The Big Green Purse: Looking for one million women to have a billion dollar impact on the environment

10 years ago


At its core, it is a brilliantly simple idea. Have one million women pledge to shift a thousand dollars of their spending from brown products to green ones. If there is one area where women can dominate the conversation its on what products consumers will and will not support.

Women control or influence 80% of all consumer spending. According to Mary Hunt, a champion for sustainable standards who blogs at In Women We Trust,

Women buy or influence –
94% of home furnishings.
93% of the groceries
88% of home appliances
74% of automotive purchases
91% of home purchases

Although the environmental movement has been around for years, it does not, according to Diane Diane MacEachern, founder and CEO of The Big Green Purse appreciate women. " They're focused on passing laws. Meanwhile Barbie has lead paint."

MacEachern believes the combination of climate change and the constant product safety recalls is giving environmentally safe products increased credibility.

MacEachern has written numerous books on the environment and is a former nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writer's Group. Her column,“Tips for Planet Earth,” answered readers' questions on a wide variety of environmental topics. She launched The Big Green Purse in March, 2007. So far one thousand women have pledged to shift their spending dollars. The site is getting about 10 thousand visitors a month.

In explaining why her purse is green, MacEachern says,

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.

MacEachern says that one of the barriers to getting women to switch to green products is that there is a perception that these products are inferior, more expensive and inconvenient to buy. Her website and blog have links, links, links and information to help women make smart shopping decisions where they can find competitively priced products.

Take her post. on phosphates in dish washing detergents. In the 1970s the government limited phosphates in laundry detergents because of the harm they were doing to the environment. But that limit was not extended to dish washing detergent.

In her blog MacEachern says that manufacturers claim that the phosphates in the dish washing detergents is the most important ingredient for cleaning dishes. But, MacEachern links to a Consumer Reports study that says it is the enzymes , not phosphates that clean those dishes. Four phosphate-free, enzyme-containing brands were tested by Consumer Reports all performed well.

You can find Seventh Generation, Ecover and Method in most Whole Foods stores; Method products are also available in Target. Trader Joe's products are sold exclusively at Trader Joe's stores. If you don't see any of these brands where your regularly shop, you have a few other options:

* order online

*ask your store manager to order the brand into the store for you

*read labels of two or three brands you're inclined to buy from what's on the shelf; choose the option with the lowest phosphorus content.

This is a topic that has what marketers like to describe as "having legs." According to a report by Nielsen BuzzMetrics the prolonged buzz about sustainability is more than a passing fad.

According to Neilsen BuzzMetrics,buzz about the term "sustainability," which refers to activities that allow a resource to perpetuate itself, peaked on blogs, boards and discussion groups after the February 25 telecast of The Oscars (see Graph 1) as Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" took home the Oscar for Documentary Feature.Nonetheless, "sustainability" has remained a persistent issue in the blogosphere, with buzz levels on this term up 169% in July 2007 versus year ago.

As for MacEachern,she says success will be when women reach deep down into their green purse, grab that big green ring at the bottom, and put it in the nose of the bull market to lead it where we want to be.

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