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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

    How to Protect Your Family From Bisphenol A

    Baby1 Bisphenol-A, a toxic chemical used to make baby bottles, plastic water bottles, and food and beverage can liners, has been linked to heart disease and diabetes. Even so, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) insists that the chemical is fine for use by infants, children and adults.

    BPA, an artificial sex hormone, has produced irreversible damage in test animals. It has been under fire from environmentalists, scientists, and, increasingly, concerned moms.

    FDA, the federal agency charged with regulating food safety, has argued that BPA can continue to be used in consumer products. The agency cites 2 studies indicating that the chemical is safe, despite the fact that both studies were funded by the chemical industry.

    Environmental Working Group, the consumer watchdog research institute, says, "The FDA has refused to take into serious consideration more than 100 independent animal studies suggesting the toxic chemical could be linked to serious disorders in humans, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, early puberty, obesity and learning and behavioral problems."

    University of Missouri research scientist Frederick Vom Saal today released one of the most comprehensive studies ever published on BPA. The study links heart disease and diabetes to continual, low-dose exposure to BPA -- exactly the kind of exposure you would get from drinking canned sodas regularly or drinking regularly from plastic bottles.

    In an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, scientists report a strong correlation between levels of BPA in American adults and these diseases, both of which are increasing.

    "These startling results only increase the urgency of removing BPA from products used by young children," said EWG senior scientist Anila Jacob M.D. M.P.H. "If the adult population in the U.S. is seeing links between this toxic chemical and heart disease and diabetes, imagine what impact much higher exposure levels are having on babies whose bodies are just developing."

    The National Toxicology Program, an arm of the National Institutes of Health, has asserted that it has "some concern" for BPA¹s negative impact on "development of the prostate gland and brain and for behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children."

    "If this weren¹t so serious, it would be laughable," said EWG VP for Research, Jane Houlihan. "Here we have an agency that time and again makes the wrong call on everything from pharmaceuticals, tomatoes and toothpaste, and we¹re supposed to take them at their word over a toxic sex hormone found in baby products."

    Until state or federal laws pass outlawing BPA in consumer products, you can protect yourself by:

    * minimizing your consumption of canned food and canned beverages, as BPA may be used to line the cans; choose fresh or frozen food and bottled juices instead

    * buy only water bottles or baby bottles that explicitly say they are BPA-Free

    Kleen_kanteen * use glass baby bottles and reusable water bottles made from stainless steel or aluminum

    * avoid plastic food and beverage containers that are made with #7 plastic; you should see the number in a triangle on the bottom of the bottle.

    September 10, 2008

    "One in a Million" Mom Shifts $1,000 to Greener Food, Bedding, Biking

    One_in_a_million Thousands of women have joined the "One in a Million" campaign. Participating couldn't be easier. They simply pledge to  shift $1,000 of their annual household budget to products and services that offer the greatest environmental benefits. That doesn't mean spend MORE money. It means spend money differently to make a difference.

    Deborah H. from Nashville, Tennessee and the mother of two boys, is the latest "One in a Million" winner. Here's how she shifted over $1,000:

    * Joined a Winter CSA -    $704.50

    * Bought Bamboo Sheets - $ 93.77

    * Joined a Spring CSA -    $400.00

    Total ...................   $1,198.27

    Why did she do it?

    "I joined One in a Million because I received an e-mail from the women's list-serve at my church (Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville, TN) about the good things your group was doing.

    "Thinking about the campaign has impacted how I buy. We use bamboo sheets on our beds, we recycle, and we belong to a CSA. My husband bikes to work when he can. We car pool with another family for school and we donate extra funds to our electric company for green energy.

    Avalon_acres "The winter CSA we belonged to was through Avalon Acres in Tennessee.  Every two weeks we received all of our brown eggs, meats and baked goods through them. We helped to support an Amish family through the winter. This spring we are involved in a CSA through Delvin Farms in Nashville. We are receiving every other week fresh vegetables and fruits from the farm."

    By shifting her budget to more eco-friendly products, Deborah is using her big green purse to encourage farmers and manufacturers to reduce pollution, protect the landscape, and help her live a healthier, safer life. If a million women follow Deborah's lead, they'll make a billion dollar impact in the marketplace and send an unmistakable environmental message to industries.

    Thumb_green Thumbs up, Deborah! And congratulations!!

