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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.
  • March 29, 2012

    Tell Tide to Come Clean and Ditch the 1,4-Dioxane

      Would you knowingly wash your clothes in detergent that contained cancer-causing chemicals?
    I sure wouldn’t, and I bet you wouldn't either. No wonder many cleaning product companies don’t tell you that they use ingredients that are known to cause not just cancer, but various reproductive problems and allergies, too.

    Dirty SecretsWomen’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), a terrific non-profit organization whose scientists keep an eye on the consumer products you buy, has just issued a report that identifies toxic chemicals used by five top companies: Clorox, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, SC Johnson and Son, and Sunshine Makers (Simple Green). WVE looked at 20 different cleaning products – and found toxic substances in all of them. If not for this study, titled "Dirty Secrets: What's Hiding in Your Cleaning Products?" you’d never be the wiser, because none of the noxious chemicals were listed on the product label.

    WVE believes consumers deserve to know what chemicals they are being exposed to so they can easily avoid products that may make them or their kids sick. I agree. That’s why I wholeheartedly support WVE’s call for Congress to pass new federal legislation called the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act requiring cleaning product manufacturers to disclose all the ingredients they use in their products directly on the product label.

    TideI’ve also signed WVE’s petition urging one of the offending companies, Tide, to remove the cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane from its Tide Free & Gentle® detergent. 1,4-dioxane is a known cancer-causing chemical, and has been linked in animal studies to increased risk of breast cancer. Nevertheless, Tide Free & Gentle® is being marketed to moms as a healthier choice for their kids’ laundry, even though infants and children are particularly vulnerable to chemical exposures because their immune, neurological, and hormone systems are still developing.

    WVE is targeting Procter & Gamble (makers of Tide®) because P&G has taken 1,4 dioxane out of some of its other products, like its Herbal Essences® shampoo. More than 75,000 people have signed the petition asking the company to do the same for Tide and the rest of its products. Ironically, the Tide website says: Safety: The Most Important Ingredient in Tide®. If that’s true, then 1,4-dioxane should never have been in the product in the first place.

    PurseHere’s one more important way you can make a difference: use your big green purse. Shift your spending to safer laundry detergents that are free of toxic chemicals. Here are some we sell in the Big Green Purse store; you can also find them in many grocery stores.

    Seventh Generation



    Here are more ways you can take action.

    Related Posts:

    Your Big Green Muscle is Getting J&J To Make Its Baby Shampoo Safer

    March 18, 2012

    Clean and Green Dry Cleaning Methods Reduce Your Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

    "Dry" cleaning is one of those things that sounds like a much better idea than it is. You might have an inkling of that when you step into a dry cleaners to drop off or pick up your laundry and get an overpowering whiff of ...yeah, what IS that smell?

    Thumb_brown.bmpIt's actually a toxic solvent called perchloroethylene, or PERC. I get an instant headache if I'm exposed to it after as little as ten minutes; I don't know how the cleaners themselves can tolerate it.  It's also known to cause nausea and dizziness, has been linked to reproductive problems, including miscarriage and male infertility, and been blamed for disorders of the central nervous system. Bringing clothes that exude PERC into homes and cars can leave behind a residue that can rise above levels that are considered safe to breathe. How "clean" is that?

    PERC poses an environmental threat, too. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the chemical generates toxic air pollution and hazardous waste in many of the communities where it's used. In fact, says NRDC, three-quarters of PERC-using dry cleaners in the U.S. are estimated to have contaminated soil and groundwater where they're located. 


    If you'd prefer not to bring PERC into your home, beware of cleaners that claim to be "organic" or green but aren't. "GreenEarth" is the brand name for siloxane D5, a silicone-based chemical the manufacturer says degrades into sand, water and carbon dioxide. However, the EPA is still assessing whether siloxane could cause cancer. A 2003 study showed an increase in uterine tumors among female rats that were exposed to very high levels of these chemicals.

