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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 22, 2012

    Simple, Non-Toxic Ways to Protect Yourself from West Nile Virus

    Mosquito biteWest Nile Virus is on the rise in the United States, a consequence of the climate change that is bringing more extreme weather conditions to many parts of the country. The Centers for Disease Control report that, "since 1999, 30,000 people have been reported as getting sick with West Nile Virus. Occasionally, an infected person may develop more severe disease such as “West Nile encephalitis,” “West Nile meningitis” or “West Nile meningoencephalitis. refers to an inflammation of the brain, meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord, and meningoencephalitis refers to inflammation of the brain and the membrane surrounding it. Almost 13,000 of the individuals who have been reported as having West Nile virus since 1999 have been seriously ill, and more than 1,200 have died."

    There are two ways to protect yourself from mosquitoes: reduce the number of mosquitoes in your area, and reduce your chances of being bitten.

    REDUCE BREEDING

    Mosquitoes breed anywhere there is standing water. The key to reducing mosquito populations is to limit the places where they can reproduce.

    * Empty standing pools of water. Especially after it rains, keep an eye out for standing pools of water that provide perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Those include baby pools, watering cans, old tires, gutters and drains, buckets, and pretty much anything else that can trap water long enough for a mosquito to lay its eggs.

    * Keep water moving in ponds and fountains. Use a small pump to keep water circulating, or put some fish or frogs in the pond to eat up mosquito larvae.

    Continue reading "Simple, Non-Toxic Ways to Protect Yourself from West Nile Virus" »

    August 16, 2012

    Swap School Supplies for Green, Eco-Friendly Back-to-School "Shopping" That Doesn't Break the Bank

    Back-to-school shopping can put a real dent in a family’s budget and create a carbon footprint a mile Investing 2wide. Why not set up a school supplies swap with your neighbors before you go shopping? You'll green the shopping beast and save money, too. Another bonus? you'll reduce clutter and teach the kids to share.

    * Check the kids' supplies list. Most kids will bring home a list from school, or you'll be able to download one from the school's web site. Ask your child to cross off what you already have or don't want to buy, then circle what's left. When you go swapping (or shopping), work from the list.

    • Make an inventory of what you already have. Most families have enough pencils, crayons, glue, tape and markers left over from the previous year to start the new year just fine. In fact, many of us have way too much of this stuff. Figure out what your kids need now, and put aside a few extras for later in the year when your own supplies run up. Then box up your extras so they're easy to exchange.

    * Set up a swap in your front yard or garage. Invite neighbors who have their own items to swap.Designate different tables for pens and pencils, crayons and markers, paper and folders, lunch boxes, backpacks, and sporting gear. Ask that everything that's brought be clean and usable. When it comes to lunch boxes, ask that they be metal, plastic free of phthalates and PVC, or cloth. People should bring their own reusable bags to cart their swapped items home in.

    * Donate leftovers to a day-care center, or to a charity that provides school supplies to kids in need. 

     If you still need to go shopping when the swap is over...

    Continue reading "Swap School Supplies for Green, Eco-Friendly Back-to-School "Shopping" That Doesn't Break the Bank" »

    May 15, 2012

    Now's the Time to Consider Sun-blocking Blinds to Keep Your Home Cool This Summer

    SunriseGiven how crazy the climate's gotten, we may be in for a very long, hot summer. In the heat of the moment, your first thought might be to crank up your air conditioner to stay cool. But that's an expensive proposition that will use a lot of energy and wreak havoc on your electricity bill. Before you get to that point, why not take a look at your windows, especially those that let in the most sunshine, and consider ways to shade them and keep the sun and heat out?

    First things first. Weatherize. If you didn't do this in the winter to keep cold air out, definitely do it now to keep hot air out and your nicely cooled air in. You can find a variety of weatherization kits in our online Amazon store or at your local hardware store.

    Second, plant trees. Trees planted strategically on the sunniest sides of your home can significantly reduce the amount of solar light getting through your windows. Plus, they add value to your landscape.

    Double celled shadeNext, cover up. Chances are, your windows are only single panes of glass, maybe doubles (triple-paned glass is the most efficient, but it's not commonly found in most houses and apartments). That means that there's not much of a barrier between the inside and the outside of your house. Curtains or shades  add an extra layer of insulation and increase the energy efficiency of each window covered. The thicker the curtains, the more energy you'll save, especially if you mount the curtains as close to the window as possible. Otherwise, hot air will end up escaping around the curtains and into your room - and vice versa with cold air.

