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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.
  • February 01, 2010

    Tax Credits Can Help You Save Money and Shift Green

    energy efficiency tax credits Buying energy-efficient home energy systems, appliances, and cars can save you loads of money by reducing your energy consumption.  But the upfront cost of investing in efficient technologies can make ditching your old energy guzzlers for new energy sippers seem prohibitive. Federal and state tax credits help defray your purchase costs (image source). Here's how: 

    Federal Energy Efficiency Tax Credits

    Home Renovations: You can earn up to 30% in federal tax credits on the first $1,500 you spend on improving the energy efficiency of your home.  These credits apply only to existing home renovations and not to new construction. Remember: a tax credit is better than a deduction because it actually reduces the amount of money you pay tax on at the end of the year.

    Qualifying products include energy-efficient:

    • windows and doors
    • insulation
    • roofs
    • central air conditioners, furnaces, and boilers
    • water heaters
    • biomass stoves (like those that burn wood, wood pellets, dried corn, etc.)

    This credit expires at the end of 2010, so act sometime in the next eleven months to take advantage of this benefit.

    Alternative Energy Substitutions: If you've been thinking of transitioning to a renewable home energy system, you have until the end of 2016 to use tax credits to help defray the expense.  These credits are also being offered at 30% of cost, but with no upper limit (in other words, if you spend $20,000 putting solar panels on your roof, the credits could generate as much as a $6,000 tax credit). Qualifying systems include:

    • geothermal heat pumps
    • solar panels
    • solar water heaters
    • small wind energy systems

    The EnergyStar website offers more details on what systems qualify and which ones don't.

    Federal Hybrid Vehicle Tax Credits

    When I bought my hybrid Prius in 2002 for around $20,000, I received $4,000 in tax credits: $2,000 from the IRS, and $2,000 from my state government. Today, the rules for hybrid vechicle credits are a little more complicated.  Hybrids purchased after December 31, 2005 are eligible for a credit up to $3,400, but that number declines once the car manufacturer sells over 60,000 units of a particular hybrid model.  GM and Chrysler are still offering full credits; Ford is offering reduced credits until the end of March 2010.  The credits are subject to change, so check back frequently.

    State Credits

    Many states have created their own financial incentives for going green.  Check out for a comprehensive list of what your state can offer you, including tax credits, rebate programs, and much more.

    January 22, 2010

    Eco-Friendly Tips Will Reduce Your Car’s Environmental Impact

    fuel-efficiency, save gas High-tech electric and hybrid vehicles are all the rage right now. But you don't need to shell out big bucks for a new "eco" car if you give your own driving habits an environmental tune-up: 

    Learn how to drive as efficiently as possible.  Take note of these gas-saving tips and driving techniques and you'll visit the pump less often. Plus, you'll save $20-$50 a month on gasoline (photo credit).

    • Carpool and use mass transit as much as possible. When you share the ride, you reduce your costs - and your impact on the air your breathe and the water you drink.
    • Walk, bicycle. Well, these are more "non" driving tips, aren't they? But they do help you guzzle less gas; and manufacturing a bike or a pair of walking shoes uses far less resources than producing a car!

    June 29, 2009

    Environmental In-Box: Bon Ami Cleanser

    “Bon ami” in French means “good friend,” and when it comes to cleaning your kitchen and bathroom, Bon Ami Cleanser is just that.  This non-scratching, earth-friendly product has been available in just about every supermarket and hardware store for decades.  If you've never heard of it, it's time you did.

    Bonami What is it?

    Bon Ami’s Cleanser is made from sodium carbonate, calcium carbonate (limestone), and feldspar.  The mildly abrasive limestone and feldspar cleanse without scratching, while the sodium carbonate conditions hard water. To use, just wet the surface you want to clean, sprinkle on the Bon Ami powder, and wipe with a wet sponge. I use Bon Ami on everything from kitchen countertops to living room walls to the bathtub. You can also use it to shine appliances and clean outdoor furniture.  