    For more One in a Million stories, see here, here, here and here.

    Want to join us? Sign up here.

    September 08, 2008

    Going Back to School? Go Green To Save Hundreds of Dollars

    Globe_money Parents can save oodles of money by taking an "eco cheap" approach to back-to-school shopping.

    Where to start?

    * Ignore the huge supply lists that come home in kids' backpacks. Over at the blog Green Talk, "Thrifty is the New Green for Back to School Supplies" reminds parents to check their "voluminous" stashes of pens, pencils, crayons and paper leftover from last year before buying new. SAVINGS:  $25-$50/child

    *  Use last year's backpacks and lunch boxes. (Mindful Momma notes in "The Price We Pay for Back 2School Cool that kids do just fine with gear they've used before.) SAVINGS:  $50-$125/child, depending on backpack.

    *  Shop yard sales and thrift stores for back-to-school clothes. SAVINGS:  $100 - $250/child, depending on your usual clothes budget.

    * Borrow sports equipment and rent musical instruments. Is your daughter trying hockey for the first time? Not sure if your son is a budding violinist or just likes to hear the bow scratch? Borrow skates or rent the violin until you're sure a purchase makes sense. SAVINGS:  $50 - $250.

    Total Savings: $225 - $675 per child.

    For more great ideas that save money and spare the planet, drop in on the Green Moms Carnival over at SurelyYouNest.

    September 04, 2008

    What's Convincing Companies to Go Green? Consumer Demand.

    What should you do if you want companies to go green?

    Demand it, of course.

    It's a strategy that makes perfect sense, given that companies themselves say consumers are the biggest drivers of the sustainability changes they're willing to make. In a recent study conducted by Ernst & Young and reported on by Mary Hunt at In Women We Trust, executives from the finance, consumer goods and manufacturing industries acknowledged that consumer demand was a far greener "carrot" than environmental regulation, legislation, or competition, among other factors.

    Readers of Big Green Purse won't be surprised. Our mantra is all about ways you can make your money matter to protect yourself and the planet. But it's great when the very targets of our spending decisions acknowledge how much power we really have!

    August 28, 2008

    Check out Maggie's Organic for Back-to-School Fashions

    Even after you've cut your shopping budget to the bone, you may still need to get a few things to cover your kids as they head off to school. If so, take a look at Maggie's Organics.

    Maggies_boys_socks_3The company integrates certified organic cotton or wool in all its products and manufactures according to fair trade principles. They sell a terrific collection of socks, scarves, tights, loungewear, legwarmers, tees, baby clothes, new sock monkeys and fashionable tops.Maggies_girls_tights_2

    Conscious of energy consumed by transporting products across the globe, Maggie's has developed supply chains as close to home as possible. The company uses a minimum amount of packaging to save energy during transportation and to reduce waste.

    Thumb_green Thumbs up, Maggie!

    August 22, 2008

    Should you use up cosmetics you already have before buying new, safer products?

    When do you use up products you already have, and when do you either try to return them or just opt to throw them away?
    I got that question today. Here it is in full, along with my answer:
    "I would like your opinion. Before I heard you on Martha Stewart on Sirius, I was purchasing my normal stuff.  I would do recyclable as much as possible, didn't know much about free trade or organic or all that.  Then I bought your book. Now, I've read your book and would like to do what I can to protect myself and the environment.  What would you suggest I do with several unopened cosmetics, or the rest of already opened cosmetics?  I've got half bottles of shampoo and conditioner that I would gladly replace with organic.  I've got unopened bars of Neutrogena soap and unopened bottles of Neutrogena acne wash.  I've got unopened Neutrogena cosmetics (powder, under eye concealer). Should I use up what I have already opened?  Dumping it and just recycling the bottles doesn't sound right. If you would share your opinion, I'd appreciate it."
    Here's how I responded:
    "Is there any chance of returning the unopened products? The easiest would be to take them back to the store where you bought them. I called the Neutrogena customer service line ( https://www.neutrogena.com/contactus.asp?mainVal=as ) and they said that as long as the products are unopened, the store should take them back, even if you don't have a receipt.
    "Re: the opened and half used shampoo, conditioner and soap, I would go ahead and use them up, since if you throw them away you have probably a worse effect because you're dumping more concentrated materials down the drain or in the dump than diluting them somewhat with water. Also, these are products that don't usually penetrate your skin. There is the least health risk in using soaps that only stay on your body for minutes, as opposed to products like make-up and deodorant that are designed to penetrate the skin over time.
    "With the opened cosmetics, honestly, I have an old cosmetics bag that I've unwanted dumped lipstick, blush and mascara into. I no longer want to put these products on my body, but I don't want to throw them away either. Someday, I'll include them in my city's hazardous waste pick-up. They don't really qualify as hazardous material, but that just seems better than tossing them in the trash (though, if you didn't want to bother with that, you could double bag them and throw them away. Most things don't degrade in a landfill, so they'd probably remain intact, especially since they're also in a case)."
    Anyone have any other ideas?
    Thanks.