    For energy-efficient shades, skip single louvered panels, whether made of aluminum or vinyl. Instead, aim for shades constructed in a cellular or honeycomb pattern. Here's a picture of the double-honeycomb shades I have on most of my windows. Triple combed shades are the most efficient available, but they weren't on the market 25 years ago when I bought my shades.)

    Honeycomb shades work by creating an insulating pocket of air in each cell that separates the window air space from the room air space.  When not in use, the blinds fold up into a thin band at the top of my window. When down, they provide an effective barrier to the outside air, but still let enough light in that the room can be bright if I use them during the day. You can see more honeycomb options at Levolor and many other online retailers.

    Roller shades, made from heavy-duty fabric, can also reduce window energy loss. To get the most out of the shade, mount them on a track that runs inside the window frame. When the shade is down, very little energy will seep into or out that window.

    Window quilt 1You can also cover your windows with insulated window quilts, like the ones I have on my french doors (right). The quilts affix to the window frame with velcro; they're extremely effective at blocking outside air. The downside is that they let absolutely no light through so you won't want to leave them up during the day. I actually made my own for my previous home, and they worked quite well. If you want to make your own, you can find instructions here.

    Shade windows from outside. The most sunlight comes through south and west facing windows, so these should be your priorities for exterior awnings or overhangs. A wide variety are available, including those that can retract in winter to let the sun in.

    Install storm windows. Storm windows add another layer of glass to your permanent windows. Ideally, your storm windows would attach so that you can still open the window and let air in when you want. I have storm windows on the glass of my front door. In the spring and fall, when the air is pleasant and cool, I lower the storm window so this fresh air can come through the screen and into my home.

    Replace old inefficient windows. According to the Environmental  Protection Agency, Energy-STAR certified windows lower household energy bills from 7 - 15 percent. Federal tax credits to defray the cost of new windows have expired; check with your state and county to determine if you can take advantage of local tax credits to help cover your purchase.

     

    Related Posts:

    These Energy-Saving Tips Save More Than Energy (Think CO2 and $$$)

    Top 10 Ways to Save Energy and Money at Home

    April 19, 2012

    Earth Day or Any Day, Don't Toss Your Cash With Your Trash

    Aviva headshot purple shirt kitchen 09Aviva Goldfarb of The Six O'Clock Scramble fame shares her "Earth Day Every Day" suggestions for living greener in the kitchen that will save you money, too.

    "If I asked you to reach into your wallet and grab a couple of twenty dollar bills, and rip them up and throw them away, you’d probably think I was crazy, right?  But that’s essentially what most Americans are doing each and every week!  According to an article in On Earth magazine, “Americans waste 30 – 40% of their food, or the equivalent of about two full meals a day.” 

    Think about those weeks that you buy food without having carefully planned your meals.  Do you end up throwing away more flimsy produce, expired meats, or moldy cheese? There are high costs to wasting all this food, and they're not just economic. All this extra food has to be produced and transported before it’s eaten and even after it’s discarded, resulting in higher energy costs and emissions. 


    What to do?

    I’ve found my family can vastly reduce waste and save hundreds of dollars each month by:

    * planning ahead for meals and snacks before grocery shopping,

    * grocery shopping just once a week,

    * keeping a grocery list on the refrigerator for all family members to update during the week so I can stick to shopping just once a week, and

    * using up as much leftover food as possible in a final meal or two before doing the weekly shopping.


    Start Composting

    Even if you do plan your meals and cook at home, you’re bound to have some waste.  Last year my family started composting as a way to reuse some of our waste and reduce the amount of trash that has to be hauled from our curb.

    While the thought of composting was a little intimidating, it turns out to be the easiest thing in the world! Each day I collect our fruit and vegetable rinds, peels and ends, along with any egg shells and coffee grounds, in a bowl on the kitchen counter.  At the end of the day I dump the bowl’s contents into a large plastic kitty litter bin I keep under our kitchen sink.  When the bin is full, we dump the contents in a pile in our back yard, rinse the bin with the hose, and start over.  This summer we’ll use some of the compost to enrich our garden, but until then, we can feel good knowing that we reduced the amount of waste that is transported and takes up space in local landfills. 

    (NOTE: If you want to get a compost bin, Big Green Purse sells them in our store here.)

