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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.
  • « July 2010 | Main | September 2010 »

    August 30, 2010

    Seven Ways to "Green" Your Period

  • If you're like most women, you'll use as many as 11,000 tampons during the course of your lifetime.
  • Add to that a couple of thousand pads and panti-liners and the ecological impact of your monthly cycle really starts to add up.
  • Tampon 1 All that feminine hygiene creates tons of trash. Particularly egregious are the plastic applicators that come with some tampons. They're capable of escaping from any landfill - or wastebasket, for that matter - and often end up bobbing i a lake or river,or littering a playground or the roadside. The darn things are so indestructible even a car can run over them and not destroy them.
  • Conventional products may contain a mixture of rayon and cotton. Rayon has been implicated in Toxic Shock Syndrome, particularly for super-absorbent tampons. Cotton is highly pesticide-intensive; around 16 percent  of the pesticides used globally are devoted to growing cotton. Plus, to look as white as possible, conventional pads and tampons may be bleached with chlorine, a process that can create dioxin, a known carcinogen.

    Says Nena Baker, author of The Body Toxic, “If you're a woman who is concerned enough about pesticide-tainted cotton to buy organic cotton clothing, it seems to me that you would, and likely should, have equal or greater concern about a product that is used inside our bodies."

    Sheila Hollender, a co-founder of Seventh Generation, agrees. In fact, she says,

    Continue reading "Seven Ways to "Green" Your Period" »

    August 23, 2010

    Salmonella-poisoned eggs make a strong argument for local, organic, family farms.

    I love eggs, but I hate food poisoning more.

    I'm betting so do the more than 2,000 people who have been sickened by eating tainted eggs produced by factory chicken farms in Iowa. After all, no one I know enjoys the impact salmonella has on their digestive tract, since it induces vomiting, dizziness, diahrrea, fever, abdominal cramps, blood infections and even death. 

    Egg hand  Investigators are still trying to understand how this potentially lethal bacterium was able to infect so many eggs in such a short period of time. One possible cause is getting a lot of attention: the way the laying hens were raised. Conventional poultry operations raise millions of chickens at a time, often in confined spaces and under filthy and inhumane conditions that reduce the ability of the animals to fight off germs. When disease hits, it spreads like wildfire. But with a fire you can see the flames coming. With salmonella, you don't know it's got you until you're doubled over in pain or on your way to the emergency room.

    For now, eggs in 14 states in the midwest have been recalled. The good news is that this amounts to less than 1 percent of all eggs produced in the U.S. Still, disease outbreaks like these remind all of us to be vigilant about the food we eat. The following precautions will help you stay healthy:

    Continue reading "Salmonella-poisoned eggs make a strong argument for local, organic, family farms." »

    August 16, 2010

    It's Time for BlogHer to be Green - Inside and Out.

     BlogHer is the world's largest network of women bloggers. As such, it commands substantial financial sponsorships from multi-national conglomerates, many of whom jump at the chance to peddle their wares to the thousands of attendees who throng BlogHer's annual conferences. After all, these women are bloggers: their online presence functions like a Megaphone giant megaphone to the rest of the world. What company wouldn't want to promote its products to so many potential free advertisers?

    How "green" the BlogHer conferences are has become increasingly controversial over the past few years. Last year, an uproar ensued when the group's conference seemed to have been commandeered by Pepsi and other companies that for three days bombarded conference-goers with trashy swag. I was on BlogHer's "Green Team"; the victory we thought we'd won convincing Pepsi not to hand out bottled water was undercut by all the soda bottles and other junk companies peddled right and left throughout the event.

    This year, I did not attend the conference. But by all reports, the swag was much more restrained. Still, the confab was sponsored by a bevy of companies promoting the kind of throwaway "stuff" Annie Leonard shined such a bright spotlight on in her searing online documentary, The Story of Stuff. To wit, not only did the companies give away a lot of junk - they also sponsored a suite where conference goers could throw it away (or "recycle" it to places like homeless shelters, begging the question: if you don't want it, why do you think a homeless person does?).

    Continue reading "It's Time for BlogHer to be Green - Inside and Out." »

    August 10, 2010

    Students Start Food Fight So They Can Have Re-usable Lunch Trays.

    Trays Kids are going green, and not just at home. A cadre of student activists at Piney Branch elementary school in Takoma Park, MD, are agitating to replace the throw-away polystyrene lunch trays used in their public school cafeteria with reusable, washable ones. They've raised over $10,000 towards the purchase of a dishwasher to clean the trays. Officials who oversee the school in Montgomery County, MD have thus far refused to allow the kids to even test out a reusable trays program, saying it is too expensive. But the kids are fighting on.

    Full disclosure: Both my kids attended Piney Branch, which is located near the Washington, D.C. border about three blocks from my house, and educates students in the third, fourth and fifth grades. But my son and daughter left long before more environmentally aware kids formed "The Young Activists Club" and launched their inspiring reusable tray campaign.

    The kids are concerned because the polystyrene in the trays is a "known neurotoxin and suspected human carcinogen," they say on their website.