    Also avoid petroleum-based solvents, sometimes marketed as Stoddard, DF-2000, PureDry, EcoSolve, and Shell Solution 140 HT. Yes, they contain organic chemicals, but they're the "volatile organic chemicals" or VOCs that cause some of the same problems attributed to PERC.

    The good alternatives?

    "Wet" cleaning: This method uses water and specially formulated, nontoxic, biodegradable detergents to clean sensitive fabrics such as wool, silk, linen, and rayon. It is one of two processes considered environmentally preferable by the Environmental Protection Agency. It does not create toxic air or water pollution, nor does it appear to have negative health effects.  Just be sure that, before you turn your special fabrics over to shops that offer wet cleaning, you discuss the fabric with them to make sure wet cleaning is appropriate.

    Laundress* Liquid carbon dioxide (CO2): EPA also considers this method preferable to dry cleaning, but it's more difficult to find because the equipment it uses is expensive. Some CO2 cleaners also use a Solvair machine, which adds the toxic solvent glycol ether to the process; ask the cleaning company to explain their entire process before you do business with them.

    * Find safer cleaning companies. Go to to find the safest dry cleaners near you.

    * Do it yourself? The Laundress has developed non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning agents you can use at home to launder your own fine and sensitive fabrics.


    What else can you do to avoid PERC?

    * Buy "wash and wear" clothes you can launder at home. Before you buy new clothes, check the label on the inside seam for laundry directions. If it says "dry clean only," you might want to reconsider.

    * Treat stains and dirt when they occur. For most fabrics other than silk, you can treat stains with soda water and a little gentle liquid soap, saving you the trouble of having to wash the entire garment.

    * Wear cotton camisoles and t-shirts under hard-to-launder fashions. The underwear will absorb sweat and body odor and help extend the life of your more delicate sweaters and blouses.

    * If you do need to go to a traditional dry cleaners, expose your clothes to the fresh air. Put the windows down if you're driving home with the clothes in the car. Once home, take the clothes out of the plastic bag they came in and hang them outside.


    Related Posts:

    Dry Your Clothes for Free


    For more great ideas on how to keep toxins out of your house, don't miss this month's Green Moms Carnival, hosted by Lori Popkewitz Alper at Groovy Green Livin.



    February 16, 2012

    Lead-Free Lipstick? Well...duh!

    LipsIsn't it common sense that we should NOT eat lead, even in minuscule amounts?

    We've gotten it out of paint and gasoline because of its links to birth defects and mental retardation. Says Health Canada, "Exposure to lead may have subtle effects on the intellectual development of infants and children. Infants and toddlers are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead because they are undergoing a period of rapid development; furthermore, their growing bodies absorb lead more easily and excrete lead less efficiently than adults. In addition, infants and young children are more likely to ingest lead because of their natural habit of putting objects into their mouths.

    "Once in the body, lead circulates in the blood and either builds up in bone or is eliminated from the body, mostly in urine. Lead can stay in the body for over 30 years following exposure."

    So the message should be: don't use lead, and especially don't eat it.

    Yet updated research from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found noticeable amounts of lead in over 400 brands of lipstick, including Revlon, Clinique, L'Oreal, Maybelline, Cover Girl, and Estee Lauder.  FDA says that it is not concerned because lipstick is a "topical" product that is not intended to be "ingested." In other words, the agency is acting as if lipstick stays on lips.

    But if you wear lipstick, you know that's not true. We lick our lips all day long, which means that we're eating lipstick all day long, and applying it all day long, too.

    Besides, says Mark Mitchell, M.D., MPH, the policy advisor of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice and co-chair of the Environmental Health Task Force for the National Medical Association, 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.”

    In January, reports Forbes, an advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared there is no safe level of lead for children and stressed the importance of preventing lead exposure for kids and pregnant women. While lipstick is not sold to children, if you're a mother, aunt, grandmother, or babysitter, you know how hard it can be to keep kids away from make-up, especially lipstick.

