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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.
  • December 17, 2013

    When Should You Sue to Protect the Environment?

    When should you take polluters, companies, governments or other citizens to court for failing to protect the environment?

    Air pollution The simple answer is, "When they break the law."

    In most nations of the world, important laws now exist to protect clean air and clean water, minimize the environmental impacts of destructive practices like logging and mining, prevent toxic dumping and require companies to clean up hazardous waste, safeguard wetlands and wilderness areas, and keep watch over wildlife.

     In the U.S., the bedrock of environmental law is the National Environmental Policy Act, which was passed in 1970 to protect the environment against both public and private actions that might harm eco-systems. In Australia, it is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Other countries have other legislation in place.  The power of these laws lies in the ability they provide to hold polluters accountable for the havoc they wreak on natural resources as well as human well-being.

    Continue reading "When Should You Sue to Protect the Environment?" »

    March 15, 2011

    Nuclear disaster in Japan, oil disaster in the Gulf. What's next?

    Japan fire The nuclear meltdown in Japan and the recent oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico may seem unrelated, but they're not. Both catastrophes occurred because we've made three fundamental mistakes in the way we generate energy.

    1) We have relied on centralized power plants that use dangerous fuels to meet energy demand. Most countries that can afford it build large power plants so they can centralize energy production. Big centralized power plants are easier to regulate than a bunch of smaller, dispersed facilities. And because they generate a lot of energy at once, big plants appear to streamline power production. But in addition to being outrageously expensive, centralized generating facilities require massive amounts of dangerous fuels to operate consistently. If that fuel is oil or coal, recovering it usually wrecks the physical environment (we saw that in spades during last year's Gulf Oil disaster); burning it causes global warming and sickening air pollution. If the fuel is uranium, using it generates radioactive nuclear waste that must be stored for thousands of years.

    Continue reading "Nuclear disaster in Japan, oil disaster in the Gulf. What's next?" »

    March 08, 2011

    Top Ten Ways to Use Less Gas

    Gas pump2 Here we go again: gasoline prices are soaring close to $4.00 a gallon, and several of the countries that export oil to the U.S. are in such political turmoil, we can't be sure our supplies will continue. When, oh when, will we say, "Enough, Already!" and get serious about reducing our dependence on petroleum? 

    The problem isn't just "foreign" oil. Using any kind of fossil fuel to meet our transportation needs is a losing proposition. Drilling for oil wrecks the planet, or have we already forgotten the Gulf Oil disaster? And burning oil generates climate-changing carbon dioxide and nasty particles that create asthma-inducing smog.

    If you're in the market for a new car, take a look at electric options like the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf. Gas-electric hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius or Ford Fusion merit consideration, too. Aim to buy the most fuel-efficient vehicle in your price range; this site maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy, will help you compare your choices.

    But most of us can't just go out and buy a new set of wheels (unless they're on a bicycle). These ten tips offer the fastest, easiest ways you can save gas and money, no matter what kind of car you drive.

    1. Drive smart - Avoid quick starts and stops, use cruise control on the highway, and don't idle.

    2. Drive the speed limit - Remember - every 5 mph you drive above 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.10 per gallon for gas.

    3. Drive less - This should be a no-brainer. Walk, bicycle, use a scooter or moped, combine trips, and telecommute to work.

    Continue reading "Top Ten Ways to Use Less Gas" »

    October 15, 2010

    We're Drinking the Same Water as Cleopatra. Is It as Clean?

    Water2 Did you get a drink or throw in a load of laundry before starting to read this blog, written in honor of Blog Action Day? You probably could have, given the easy access most of us have to clean water.

    One person of every three on the planet today isn't nearly so fortunate, according to the International Water Management Institute, given their lack of reliable access to fresh water. Even here in the U.S., the federal Government Accountability Office reported in 2003 that "water managers in thirty-six states anticipate water shortages locally, regionally, or statewide within the next ten years."

