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8 posts from September 2007

September 30, 2007

Time for us to Tell Plastic Bags to Bag it.

"People are getting increasingly concerned with global warming and how our lifestyles contribute, and plastic bags are a true culprit in the problem."

Dscn3582 So says, Lisa Wise, executive director of The Center for the American Dream a Maryland based agency that promotes responsible consumerism in recent article.

Bloghers Act Canada launched their year with downsizing the packaging in their lives. It's a behavioral thing that can be learned and unlearned. They are promoting the learning part and it will take constant reinforcement.

In the NY Times today is an example of how fast we can unlearn:

"She moved to the United States from Germany seven years ago, Angela Neigl brought with her the energy-conscious sensibilities of life in Europe. You drove small cars. You recycled every can, lid and stray bit of household waste. You brought your own reusable bags or crate to the market rather than adding to the billions of plastic bags clogging landfills, killing aquatic creatures on the bottoms of oceans and lakes, and blowing in the wind.

But, alas, there she was Friday morning, lugging her white plastic bags from the Turco’s supermarket, like everyone else, figuring there was no fighting the American way of waste.

I admit, I felt that way as well, especially on days when I'm at the checkout counter and my bags are back in my trunk. Sande Hart changed that for me last week. She announced to the meeting of about a dozen women what she does when she forgets her bags, she asks the bagger to put everything into the cart and then she puts all items in her car or in the bags in her trunk. What a simple and great idea - and not to mention an example of peer pressure at work. Go Sande!

It would only take me doing that a couple of times before I'd remember to bring my bags into the store. As one of the above articles reminded me, plastic bags are used for literally seconds and then their life use is over - from cart to car and car to cupboard. Surely we can rewire ourselves to do better. If they can do it in Europe, we can do it here.

Or look at it this way, it's not getting rid of a bad habit, it's opening up closet space.

September 28, 2007

Why Women Bloggers can do what Washington can't

After reading Emily and Cooper's great post on the Clinton Initiative yesterday, I’m becoming more convinced that we are the ones the world has been waiting for to kick start climate change – women bloggers. Al Gore suggested that bigger dream:

"If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. We have to go far quickly, and need a mass persuasion campaign to change the climate of public opinion on climate change."

It's interesting that Al said we need a "Marshall Plan" to get this going because he knows that his mass persuasion campaign isn't working beyond creating awareness. Awareness isn't changing into tangible action, not fast enough anyway. And, he's lock-stepped into thinking that politics will set us free. Will it? If so, where's the leadership now?

If you believe the numbers, that we need to get 80% of the CO2 out of the "global" air before things stabilize, you know it will take citizens and corporations alike working on it. How can that happen when governments keep worrying about the seating chart? I keep www.enn.com as my home page. It's frustrating to read about the reality gaps between hopeful and helpful ideas. Meanwhile the climate change clock is ticking.

Let's compare politics with a new idea, and then let's talk about our own Marshall Blogging Plan.

You could lobby for presidential hopefuls to get them into office (2 years). Then send buckets of email and money to Washington get them to put up bills (6 months). Keep sending email to fence-sitters in hopes that they reconsider a vote (3 months). Only to end up with one, watered down incentive to tell business to cut their CO2 emissions? 

OR

Support businesses and products that are already bringing down the greenhouse gases and can prove it, and set off a tipping point for Sustainable change. If you read through the stories on www.ENN.com you'll see a pattern of governments "discussing" and companies "doing." Let's work with the doers.

What would happen if we by-passed this DC middleland? Why tell someone-to-tell-someone-to-tell-someone to clean up their act and eat up years of climate-changing time when we can vote with our purse or our posts and help the market flip with a lot less work?

The good part? It flips the WHOLE world. Laws stop at border lines, corporations and products don't.

By letting Sustainable Standards set the guidelines, we'll accomplish many things at once. The top one being that standards trigger lower energy consumption during manufacturing operations and encourage the use of renewable energy. As more companies back the movement, the technology grows and that comes back to each of us. In five years we could be paying less for energy than today. Technology works faster when supply meets demand. Let's supply them incentives rather than yelling demands. Isn't that more fun than whacking them with a lawsuit after the fact, which just eats up even more years?