    What I like:  Bon Ami contains no chlorine, dye, perfume, bleach, or phosphorus.  Because the product is free of unhealthy additives it is especially appealing to people who suffer from chemical sensitivities.  Not only is the cleanser itself biodegradable, but the packaging consists of more than 75% recycled material, including 60% post-consumer waste. 

    What could be improved? Hmmm. I'm thinking...

    Continue reading "Environmental In-Box: Bon Ami Cleanser" »

    April 17, 2009

    This Earth Day, Save the Planet - and Save $4,000/yr, Too

     Green_pig Living a greener life is one of the fastest, easiest ways to save money. In fact, you can save almost $4,000 every year by taking easy steps to use less energy, reduce waste, and simplify your lifestyle. In honor of Earth Day, I've compiled this list of cost-cutting strategies that benefit your pocketbook as well as the planet.

    Here's how:

    Go Green                                                             Save Money

    Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb ………………            $5 - $10/yr per bulb

    Reusable Water Bottle ……………………………           $ 500/yr on bottled water

    Take Lunch to Work …………………………………      $1560/yr on throwaway lunch stuff

    Programmable Thermostat ………………………           $150/yr on home heating/cooling

    Low Flow Shower Heads, H2O Saving Toilets …           $72/yr on water heating, wasting

    Smart Power Strip ……………………………………..     $94/yr on energy for electronics

    Window and Door Weather Stripping …………            $129/yr on home heating/cooling

    Improve Car Fuel Economy –
            upgrade from 20 mph to 35 mph …………..            $884/yr on gasoline
            drive “smart” ……………………………….               $600/yr

    Skip One Driving Trip Each Week …………                   $225/yr on gasoline

    Energy Star Washing Machine ………………                $50/yr on water heating
          (plus 7,000 gallons H2O)

    Make-at-Home Cleansers …………………                    $300/yr on cleansers

    Total ……………………………           $3,690/yr

    PLUS: Swap, Trade Using, EBay, Craig’s List - more $$$$$

    For years, naysayers have claimed that "being eco is too expensive." Not any more.

    Want more ideas on how to shift spending to live greener and save money? Check out the One in a Million budget sheet.

    March 20, 2009

    Dig Dirt Like Michelle Obama!

    Michelle obama   Michelle Obama is planting an organic garden at the White House today. If the nation's first lady can dig dirt, can't you? What better way to get fresh, locally grown, organic vegetables and herbs?

    Plus, you can't beat the price. For a couple of dollars in seeds, you can enjoy an entire summer's worth of crops. In fact, gardening can save you hundreds of dollars in food each season you grow your own.

    Top Tips

    1) Plan your garden - Keep in mind that vegetables need full sun. Flowers span the range of full sun to full shade; check the seed packet or plant catalog for guidance. Once you have your location, consider not just how much space you have, but how much time you have. The larger the plot, the more time it will take to manage. Does your spot drain well, or will you need to build a raised bed so that water can easily move through the soil? Does it have access to water? Know what you're getting into before you plant the first seed.

    2) Clear out the weeds - If you're trying to convert a patch of grass or a section of field, you''ll probably need to dig the weeds out, to be sure they're gone. You can also cover the area with a couple of inches of newspaper. Lack of sunlight will kill weeds and grass and make them easier to remove from your garden plot.

    3) Add compost and other organic matter - If you're not impatient like me, you can test the soil first (see these handy tips from Lowe's). When you get the results back, you'll know how much nitrogen, phosphorus and/or potassium you'll need to add. You may also need to add an inch of sharp sand if your soil is clay.

    4) Rake your soil into beds or rows - Leave paths in between so you can walk through your garden without trampling the dirt. Mulch with shredded pine bark or other organic material, then leave the plot alone for about a month before you plant it.

    5) Set up a watering system - If your plot is small, you can probably water by hand with a garden hose. Otherwise, install an inexpensive DIY drip irrigation system so you deliver water directly to plant roots and don't waste it using one of those sprinklers that has such a long spray it sends more water to the sidewalk or driveway than your plants. If your garden is next to a garage or shed, you can set up a rain barrel to catch water coming off the roof.