    The rest of the world looks equally thirsty. By 2025, worries the Water Management Institute, all of Africa and the Middle East, and almost all of South and Central America and Asia, will either be running out of water or unable to afford its cost.

    Dirty Water Kills Kids

    Continue reading "We're Drinking the Same Water as Cleopatra. Is It as Clean?" »

    September 02, 2010

    New oil disaster in Gulf makes strong argument for moratorium.

    Another oil rig has caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico. Thirteen people were forced to jump off the rig and into the ocean to avoid harm; all of those people have been rescued, and one is being treated for injuries. Meanwhile, an oil sheen about 100 feet wide and a mile long has been spotted spreading out from the damaged oil platform.

    Oil fire It does not immediately appear as if this explosion is as serious as the one that rocked the Deepwater Horizon rig, owned by BP, earlier this year. That event (pictured at left) not only killed eleven people; it has also turned into the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. During the three months it took to cap that well, millions of gallons of oil gushed into Gulf waters, killing thousands of birds, polluting some of America's most valuable wetlands, and shutting down a fishery worth billions of dollars to the local economy.

    Continue reading "New oil disaster in Gulf makes strong argument for moratorium." »

    June 28, 2010

    If you can't help the Gulf in person, send money.

    Pelican-Bath-LA-06-21-10 Cleaning up the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico takes lots of hands -- and lots of money. Volunteers are needed to scrub oil off turtles and birds, scoop oil off beaches, and monitor wetlands for damage. Groups managing clean-up efforts need more financial support so they can try to minimize the terrible consequences of 60,000 gallons of oil a day being pumped into the region from the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded two months ago.

    Here's a list of groups that need your help. If you're already volunteering in person, please let us know where you're working and what you're doing.

    If you can send money, these groups sure could use it:

    Gulf Restoration Network - Sign up to volunteer or donate, and send a message to BP.

    Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund - 100 percent of all donations to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund will be granted to organizations working tirelessly in the effected areas. Their specific focus is to help fishermen and their families in the following Louisiana parishes: Plaquemines, St. Bernard, lower Jefferson, Terrebonne, and Lafourche.

    Gulf Coast Fund - The Fund is giving grants directly to local environmental and community groups working to clean up the damage and document the impact the disaster is having on wetlands, shore birds, marine life, and the families living in the area.

    International Bird Rescue Research Center -  A team of 40 bird rescue specialists (see photo, above) has been deployed to the Gulf Coast disaster site to help rescue seabirds caught in the oil.

    Text to Give - Mad Mobile and mGive have partnered to make it easy to donate to The Waterkeepers Alliance and Text GULF to 50555 to donate $10; 100 percent of donations will support the efforts these groups are making to reduce the impacts of the oil on wetlands and wildlife.

    June 16, 2010

    Mad at BP? Skip the Boycott. Stop Driving.

    Oil soaked bird  The harsh reality is that BP and the rest of the oil companies drill for oil because we are willing and able to pay for it. There is no supply without demand. And Americans, who produce only 2 or 3 percent of the world's oil but consume over 20% of it, have been the demanders in chief.

    It will do absolutely no good to boycott BP if you keep buying oil and gas from someone else. BP's oil, along with everyone else's, is sold on the world market, not just to BP stations. Local gas stations are usually owned by entrepreneurs in your community, not by BP. They sell gas that comes from a variety of sources, not just their namesake. So as a consumer, even if you boycott a BP station, you're not necessarily boycotting gas produced by BP. Likewise, if you buy gas from a different station, you could be buying BP gas.  

    Plus: is there any "good" gas?  Are there any "good" oil companies? Is Exxon, responsible for what was previously the largest oil spill in U.S. history, better than BP? What about Shell, a company known for its horrid human rights violations? Or Chevron, which has been sued for polluting pristine rainforest in Ecuador?

    Take a look at the photo (above, left) from AP photographer Charlie Riedel. It's a bird, but that's about all we can tell, it's been so mired in oil.

    Sadly, it's a perfect metaphor for our economy.

    Want to change it?

    Drive less, for starters. Here's how.

