Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World

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Read Diane McEachern's posts on the Penguin Blog.

Protecting our environment is one of the biggest issues facing our planet today. But how do we solve a problem that can seem overwhelming-even hopeless? As Diane MacEachern argues in Big Green Purse, the best way to fight the industries that pollute the planet, thereby changing the marketplace forever, is to mobilize the most powerful consumer force in the world-women.

MacEachern's message is ...

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Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World

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Read Diane McEachern's posts on the Penguin Blog.

Protecting our environment is one of the biggest issues facing our planet today. But how do we solve a problem that can seem overwhelming-even hopeless? As Diane MacEachern argues in Big Green Purse, the best way to fight the industries that pollute the planet, thereby changing the marketplace forever, is to mobilize the most powerful consumer force in the world-women.

MacEachern's message is simple but revolutionary. If women harness the "power of their purse" and intentionally shift their spending money to commodities that have the greatest environmental benefit, they can create a cleaner, greener world. Spirited and informative, this book:

- targets twenty commodities-cars, cosmetics, coffee, food, paper products, appliances, cleansers, and more-where women's dollars can make a dramatic difference;
- provides easy-to-follow guidelines and lists so women can choose the greenest option regardless of what they're buying, along with recommended companies they should support;
- encourages women to spend wisely by explaining what's worth the premium price some green products cost, what's not, and when they shouldn't spend money at all; and
- differentiates between products that are actually "green" and those that are simply marketed as "ecofriendly."

Whether readers want to start with small changes or are ready to devote the majority of their budget to green products, MacEachern offers concrete and immediate ways that women can take action and make a difference. Empowering and enlightening, Big Green Purse will become the "green shopping bible" for women everywhere who are asking, "What can I do?"

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583333037
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/2008
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Diane MacEachern is a bestselling environmental writer, sought-after public speaker, and founder of She has advised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, World Bank, World Wildlife Fund, and many other agencies and nonprofit organizations focused on protecting the planet. The author of the bestselling Save Our Planet: 750 Everyday Ways You Can Help Clean Up the Earth, she lives in the Washington, D.C., suburbs in the energy-efficient home that she helped design and build more than twenty years ago.
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Table of Contents

Introduction     ix
If It Can Happen to an Alligator, Can It Happen to Your Son? Why Your Big Green Purse Matters     1
Cutting Through the Confusion: The Big Green Purse Principles     23
Beauty...or the Beast? Cosmetics and Personal-Care Products     45
Car Talk...and More: Driving and Transportation     79
Hot Stuff: Coffee, Tea, Cocoa-and the Skinny on Chocolate     119
We Are What We Eat: Fruits, Veggies, Dairy, Meat, Poultry, and Seafood     145
Clean and Green: Cleansers, Scrubs, Polishes, and Fresheners     185
Eco Chic: Clothing, Accessories, and Jewelry     213
Garden of Eden: Lawn, Garden, and Patio     247
Kid Stuff: Babies' and Children's Food, Gear, and Toys     281
Plugged In: Lights, Appliances, and Electronics     317
Home, Green Home: Furniture, Paint, Flooring, and Fabrics     351
Acknowledgments     375
The Big Green Purse "Little Black Book"     377
Notes     383
Index     401
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Reading Group Guide


Big Green Purse makes a great book club read. The book features dozens of issues and oodles of suggestions that make for lively discussion and debate. What’s more, you can put some of the book’s suggestions to work while you talk—by having a “green” meeting. Here’s how:

Reduce paper and postage costs by inviting your guests electronically. Apart from being quick and easy, Evite is free; Sendomatic charges a small fee, but there's no advertising on its website.

If you want to print and mail an invitation, recycled paper is available in many colors and designs from most art, stationery, and office supply stores. On-line, Twisted Limb makes invitations and stationery from recycled paper by hand.

Location and Lighting
Weather permitting, discuss Big Green Purse outside. A front porch, wrap-around deck, roof top, patio, or even park can create the perfect ambience to discuss a book all about protecting Mother Nature.

If it's an evening affair, candles can help brighten your setting (and keep the bugs at bay if you do meet outside).

• Way Out Wax offers a variety of candles made from pure vegetable waxes scented with natural essential oils like citronella, rosemary, orange or eucalyptus.

• Elegant beeswax tapers with all-cotton wicks can be found at Candlebee Farm, Abundant Earth, or the Beeswax Candle Company.

Want to be more festive? String energy-efficient LED lights, which use 80 to 90 percent less energy than incandescent mini-lights, through trees and along walkways. Try the Light string from Inirgee, or check Home Depot, Lowe's, or your local hardware store.

Remember: this is a book whose shopping principles include “buy local.” Serve locally grown fruits and vegetables, fresh hand-pressed ciders, artisan cheeses and homemade breads and pastries, all available from your nearest farmers market.

