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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.
  • « August 2010 | Main | October 2010 »

    September 27, 2010

    Clothing: What's Eco, and What's Not

    Greenmoms1 What does it take to manufacture, sell, and dispose of clothing? You might be surprised. The clothing industry is one of the most environmentally intensive in the world. If it's made from cotton, it's been doused with as much as 22.5% of the pesticides applied to agricultural crops worldwide. If it's made from a synthetic fiber, its source is actually coal or oil. As much as we might prefer to wear fig leaves, when we have to wear fabrics, what should we choose? 

    The Green Moms Carnival tackles the clothing conundrum this month. Most of us bemoan how difficult it is to figure out how to buy environmentally-friendly fashions in the first place.

    Mary of In Women We Trust regrets how few organic fabrics are designed for the boardroom instead of the beach, and points out the valuable role that the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) play in ensuring that textiles are produced organically.

    Amber at Strocel.com compares polyester and acrylic, two synthetics made from fossil fuels, and comes down on the side of buying less clothing over all, and natural fibers over synthetics. "Reducing consumption pretty much always comes out ahead," she notes.

    Anna at Green Talk provides a comprehensive analysis of the use of recycled plastic bottles in clothing, as well as other textiles. A big concern is that textiles made from recycled plastic emit the chemical antimony, which has been linked to a wide variety of health problems in laboratory animals. Anna also reports that demand for plastic bottles that can be recycled into textiles has risen so much that some manufacturers are using brand new plastic bottles, rather than recycled ones. Talk about the law of unintended consequences

    Linda at Citizen Green points out several benefits to using recycled plastic, like the fact that "30% less energy is needed to down cycle the bottles into shirts than is needed to make them out of virgin plastic." So what's the worry? Plastic is still plastic, and will take hundreds of years to biodegrade.

    Leopard purse Sarah of Practically Green provides a great set of tips if you're shopping vintage. "Don't keep it if you will NEVER be that size again," she suggests -- good advice whether you're buying old or new. You'll also love her pictures of the vintage clothes she's snagged over the years, from a snazzy leopard clutch she lined with red leather (see photo, right) to her dad's v-necked, cashmere sweater.

    Keep reading. There's more!

    Continue reading "Clothing: What's Eco, and What's Not" »

    September 20, 2010

    Bamboo Clothing: Green, or Greenwashed?

    If you’re looking for more eco-friendly clothing, should you choose bamboo?

    Bamboo Annie Bamboo has been touted for the last several years as being one of the most environmentally-responsible fabrics on the market. A hardy grass, it grows like a proverbial weed, sometimes sprouting 4 feet in a single day – and that’s without the assistance of pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers let alone irrigation. Bamboo sounds like the kind of “green” fabric you’d love to love – were it not for the process needed to transform it from a plant into something like a pair of socks.

    In August 2009, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission issued "Have You Been Bamboozled by Bamboo Fabrics?" a report that questioned the fiber’s green bonafides. While not challenging how the grass is grown, the FTC warned that transforming the plant’s tenacious stalks into soft fabrics requires the use of toxic chemicals that pollute the air and water,” reducing the cloth’s natural appeal. Many consumers have been wondering ever since if bamboo is green – or being greenwashed.

    What concerns the FTC is the manufacturing process. Because bamboo is so hardy, it is also hard to refine into fiber – unless a manufacturer uses toxic chemicals like sodium hydroxide, which can cause chemical burns or blindness, to break down bamboo’s cells into something pliable called viscose.

    Some manufacturers claim that sodium hydroxide poses no health hazard if used and disposed of properly.  I’m more reassured by companies that use fabric from bamboo  which has not only been certified as organically grown, but where the chemicals used in processing bamboo into viscose are captured in a “closed loop” system that is supposed to prevent them from being released into the environment. The resulting viscose is Oeko Tex 100 certified, which means that no harmful substances lurk in the finished textile, where they might rub off on your skin. Conventionally produced and polluting "bamboo" might be labelled simply bamboo, or rayon from bamboo.  You can get a more comprehensive explanation on the entire process, and the controvery surrounding the selling of bamboo, here.

    So...Cotton, or Bamboo?

    Continue reading "Bamboo Clothing: Green, or Greenwashed?" »

    September 10, 2010

    Spoil Your Pup and Protect the Environment

    Planet dog Whether you've recently added a new four-legged member to your family, or just want to treat your existing pet right, there are plenty of affordable products and supplies for your furry friend that will make everyone happy, including Mother Nature.

    Start with the fun stuff: toys! Don't spend a fortune on plush new chew toys your dog's powerful jaws could demolish in a few days. Shop yard sales and thrift stores for used rubber dolls or balls and stuffed animals that pooch will enjoy just as much as if they were brand new. When you do buy new, choose toys like those from West Paw's Zogoflex line that are tough, pliable, non-toxic and designed to be recyclable. An added bonus: they're dishwasher safe.

    • Also, check out West Paw's inexpensive Eco Bones, which are made of 85 percent re-West paw eco bones  engineered recycled IntelliLoft fibers that offer Fido a strong, squeaky and eco-friendly way to exercise his jaws while saving you money on the real bones you might otherwise buy every week.

    Hemp Collars and Leashes. Hemp is a natural fiber that has been grown for the last 12,000 years in a variety of climate and soils without pesticides and herbicides. Hemp fibers are longer, stronger, more absorbent, and more mildew-resistant than cotton; they're hypoallergenic, 100 percent biodegradable, odor resistant and anti-bacterial, too. 

