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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.
  • October 30, 2013

    Bats Aren't Zombies - and Other Reasons Why You Should Love Bats!

    Bats get a bad rap on Halloween. They're the ultimate symbol of spooky, creepy creatures that most people would rather not come across. But that's not fair! According to Christina Kocer of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Northeast Region, bats are among the most valuable animals on the planet. Christina says why, in this special guest post for the Big Green Purse community:

    8492771888_2a0a54d7d3 It’s almost Halloween, and that means zombies, witches and images of bats silhouetted against a full moon abound.

    Encountering a zombie does not sit well with me, but bats are a different story. Despite their spooky image, bats are far from terrifying, and I can assure you, they really don’t want anything to do with your hair.
    What DON'T bats do?
    As long as we are clearing the air, bats will not fly into your hair; will not suck your blood; will not try to eat you alive; and will not chew through your siding, your shutters, or your attic vents. The claim that all bats are rabid is yet another fear perpetuated by popular media.

    Continue reading "Bats Aren't Zombies - and Other Reasons Why You Should Love Bats!" »

    July 22, 2013

    Help Save Sea Turtles on Topsail Island, NC

    Right now, something completely amazing is happening on a barrier island in North Carolina. Sea turtles, one of the Earth's most ancient creatures, are coming ashore at night to dig nests and lay their eggs. They've been doing the same thing, over and over and over again, for more than 100 million years. And it's still utterly amazing.

    Nesthatchup I recently spent a morning on Topsail Island, NC, with my sister-in-law Bobbie and her husband Bob, doing what they do every Monday morning between May 1 and the end of August. We walked up and down a stretch of this barrier island's 26-mile long beach looking for tracks that would indicate that a turtle had crawled up from the ocean's shore to lay eggs.

    Bob and Bobbie are part of an impressive volunteer force that's been mobilized by the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Hospital to help save these creatures. That means helping to protect the laid eggs from predators and even guiding hatchlings back to the sea.  

    Continue reading "Help Save Sea Turtles on Topsail Island, NC" »

    April 19, 2011

    "Inception" and "The Adjustment Bureau" Ain't Got Nothin' on the New Disney Movie

    Matt Damon and Leo DiCaprio move over. Sita, cheetah mother, gets my vote for "action hero" when it comes to thrillers that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

    Cheetahs "African Cats," Sita's star vehicle and this year's Earth Day release by DisneyNature, doesn't at first seem like an obvious nail-biter. Gorgeous shots of Kenya's extraordinary Masai Mara grasslands open the film before it homes in on the animals that steal the show: Sita and her mischievous cubs, and Fang, the patriarch of a large pride of lions and their playful offspring. But you know what's coming next: The breathtaking scenery is only a backdrop to the life-and-death struggles that play out between these cat "families" and the animals that prey upon them. It's the "Lion King" in the flesh.

    African cats The Mara is one of the few remaining places in Africa where lions, cheetahs and leopards live in large numbers and in close proximity. The River Pride, a dominant group of lions led by "Fang," roams the hills south of the Mara River. A second group of male lions—a powerful father and his four sons—rules the area to the north. The River Pride is threatened by these lions from the north who are awaiting the perfect opportunity to move in, depose Fang, and take over his pride. Meanwhile, Sita must defend her babies against the lions, as well as ravenous hyenas and even other cheetahs.

    The young cheetah and lion cubs are gosh-darn cute, and the filmmakers make the most of their playful antics and mewling cries to set the stage for the inevitable clashes between protective mothers and their hungry adversaries. The films' directors insist on building suspense by creating a very human story line intent on driving home the point that a mother will do anything to protect her babies. But the story and its corny script get in the way of the pictures unfolding on the screen. The movie would have been wonderful to watch with music alone, sans narration. 

    That said, I loved the film's high definition cinematography and "you are there" shots. I've been on two safaris, including one in the Masai Mara. I saw first-hand lions eating their way through the steaming belly of a zebra they'd just killed, and watched a cheetah kill an eland then effortlessly haul it up into a tree for safe-keeping. The filmmakers show the animals exactly as I remember them in the wild, foregoing special effects, animation, and other cinematics in favor of spellbinding close-ups of animal eyes, rippling muscles, and jaws dripping with fresh blood.

    DisneyNature hopes "African Cats" will do more than entertain. The company is partnering with the African Wildife Foundation in a campaign to "Save the Savanna" where these big cats live. Throughout Earth Week, April 22-28, a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to support AWF's program to protect the Amboseli Wildlife Corridor. The corridor is the expanse of land that stretches across the Savanna between three national parks in Kenya. Lions, elephants, cheetahs, zebras, and other wildlife traverse it when they migrate and look for food and water. AWF's work will help insure that the corridor stays open and wild enough to help these animals thrive despite the pressures put upon them from tourism and encroaching development.

    NOTE: "African Cats" is sometimes graphically violent and may not be appropriate for children younger than 13. The scenes of predators chasing down and devouring their prey are totally realistic - which means they're brutal and bloody. At one point, the little girl sitting next to me in the theater just put her head down and covered her ears.

    African Cats is DisneyNature's third Earth Day feature. Here's a review of last year's film, "Earth."


    June 28, 2010

    Read This Book Before You Watch Nature Porn or "Fang TV"

    Shooting-in-the-Wild-final-op Films about wildlife are scary. They're exciting. They make you ooh and aah while you cover your eyes so you don't have to watch the really gory parts. But are they honest?

    Not according to Chris Palmer, author of the gripping new expose Shooting in the Wild: An Insider's Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom.

    The book, based on extensive research as well as Chris's own experience producing wildlife films for IMAX theaters and for conservation groups like the National Wildlife Federation and National Audubon Society, documents film after film that appears to be "natural" but is, in fact, a series of fantastic shots staged by the filmmakers to provoke the animals but entertain the audience.

    Why do the filmmakers manipulate what they find in the wild? Because these "money shots," as Chris calls them, are the ones that generate the ratings. And without high ratings, films about wildlife may not make it onto the screen.

    02_Chris_Palmer "Nature porn" or "fang TV" generates the biggest bang for the buck, says Chris, even if those pictures have been staged or digitally altered to sensationalize animal behavior. And while they may enthrall viewers, such film techniques not only upset the animals being filmed; they put the filmmakers themselves in great danger. Chris is a master storyteller, and his accounts of the death of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, who was killed by a sting ray; Timothy Treadwell, who died at the hands of the grizzly bears he filmed; and filmmakers who narrowly missed being chomped to death by a 30-foot long python are not to be missed.

    Full disclosure: I'm a friend of Chris' and I commented on a couple of the book's early chapters. But until I saw the complete tome, I had no idea it was such a pageturner. Chris has rubbed shoulders with celebrities like Jane Fonda, Ted Turner, and Robert Redford. He has shot film himself in locations as exotic as Tahiti. He is the founder and Director of the Center on Environmental Filmmaking at American University whose Emmy winning and Oscar-nominated films have been broadcast on the Disney Channel, TBS Superstation, Animal Planet and PBS, as well as in IMAX theaters. He admits he is guilty of some of the techniques that he criticizes in the book, and now wants to see discontinued. This book is part memoir, part indictment, but one hundred percent committed to changing the way future wildlife films are made.

    Shooting in the Wild is a must-read for anyone who loves watching animals on screen and wants a truly "behind the scenes" perspective on how animal movies are made. But it's absolutely essential for anyone who wants to make an ethical wildlife film today. 

    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.

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