I live in Maryland, where it is possible to source my electricity from clean, renewable energy instead of from coal-fired power plants. That's because in my state (and several others), the utility industry has been deregulated so that competitors can also provide power to meet consumer needs. One of my neighbors, Maurice Belanger, has been buying renewable energy for quite a while. He graciously offered to share his expertise with Big Green Purse readers to help people around the country opt for cleaner energy, too.
Here's his advice. I hope it helps you choose cleaner, greener energy where you live.
The start of the New Year is time for resolutions. If you live in a state with consumer choice in electricity, you can resolve to reduce your carbon footprint and keep that pledge with just a little bit of time spent researching your options and filling out a form or two on the Web—no need to invest in solar panels or doing anything more complicated than a few clicks of the mouse.
For several years now, I have purchased electricity from a supplier that offers me 100 percent wind-generated electricity. It was surprisingly easy to switch. Yet, talking to my environmentally-conscious friends, I find that many of them are not even aware that they have a choice.
I encourage you to look in to it. Here are a few tips on getting started.
When should you take polluters, companies, governments or other citizens to court for failing to protect the environment?
The simple answer is, "When they break the law."
In most nations of the world, important lawsnow exist to protect clean air and clean water, minimize the environmental impacts of destructive practices like logging and mining, prevent toxic dumping and require companies to clean up hazardous waste, safeguard wetlands and wilderness areas, and keep watch over wildlife.
In the U.S., the bedrock of environmental law is the National Environmental Policy Act, which was passed in 1970 to protect the environment against both public and private actions that might harm eco-systems. In Australia, it is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Other countries have other legislation in place. The power of these laws lies in the ability they provide to hold polluters accountable for the havoc they wreak on natural resources as well as human well-being.
Want to try organic dark chocolate infused with caramel and sea salt?
How about hand lotion made from argan oil and shea butter?
Looking for a non-toxic way to ward off termites?
Or safe and healthy cleansers you can use without getting sick?
Maybe you just want a dose of inspiration to keep you living the green life, or working in your community to make it better.
You'll find all this, and more, at the annual Green Festivals put on by Green America and Global Exchange, two non-profit organizations committed to creating a greener, more just world.
I spent this weekend at "my" Green Festival in Washington, D.C., browsing the food booths, trying on organic cotton sweaters, slathering my hands with natural cremes, meeting other entrepreneurs, and being reminded why Ralph Nader is still "the man."
Mother's Day has become a gigantic shopping event. Next to Christmas and Valentine's Day, consumers spend more money for Mother's Day than they do for any other holiday in the year. This year, according to the National Retail Federation's annual Mother's Day survey, Americans will spend $20.7 billion! That amounts to an average of almost $170 per mom, an 11% increase over last year.
As a mom myself, I love the attention I get on Mother's Day. Who wouldn't want to be surrounded by family, showered with love, and coddled with breakfast in bed, a luxurious morning just reading the paper, and no rushing around to do chores?
But as the founder of Big Green Purse, where I advocate using consumer clout to change the world, I consider Mother's Day a tremendous opportunity - not to buy a lot of stuff, but to take a stand against excessive consumerism and in favor of the products and services that offer the greatest environmental benefit.
DOES YOUR MOM REALLY NEED MORE STUFF?
One of the most powerful and eco ways to use your money is to keep it in your purse or pocket! Most people have enough "stuff" - in fact, many of us are so overwhelmed by clutter that it adds to the stress of managing our households when we get more things we have to find a place for.
Years ago, when our two children were still toddlers, we established a "no gifts on Mother's Day" rule (we do the same thing on Father's Day). I truly appreciate my kids' desire to treat me special on Mother's Day, but for me that means that we have brunch or dinner together, maybe go for a hike or have some other family outing, and tell funny stories about my most memorable/ridiculous "mom moments." When my son and daughter were in elementary and middle school, Mother's Day was also a "no bickering" day. There was no better gift than the 24 conflict-free hours they gave me that one day of the year!
The Forum focused primarily on women because women spend 85
cents of every dollar in the marketplace – and we’re not just buying cheese
doodles and diapers. As I say here on CCTV, the national television network of China, we buy more clothes.
More food. More cosmetics and personal care products than men. We also
buy more electronics, more home furnishings, almost as many tools, just as many
cars. Women are spending billions of dollars, day in and day out, year in and
But even with all that clout, we won’t be able to use this
power of the purse effectively until we achieve true gender equity
worldwide, points that both Ban Li, Deputy Counsel of the Shaanxi
Women's Federation, and Liane Shalatek, Associate Director of the
Heinrich Boll Foundation North America, made very powerfully.
Lisa Jackson's luncheon keynote address was the highlight of the day for many people. As a mom, scientist, and long-time public servant, Lisa has a unique appreciation for the impact consumption has on us as individuals and on society as a whole. She spoke movingly about being the first African-American to serve as head of the EPA and how important it is to bring women as well as people of color and low-income populations into the conversations we're having about pollution and climate change.
Lisa noted that her favorite law is the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act because it empowers people to protect themselves wherever they live. She is also proud of technology EPA has shared with the city of Shanghai to help monitor air pollution there.
Lisa agreed that the way we use both the purse and the pocketbook can inspire manufacturers to reduce pollution and energy consumption.
The U.S. – China Greener Consumption Forum will mark the first-ever gathering of women leaders from the world's two "consumer super powers" to meet and address the environmental challenges their countries face due to consumption. The Forum, to be held March 22, 2013 at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., will convene leading consumer advocates, green entrepreneurs, scientists and public policy specialists to explore ways to marshal the "power of the purse" to protect the planet.