    To be clear, the cosmetics companies are not intentionally adding lead to their product forumulations. But because lead is so prevalent in air, water, and minerals, it can appear as a trace contaminant in the raw ingredients companies use in manufacturing.

    Avon-CherryJubilee-Lpstck08-lgIf you want to buy lipstick, here are 11 brands that tested lead-free in 2007. Note that many are made by companies you'll recognize, like Avon, and are very affordable.


    February 02, 2012

    What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You, Warns "The Non-Toxic Avenger"

    Is there a direct link between cancer, autism and all the toxins in our environment?

    Nontoxic avengerDeanna Duke, author of the new must-buy book, The Non-Toxic Avenger: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You, believes there is. And with good reason: In 2007, Deanna's husband Hank, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable, extremely life-shortening form of leukemia. That news on its own would have been devastating enough; but it came in the same week that her son Henry was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism.

    Though both cancer and autism have genetic links, Deanna, who also blogs at The Crunchy Chicken, couldn't help but wonder whether toxic chemicals she and her family encountered every day could also have contributed to the illnesses. In addition to helping her husband and son come up with treatment plans, Deanna decided to do two things: track down the sources of dangerous chemicals she and they were exposed to, and figure out how to avoid them in the future. This illuminating and inspiring book charts Deanna's quest.

    Here is just a short summary of the extent of her research:

    * She had her body tested for a wide array of toxins, both those under her control based on products she willingly chose, like cosmetics or food, and those that exist in the environment but that she has little control over, like air and water pollution.

    * She tested common houshold projects, like rubber toys and her computer equipment, to see if they contained nasty PVCs (they did).

    * She started making her own safe personal care products, like deodorant and hair dye, to avoid parabens, phthalates, and other cancer-causing chemicals.

    * She changed her shopping habits to buy more organic food.

    * And of course, she wrote this book: part heart-wrenching story about trying to deal with the illnesses of her husband and son, part manifesto on what we all can do to protect ourselves from environmental hazards, especially those we think won't do us any harm.

    I hope you'll pick up this book as soon as you can and read it cover to cover. You'll cry. You might laugh at all of Deanna's exploits. And then, hopefully, you'll get busy -- clearing out your cupboards, writing to your elected officials, and telling everyone you know that they MUST read this incredible, courageous, inspiring book, too.



    November 17, 2011

    Jessica Alba Joins Movement to Pass Safe Chemicals Act

    Jessica_alba_safer_chemicalsThe Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition is working hard to get Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act. The legislation would require chemicals to be proven safe before they can be used in toys, clothes, furniture and other products that kids are likely to encounter. Actress Jessica Alba, left, is probably one of the highest-profile supporters of the Coalition and SCA, but tens of thousands of people also endorse this effort to protect people from the toxic chemicals that cause cancer, asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, and other illnesses.

    Like the Campaign on Facebook, then go to the Campaign's website to learn more and take action. It's particularly important for you to send your members of Congress a letter or e-mail urging them to support a strong Safe Chemicals Act.

    Here's Why We Need the Safe Chemicals Act:

    Beauty...or the Beast? Depends on the Safe Chemicals Act

    Putting on Lipstick Shouldn't be so Risky. It Won't Be - If You Support the Safe Chemicals Act

    Little Girls Are Worrying About Bras When They Should Still be Playing with Play Dough


    If you're in the market for...

    Looking for Non-Toxic Clothes and Toys for Yourself and Your Kids? Check out our Amazon store.

    November 07, 2011

    Your Big Green Muscle is Getting J&J to Make Its Baby Shampoo Safer

    Baby shampooMoms, consumer groups, nurses, and other health professionals have succeeded in getting Johnson & Johnson to begin to remove toxic chemicals from its baby shampoo.

    Two years ago, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reported that J&J's baby shampoo contained quarternium-15, which releases formaldhyde, as well as the chemical product 1,4-dioxane. Both formaldehye and dioxane are known carcinogens - which is why so many citizens rose up to pressure the company to produce a healthier, safer shampoo. This was a product for babies, after all!