The better part? No one will wonder "where the women bloggers are," companies will seek us.

They'll want free word-of-mouth endorsements. And you know what? If we're smart, we'll give it to them. Why? Because it builds both of our markets. They need a consumer market to kick start new, sustainable products, and we need a way to prove to these brave souls that working with blogging women (as a media) is not only fun but a more effective way to market in a social media world. Women represent over 80% of the consumer market. Perhaps it’s time to use that clout for transformational good.

Are you still with me? Here's how simply this can work.

As products become certified as sustainable, that product is acknowledged from bloggers who want to participate. Diane MacEachern will let us know which products to champion over at www.BigGreenPurse.com. This isn't a product endorsement, per se, it's a recognition of a company's efforts to put out a Sustainable product. This is one step beyond the Big Green Purse million women mission. Many of us are already doing the green consumer work; by pulling the work together, we can get the public credit that's due for our efforts. All you have to do is sign up and we'll keep you in the loop.

A sustainable product not only promotes renewable energy, but provides cleaner air, soil, water and keeps 1300 nasty chemicals out of the system AND supports global worker's rights. What's not to love? A cleaner, nicer planet that by-passes politics and creates a social media marketplace. Once companies know that bloggers are actually very nice to work with, they'll feel better about placing paid ad space and continue the relationship.

But wait - there's more... Tom Friedman noted, this is an "Environmental Revolution," which means it's going to be painful and some companies will die. By supporting these early adopters, we can the lower transitional pain and help companies thrive. This program does both, creating a sustainable world and a sustainable economy.

Ok, I'm an idealist, but ya know. We're running out of options.

Everyone is talking, but no one is trying anything new. It's the same old song and frankly, we're all tuning it out. Climate Change as a topic is as exciting as "Got Milk"? It's just another thing - a big, bad scary thing at that. And the truth is, even if we recycled our entire home, the big, bad scary thing would still be there in our factories.

This is the moment to start, and here's why.

If you were a CEO of a company and was just told by Wal-Mart that your products must be sustainable, wouldn't you work EVEN FASTER if you knew that there will be a willing audience to give you positive word-of-mouth on the web for your efforts? (BTW that's exactly what will be happening on Oct. 10th at Wal-Mart's Sustainable Resource Fair, about 1000 of their 62,000 suppliers will be introduced to the world of Sustainability - not just green - but SUSTAINABLE in a “prove it” sort of way.)

Now, before you hog tie me into a Wal-Mart shopping cart and leave me adrift in the parking lot for the crows to pick clean, let me explain.

Admittedly, I'm not a fan of any big box stores. I think they strip society of its soul. That said, I've joined the converted when Wal-Mart gave the world this gift of "manufacturing peer pressure." If anyone can influence China, it's Wal-Mart.  If anyone can influence Wal-Mart's vendors, it's us - women consumers. Imagine the ripple effect around the world without one law being used except the law of market pressure, kept honest with a Sustainable Standard. (trust, but verify)

The faster this market flips, the faster we can go back to shopping trips instead of guilt trips. Can shopping/posting save the world? If it creates a tipping point for action it can. Marketers say it only takes 1% of a given population to create a tipping point. If that 1% were also bloggers, it may take less.

I'll leave you with one last reason Why Women Bloggers can do what Washington can't. If you stacked up the financials of the biggest companies and countries, 77 of the top 100 are corporations. That power structure isn't going to change in the next five years. The majority of them make their money from consumer goods and services. The supply chain of their products is what is causing global warming.

Ladies, this is very doable. By the time we get a new President, s/he won't have to answer to the question, "Why can't you clean up your own country first"? We'll be well on our way thanks to women bloggers.

Are you in? Go to www.biggreenpurse.com and become One in a Million Women. It costs nothing to be part of this very large experiment where women consumers rule.  As products become certified, we’ll show you why they are Sustainable and what to look for in other products. We'll eliminate the greenwash. Then, keep supporting the good guys on BlogHer and in your own blogs when they advertise. Capitalism is just another social "system" with money attached. Let's leverage it to co-create, as Diane says, "The World Women Want."