    "But there's more," they say. "It turns out polystyrene has a high carbon footprint as it's made from fossil fuels. In addition, unlike other types of plastics such as beverage bottles (PET, #1) and milk jugs (HDPE, #2), its recycling level is virtually zero. It is not biodegradable, either. This means polystyrene that is littered will end up eventually in our watersheds and the world's oceans where it can have devastating impacts on water life.

    Continue reading "Students Start Food Fight So They Can Have Re-usable Lunch Trays." »

    Little girls are worrying about bras when they should still be playing with Play Dough.

    Two young girls Girls six and seven years old should not have to go shopping for a bra.

    But in this day and age, it seems like that's exactly what they have to do. A new study reported in the journal Pediatrics found that very little girls are developing breasts earlier than ever before, increasing their risk of breast cancer and other health problems and subjecting them to taunts from boys that undermine their self esteem. The study's authors say exposure to toxic chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA), some preservatives, and additives found in plastic may be among the reasons why.

    Red flags have been flying for several years about the threats toxic chemicals pose to girls' reproductive organs. “Young girls are exposed to dozens of potentially toxic chemicals on a daily basis,” Ted Schettler, M.D., M.P.H., Science Director for the Science and Environmental Health Network, told the New York Times. “Some of these can mimic the natural hormone, estrogen. Although individually their estrogenic activity may be relatively weak, their effects are additive. In the aggregate they could be having significant health effects, including contributing to the early onset of breast development. We need a new law to evaluate chemicals and protect our children from harmful exposures.”

    Continue reading "Little girls are worrying about bras when they should still be playing with Play Dough." »

    August 09, 2010

    Want to Change What Stores Stock on Their Shelves? Go Meet With Them. These Women Did.

    Big Green Purse urges consumers to shift their spending to greener products and services as a faster way to protect people and the planet. But that can be tough if you can't find environmentally-friendly products at the stores where you commonly shop. After all, currently, only 3.5% of the produce in most grocery stores is organic. Most of the paper products you'll see - like toilet and facial tissue, paper towels and napkins - aren't made from recycled fiber. Many cleaning and personal care products contain nasty chemicals you'd rather not have in your home.

    Sure, you have a lot of eco choices if you have the time, not just to order online, but to wait for delivery. But if you're in a hurry (and who isn't?) and you're already at the market or the local convenience store, you'll probably be out of luck.

    LWV 1 If Beth Radow has her way, that will change, at least in her Mamaroneck, New York neighborhood. That's where Beth has mobilized women to meet with store managers to encourage them to make "going green" easier for anyone who wants more eco-friendly options.

    Beth (tall woman in blue in center of photo) is the president of the Larchmont-Mamaroneck League of Women Voters Chapter. A passionate environmentalist and a concerned parent, Beth is also an attorney with a "can do, must do" attitude about social change. In fact, the theme for her presidency at the League is "We, The People," because, she says, "I want to empower people to be agents of social change."

    LWV 2 With social and environmental change in mind, Beth recently marshalled a force of about 15 women aged 17 to 92 to meet with representatives of their Trader Joe's, Stop-and-Shop, and A&P. This "Supermarket Sweep" was organized against the backdrop of theGulf oil disaster. Said Beth in inviting people to participate, "Gas guzzling semis truck in goods to our stores on a regular basis from near and distant points. How might our stores save on fuel? As professionals and heads of households, we make seemingly unending car trips to and from the store and elsewhere. It all adds up."

    Beth invited folks to walk to the stores with their own shopping carts or reusable canvas bags in order to drive home their concerns about energy conservation, noting "This Walk to the store behind a cart instead of a wheel puts a focus on what we ourselves can do to walk the walk when it comes to reducing fuel consumption."

    Continue reading "Want to Change What Stores Stock on Their Shelves? Go Meet With Them. These Women Did." »

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    Sign up now in the left column of Big Green Purse.

    August 05, 2010

    Five Steps to a Greener, Cleaner Drain

      Let's face it, clogged or slow moving drains are a bit of a drag. They leave a mess in the sink and actually stink if you wait too long to clean them up. 

    Most people hastily grab the nearest (and nastiest) drain cleaners they can find, hoping for instant gratification. But you're not "most" people, are you? You'd like to find an alternative to sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, the active ingredient in common drain cleaners. Sodim hydroxide can burn skin and aggravate the respiratory system if it's not handled properly. It can also induce vomiting and cause stomach problems if kids accidentally swallow it, so it needs to be stored safely, preferably under lock and key.

    A wide variety of alternatives claim to be eco-friendly because they use enzymes or "natural" bacteria, but to tell you the truth, those products haven't worked for me. Here's what does: 

    1) Pour a kettle full of boiling water down the drain.

    Drain snake 2) Get a thin, flexible wire plumber's snake (straighten out a metal coat hanger if you don't have a snake handy) and thread it down the drain until it reaches the clog.

    3) Work the snake back and forth and up and down to loosen as much of the stuck material as possible.

    4) Pour a half-cup of baking soda into the drain. Follow with a cup of vinegar and immediately plug the drain. The vinegar will interact with the baking soda to dissolve whatever materials are still clogging the drain.

    5) Flush with two kettles full of boiling water, one right after the other; probe with the snake to make sure the clog is gone.

    Continue reading "Five Steps to a Greener, Cleaner Drain " »

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