    June 03, 2010

    What is the Oil Spill Doing to Flipper?

    Diving3 On a recent trip to Australia, I had the good fortune to spend a day scuba diving and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. From above, the water appeared blue, calm, and seemingly empty. But as soon as I dipped below the surface, I was amazed. As far as the eye could see, the underwater world teemed with animals. Schools of clown fish (think Nemo) zipped past exotic 30-foot tall coral reefs. Groups of wrasse, a fish that's bigger than my 70-pound dog, swam by, their huge faces oblivious to the giant green sea turtle snoozing on the sea floor just below. Angel fish nibbled on small invertebrates; nearby, gorgeous parrot fish gnawed at the algae growing on the coral. There weren't just dozens or hundreds of animals under the sea; I could see thousands, and that was just in the small area where I was diving. What about the rest of the ocean?

    I am thinking about all that wildlife now, as the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico continues seemingly without end. The people whose lives are being affected by the millions of barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf's waters deserve as much attention as they're getting. They've lost their livelihoods, their neighborhoods, and in some cases, their very lives.

    Dolphins-film-u2 But the animals trying to survive in the water are in some ways even more vulnerable. They have nowhere else to go, and for the most part, no way to remove the oil once it gets on their bodies. At least 25,000 animals appear to have died from the oil spill thus far, including dolphins and sperm whales. Many other fish, like bluefin tuna, are at risk because they're in the process of returning to their breeding grounds right now - and those breeding grounds happen to lie smack dab in the middle of the oil spill disaster zone. It is not an exaggeration to wonder whether some animals will become extinct as a result of the spill.

    Take a look at this list of "The Ten Cutest Animals" threatened by the spill. Sadly, there's not much we can do to help them in the short-term. Long-term, we must renew our commitment to kick our addiction to oil in favor of safe, clean renewable fuels.

    May 09, 2010

    Green Moms Want Safer, Cleaner Transportation Choices

    Oiled bird 2 The sickening disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is irrefutable evidence: We face a moral imperative to use less oil.

    But how can we cut back if, as President Bush once famously said, "We're addicted to oil"?

    The fearless women behind the Green Moms Carnival tackle the issue head-on this month.

    Jen at PuddleJumping in D.C. puts things in perspective with these amazing statistics: The U.S. consumed almost 3 gallons of oil per person per day in 2007, with about 70% of that fueling transportation. Jen compares that to the 1.6 gallons per day per Japanese citizen and 1.2 per person per day in Great Britain. Jen recounts her family's efforts to travel by foot, bicycle and stroller as much as possible, and makes a strong argument for planning communities that don't depend on cars.

    Continue reading "Green Moms Want Safer, Cleaner Transportation Choices" »

    May 04, 2010

    How You Can Help Clean Up the Gulf Coast Oil Disaster

    Oil rig fire It's not a "spill." It's a disaster, and it needs to be treated as such. Here's what you can do to help, courtesy of U.S. News & World Report:

    1) Volunteer. Folks in the affected areas need help washing wildlife, answering phones, and doing everything in between. Register online if you live in Louisiana or FloridaOil Spill Volunteers will also help match you to a group that needs your services. You can also call toll-free 1-866-448-5816.

    2) Pick up beach trash. Garbage harbors oil and can be dangerous for wildlife. Work with local beach crews to get debris off shores.

    Oiled bird 3) Get help for injured wildlife. That doesn't mean you should try to pick up birds or animals covered with oil. Distressed animals bite. Plus, crude oil can hurt your skin. A hotline has been established for injured and dead animal sightings. Call 1-866-557-1401 to leave a message with the animal's precise location. iPhone users in the Gulf can download the Noah project's app to document distressed animals and the spill's impact on wildlife.

    4) Use your boat. If you're a fisherman in the Gulf Coast, BP, the company responsible for the disaster, will pay you to help with the clean up. For more information, call 281-366-5511.

    Continue reading "How You Can Help Clean Up the Gulf Coast Oil Disaster" »

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