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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.
  • « February 2012 | Main | April 2012 »

    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

    Ecover

    Method

    Here are more ways you can take action.

    Related Posts:

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

    Take a look at the dangers wild animals face from plastic bags...

    Bird in plasticThis quick slide show gives 35 reasons why plastic bags should be banned.

    Among them: Nearly 200 different species of sea life, including whales, dolphins, turtles, and seals, plus thousands of birds, die every year because they mistake discarded bags for food or get so entangled in the bags they can't survive.

    You can get a reusable shopping bag at your grocery store for only $.99 or $1.99 at most. Buy six of them for less than ten bucks and do the animals a favor.

     

    More good info on plastics:

    My county finally did it? What about yours? Our new plastic bag "tax."

    The environmental tragedy of plastic.

     

     

    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. 

    CLEANER, GREENER DRY CLEANING ALTERNATIVES

    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 www.nodryclean.com 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.

     

     

    March 15, 2012

    "You've Been Trumped" - the Donald Occupies Wilderness

    Is another golf course more valuable than pristine, unique wilderness?

    TrumpedIn Donald Trump's world it is. Trump is in the process of trying to bulldoze one of Britain's very last stretches of wilderness and turn it into not one but two golf courses. You've Been Trumped, a powerful new film shown on opening night of the D.C. Environmental Film Festival, tells the tale from the moment Trump's jet lands in Aberdeen, Scotland with the Donald and his coterie on board, to the sorry affair that exists today: wilderness gone, wildlife habitat destroyed, and the lives of local villagers irreparably harmed by the development.

    Here's the back story, taken from the movie's synopsis: Billionaire Donald Trump has bought up hundreds of acres on the northeast coast of Scotland, best known to movie-lovers as the setting for the 1983 classic film Local Hero. And like the American oil tycoon played by Burt Lancaster, Trump needs to buy out a few more locals to make the deal come true. In a land swimming with golf courses, Trump is going to build two more – along with a 450-room hotel and 1,500 luxury homes. The trouble is, the land he has purchased occupies one of Europe’s most environmentally sensitive stretches of coast, described by one leading scientist as Scotland’s Amazon rain forest. Local residents don't want it destroyed.

     Initially, the project was rejected by the region's government. But mysteriously, the national Scottish Government overturns its own environmental laws to give Trump the green light. Bulldozers spring into action. Water and power are cut off; it takes some homeowners ten days to get the developers to restore these basic amenities. Land disputes erupt while the developers destroy the homeowners' private property. In one mind- boggling incident, bulldozers pile up thousands of tons of dirt next to the homes of private citizens who oppose the project.

    The local police ignore citizens' complaints and instead arrest the film's director, Anthony Baxter. Donald Trump is awarded an honorary doctorate from a local university while his tractors turn wild, untouched dunes into fairways.

    Trumped walterDonald Trump could not appear less sympathetic, especially in this "Occupy" era. He insults local residents like Walter Forbes, right, calling them "pigs" and worse, while claiming his project will bring strong economic growth to this part of Scotland - even though the region is prospering and has less than a 2% unemployment rate. He worries far more about his helmet of hair, which is getting blown about in the wind, than about the women and men whose heritage the development is destroying. He ogles Miss Scotland, who is on hand for a press event, embarrassing her by telling her how pretty she is, as if he has sized her up for a job in one of his casinos.

    It takes a long time for the citizens to mount a community protest against the project. "It's not in their blood," said Anthony Baxter, when he spoke with the audience after the screening. Baxter is appealing to Americans to help raise awareness that will stop further development by helping him get the film into more theaters. He's also posted links on the film's Take Action page that make it easy to tweet the Donald or send a letter to the Scottish minister who approved the project. 

    This being Washington, D.C., the audience offered some additional ideas to Baxter. One person suggested that people write to the Scottish ambassador to the U.S. and urge the project to be shut down. Another suggested Baxter organize and "Occupy Trump Tower" in New York.

    Baxter appreciated the suggestions while warning Washingtonians to beware: Donald Trump has just gotten the contract to redevelop the historic Old Post Office in D.C. It's located on Pennsylvania Ave, right in between the U.S. Capitol building and the White House.

    "You could be Trumped yourselves," he cautioned.

    Don't miss other great films in the D.C. Environmental Film Fest. Env Film Fest logo
    Here's a calendar of showings between now and March 25.