    In a coordinated effort, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the American Nurses Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and 40 other groups, sent a letter to J&J outlining their concerns. Groups like our own Green Moms Carnival also raised awareness through blogs that reached hundreds of thousands of people.

    Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson announced that they are no longer introducing baby products that contain formaldehyde. They also announced that they have reformulated "approximately 70%" of their products with new formulas that keep trace levels of 1,4-dioxane below detectable levels.

    “Clearly there is no need for Johnson & Johnson to expose babies to a known carcinogen when the company is already making safer alternatives. All babies deserve safer products,” said Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund.

    Archer commented, “We’re glad to see that the Johnson & Johnson is taking this seriously. This commitment is a big step in the right direction. We look forward to the day when we can tell consumers the company’s entire product line is free of carcinogens and other chemicals of concern.”


    Should Soap Bubble Make Your Baby Sick? Tell J&J No!

    Putting on Lipstick Shouldn't be so Risky...


    September 06, 2011

    Green Back-to-School Supplies: Part 1 - Pens, Pencils, Crayons, Markers

    Girl Kids eat crayons. They chew on pencils. They sniff markers. And pens? Sure, kids use them for writing - on their skin, not necessarily paper.

    In other words, as weird as it may sound, you need to treat the tools kids use to compose or color the same way you'd treat the food they eat: with attention to the ingredients they're made from and the impact they're going to have on your kids' health.

    That means looking for supplies free of lead-based pigments, synthetic fragrances, solvents like methyl alcohol and toluene, formaldehyde, and other nasty chemicals you'd never serve as part of a meal or snack. Here are links to responsible supplies that won't make your kids sick when they do take a bite or decide to paint a Picasso on their arm.

    Pens - Pens cross the environmental line in two ways. Their ink usually contains chemicals that have no human health benefit; and they're usually made from throwaway plastic. In fact, a pen is one of those school supplies that subliminally teaches kids it's ok to waste, since we're so used to buying them in packs of 10 or 20 and tossing them into the trash even before they're completely used up.

    DBA pen Fortunately, DBA Pens have come to the rescue. The DBA 98 is 98% biodegradable, made in the USA using wind power, and filled with an ink made from water, nontoxic pigments, vegetable-based glycerin, and sodium benzoate, a food-grade preservative.

    A decent alternative is a refillable pen, like the ones we sell in our Amazon store. While I can't vouch for the safety of the ink, at least a refillable reduces plastic waste. Plus, it's easy to find refillables at most office supply stores.

    Pencils Pencils - Fortunately, most pencils kids use today are made of graphite, not the more dangerous "lead" that they're commonly described as. The most eco-friendly pencils are also made from recycled paper, wood, or cardboard. (NOTE: Some pencils are being made from recycled tires, but consumer reviews thus far indicate that they're not easy to sharpen or use.) Given the fact that a pencil can be used almost completely, and can be more easily recycled than plastic in some communities, it generates less waste than a pen or marker. If kids have an option, using a pencil is better than a pen. Using a reusable mechanical pencil, which replaces the "lead" but not the entire pencil, is a good option for older kids; there's no environmental benefit to using a throwaway mechanical pencil.

    Crayons - I'm a big fan of crayons made from beeswax or soy, rather than the usual petroleum-based paraffin. The colors and texture are rich, and they pose no health or environmental threats to the kids who use them.

    Markers - Look for markers whose low- or no-toxicity has been certified by the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Even then, give markers the "sniff" test. If you take off the cap and find the odor overwhelming, don't use the marker, and definitely don't give it to your child: chances are, it contains xylene, toluene or other chemicals that cause nausea, headaches and in some cases have been linked to cancer (why they're still allowed in any kind of marker or product is beyond me!). Choose water-soluble, no VOC markers if you can find them, or colored pencils as highlighters.

    Natural paint for kids Paints - When buying kids' paints, look for no- or low-voc, water-based products, preferably certified non-toxic by an independent third party and made in the U.S. Some good choices:

     - Nature-of-Art's certified non-toxic, water-based acrylic paints. Here's an additional link to everything you want to know about nontoxic paints.