September 24, 2007

Jennifer Carronna: Fundraising Green for Schools

Fundraising_green_logoEveryone - meet Jenny Caronna. For 14 years she was a stay-at-home mom and a fundraiser for her local PTA. Today, she's a business owner fielding calls from PTAs all over the nation. The callers want to know how they can get a Green Coupon Book Fundraiser started in their community.

Jenny's mission is to make the world greener through action:

"...to provide eco-friendly fundraisers that offer high returns with virtually no administration. Our Green fundraiser will educate students and supporters on readily available eco-friendly products and services throughout Southern California. From fair-trade to sweat-free, our product will lead the user on a path to Green and Ethical consumerism. We know that if each person or family using our green coupon book makes just one or two changes in their consumer habits, the impact will be exponential in the community and for the environment."

I met Jenny for the first time at OC Green Drinks. I was so impressed that I'm compelled to share her story. This is far more than another-green-business. The Green Coupons in her books are helping to raise funds and the green consciousness of schools and families alike. She has books for Greater LA/Long Beach and Orange County/Long Beach, but is also working on an online version for less green communities across the U.S. She's had an amazing amount of inquiries coming from the southern states.

What inspired her path?

"Last year my husband and I decided to convert our diesel Mercedes to veggie oil. That got us thinking about what else we could do to make our home life greener. I do lots of fundraising for our PTA where we had the usual candy and gifts going around. Kids can see the inconsistency and the hypocrisy, We teach them to do one thing in school and then turn around ask them to sell candy or junk from China. I started to think about how we can do a better job of fundraising and also offer something that could be useful in our home plus be a vehicle for education. I know as a parent, whenever I bought fundraising items, I always felt obligated to use them."

That's the part that impressed me; besides raising money for schools this program actively works to replace brown buying behavior with green buying behavior. The green coupon book promotes goods and services that are a better choice. The List below is a sampling of the offerings. Besides green products and services, it also includes active lifestyle choices like coupons for kids' gyms and bike shops.

Just how green are the choices?

"We look for things that either are common sense green(er) or are a brand that already has a trusted name (like 7th Generation) and secure coupons for them. It’s incremental change, not 100% perfect. We're not here to be the green police or to lecture, just show how easy it is to make small changes... We decided early on to make it a business instead of a non-profit. We want to show people that you can be green and ethical and still make money."

After meeting Jenny, I attended a webinar held by Nielson BuzzMetrics. One of their services is to scan the web of words that surround a topic. The results tell companies know what people really think. They picked the word "ADVERTISING" as an example word. The closest words associated with it were "FALSE" or "MISLEADING."

It's no wonder businesses are having a tough time these days. Consequently, anything green is also suspect. That said, Jenny admitted that she has been surprised by how encouraging the green community was. She was thinking that all business would be more cutthroat, but instead suppliers and customers alike have been wonderfully supportive.

Humm, I wonder... will business at large become nicer as it becomes greener? If that's the case, perhaps someday we'll be thanking Jenny for far more than raising funds for school projects, we can thank her for instigating a better/nicer way to live.

For more ideas and the latest go here, or email Jenny.