    Big shrimpy bed Eco-Friendly and Comfortable Dog Beds. Dogs sleep at least 12 hours a day if not more, so ensuring they have the best bed possible is a must (and will keep them off the couch!). Beds made from natural materials such as recycled cotton, feathers, wool or kapok fiber offer a healthy 'green' alternative to the synthetics found in many conventional pooch pads. 

    What if it's chow time?

    Continue reading "Spoil Your Pup and Protect the Environment" »

    September 09, 2010

    Green Baby Shower Gift Ideas

    Baby2 Babies deserve the best when it comes to the food they eat, the toys they play with, the soaps and shampoos they use, and the clothing they wear. Their immature organs and immune systems make them more susceptible to the impacts chemicals can have on development, learning, and overall health, so child safety should be your Number One priority in the 'green' baby shower gift department.

    How about these kid-safe options?

    Food. Organic baby food minimizes baby's exposure to pesticide residues while providing extra helpings of vitamins and minerals. Give the DIY-parent a small blender or food processor, a set of reusable glass jars with lids, and a link to the Wholesome Baby Food website for homemade grub baby will love. For organic parents with no time to cook, Earth Best's First Foods Gift Pack offers a nice introduction.

    Toys. Recent revelations that toys made in China contain hazardous chemicals rightly worry many parents. None of us would willingly expose our kids to lead or kerosene, yet those are some of the toxins that have turned up in toys as common as Thomas the Tank Engine and Dora the Explorer. Start babies off right with the safest toys available: ones made from organic cotton, recycled wood and lead-free paints.

    Soaps and Shampoos. Babies and toddlers don't need much powder, body lotion, perfume, moisturizer, or baby wash, though a little ointment to help prevent diaper rash is always appreciated. A mild shampoo sans synthetic fragrance and phthalates comes in handy, too. In the past, I've filled a reusable shopping bag with fragrance-free organic and plant-based body wash and shampoo formulated especially for babies, along with an organic cotton towel and a safe rubber ducky.

    Clothing. Conventionally-made baby clothes may be treated with a surprising array of toxic chemicals, including fire retardants and formaldehyde. A healthier alternative? T-shirts, socks, shirts and sweaters made from organic cotton and bamboo. You'll find a lot of options if you search "organic baby clothes" on the Web. If you'd rather browse the racks, try the organic options at Target and Wal-Mart.

    Need to find a gift for someone who has grown-up? Find more gift ideas for all ages as well as green gift-wrapping tips here.

    September 07, 2010

    Eco-Conscious Alternatives to 'Not-So-Eco' Disposable Razors

    Picture 4 Disposable razors are the ultimate throwaway. Two billion of them are sold and tossed every year in the U.S. alone, along with the paper and plastic packaging they come in.

    Fortunately, several good, green and ultimately money-saving options exist.

    For example, a durable electric shaver uses electricity, but saves money on shaving cream, hot water, and as much as $60 per year in throwaway razors (NOTE calculation: $5 for 4-pack of disposable razors; use 1 razor per week, one 4-pack per month x 12 months, 12 x 5 = $60). Plus, an electric razor reduces the amount of trash you toss since you don't discard empty shaving cream cans every few weeks.

    A straight razor saves electricity, but requires hot water, soap or shaving cream -- and maybe a lot of band aids, depending on how skillfully you can pull what amounts to a sharp metal knife across your throat or along your legs and armpits.

    What to look for when you shop:

    Rechargeable electric razor. Rechargeables can be expensive to purchase initially, but their long life usually warrants the up-front cash outlay. If you recharge them using a solar charger, you reduce the amount of energy they use considerably. Unlike other models, the Braun Pulsonic Shaver contains no cadmium, lead or mercury in its components. Its Smart Plug technology has earned it an Energy Star rating for energy efficiency from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    A straight razor uses no energy other than your own, but be careful! Keep a box of band aids at the ready. You can reduce scratches by sharpening your razor on a stone like this one. In place of shaving cream, many men use a shaving brush and soap they can lather in a dish or jar, for a very low cost, low-tech approach. (NOTE: You probably can't take the straight razor on an airplane. If you travel a lot, you will still need an electric razor or a reusable razor with disposable blades).

    Razor-saver If you use a reusable razor but disposable blades, consider a "razor saver." This little gadget sharpens blades so you can extend their life from the normal 5-10 shaves per blade to 130!

    If you absolutely must use a disposable, choose one like Recycline. The handle is made from recycled plastic and can be recycled in any community that allows recycling for #5 plastics.

    Shaving cream can be green, too! These options contain organic, fragrance-free ingredients.

    Get more eco-friendly personal care tips here.

    September 02, 2010

    New oil disaster in Gulf makes strong argument for moratorium.

    Another oil rig has caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico. Thirteen people were forced to jump off the rig and into the ocean to avoid harm; all of those people have been rescued, and one is being treated for injuries. Meanwhile, an oil sheen about 100 feet wide and a mile long has been spotted spreading out from the damaged oil platform.

    Oil fire It does not immediately appear as if this explosion is as serious as the one that rocked the Deepwater Horizon rig, owned by BP, earlier this year. That event (pictured at left) not only killed eleven people; it has also turned into the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. During the three months it took to cap that well, millions of gallons of oil gushed into Gulf waters, killing thousands of birds, polluting some of America's most valuable wetlands, and shutting down a fishery worth billions of dollars to the local economy.

    Continue reading "New oil disaster in Gulf makes strong argument for moratorium." »

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