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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.
  • October 12, 2007

    Get the Lead Out ... of Your Lipstick!

    Lips According to new product tests released today by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, lipstick manufactured in the United States and used daily by millions of American women contains surprisingly high levels of lead.

    More than half of 33 brand-name lipsticks tested (61 percent) contained detectable levels of lead, with levels ranging from 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm). None of these lipsticks listed lead, a dangerous neurotoxin that can cause learning disabilities, as an ingredient.

    “Lead builds up in the body over time and lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels. The latest studies show there is no safe level of lead exposure,” said Mark Mitchell, M.D., MPH, president, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice.

    According to the tests, which were conducted by an independent laboratory during the month of September, one-third of the tested lipsticks exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 0.1 ppm limit for lead in candy – a standard established to protect children from directly ingesting lead. Lipstick products, like candy, are directly ingested into the body. Nevertheless, the FDA has not set a limit for lead in lipstick, “which fits with the disturbing absence of FDA regulatory oversight and enforcement capacity for the $50 billion personal care products industry,” said the Campaign.

    Fortunately, the tests also identified lead-free lipstick brands: 39 percent of lipsticks tested had no detectable levels of lead. In fact, some less expensive brands such as Revlon Superlustrous Bed of Roses ($7.49) had no detectable lead levels.

    Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell from product labeling which brands contain lead and which do not. Review complete test results in the full report, “A Poison Kiss: The Problem of Lead in Lipstick,” posted at Then Use Your Purse to buy the safest possible brand.

    Thumb_brown The following lipstick brands had higher lead levels than others tested:

    -L’Oreal Colour Riche “True Red” – 0.65 ppm
    -L’Oreal Colour Riche “Classic Wine” – 0.58 ppm
    -Cover Girl Incredifull Lipcolor “Maximum Red” – 0.56 ppm
    -Dior Addict “Positive Red” – 0.21 ppm

    September 03, 2007

    Aurora Dairy Undercuts Consumer Confidence

    Aod_logo One of the nation's largest organic dairies must stop using the organic label on some of its products because it is not producing that milk organically.

    Aurora Organic Dairy provides the organic milk Wal-Mart, Costco, Wild Oats, Trader Joe’s and Safeway sell under their own brand names. The dairy agreed to make major changes in the way it operates a Colorado facility and, reports Environmental News Service, stop posting the organic label to some of its milk after the U.S Department of Agriculture threatened to revoke its organic certification for not allowing its cows enough time at pasture. To continue operating as a certified organic dairy, Aurora must provide daily access to pasture during the growing season.

    The USDA action was initiated in 2005 when the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute, an advocate for family farms, claimed that Aurora Organic violated federal standards that require access to pasture for organic dairy cows at its Platteville, Colorado facility.  In the course of its investigation, the USDA also determined that animals were not being properly transitioned from traditional to organic practices, among other infractions.

    Under the agreement it reached with the government, Aurora will not renew the organic certification for its Woodward, Colorado facility as it works to improve operations at Platteville. But for consumers, a bigger issue looms.

    Demand for organic milk has never been higher. At the same time, consumer confidence in organic manufacturers is not rock solid, given scandals like these and the general belief many consumers have that “green” and organic products are not worth the extra money they cost.

    When companies like Aurora intentionally undercut the standards they’re supposed to represent, they do a disservice to every other company trying to live up to that standard. They also send a message to shoppers that they can’t trust the marketplace – even though the marketplace is where shoppers can make the greatest difference in protecting the environment.

    Thumb_brown_2 We expect more from organic companies like Aurora. We should get it. Until we do, thumbs down.

    If you want to let Aurora Dairy know they need to earn back your trust, send a letter or make a call to Mark Retzloff, president and “chief organic officer."

    Mark Retzloff
    Aurora Organic Dairy
    1401 Walnut Street, Fifth Floor,
    Boulder, CO 80302

    July 18, 2007

    Do We Really Need Brewed Tea in a Box?

    Hello? Anybody paying attention at Pacific Natural Foods?

    I don’t think so. Otherwise, why would a company that seems so ‘on target’ have completely missed the mark?

    Teablacksmall Their latest offering is brewed tea…sold in a box. And it’s not just any box, either. It’s a 64-ounce, “shelf stable” box you can’t recycle, since it’s made from the same waxy aseptic material juice boxes are made from. All you can do is use up the ingredients inside – which, when you get down to it, are basically nothing more than tea you could easily brew yourself at home – and throw the box away.

    The company calls its boxed tea “exciting.” Somehow, the thrill of spending $5.00 for a big box of flavored water I eventually have to landfill is completely lost on me.

    And honestly, it doesn’t matter if Pacific Natural’s product is organic, fair trade, and otherwise “politically correct.” This is a convenience food at an inconvenient time (i.e., with a global warming impact) that will only add to the trash you have to cart out to the curb or the dump every week.