    -Eco-Kids Natural Plant Dye Fingerpaint, made in the U.S.A

    -Clementine Art Natural Paint


    Are you a do-it-yourselfer? Give this "make your own fingerpaint" recipe a try (and let me know how you like it, ok?).


    Want More? Shop Our Amazon Store.

    We've compiled links to these and other eco-friendly school supplies on our "Back to School" store on Amazon (NOTE: we earn a small commission on purchases here that help pay our research and writing costs.) Have we missed a safe product you love? Let us know.


    Related Posts:

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

    Taming the Back-to-School Shopping Beast

    Students Start Food Fight So They Can Have Reusable Lunch Trays

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

    Lunch Boxes Should be Safe and Environmentally Friendly

    July 08, 2011

    France BANS Fracking. But New York is about to allow it. Huh?

    Thumb_green The French Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to ban fracking, a toxic way to extract natural gas from rock thousands of feet below ground and pollutes groundwater and sickens people and animals in the process.

    The state of New Jersey is the only  state to ban fracking in the U.S., though the process is underway in 36 states.

    Public opposition to fracking is growing as more people become aware of the environmental and human health problems it cause. That's one of many reasons why it doesn't make sense that New York state is set to make it easier to frack there, even though the state currently has some of the safest, cleanest drinking water in America.

    Find out what fracking is doing to your state here.

    On Capitol Hill, the FRAC Act would force natural gas fracking operations to at least comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act, which they're under no obligation to do now. You can sign a petition here to ask your Senators to support the FRAC Act.


    July 07, 2011

    Fracking: A Clear and Present Danger

    Gas mask I don't like to exaggerate the impacts of the many environmental issues we face. But  it's impossible to overstate how dangerous fracking is. Fracking stands for "hydraulic fracturing," a highly polluting process for tapping underground pools of natural gas. It involves drilling a hole a mile deep and thousands of feet long, then pumping down millions of gallons of water laced with sand, salt and chemicals to crack rock shale that contains the gas. Wherever it happens, it pollutes drinking water, makes people and animals sick, and ruins property values. This special Green Moms Carnival raises several red flags about fracking. Read them all to understand why fracking matters to you - and why you must help stop it.

    Lori of Groovy Green Livin' asks "What the heck is fracking?" You won't like her answer anymore than she did. It's like a "mini-bomb or earthquake exploding underneath the ground" that leaves behind extremely toxic waste water. "The quantities of fracking fluids used in a single well contain so much benzene and other toxic chemicals that they could potentially contaminate more than the amount of water New York State consumes in a day.  Water is so contaminated with methane and other chemicals from fracking that it can become discolored, bubble and could actually catch on fire at the kitchen tap....The chemicals from fracking can cause chronic illness, loss of sense of smell and taste, animals hair to fall out, severe headaches and cancer."

    Continue reading "Fracking: A Clear and Present Danger" »

    June 30, 2011

    What the Heck is Fracking? And Why Don't You Want It Anywhere Near Your Water?

    It sounds like it could be a new dance ("Let's do the frack!"). Or maybe it's a cool way to clean your house ("I really fracked my floor this week; it looks great now!")

    Fracking But it's not. Fracking is short for "hydraulic fracturing," explains Chris Bolgiano in this Bay Journal article. "It involves drilling a hole a mile down, then thousands of feet horizontally, and pumping down millions of gallons of water laced with sand, salt and chemicals to crack the shale. Gas is forced up, along with roughly 25 percent of the contaminated wastewater, often hot with radioactivity."

    Chris adds, "Fracking chemicals include formaldehyde, benzene, and others known to be carcinogenic at a few parts per million. Municipal plants can’t handle fracking wastewater, and it’s stored in open pits until trucked elsewhere. If enough fresh water can’t be sucked from streams on site, trucks haul it in.

    Continue reading "What the Heck is Fracking? And Why Don't You Want It Anywhere Near Your Water? " »

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