    This month, let’s all commit to saving money and the environment by reducing our food waste.  Please keep me posted on how your family has met or plans to meet this challenge by commenting on The Scramble Facebook page or via twitter(@thescramble) or by email at aviva@thescramble.com. I look forward to learning and sharing how much you save!"

     

    Scramble logoEarth Day Bonus!

    Between now and Earth Day (April 22), use the promo code EarthDay12 to get $5 off every subscription to The Six O'Clock Scramble weekly plan. As an added benefit, The Scramble will donate 5% of its Earth Day sales to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Subscribe to The Scramble here.

     

    Aviva Goldfarb is a family dinner expert, mother of two and the author and founder of The Six O'Clock Scramble, an online dinner planning system and cookbook. Her most recent cookbook, “SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Meals for Busy Families” was named one of the best cookbooks of 2010 by the Washington Post .  Aviva contributes weekly to the Kitchen Explorers blog on PBSparents.org, and often appears on television, radio, and in magazines such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Working Mother, Kiwi, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and Prevention.You can sign up for her weekly newsletter at thescramble.com. For more information, contact Aviva@thescramble.com.

     

    RELATED POSTS:

    Here's How You Can Afford to Spend 30% More on Organic Food

    Learn How to Compost

    July 27, 2011

    To Beat Mosquitos - Don't Zap 'Em, Trap 'Em

    Don't waste your money buying electric bug zappers or battery-powered insect traps. They don't actually prevent mosquitos from breeding, and they're pretty intrusive - who wants to sit on the porch on a nice summer night and hear "zzzz" every time a bug gets electrocuted?

    Mosquito trap This simple mosquito trap is a more environmentally friendly option. Just put a few cups of rain, ditch or pond water in the jar and add the powdered bait that comes with the trap. The mosquitoes will lay their eggs in the water; once they go in the jar, they don't come out.

    For best results, position a trap every 10 feet or so around the perimeter of your porch or patio, using at least two traps. Don't put the traps near where you usually sit or picnic, as the jars do lure mosquitos in before they trap them!

    What else can you do to reduce mosquitos in an eco-friendly way?

    Continue reading "To Beat Mosquitos - Don't Zap 'Em, Trap 'Em" »

    July 11, 2011

    Meatless Monday: Gazpacho

    Dicey_gazpacho_m Salads and cold soups offer a delicious eco-friendly and healthy alternative to meat. Here's my favorite recipe for gazpacho, a refreshing tomato-based soup made from ingredients you can easily find locally grown at the farmer's market or your grocery store. Serve cold or at room temperature with a simple salad of mixed greens and a sprinkling of grated carrots, plus a crunchy crusty bread to sop up the soup when you get to the bottom of the bowl. For a little protein on the side, hard boil some eggs or grill several slices of marinated tofu. Another option? Drizzle olive oil on a mound of fresh goat cheese, dust with freshly cracked salt and pepper, and spread on the bread. Good for "meatless Monday" or any day of the week.

    Gazpacho (serves 8 people as an appetizer or 6 for a meal) ...

    Continue reading "Meatless Monday: Gazpacho" »

    June 10, 2011

    Top 10 Eco-Ways to Keep Cool While the Planet Heats Up

    Do you love summer but hate the heat? Me, too, especially when it’s combined with the high humidity we have where I live in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Here’s how I keep cool when 100+degree heat waves roll through town:

    Fan 1)    Use an air conditioner AND fans. A fan doesn’t affect the temperature of a room. It just creates a “wind chill” effect by moving air around. An air conditioner will actually lower the temperature of a room and remove humidity, too.  We cool the house to around 78 or 80 degrees (down from the high nineties or low hundreds!), then circulate the cooled air with small room fans. We only use fans in the rooms we’re actually occupying to save energy.

      Programmable thermostat 2 2)    Set our thermostat as high as comfortably possible. For us, that means somewhere between 78 and 80 degrees F. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests keeping your house warmer than normal when you are away, and around 78°F (26°C) only when you are at home and need cooling. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
    •    Find out how to operate your thermostat for maximum energy savings.

    3)    Cover sunny windows. Our sunniest windows are shaded by porch overhangs that prevent the hot sun from streaming into our house and heating things up. We have double-paned blinds we can pull if the sun gets too intense. In previous years, we planted several deciduous trees in front of the house. Now their shade also helps us keep our home cool in the summer.

    4)    Keep windows and doors closed. Once we’ve cooled the air, we try not to leave outside doors open too long when we’re going in and out. We use a back door to enter and exit because it lets in less heat than the front door.