    6) Meanwhile, start a compost pile - Use leaves, grass clippings, other yard debris, and kitchen waste. Making compost at home like this is probably the single most cost-effective way to turn dull-as-dishwater dirt into rich, black earth.

    Garden2 7) Pick your seeds and plants - Consider plants that grow well in your climate; most likely, those will be 'natives' that have evolved to take best advantage of the temperatures, rainfall, and soil conditions you have. Choose disease-resistant species for vegetables as well as ornamental plants. Buy organically raised seeds and seedlings so you're chemical-free from beginning to end.

    8) Plant, then watch and weed - Plant your seeds and seedlings to maximize growth. Keep a hoe handy to scratch out weeds before they take over. Keep an eye out for insects and diseases so they don't become a problem.

    9) Don't get bugged by bugs - Some gardeners can't stand to see even one little bug on one little leaf in their garden. Hence the continual bombing of their plants with insecticides and herbicides that, by and large, only serve to make the bugs that survive tougher than ever before. Most plants can tolerate a small insect invasion and still produce to abundance. Don't even start gardening if you don't like a few bugs with your plants.

    10) Enjoy your garden! - Stroll through your garden every day. Position a chair, stool or bench close by so you can sit peacefully and watch the butterflies and bees enjoy the fruits of your labor! Then get out a basket and start picking.

    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 21, 2008

    Give to Your Favorite Charity During the Holidays or Whenever You Shop - At No Extra Cost to You

    I honestly believe people should spend less money during the holidays and focus more on creating lifetime memories. But when you do shop, wouldn’t it be great if you got something more for your money than the material item itself? What if you could donate a percentage of every online purchase you make to your favorite nonprofit, school, or association – at no additional cost to you?

    We care lets you do just that. Its “click through” website gives you access to more than 600 online merchants you can shop as you normally would. But when you buy, a percentage of the purchase price is automatically donated to the charity you choose. Merchants include retail, travel, financial services, and  more. Book your flight and hotel. Rent a car. Shop for books. Buy furniture and household items. Subscribe to magazines, newspapers, DVD services, and even satellite TV. The sky is (almost) the limit. Participation costs nothing for organizations; there's no extra charge to you, either. Many merchants also offer special money-saving deals and coupons.

    There are over 325 charities to choose from, including public health, animal welfare, women’s advocacy, k-12 education programs, peace and justice, arts, culture and more. In the environment category, you can contribute to such organizations as Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Environmental Working Group, and the Center for a New American Dream.  If you don’t see the cause you support, it’s easy to add it to the database. You can also contact your cause and encourage them to join

    Goodshop is another online shopping mall that donates a percentage of each purchase  to the charity of your choice. Its 800 retailers range from Amazon to Zappos. Like We-Care, you’ll find coupons and deals that make shopping more affordable. Look for anything from baby and maternity products to computer hardware and electronics. Browse earth-friendly outlets like Organic Style, Viva Terra, Only Natural Pet Store, Organic Bouquet, Gaiam and Patagonia. Currently, more than 69,000 organizations earn money from the sites. If your favorite charity is missing, it’s easy to add it to the list.

    Another good bet: if you want to donate to protect the environment but don't know where to start, give a gift to EarthShare. I've been a fan of this organization for almost 20 years, and I completely vouch for them.

    EarthShare_RGB As they say on their site, "EarthShare's member groups represent the most respected and responsible environmental and conservation organizations in the country. Our groups work locally, nationally and internationally to protect and preserve human health and all aspects of our environment. EarthShare also protects its donors by ensuring that each of its member groups adheres to strict eligibility criteria, and operates with the highest possible ethical and professional standards."
    For more options, check with the Nonprofit Matrix or at Yahoo’s Virtual Charity and Fundraising Malls.

    EcoCentric Mom
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