REI
118 Degrees
Action Sports Environmental Coalition
Adventure 16
Adventureplex
Amazon Herbs
Amys Playground
Aqua Surf School
The Aquarium of the Pacific
Arbonne Cosmetics
Avanti Cafe
Aventouras
Back to Natives Restoration
Bean Products
Beautiful Oceans
The Beys Garden Spa
Beyond Touring
Bikerowave
Bikestation Long Beach
Bio-Beetle
Blue Hen
Blue Penguin
BTC Elements
Captain Daves Dolphin Safari
Certaintees
Childs Play
The Childrens Nature Institute
The Clean Bedroom
Cool Baby
The Courtyard
Custom Bodies Fitness
Design Forward
Dr. Teas Tea Garden and Herbal Emporium
Earthmutt
Earthroots Field School
Eat Your Veggies
Ecobags
EcoButterfly
Eco-Me
Escape Adventures
Fair Trade Sports
Ferns Garden
Fleet Feet Sports
Flexcar
Free Spirit Yoga Studio
Fun and Fit Gymnastics
Furnature
Grant Redesign Group
Greencoast Hydroponics
Green Nest
The Green Office
The Invisible Gardener
Jones Bicycles
Karuna Yoga
Kombucha Kamp
Kusikuy Clothing Co.
LA Dance Center
The Little Gym Huntington Beach & Mission Viejo
Maggies Functional Organics
Manduka
Natural High Lifestyle
Natural Solutions
Organic and Healthy
Organic Bouquet
Pangaya
Path Design
Pet Haven All Natural Boutique
Pink Cloud Events
Plain Brown Tabby
Play It Again Sports
Rawvolution
The Real Earth
Renew Carpet Cleaning
The Road Less Traveled
Rooibos Tea House
Safe Spray Cleaners
San Diego Bike and Kayak
Sand Rock Farm
Seasoned to Taste
SHIFT Center for Dynamic Change
Sigg USA
Soggy Dog
SpiritList.com
Sprout Kids Clothing
Stroller Strides
Sunflour Bakery
Tahoe Sands Resort
Team OC Gymnastics
Tees For Change
Terra Bella Cafe
The Vegetarian Site
Viva La Greens
Willka T'ika Garden Guesthouse
Wagville
Yard Design
Yogaworks
Yogaworld Studio

September 19, 2007

Green + Women = Business Climate Change

Heidi Richards of www.WECAI.org  is adding Purse String Theory* to her growing group. She already promotes women helping women do business on the web, making them more sustainable.  Now she's adding GREENWISE to her online WE magazine. Greenwise will be edited by Bea Kunz of Sage Hill Farms.

*****

I'm pleased that this blog and www.biggreenpurse.com will be included along side:

All Green Directory with Tara Burner

Green Factoids with Brooke Jewett Nadell

Green Guide for Kids with Deidre Gill

****** 

Jennifer Caronna is behind another long needed idea - green fundraising in our schools. Check out the new options to candy at Fundraisinggreen.com.

Jennifer is putting fundraising together with kids, PTAs and rewiring the way we work and think. That's what we like to see. Creative ways to get mentality and physically engaged with the art of transforming society to sustainability. The green coupon books contain:

Cafe / Coffee Houses
    Food Delivery
    Restaurants
    Health: Beauty, Body and Mind
    Eco-friendly Services and Supplies
    Green Home (Inside and Out)
    Apparel (Organic, Recycled, Sweat-free, Fair-trade)
    Organic Baby
    Children's Activities/Gyms
    Green Pets
    Outdoor Gear
    Xtreme Adventure (Indoor/Outdoor)
    Eco-tourism (Green Travel/Lodging)
    Green Transportation
    Green Online (Internet only products)
    Environmental Education
    Community Outreach (Member drives)

This is what we love to promote - business which supports business which encourage green thinking.

Purse String Theory: What women buy AND PROMOTE will change the economic market.

September 17, 2007

Going green with a little help from my bloggy friends

Change lightbulbs. DONE
Change breakfast, DOING DAILY
Change to organic food DOING MORE EACH WEEK 

Change to organic cleaners DOING WEEKLY... well maybe bi-weekly...

My thanks to Diane, Andrea, Elana, Yvonne, Marianne, Jill, Toby and now Cooper and Emily, they are keeping me motivated and honest about how fast and how green I can become. Siel is doing a great job as well as she pushes the local LA scene and makes me aware of what OC could be doing.

I need them and all the other women who are in the process of going green. That's the idea behind the Big Green Purse, million women pledge, it's one, BIG group of women turning green. After all, if losing weight was easy, we wouldn't need Weight Watches, right? Going green is hard as well, but doing anything with a group is more motivating and fun than going it alone.

