non-profit research group evaluated dozens of brands of toilet paper, facial tissue, paper, towels and napkins according to three criteria:

    1) How much recycled content they contained - using 100% recycled content helps protect forests because it significantly reduces the demand for trees, especially trees coming from native forests.

    2) How much of that was post-consumer waste - to get the top ranking, at least 50% post-consumer waste needed to be used in manufacturing the product.

    3) How the paper was bleached - the top-ranked products are not bleached using chlorine, which can create the toxic byproduct dioxin.

    According to Greenpeace, Americans could save more than 400,000 trees if each family bought a roll of recycled toilet paper—just once.

    The group has produced a pocket guide you can use when you shop to buy the most eco-friendly option.

    Brands that ranked high on the Greenpeace list include:

    Green forest * Green Forest

    * 365 Whole Planet (available at Whole Foods)

    * CVS Earth Essentials

    * Seventh Generation

    * Trader Joe's

    * Cascades

    Of course, when it comes to napkins and towels, use cloth, and avoid the paper debate altogether.

    February 05, 2009

    Have you unplugged your refrigerator?

    Honestly, it never would have occurred to me as a significant way to save energy.

    Unplugged refrigerator But a story in today's New York Times reports on this growing trend, which some consumers are adopting as much for the symbolic value of un-plugging as for the electricity savings. (NOTE: Many folks have been inspired to unplug by my Green Moms Carnival colleague Deanna Duke, who blogs at

    What about you?

    Have you replaced your big fridge with a smaller model, with a cooler, or with nothing at all?

    Are you using just as much energy going back and forth to the grocery store to replenish fresh food since you can't store it in the refrigerator any more?

    Do you miss cold beer?

    While we're on the topic, here's what I do to improve my refrigerator's efficiency:

    * I keep the coils clean on the back.

    * I bought the most efficient model available, with the freezer unit on top rather than on the bottom or side-by-side.

    * I don't have TWO refrigerators, like many consumers, who keep their old model in the basement or garage for extra groceries, soft drinks, or party supplies.

    * I try not to open the door and just stand there admiring my fruits and vegetables as all the cold air escape (admittedly, my kids haven't quite got this habit down).

    * I positioned my refrigerator far from my stove and dishwasher and not in direct sunlight, so it doesn't have to work extra hard to keep cool.

    I'd love to know if you've gone "refrigerator free."  Drop a line and share your story.

    November 24, 2008

    By Shifting Spending to Bamboo, Organics and Green Cleaners, Mom-to-Be Becomes "One in a Million"

    HoneyLynn, a soon-to-be-mother who joined the Big Green Purse campaign back in March, has shifted almost $2,000 of her household spending to products and services that benefit the environment as part of her commitment to live a greener life. Here's her story:

    Honey Summer 2008  "Over the last 4-5 years, I have really become committed to environmentally conscious living, but have realized that it doesn't and can't on a practical level, happen overnight. So, slowly I have shifted our household's spending to more environmentally conscious products. Whenever I need to replace or or buy something new, I take the time to seek out environmentally friendly alternatives, and if it costs a little more than I thought and we don't need it right away, then I save up to make the purchase (no credit card purchases here). 
    "The idea of seeing exactly how much of our household spending was directed to environmentally friendly products, was what inspired me to get involved in the One in a Million campaign. Regarding the biggest lesson, like I mentioned above, is that sometimes it takes a little research (thank goodness for the Internet) to find environmentally friendly alternatives, but it is worth it. Also, those skeptical partners out there eventually come around. My husband half-jokingly gives me a hard time about being an Eco-nut, but over the last four+ years, I have noticed that when he does the shopping by himself, our reusable shopping bags are filled with the organic groceries and Eco-friendly products that we have become accustom to purchasing. It has become a part of our lifestyle.
    "We live in Mankato, MN which is in south central MN, so sometimes it is difficult to find the products that we are looking for locally, so I will order on line when necessary. We just bought our first house this past July and have committed to using Eco-friendly products and services as we make the place our own. We don't have any pets, but we are expecting our first child in April and our close friends and family already expect that our child will be one of the 'greenest' around.

    "Most definitely I will continue to shift our spending!"

    One_in_a_million HoneyLynn became "One in a Million" when she pledged to shift at least $1,000 of her household budget to more eco-friendly products and services. The idea is not to spend more money. Rather, the campaign inspires consumers to swap out conventional products for ones that are greener and cleaner. If a million women make the shift, we'll create a billion-dollar incentive for manufacturers to "go green." Already, thousands of women have joined the campaign.

    If you're interested,visit Big Green Purse online and download a balance sheet to help you keep track of your budget shifts. When you reach (or exceed) your $1,000 pledge, email us your story, and we'll post it, just like HoneyLynn's.