    5)    Use oven only in early morning. If I need to bake anything, I try to do it before 9 a.m. Otherwise, I cook on my stove top, in the microwave and toaster oven, or on an outdoor grill.

    6)    Cook several meals at one time, then reheat as needed. This not only saves energy, but reduces the amount of time I spend cooking overall.

    7)    Make “sun” tea. I drink a lot of iced tea in the summer. Rather than boil water in a kettle on the stove, I either use an electric kettle to boil water in less than a minute, or just put a pitcher of water outside with a few tea bags in it. After a few hours, the heat from the sun will raise the water temperature enough to steep the tea.

    8)    Eat cold food. Summer is the perfect time for salads, smoothies, sandwiches, raw vegetables,  cold soups, and of course, ice cream. If you eat as much ice cream as we do, you might want to make your own. You can get popsicle molds that are either stainless steel or BPA-free plastic.

    Shower timer 9)    Take shorter showers in cool water.  Any of these timers will help you keep your shower under five minutes.

    10)    Take off some clothes. You know how, in winter, you put on a sweater to stay warm? In summer, we all walk around our house barefoot and in loose, sleeveless dresses or tank tops and shorts. It's surprising how much cooler we stay when we're lightly dressed.

    Want more energy-saving tips? Find them right here.

    Dry Your Clothes for Free

      Clothesline Want to do your laundry the eco-friendly way? It’s a simple, two-step process:

    1)    Wash most everything in cold water (The only thing I wash in hot water is towels.)

    2)    Hang your laundry out to dry.

    Benefits?

    •    Save energy, lower your electric or gas bill, and reduce your carbon footprint (the amount of energy you burn that contributes to climate change).

    •    Longer-lasting clothes, since washing in hot water can fade colors and drying in hot air can shrink fabrics.

    •    No static cling, one of the hazards of hot air drying.

    •    Clean, fresh smell. No need for “natural fragrance” dryer sheets (which means more money savings).

    What Kind of Clothes Line or Rack Should You Buy?

    The Line

    You can use a length of rope you already have, but make sure it’s thin enough to be able to clip a clothes pin to. Otherwise, you’ll have to throw things over the top of the line, which works unless a strong (i.e., fast-drying) breeze is about. You can find several clothes line options in the Big Green Purse store, or at your local hardware store. NOTE: Most lines stretch over time, so you may need to buy a line tightener to keep the line taut enough so that the clothes don’t end up dragging on the ground.

    Clothesline 3 This foldable clothes line frame (pictured right) is terrific if you have a flat space you can mount it on. What I like about it is that it folds out of the way when not in use.

    You can also try a rotary line dryer. Hang the laundry, then use a hand crank to easily raise the whole load another 16 inches or so to catch the breeze and dry quickly. For something simpler, install a retractable clothes line in your bathroom or laundry room. These lines can’t accommodate a lot of laundry at once, but they’re great for socks and underwear.

    Dryer Rack

    Dryer rack Dryer racks can’t be beat for convenience, and many of them are large enough to handle an entire load of laundry at one time. I use a light-weight wooden rack I put on my sunny back porch in the summer. My washer and dryer are in a big utility closet behind louvered doors in my master bathroom; in the winter, I just set up the rack in there. The humidity from the clothes helps humidify the dry winter air. Here are several types of dryer racks you can try


    Clothespins

    Use the sturdiest clothespins you can find. Choose wood, not plastic, and store the pins inside and away from the elements when they’re not in use to keep them from getting dirty or wet if it rains.

    If you hang your laundry in the sun…

    Sunshine naturally beats back germs and odors, which is why I used to dry the kids’ cloth diapers in the sun. But the sun can also bleach or fade clothes. Turn shirts, blouses, and pants inside-out before you hang them to keep their color bright, and bring them inside as soon as they’re dry.

    Stiff  towels? 

    Line drying is terrific for sports wear, underwear, jeans, pants, towels, sheets, blouses, socks, and shirts. But towels? They can get a little stiff  or crunchy when they line dry. Some people find that adding white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser helps soften their towels. I prefer to dry mine on the line almost completely, then toss them into the dryer to fluff up for ten minutes or so.

    What about pet fur?

    My throw rugs collect a LOT of fur from my dog and two cats. Tumble drying is still the most effective way to capture all that fur, even when I shake my rugs out before I was them. I tumble the rugs for about 15 minutes to capture the fur, then finish the drying on a rack or outside. See what works best for you. 

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