    Thumb_brown Thumbs down.

    P.S. If you want to send the company a note telling them what you think of their new product, you can contact them here.

    Or maybe you should just send them a tea bag.

    June 28, 2007

    Is Your Sunscreen Giving You a False Sense of Security?

    Sun_tan_3 If it’s not protecting you from UVA, the sun rays linked to skin cancer and immune system problems, it could be.

    According to the latest analysis from scientists at Environmental Working Group (EWG), only 16% of sunscreen products  are both safe and effective (i.e., they'll protect you from sunburn and skin cancer, remain stable in sunlight, and contain few if any ingredients with significant known or suspected health hazards).

    Among the chief concerns:

    * Sunscreens break down in the sun. Parodoxically, says EWG, many sunscreen ingredients break down in a matter of minutes or hours, and then let UV radiation through to the skin.

    * Questionable product claims are widespread. At least 48% of products on the market bear claims that are considered "unacceptable" or misleading under the Food and Drug Administration’s draft sunscreen safety standards. Claims like "all day protection," "mild as water," and "blocks all harmful rays" are not true, yet are found on bottles.

    * Many sunscreens contain nano-scale ingredients that raise potential concerns. Though micronized and nano-scale zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in sunscreen provide strong UVA protection, studies on nanotechnology question their unique, toxic properties. Options available in Europe could replace nano-scale ingredients here in the U.S., but the Food and Drug Administration has been slow to approve them.

    Thumbs UP: Despite these issues, you have at least 128 safe options, according to EWG, including Blue Lizard Australian Suncream SPF 30/Baby, California Baby Water-Resistant Hypo-Allergenic Sunscreen SPF 30-plus and Aveeno Baby Sunblock Lotion Continuous Protection SPF 55.

    Thumb_brown Thumbs DOWN: Sunscreens on EWG’s “Avoid” list? There are 37, including Coppertone Sport Sunblock Lotion SPF 15 and Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion SPF 15.

    See the entire database of recommendations at Environmental Working Group.

    June 02, 2007

    Greenwash in a Toothpaste Tube

    Will you get closer to Nature if you brush your teeth with Crest’s Nature’s Expressions? The company sure wants you to think so. Its new marketing campaign offers “a hint of nature with the protective power of Crest.” 

    Just how does Crest slip a little Nature into its tubes?  Mostly, by the power of suggestion.

    Crest_3 The company claims pure peppermint oil gives Crest “a natural peppermint twist.”

    The mint and green tea version seems designed to appeal to the millions of people who drink green tea for its many natural healing properties. (Thanks, but I’d rather drink my green tea than brush my teeth with it.)

    The lemon and mint option wins the prize for bragging it’s “natural” the most times: “Introducing a toothpaste with the fresh, clean sensation of natural lemon extract. With a natural twist of citrus, Citrus Clean Mint gives you a natural clean feeling all day and all night.” All those natural claims seem a little unnatural to me.

    Here’s the topper: Crest’s Nature’s Expressions web site provides 13 tips to help you “Add a little Nature to your life.” But out of the 13, none of them encourages visitors to go outside and actually experience the natural world.

    Tip #10 suggests you “hang a picture of your favorite elements from nature – sea, trees, flowers, animals – where your eyes frequently go. For instance, over the telephone.”

    Tip #12 encourages you to put your pillows outside in the sun to freshen up. Hmmm… what about brushing your teeth outside? At least, you’d be getting outdoors.

    The only thing that’s natural – from an advertising point of view -- about Crest’s new toothpaste is the way the company is trying to capitalize on the green marketing frenzy that’s driving commerce these days.

    Thumb_brown my circles, we don't call that natural. We call that greenwashing.

    Thumbs down, Crest.

    April 28, 2007

    Thumbs Down: Windex Antibacterial Multi-Surface Cleaner

    Img_antibacterial  With all the havoc that increased resistance to antibiotics is causing in treating disease, why in the world do we need another antibacterial product in the marketplace? Especially an antibacterial window cleaner? Yet that's exactly what S.C. Johnson has introduced: Windex Antibacterial Multi-Surface Cleaner, a product that promises to "kill 99.9% of bacteria" on glass, chrome, mirrors "and so much more."

    Last time I looked, whatever bacteria I had on my glass and mirrors weren't doing me all that much harm.

    In fact, I have never heard of anyone anywhere anytime getting any illness of any kind from any bacteria found on any glass, mirrors or chrome.

    Need to clean your windows? Use a simple - and healthy - solution of vinegar and water and leave it at that.

    Thumb_brown_2 As for the Windex Antibacterial Cleaner? A great big thumbs-down.

    EcoCentric Mom
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