    Take a look at HoneyLynn's Balance Sheet to see how she shifted her spending:

     Date                   Item                                                          Money Spent

     3/28             Aveda Men’s Shampoo & Women’s Facial Bar             49.22
     3/28             Organic Spinach, Yogurt, & Cereal                              16.00
     3/31             Groceries from Local Food Co-Op                                36.91

    4/5                Groceries                                                                  58.00
    4/12              Electric-Wind Energy                                                  28.00
    4/13              Bamboo hangers & spatula                                         12.00 
    4/13              Groceries                                                                   19.00
    4/15              Cosmetics-Honey Bee Gardens                                   15.44
    4/18              Groceries                                                                   29.73
    4/18              Blue Canoe-Yoga Clothes                                            57.00
    4/19             Groceries from local Food Co-Op                                   48.92
    4/21             Klean Kanteen                                                             34.70
    4/26             Bamboo Hangers                                                            4.00
    4/27             Groceries                                                                     18.00
    4/27             Thrift Store Clothing Purchase                                        37.00

    5/03              Groceries                                                                    20.15
    5/04              Bamboo Cooking Utensil                                                3.00
    5/04              Groceries & Purchase of shares in Co-Op                    138.09
    5/10              Groceries                                                                    25.50
    5/10              Bamboo Hangers & Dishwasher Detergent                       9.38
    5/15              Shopping at local Co-op                                                  9.16
    5/17              Bamboo Hangers & Tom’s Deodorant                               8.23
    5/17              Groceries                                                                     20.58   
    5/25              Groceries                                                                     29.31
    5/25              Apothena-organic facecare                                             79.95
    5/26              Bamboo Hangers                                                            4.00
    5/31             Groceries                                                                      24.97

    06/7             Groceries                                                                      35.34
    06/7             Bamboo Hangers                                                             4.00
    06/7             Bamboo Hangers & Toms Toothpaste                                8.18
    06/7             Local Honey                                                                    5.59
    06/7             Nurture My Body-Organic Hair Care                                 27.00
    6/15             Laundry Detergent & Bamboo Hangers                            17.00
    6/15             Farmer’s Market                                                            10.00
    6/15             Groceries                                                                      24.30
    6/16             Klean Kanteen                                                               33.00
    6/16             Alima Cosmetics                                                            15.00
    6/17             Bamboo Socks                                                                6.00
    6/21             Bamboo Hangers                                                             4.00
    6/21             Groceries                                                                      19.63
    6/21             Aveda-Makeup Brushes                                                  99.51

    7/01             Rain Barrel                                                                   200.00
    7/05             Bamboo hangers & Eco-friendly mop                                40.00
    7/05             Groceries                                                                       30.75
    7/05             Farmer’s Market                                                             15.00
    7/08             Bamboo Hangers & Compostable Dusters                          9.00
    7/10             Bamboo Hangers & Toothpaste                                         7.70
    7/12             Farmer’s Market                                                             48.00
    7/13             Groceries                                                                       34.65
    7/17             Composter & Compost Scrap Keeper                             151.00
    7/18             Farmer’s Market                                                             19.00
    7/18             Groceries                                                                       21.80
    7/18             Local Food Co-op                                                           29.15
    7/24             Cleaning Products & Bamboo Hangers                             30.54
    7/25             Farmer’s Market                                                             16.00
    7/25             Groceries                                                                       35.93

    8/03             Groceries                                                                       41.10
    8/05             Local Food Co-op                                                            45.88
    8/10             Bamboo Hangers                                                              4.00
    8/15             Groceries                                                                         6.82
    8/17             Groceries                                                                         4.76
    8/18             Groceries                                                                         3.99
    8/22             Groceries                                                                       13.10
    8/27             Groceries & Bamboo Hangers                                          10.26
    8/28             Groceries, Hangers, & Dish soap                                     10.26
    8/30             Cleaning Product                                                              3.29
    8/29             Groceries                                                                       15.52

                        Total                                                                          $1,992.29


    November 11, 2008

    When You Start Spending Money Again, Make a Difference: Choose Green Products and Services

    The current economic downturn has a "green" lining: reduced consumption is cutting environmental impact almost across the board, scaling back carbon dioxide emissions and trash piles as people drive less, buy less, and pluck more goods out of neighborhood yard sales and on-line swap shops before they get redirected to the dump.

    These are good habits to develop, even if many of us have been forced into them. But what will happen when the financial crisis eases (which it eventually will) and we start to feel money jiggling in our pockets again? It could be tempting to forgo our new behavior patterns and rush out to buy SUVs, the newest electronic gadget, and more clothes than we can possibly wear. That would be a shame. If the financial meltdown has taught us anything, it should be that the way we spend our money matters. When we have dollars to dole out again, we should do so not only to meet our material needs, but to bolster the green economy, too. 

    September 28, 2008

    Forget Black and Orange. Can I Get That In "Green"?

    As Halloween unofficially kicks off the holiday buying season, Big Green Purse is encouraging consumers to ask "Can I get it in 'green'?" no matter what they're looking for when they shop.

