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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.
  • « January 2010 | Main | March 2010 »

    February 24, 2010

    Support Your Cause When You Send Your E-Mail; replyforall Makes It Easy

    Enmi Kendall pic Most of us would love to be able to give more money to the causes and charities we care about. But finding extra cash to donate can be tough in these challenging economic times. Enmi Kendall, pictured left, launched replyforall.com to make it not just easier but free for us all to leverage our e-mail into donations that support the issues we care about. 

    I recently had a chance to interview Enmi about replyforall. Her insights will inspire you!

     


    Replyforall_logo In a nutshell, how does it work, and why should I bother?

    replyforall is a free cause email signature that is automatically inserted into your outgoing email messages. You choose your cause and personalize the information to appear in the signature.  replyforall shares the advertising revenue with its nonprofit partners, allowing you to donate without cash.  You can raise awareness and drive donations to the causes of your choice, as well as monitor your impact all by doing what you do everyday - email.
     

    Enmi, why did you start replyforall?

    Continue reading "Support Your Cause When You Send Your E-Mail; replyforall Makes It Easy" »

    February 16, 2010

    What Does "Natural" Mean?

    Carrots Dictionary.com defines natural as "not artificial" or "having undergone little or no processing and containing no chemical additives." When I think of "natural" I think of things "as Nature made them" - a tree, a flower, an apple, a bunch of carrots. I can recognize natural products in more or less their original form and can usually figure out whether they're good for me or instead pose some kind of threat (think "natural" poison ivy).

    Cheese puffs Businesses have long appreciated how much they have to gain by marketing their goods as "natural." It's why they've plastered the word all over products that, ironically, couldn't be farther from their natural state...like "natural" cheese puffs, crayola-colored gummy worms, ice cream that contains partially hydrogenated soybean oil and cocoa processed with alkali, and cleansers, soaps, toothpaste, and make-up that contain lye or lead.

    Gummy worms Products like these slide by as "natural" because no law prevents any manufacturer or retailer from claiming they are (unlike the label "organic," which is strictly defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and whose use is policed by both the federal government and consumer groups.) That's why I and many other consumer advocates encourage shoppers to ignore words like natural, earth-friendly, or something else equally appealing but ambiguous. There's no way to know what they really mean.

    NaturalSeal_Homecare_150px The Natural Products Association wants to clarify the debate. The group, which represents more than 10,000 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of natural foods, dietary supplements, and health/beauty aids has issued a Natural Products Association Standard and Certification for Home Care Products like household cleaners, laundry detergents, and concentrated and ready to use hard-surface cleaners (they've previously issued a similar standard for personal care products). Only products certified under the standard can bear the NPA natural home care seal, which is supposed to signal to consumers that the product can be trusted.

    Can it? Or is the standard just a clever attempt by companies better known for harsh and toxic ingredients to greenwash their products and cash in on the "natural" craze?

    Continue reading "What Does "Natural" Mean?" »

    February 15, 2010

    Ten Ways to Control Catalog Clutter

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     During the post-holiday season, retail catalogs begin swamping mailboxes as the stores where you shopped add your address to their mailing lists.  The huge amount of paper and ink used to produce catalogs is an environmental no-no. Producing all these catalogs is a big waste of energy and resources, especially because most of the products and information can be found on the retailers' websites.  

    Put a stop to the catalog deluge before it begins by refusing to provide your address or phone number when you shop.  If you place your order by phone, tell the operator to keep your name off the company's mailed catalog lists. (image source)

    If catalogs are still piling up at your house, here's how you can stem the paper tide:

    1) Call the 1-800 number provided in the catalog and ask the operator to remove your name from the company's lists.

    2) Sign up for free with Catalogchoice.org and cancel catalogs you no longer wish to receive.

    3) Pay $19.95 and Stopthejunkmail.com will let you choose which catalogs you wish to keep; the group will contact the others repeatedly until they have removed you from their lists. 

    4) Stop 85-90% of all unwanted catalogs and junk mail for 5 years for $41 at 41pounds.org.

    For more ways to reduce catalog clutter, see all ten tips here.

    Forest Ethics calls junk mail an 'environmental crisis.' You can sign their petition to end junk mail here.

    February 02, 2010

    Six Ways to Green Your Valentine's Day

    Valentine's Day heart Here at Big Green Purse, we love love. So naturally, Valentine's Day is one of our favorite days of the year.

    As it turns out, it also presents one of the best opportunities to shift your spending to greener goods. Of the billions of dollars spent on Valentine's Day gifts every year, more than a third are spent on flowers.  As beautiful as they may be, conventionally-grown cut flowers are usually doused with toxic pesticides that are damaging to people as well as the environment.

    Solution?

    • If you're planning to give a bouquet of classic red roses, order organically grown flowers to avoid those harmful chemicals.  Plenty of businesses offer organic roses as well as other flowers
    • Choose flowers and greens grown locally. 
    • Your gift will leave a smaller carbon footprint than a bouquet that was flown in from South America or another tropical clime.  Visit Local Harvest to locate the flower grower nearest to you.
    • Forage your own blooms.  Spend your money on a reusable vase rather than throwaway flowers, then fill it with holly branches, red twig dogwood, pine boughs, dried hydrangea blooms, cattails, or whatever else you can find in your yard. Garnish with a re-usable red ribbon.
    • Give a potted plant instead of cut flowers.  The live plant acts as a mini carbon sink, and will last longer longer than any cut bouquet. Focus on plants that are particularly good at purifying indoor air, like chinese evergreens, spider plants, and peace lilies. 
    • Make a basket.  Stock a garden basket with an assortment of flower seeds, a trowel, some gardening gloves, and maybe a new pair of clippers. In the spring, help your beloved sow the seeds, then enjoy the blooms all summer long.
    • Dish up some bulbs. Fill a shallow bowl with small pebbles; place five or six narcissus bulbs on top. The bulbs will begin to grow as soon as they're watered; in six weeks, they'll have sprouted beautiful foliage and fragrant blooms that keep Valentine's Day alive long past Feb. 14.

    Where's the chocolate, you ask?  Right here!

    (Image credit)

    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 DSIRE.org for a comprehensive list of what your state can offer you, including tax credits, rebate programs, and much more.

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