    August 05, 2008

    Cheapest, Fastest Oil Fix? Pump Up Your Tires!

    If you have a car, stop whatever you're doing and go check the air pressure of your vehicle's tires.

    Tire_gauge Apart from keeping your car in park, pumping up your tires to their proper "PSI" - pounds per square inch - is the fastest, cheapest way to reduce the amount of gasoline you use. Tires have a tendency to lose pressure over time or when the weather changes substantially; a car driving on underinflated tires needs more gas to move. You can gain 3.3% in fuel efficiency by inflating your tires. And with gasoline costing over $4/per gallon, every 3.3% gain means money in your pocket.

    That gain also affords an immediate way to increase our supply of oil. As Barack Obama has noted in his vision for an energy independent America, if we all pumped up our tires to their proper PSI, the U.S. could easily gain from conservation  (i.e., using less fuel) three times as much oil as we could reap from far more costly and environmentally dangerous off-shore oil drilling. And that oil is available TODAY, not ten or twenty years hence - the time it takes to develop oil fields and convert petroleum into gasoline.

    "Efforts to improve conservation and efficiency happen to be the best approaches to dealing with the energy crisis — the cheapest, cleanest, quickest and easiest ways to ease our addiction to oil, reduce our pain at the pump and address global warming. It's a pretty simple concept: if our use of fossil fuels is increasing our reliance on Middle Eastern dictators while destroying the planet, maybe we ought to use less," writes Michael Grunwald in Time.

    Thumb_green Tire gauges are cheap. You can buy one for $10-$15 at your local auto supply store; or look here.

    If you don't know how to check your tire pressure, this video offers a good explanation.

    You can easily save $20-$50 a month on gasoline if you pump up your tires and take other simple steps. Here are the top ten ways to beat high gas prices and increase America's oil supply.

    July 29, 2008

    ANTIBACTERIAL SOAP IS TOXIC: Could harm fetus and infants; Pollutes breast milk

    Dial_soap_75_oz_pump6210 Thinking about buying some handy 'germ fighting' dish soap or bathroom cleanser? Think again. In all likelihood, those cleaners contain triclosan, a toxic pesticide that's marketed as an "antibacterial agent" but is powerful enough to threaten children's health and pollute mothers' breast milk.

    According to a study by researchers at the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), triclosan has been:

    * linked to cancer in lab animals

    * targeted for removal from some stores in Europe for its health and environmental risks

    * recommended against use at home by the American Medical Association

    Thumb_brownbmp_2  Triclosan's human health and environmental impacts are serious:

    * It may disrupt the thyroid hormone system, which is essential for proper growth and development, particularly for brain growth in utero and during infancy.

    * It breaks down into very toxic chemicals, including a form of dioxin; methyl triclosan, which is acutely toxic to aquatic life; and chloroform, a carcinogen formed when triclosan mixes with tap water that has been treated with chlorine.

    * It pollutes the environment. Scientists surveying 85 U.S. rivers and streams found traces of triclosan in more than half. Studies done at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada show that triclosan exposure endangers frogs and other aquatic wildlife.

    Even though there is no evidence that triclosan is keeping homes cleaner, the toxin is showing up in the most unlikely products: toothpaste, shower curtains, cutting boards, and mattresses as well as liquid hand soap, dishwashing detergent, and window cleaner. It is touted by leading brands like Softsoap, Dial and Bath & Body works. EWG's research shows it is an ingredient in almost half of 259 hand soaps.

    "It¹s time to ban triclosan from all personal care and household products," says EWG Staff Scientists Rebecca Sutton, PhD.

