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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.
  • June 16, 2009

    Stinky or Sweet? Dealing With the Pits

    Guys worry just as much as women do about B.O. Surprisingly, far less attention has been paid to “green” and healthy deodorants for the men in our lives than for ourselves. Safe deodorants are important regardless of gender. Parabens, a preservative used to keep some deodorants fresh, increasingly are showing up in breast tumor tissue. Synthetic fragrances, especially those in spray-on deodorants, can increase the incidence of acne, headaches, and respiratory problems. Aluminum, another ingredient common in conventional anti-perspirants, has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease and painful swelling (per an interview with senior analyst Sean Gray at Environmental Working Group. Conventional deodorants may also contain phthalates, which are considered a reproductive toxin in the state of California.

    Safer products for women have been around for years, primarily in response to their strong consumer demand. Guys can have a similar impact on manufacturers, by choosing the safest products available. These deodorant options, all of which are highly rated for health and safety by Environmental Working Group, are a good place to start:

    Crystal Crystal deodorant:   This clear, rock-like product uses mineral salts to reduce the bacteria that cause body odor.   Just moisten the crystal and rub it under your arm; it dries immediately.  The line has a product specifically for men. Added  Benefit: the Crystal company is the top rated natural or conventional deodorant according to the analysis of Environmental Working Group. The company also supports "The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics" and pledges that any products it makes will "meet the standards and deadlines set by the European Union Directive 76/768/eeC to be free of chemicals that are known or strongly suspected of causing cancer, mutation or birth defects." Here’s some additional useful background on crystal deodorants.

    Tom’s of Maine Unscented Deodorant stick: makes four different deodorants from ingredients like hops, chamomile, and lemongrass.  You can purchase the deodorant fragrance-free, or scented with calendula, woodspice, or honeysuckle rose.  Tom’s is  available at most grocery and drug stores, including  Rite Aid and Walgreens, but can also be purchased online.

    Aubrey Organics uses herbal extracts and vitamin E in their Men’s Stock Natural Dry Herbal Pine deodorant.   The deodorant comes in spray form (but not an aerosol can) and can be purchased directly from the company's website as well as in natural foods and Whole Foods stores.

    Want more information on safe personal care products? Here you go.

    (Research by Katie Kelleher)

    June 15, 2009

    "Green" Shampoos and Lotions for Guys

    When it comes to shampoos and lotions, guys need to pay attention to the same health, safety and environmental issues as we girls do.  Personal care products often contain synthetic fragrances, phthalates, parabens, and antibacterial agents. All have been linked to health problems ranging from increased respiratory illness and reproductive failure to breast cancer and antibiotic resistance. Additionally, many name brand soaps and shampoos contain sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), concoctions that can increase the frequency of canker sores and irritate the skin. Scientists are concerned that both  SLS and SLES  have been found to harbor very low levels of 1,4-dioxane, a human carcinogen. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration encourages manufacturers to remove 1,4-dioxane, but it is not required by law.

    Carrots The way you spend your money is your first line of defense against products like these that could pose a threat. Using your consumer clout also sends a clear message to manufacturers to clean up the ingredients they want you to buy. The following lotions, soaps and shampoos give you some greener, safer options to choose from – and dangle a bright green “carrot” in front of businesses to encourage them to be better:


    Anthony Logistics for Men Glycerin Hand & Body Lotion:  This fragrance-free lotion is made with sea kelp, shea butter, aloe vera, glycerin, chamomile, and vitamins A, B5, C, and E.  It is available at Nordstrom, Bath & Body Works, and Sephora or via the Anthony Logistics website. $10. 

    WildWays Studio Hand Balm Just for Men: This sandalwood-scented hand and body lotion contains water, cold-pressed oils (hazelnut, coconut, avocado, and wheat germ), shea butter, aloe vera, vitamin E, verbena, beeswax, and sandalwood essential oil.  Available through the WildWays website for $10.

    Aubrey mens Aubrey Organics Ultimate Moist Unscented Hand & Body Lotion: Coconut, macadamia nut, and sunflower oils give this lotion its moisturizing oomph. Their “Men’s Stock” Daily Moisturizer mixes aloe vera and calendula oil with other plant-based ingredients to moisturize. Aubrey Organics has signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.


    Tom’s of Maine: Several of Tom's “body” bars do double duty as moisturizers and deodorizers. A moisturizing body wash does the job in the shower. Tom’s of Maine is widely available in conventional grocery and drug stores.

    Zum soap Zum Soaps: You might be inclined to eat this soap rather than wash with it, once you get a load of the delicious ingredients it's made with (hint: olive oil, goat’s milk, honey, rosemary…). If your store doesn’t stock it (see left), ask for it. 

    Vermont Soap Works:  These full-bodied soap bars are infused with organic oils like palm, coconut, olive, and orange, then scented with peppermint, hemp and woodspice.


    Aubrey Organics: Aubrey’s Men’s Stock Ginseng Biotin shampoo consists primarily of certified organic plant-based compounds that are not tested on animals. Available online, in natural foods stores, at Whole Foods markets, at the Vitamin Shoppe, and General Nutrition Centers.

    Ahava Mineral Shampoo for Men:  This Isreali company utilizes the
    mineral salts of the Dead Sea in its cosmetic line.  Oil free, alcohol free, hypoallergenic, and not tested on animals, the mineral compound are mixed with gingko and ginseng.  The shampoo is also said to have anti-dandruff properties.  It is available at Bath & Body Works or through Ahava’s website.