Whole Foods Markets and some natural foods stores prepare delicious platters of organic vegetables, fruits, breads, crackers, dips and cheese.

Organic beverages—including fruit juice, sparkling cider, wine, beer and spirits—are available at most natural food stores, Whole Foods Markets, food coops, and an increasing number of standard grocery store chains and liquor stores. Some brands to look for:

R. W. Knudsen's Organic Juices

Santa Cruz Organic Juices and Nectars

Frey Vineyards' award-winning organic and biodynamic sulfite-free wines

Samuel Smith Organic Ale & Lager from Tadcaster, England

Wolaver's Organic Beers from Middlebury, VT

Maison Jomere's Organic Vodka and Juniper Green London Dry Gin

If you opt for soda, buy cans or bottles you can recycle. Skip the bottled water in favor of cooled (and filtered, if necessary) tap water or iced tea.

Setting the Table
Use cloth table linens and napkins, and reusable plates and cutlery to reduce trash.

If you must use paper, shop recycled. Seventh Generation's paper plates are made from 100% recycled content; no chlorine bleach is used to whiten them. Marcal makes lunch and dinner napkins with high degrees of recycled content as well.

Adorn the table with flowers and greenery from your yard, enhanced with fruit, candles, ribbons and other “natural decorations” available at your fingertips.

When the Party's Over
Make recycling easy by setting up a bin for empty cans and bottles in the kitchen or on the porch. If you compost, clean plates into the compost bin before washing. Wrap up left-overs in reusable containers and send home with your guests or save in the freezer or refrigerator for a delicious reminder of the great time that was had by all!


Diane MacEachern, the founder and CEO of Big Green Purse, is passionate about empowering women to use their marketplace clout to protect the environment.

A best-selling author, successful entrepreneur, sought-after public speaker, and long-time conservationist, she has launched the only company in the U.S. dedicated specifically to transforming women's environmental concerns into measurable improvements in our quality of life.

Diane encourages women to green the marketplace by choosing products whose use or manufacture offer the greatest environmental benefit. Through her books, articles and speeches she motivates women to take actions that will make a difference. She helps environmental organizations engage more women as members, activists, and donors. She also encourages companies to green their products to appeal to more women consumers.

Diane's books have reached hundreds of thousands of people with their “you can change the world” messages. The best-selling Save Our Planet: 750 Everyday Ways You Can Help Clean Up the Earth has been featured on national television programs ranging from CNN Headline News to Live with Regis and Kathie Lee to The ABC Network Television Earth Day Special and reprinted in Italy and Japan.

As the co-founder and president of an award-winning communications company based in Washington, D.C., Diane's clients included the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the Earth Council, World Wildlife Fund, Earth Day, the National Wildlife Federation, Earth Share, the League of Women Voters, and the Women's Environment Development Organization.

Diane played an integral role in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's campaign to educate the public about global warming. She also worked with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance to establish the Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument during the Clinton Administration.

As a nationally syndicated Washington Post Writer's Group newspaper columnist, Diane wrote weekly “Tips for Planet Earth,” answering readers' questions on a wide variety of environmental topics. She has produced numerous award-winning publications for members of Congress, the media and the public at large. Her writings have appeared in MoveOn's best-selling 50 Ways to Love Your Country and The Cousteau Almanac on the Environment, as well as Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Self, Christian Science Monitor, Ladies Home Journal, Reader's Digest, First for Women, Baltimore Sun, Country Living and many more.

Diane is also the author of Enough is Enough! The Hellraiser's Guide to Community Activism: How to Organize a Successful Campaign for Change, and Beat High Gas Prices Now! The Fastest, Easiest Ways to Save $20-$50 Every Month on Gasoline.

A frequent speaker on women and the environment, Diane serves as the vice-chair of the board of directors for the Alaska Wilderness League. She has been cited for her Distinguished Service as a board member of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Diane lives with her husband and their two children in the energy-efficient home they helped build more than 20 years ago. She received her Master of Science Degree from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2008

    Read This and Help the Planet!

    Diane MacEachern gets it: as consumers, we have the power to create a greener world. 'My only disagreement with her is putting the onus of responsibility on women men count, too.' We should support only businesses that take strong measures to ensure that they are not polluting the environment and that they conduct business with humanitarian practices. When corporations do not sell their product they will either change what is offensive, or their business will die. That is the beauty of a capitalist society success is measured by financial strength. And, we as the consumer have the power to influence which companies survive. MacEachern takes time to point out which companies are 'greenwashing' and how to avoid those products. She focuses on the following: Coffee, tea and chocolate Electrical appliances Clothing and assessories Personal care products Household cleaners Transportation The book is empowering because we learn that each of us counts in making the world more environmentally safe. By the author of the award winning book, Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify and Energize Your Life, Your Home and Your Planet

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    Posted May 1, 2014

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