    Dr. Stuart Levy, director of the Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, says "No current data demonstrate any health benefits from having antibacterial-containing cleansers in a healthy household."

    The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to determine whether and how to regulate triclosan and other antibacterial agents. Their review could take months, even years.

    In the meantime, here's how you can protect yourself:

    * Worry less about germs. Dr. Levy and other medical professionals note that people who are exposed to household germs usually develop stronger immune systems and are healthier overall. Aim to be clean, not germ-free.

    * Read product labels. If you see the words "antibacterial," "kills germs," or "triclosan," find an alternative.

    * Talk to store managers. Tell them you're refusing to buy antibacterial products because they threaten human health and the environment.

    * Shift your spending to safe, eco-friendly cleansers:

    Bonami *  Bon Ami

    Baking soda, vinegar and water

    Greenworks All Natural Cleaner

    * Method Non-Toxic, Fragrance-Free All Surface Cleaner

    For triclosan-free toothpaste, consider UltraBrite Advanced Whitening or Tom's of Maine, both of which are available in most grocery and drug stores. For other alternatives, consult the Safe Cosmetics Data Base.

    For liquid hand soap, try Kiss My Face Self-Foaming Soaps.

    July 25, 2008

    Sustainable Seafood is Coming to a Supermarket Near You

    Fishing_boat  Consumer demand for seafood has been depleting fish and shrimp populations for decades. The Marine Stewardship Council has helped protect marine animal populations by creating standards retailers and consumers can follow to choose wild-caught fish from better-managed fisheries. Wal-Mart and Whole Foods are among the retailers that sell MSC-Certified seafood.

    "Farming" fish and shrimp has helped meet consumer demand, but at a cost. The fishmeal salmon eat, for example, is often loaded with dangerous PCBs. Farmed salmon can contract sealice, which can spread to wild salmon. Shrimp aquaculture can destroy the mangrove swamps that protect barrier islands and coastlines from hurricanes.

    Now some retailers - including Whole Foods Market, Wal-Mart, and Wegman's -  are using their marketplace clout to demand seafood that's farmed more sustainably. Their goal: protect sensitive marine habitats, reduce or ban antibiotics, treat waste water, and mimize or eliminate the use of toxic chemicals. Whole Foods will also require its suppliers to pass independent, third-party audits to ensure they are meeting sustainable seafood standards.

    Here's a good overview from the Washington Post.

    Seafood_alliance_2Meanwhile, the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions is working with fishermen, retailers, environmental organizations and consumer groups to increase understanding of the nation's fisheries and make more sustainable seafood available in the marketplace. As a result of its work with the Alliance, the Giant supermarket chain said it has recently started selling Pacific long-line cod, which is relatively abundant, and that it will stop selling shark, orange roughy and Chilean sea bass until their populations rebound.

    Greenpeace_2  Greenpeace recently issued a state-by-state scorecard to let consumers know whether their grocery store has instituted a sustainable seafood policy. Check out your favorite grocer here.

    V1_3   USE YOUR PURSE:  Most grocers are falling far short in offering shoppers sustainably raised or caught fish and shellfish. Don't hesitate to let the manager at your favorite fish counter know you expect retailers to support sustainable seafood standards. And do your part by buying seafood that's sustainably certified.

    July 23, 2008

    Go Green, Live Rich

    Go_green With all the belt-tightening going on, most people seem ready to give up whatever eco-friendly actions they've adopted in order to economize. In his new book, Go Green, Live Rich, best-selling author David Bach makes a convincing case that saving energy and resources will not just save you money, but make you money, too. He offers four steps for greener living that could save you $10 a day every day of the year. They are:

    1) improve your car's fuel economy: save $884 annually

    2) seal leaks in your home to reduce heating and cooling needs; save $129

    3) adjust thermostat in either direction 3 degrees: save $85

    3) Bring lunch to work (in reusable containers): save $1,560

    Total savings: $3,758 per year, or approximately $10 a day.

    Green_pig_2And, says Bach, if you invest that $10 a day (instead of finding new things to spend it on), and you earn a 10 percent annual return (which you can earn through investments in green funds, by the way), in 30 years you would have $678, 146.

    So...before you think you can't afford to live green, think again. Not only will you enjoy immediate savings, but you'll have extra investment income to help fill your green piggy bank for the future.

    EcoCentric Mom
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