    Gaia Made for Men Shampoo:  This shampoo is low-foaming, vegan, cruelty -ree and made without soap, sulfates, mineral oils, petrochemicals, parabens, propylene glycol, or artificial fragrances.  It is scented with a blend of certified organic orange, certified organic chamomile, certified organic spearmint, and certified organic aloe vera.

    Whole foods premium body care logo NOTE: Whole Foods Market is working with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Teens for Safe Cosmetics to create a “Whole Body Premium Standard” to ensure the safety of personal care products. To date, Whole Foods has identified more than 300 ingredients unacceptable for Premium Body Care. These include parabens, polypropylene and polyethylene glycols, and sodium lauryl and laureth sulfates. Look for the Whole Foods Premium Body Care Logo when you shop.

    Research by Katie Kelleher

    June 11, 2009

    Can Guys Get a "Green" Shave as Well as a Close One?

    In honor of Father's Day, we're running a series on personal care just for men. We kick it off with this post on clean and "green" shaving, by Katie Kelleher and Diane MacEachern.

    We love a guy who takes care of his face. Though beards are more "natural,"  you can still "go green" if you shave. Here's how: 

    Start with the shaver itself - electric, or blade?

    An electric shaver uses electricity, but saves money on shaving cream, hot water, as much as $100/yr in throwaway blades, and even more when you factor in the cost of throw-away razors. Plus, an electric razor reduces the amount of trash you toss since you don't discard empty shaving cream cans every few weeks. A straight razor saves electricity, but requires soap and a dish or shaving cream - - and maybe a lot of band-aids, depending on how skillfully you can pull what amounts to a sharp metal knife across your throat. A disposable razor is, well, disposable. In fact, 2 billion disposable razors are sold every year in the U.S., most of them made from petroleum products that are already in short supply.

    Unless you're traveling and left your reusable razor at home, skip the disposables in favor of a reusable option.

    What we suggest (and granted, we only shave our legs and arm pits, not our rosy faces; we do wax our eyebrows, but we don't really recommend frequent and whole-face waxing for guys...) -

    Braun * Rechargeable electric razor -  Rechargeables can be expensive to purchase initially, but their long life usually warrants the up front cash outlay. If you recharge them using a solar charger, you reduce the amount of energy they use considerably. Unlike other models, the Braun Pulsonic Shaver contains no cadmium, lead or mercury in its components.  Its Smart Plug technology has earned it an Energy Star rating for energy efficiency from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    straight razor uses no energy other than your own, but be careful! Keep a box of band-aids at the ready. In place of shaving cream, many men use a shaving brush and soap in a jar, for a very low cost, low-tech approach. NOTE: You probably can't take the straight razor on an airplane. If you travel a lot, you will still need an electric razor or a reusable razor with disposable blades.

    Razorsaver_thumbnail If you use a reusable razor but disposable blades, consider the Razor Saver. This little gadget sharpens blades so you can extend their life from the normal 5-10 shaves per blade to 130. 

    If you absoslutely must use a disposable, choose one like Recycline. The handle is made from recycled plastic and can be recycled in any community that allows recycling for #5 plastics.

    What about shaving cream?

     When picking a cream, read the label. Skip products that contain: 

    • Synthetic fragrance  (which contribute to acne as well as respiratory illnesses; you may see the word "fragrance" or "added fragrance" rather than the specifics, like lemon or pine oil)
    Antibacterial agents (doctors worry we're building up too much immunity to antibiotics because we overuse antibacterials)
    • Parabens (a preservative linked to cancer in people and lab animals)
    • Phthalates (classified as a reproductive toxin in the state of California)

    (Living Green provides a more extensive list of the chemicals commonly found in conventional shaving cream.)

    Also note:   Standard shaving creams come in aerosol cans which may be difficult to recycle in some communities.  Plus, the cans contain only a small amount of product compared to the size of the container. A greener alternative: a 6 oz. tube of non-aerosol shaving cream, the equivalent of five to ten cans of conventional shaving cream, or soap in a jar and a shaving brush. 

    Burts bees * Burt's Bees Natural Shaving Products can be found at most grocery stores, drug stores, and natural food outlets, as well as a variety of specialty shoppes. Their men's shaving line includes shaving cream in a tube, after shave lotion, and a travel kit of plant-based cream and lotions formulated especially for guys.

    • Anthony Logistics for Men These plant and vitamin-based personal care products include an entire line devoted to shaving needs  featuring cleansers, toners, astringents, shave gel and shave cream.  The Perfect Shave gift set ($50), includes a travel case with facial cleanser, pre-shave oil, shave cream, after-shave balm, and a grooming card with information and tips. 

    • Soap for Goodness Sake offers a line of handmade, all-natural shaving soaps and accessories.  The bar of shaving soap costs only $4.99; pair it with a cup and brush to avoid using canned shaving cream.

    •  Dr. Bronner’s Organic Shaving Gel is certified fair trade and USDA organic, comes in five different scents and retails for around $7.99.  Purchase through Dr. Bronner’s website or at Whole Foods and other natural foods stores. 

    • Aubrey-Organics plant-based shaving line includes face scrub, shave cream, and after shave in three scents: City Rhythms, North Woods, and Spice Island.  An added bonus: right now, you can save 25% off of any complete shave system when purchased through site.

    What works for you? Let us know.

    Want more info? Start here.

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