For example, thanks to Diane, I relearned tricks my Grandmother taught me - use vinegar to remove lime from the tub. I won't mention brand names of cleaners, but I have tried them ALL. What finally worked? The magic of vinegar. Voila, the lime is GONE. Vinegar doesn't smell great, but at least I know that if it gets into my skin, it can't kill me. I like a household cleaner that also goes well on salads.   

This weekend I picked up ShopSmart, the new The editor in the new Consumer Reports Shopping magazine, ShopSmart, said "We cant shop our way to green." I disagree. The very act of shopping reminds us of all the green things we need to do each week as we rewire our habits and habitats to take on a green outlook.

The very act of shopping is actively voting each week that you DO care and you ARE making choices that affect the bottom line of companies. When bottom lines move, so do companies. Helping companies make better and more moving choices is what both Diane and Andrea are working on.

Check out the Good and Green Marketing Conference that is going to be held on November 29-30. (Andrea is one of the leadership committee) If you doubt that consumers are having an affect on business, read down the conference schedule.

We consumer's are in control, but we need to be inspired. Business has conferences to inspire them. Big Green Purse is almost a virtual conference for us. Take a couple minutes and join up.

September 12, 2007

Jill Konrath’s Big Sales Shebang - Minneapolis Nov. 4-6.

Sales_shebang Long, LONG ago when I was a Sale Rep my sales "training" consisted of,  "Your territory is SW Michigan and Upper Indiana. Come back when you sell something.

It was a brutal learning curve - I didn't know the product, I didn't know how to cold call, I had no idea what a good prospect was nor how to secure appointments. What I learned, I learned via my sister and brother reps who were stumbling along at the same speed of stupid.

Jill_konrath Jill Konrath is going to put an end to that learning curve with the Sales Shebang -- the first conference for women who sell products, services and solutions to the corporate market. Whether you're an experienced sales pro, entrepreneur, newly hired seller or sales executive, you'll learn valuable new sales strategies that will take your business to the next level.

"I want participants to walk away feeling like they had an incredible time, connected with some awesome women and learned skills they never thought were possible," Jill told me. "Every breakout session we'll have some kind of planned interaction."

As the author of Selling to Big Companies and companion blog, Jill said that she was constantly getting calls and emails from women showing their appreciation of finally having a female role model. It drew her attention to the lack of visibility of the top females sales experts. That experience collided with her need to give back to the profession that has served her so well and the Sales Shebang exploded into reality. "I kept looking around for someone else to do it," she quipped, "and it turned out it was me."

As the leader and catalyst, Jill put out a call to other top women sales experts and had a stunning response. The result will be two days of intense "hot to's" and "never do's."

If you think this is going to be some lightweight girlie event, think again. Check out the first half of the line up below and follow their links. Then go to the expanded list for all the brains willing to share their secrets.

  • Michelle Nichols, Savvy Selling columnist/podcaster for BusinessWeek
  • Leslie Buterin, Appointment setting queen, she took one of her mentees from 1 appointment in 80, to 4 appointments in 10.
  • Anne Miller, Author of Metaphorically Selling - how to be compelling, credible and convincing.
  • Joanne Black, Is providing techniques to build your business via referrals.
  • Wendy Weiss, Shares her winning Cold Calling techniques.
  • Kim Duke, Will bring out your "definition" setting you apart from the herd.
  • and many, MANY more.

Do women really need their own a separate sales conference from men? Sure, why not? "Over 38% of the business to business sales force is comprised of women," Jill informed me. "Yet the training and the way sales have been handled is entirely male dominated."

Having lived through "no training" or "do this, this and this" training, I couldn't agree more. Often times I felt disconnected from what I was being told. As a small business owner, I knew those techniques didn't fly with me when I was "the buyer," and yet they expected me to use them in business to business selling. I couldn't do it. Instead I did what most women do, asked my client's lots of questions. What took me years to figure out, however, was which questions to ask and how to turn them into sales.

Prior to launching the Sales Shebang, Jill contacted the Center for Sales Innovation at St. Catherine's college - the largest women's school in the US and the only one with a sales major - to propose a study on women in sales. Currently over 1000 women have participated in this survey. The results will be available to the conference participants.