    The idea is to pressure the nation's 1.6 million U.S. retailers more forcefully than ever before to offer the greenest products and services available.  Looking for a sweater? Ask if the store has it in "green" - i.e., made from certified organic or recycled fiber by Fair Trade workers. Buying toys? Inquire about "green" dolls, action figures, stuffed animals, and games made in the U.S. from certified sustainable materials finished with non-toxic glues and paints. Thinking about electronics? Request the "greenest" options, which you can find on the ratings pages at Greenpeace.

    In all likelihood, most stores, especially those occupying the very un-green real estate characteristic of shopping and strip malls, won't have a ready supply of certified green goods on hand. But that's why consumer demand is so important.

    *  Given that consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of GDP, consumer behavior has an oversized  influence on the entire economy. What you buy tells manufacturers what to make more of -- and how.

    The Christmas shopping season alone can account for as much as forty per cent of a retail store’s annual revenue and as much as three-quarters of its annual profit. Consistently demanding the greenest possible goods from now until the end of December -- and buying them when you find them -- is the most immediate route available to change corporate behavior.   

    The National Retail Federation estimates that consumers will spend $470.4 billion during the 2008 holiday shopping season, more than $1,000 per household.

    Shifting even 20% of that money would amount to an end-of-year infusion of more than $94 billion to eco-manufacturers, providing needed financial capital to entrepreneurs the federal government routinely ignores. Though the government seems more than willing to spend $700 billion to bail out the outdated banking industry, it offers little or no money to help innovative manufacturers transition to certified environmentally-friendly practices, an action that arguably could have a far more positive impact on our economy and national security than rescuing failed banks.

    It goes without saying that the greenest way to celebrate the holidays is to reduce buying as much as possible. The reality is that people are going to shop - at least for holiday food and drink, and for most, much more. Shoppers who shift their spending to green products help infuse environmentally-friendly producers and retailers with the capital they need to continue to ramp up their eco-offerings while eliminating practices that pollute the air and water and accelerate climate change. They also create a resounding drumbeat that lasts far beyond the Christmas sales.

    Plus, asking "Can I get it in 'green'?" creates an opportunity to educate a substantial number of people who, for a few minutes at least, are a captive audience: the 25 million Americans - 1 out of every 5 working U.S. citizens - employed in the retail industry.

    So, start asking "Can I Get It In 'Green'?" And don't keep the answers to yourself! Share them with the rest of us via the Get It Green Forum or over on Twitter.

    And for other holiday and Halloween ideas, check out the Green Moms Carnival, hosted this month by Green Bean Dreams.

    September 24, 2008

    Another "One in a Million" Shifts Spending to Used Car, Organic Make-up

    One_in_a_million The One in a Million campaign is inspiring thousands of women to shift $1,000 of their household budget to products and services that offer the greatest environmental benefit.
    Meet the latest "Millionaire":  Christine G. from Pittsburgh, PA shifted almost $5,000 in the following ways:
    *  Used Car - $4,700
    *  Organic Makeup - $23.00
    *  Used books for herself and gifts - $103.00
    *  Organic lotions and shampoos - $54.00
    Total Shift:  $4,881.00
    Here's her story:
    " I am recently married, have one spoiled dog name Meeko, a husband Steve who supports the green effort I'm trying to undertake in my own little corner of the world (and who really likes me not buying the unnecessary items at all!). I am in charge of a safety program on the job and have started to incorporate "green living" into safety talks and communications out to the people in the field who work with the same program, though I do not manage any employees directly.
    "I was looking for a "new to me vehicle" and I did not want to buy new and lose value as soon as I drove off the lot.  I look at buying a used vehicle as recycling, but did not look at the mpg as the price was soooo right.  The mpg is no worse than the vehicle I have replaced by buying this used vehicle.
    Re what inspired Christine to become One in a Million? "I want to do my part - once I thought about what "organic" and "free trade" and "shade grown" and all the other phrases really mean, I realized that it's not only good for the planet in the big picture, it's good for me in the immediate future."
    Will she continue to shift her spending? "I do continue to buy greener products and services, though I'm also just not buying as much unnecessary items as I have in the past - and I finally found Bon Ami!!, so I'll be cleaning a little greener, too."
    "I am the major purchaser for the household. I am looking for bamboo flooring in anticipation of when we'll need it in the future for a remodeling project. I'm interested in solar panels or at least sky-lights. I am buying organic groceries as much as possible (milk, parents have a farm so fresh free-range eggs are no problem, local farmer's market fruit and veggies instead of imported and treated from who knows where with who knows what) as well as H&B items (shampoo, cosmetics, sunscreens, etc.)."
    "I will think green before any purchase and purchase to the greenest of my ability - be it gently used, flea market, donation store, hand me overs, etc.  I'm trying to work "green" into everything I can."
    Thumbs up, Christine!Thumb_green
    EcoCentric Mom
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