     

     

     

    March 02, 2012

    Beat High Gas Prices Ten Smart Ways

    Gas pump2Gas prices have topped $4 a gallon in some states, and are inching higher and higher in many others. You're probably not surprised: if you're reading this blog, then you know that gasoline comes from oil, and oil is an unreliable source of fuel. Prices are volatile right now because the Middle East is so shaky, worldwide demand is rising, and some American refineries are not operating at full capacity.

    But even when prices at the pump aren't high, the environmental and human health "costs" we pay for burning gasoline are out of sight, considering the pollution and climate change  it causes and the toll it takes on the air we breathe and the water we drink.

    These tips will help you save money at the pump - because they'll help you drive less.

    • 1. Drive smart - Avoid quick starts and stops, use cruise control on the highway, and don't idle.

    • 2. Drive the speed limit - Remember - every 5 mph you drive above 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.10 per gallon for gas.

    • 3. Drive less - Walk, bicycle, use a scooter or moped, combine trips, and telecommute.

    • 4. Drive a more fuel-efficient car - Consider one of the new hybrids; at the very least, choose from among the EPA's "Fuel Economy Leaders" in the class vehicle you're considering.

    • 5. Keep your engine tuned up - Improve gas mileage by an average of 4.1 percent by maintaining your vehicle in top condition.

    • 6. Carpool - According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 32 million gallons of gasoline would be saved each day if every car carried just one more passenger on its daily commute.

    • 7. Use mass transit and "Ride Share" programs - Why pay for gasoline at all?

    • 8. Keep tires properly inflated - Improve gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Replace worn tires with the same make and model as the originals.

    • 9. Buy the cheapest gas you can find - Buy gas in the morning, from wholesale shopper's clubs, and using gas-company rebate cards. Track neighborhood prices on the Internet.

    • 10. Support higher fuel-efficiency standards and the development of alternative fuels - Ultimately, our best hope for beating the gas crisis is to increase fuel efficiency while we transition to renewable and non-petroleum based fuels. Endorse efforts to boost average fuel efficiency to at least 40 mpg. Support programs that promote research and development of alternatives to transportation systems based on oil.

    Need a gauge to check your tire pressure? Find one in our store.

    Want 10 ways to save money and energy in your home? Here you go.

    These energy-saving tips save more than fuel.

    March 01, 2012

    Do You Have Any "Thneeds?" Win Free Tickets to the Lorax if You 'Fess Up.

    Lorax bookWhen my kids were little, we loved reading Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" together.In case you don't know, it's the story of a greedy developer (well, that's what I call him - Dr. Seuss called him the Once-ler) who cuts down all the Truffula Trees (but they could be ancient forests, or the grove of woods in a community) in order to produce something people don't really need but are convinced they do (Dr. Seuss called it a "Thneed" - I call it "stuff" or worse, when I'm really annoyed). The Lorax tries to convince the Once-ler to save at least some of the trees. But the Once-ler, blinded by the glee he feels from making huge profits on his Thneeds, ignores the Lorax until the land far and wide is trashed and all the trees are gone.

    You can't miss the message: don't sacrifice nature and our quality of life to greed, plain and simple as that.

    Though the book was written in 1971, it's as relevant today as it was forty years ago. In fact, Lorax posterthe new movie based on The Lorax that's premiering this weekend couldn't be more timely. More than ever, we have to protect forests from clearcutting. And we have to protect the planet from the environmental and health impacts that accompany the manufacture of a whole lot of "stuff" we really don't need.

    That's the big picture. Here at home, it's also our resonsibility to stop buying so many "thneeds" - things we don't really need. I'm looking around my house right now and I hate to admit it, but I see a lot more "thneeds" than I wish I did: stacks of books I know I'll never read but just felt like I had to have, three different rain jackets (one would have been plenty), two different leashes for my dog, an electric breadmaker I thought I'd use but almost never do, a rice cooker I've never used, a sushi making kit I unwrapped but never tried, an accordion I really intended to learn to play...

    Sure, I can pack all this stuff up and take it to Value Village or list it on freecycle.org. But I never should have bought it in the first place. I sure didn't need it.

    What about you? Do you have any "thneeds" you wish you hadn't bought? Or is the Lorax inspiring you to think twice before buying a new "thneed" you don't really need?

    If so, let me know. In fact, thanks to Universal Pictures, I will provide a $25 Fandango Gift Card, which should cover two tickets to see the Lorax, to whomever reveals his or her most embarrassing "thneed" in the comments below.

    So 'fess up. What's your "thneed"? And what are you going to do about it?

    (The winner will be announced on Saturday, March 4).

     

     

     

     

     

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