How about it? Are you ready to turn 2008 into your biggest sales year yet? Or, are you looking to expand your network newly charged, savvy sales women? If so, sign up for the Sales Shebang early bird special. It runs until Oct. 15. If you band together with several friends, you can get the same discounted rate that companies get. "Individuals shouldn't be penalized just because they work for small companies," explained Jill. "That always bothered me when I couldn't get a corporate rate when I attended conferences."

The Sales Shebang conference is more than an event, it's a kick off to a much bigger purpose. Jill's hoping to establish a ring of regional meetings as well as ongoing webinars, teleseminars and a web-based community.

"We want to create a community of women sales professionals that provides visibility to those at the height of their careers and a knowledge base for those just learning," Jill said.

What's not to love about the Sales Shebang? Thanks Jill, for changing the way B2B sales is taught and for creating a new community of sales support. It's much needed for not only big corporations, but for sole proprietors who want to keep their skill level higher than their competitors.

September 02, 2007

Fighting Killer Couches on two fronts.

Are you sitting on a killer couch? What about a killer carpet? Are your kids and pets? Do you wonder why so many pets are coming down with new diseases? Has it occurred to you that your kids and YOU are also soaking up the same chemicals?

Joan Blades, one of the founders for Mom's Rising, has a great piece on the dangers of flame retardants in our fabrics. Flame retardants seemed like such a good idea until new data showed where the chemicals are ending up - as in mother's milk. Joan is asking concerned women (and men) to sign a petition to get California to ban these chemicals. Go here to sign the petition. It takes just a minute.  The hope is if California enacts a ban, then other states will adopt it and ban it as well.

If these chemicals are so bad, then this should be a no-brainer issue for governments, but it isn't. Chemical manufacturers and others are lobbying hard to keep everything the way it is.

In the meantime, you can protect yourself another way, by buying and promoting carpets that already are chemical free such as Milliken's. Milliken took the nasties out of their carpets years ago because they wanted to meet another California "law," the California Platinum Standard for carpets. There are many other carpets and floorings as well. Standards aren't really laws, they don't BAN things, but they do set up competition and let the "law of the free markets" rule.

In the end, the fastest way to change consumer products is by applying pressure to both the political and economic sides. The llegislation that Joan is promoting (AB 706) will ban ALL fire retardants out of the system wherever they are used in carpet, sofas or bedding. The rational being that the chance of a fire is far less than the sure thing of ingesting chemicals day after day after day...

Until governmental common sense prevails, use your own common sense and vote with your dollars. Buy fabrics and textiles that carry the California Gold/Platinum label, or use 100% wool, that comes with its own natural fire retardent.

 

 

September 01, 2007

Changing Services: Bloghers ACT

The votes are in. BlogHers Act will be focusing on Health Care for the next year. To be specific, Maternal Health care, healthy moms means healthy kids. For the next year, as a group, we've decided to take on an issue and see how far we can move the public awareness of the issue.

I'm not a mom, so I don't have the connection that others will have for the subject, but I work with teen moms at Mary's Shelter in Orange County, CA. [a different Mary started it]  Without the shelter, these young women and their babies might be on the streets or still in very dangerous home life conditions. At the shelter they continue their high school education, learn parenting and life skills and experience love and kindness. Save the mother and you save the child.

I work with the girls through my role as the shelter's veggie gardener which leads to cooking classes as well. I could use some killer zucchini recipes, I've burned through zuke bread, salad, stew, stuffed, slaw,steamed, baked, fried... and the zukes just keep on coming...

Thanks to Mary's Shelter, these gals and kids are flourishing. If high social interaction at a young age, builds minds, we have some exceptional minds coming out of this group. Three weeks ago a baby boy learned how to walk. Apparently he was taking notes during his crawling time, however. Within one week of gaining full balance, he was reaching over his head, hitting the button that only tall adults can see and letting himself out of the toddler corral. (we're in trouble...)

I'm looking forward to seeing how the project evolves, not only for what it will do to improve Maternal Health, but also improve how we work together as a society to change our world.