Leading the Bull

Remember when people used to say, "you’ve got the whole world in your hands"?

Not any more.

These days, we women have the whole world in our purses – or we could, if we’d only change the way we spend our money.

Big Green Purse contends that women who shift their spending to environmentally-friendly products and services could have a faster, bigger impact on protecting the planet than most of the legislation and regulations environmentalists are trying to pass on Capitol Hill or in statehouses all across the country.

Why the shift, and why women?

Industries – the planet’s biggest polluters – fight laws and public policies with a ferocity that’s every bit as strong as the category five hurricanes that wrecked the Gulf Coast in 2005. Yet as much as manufacturers oppose environmental legislation and regulation, they embrace what happens in the marketplace. They have to. Consumer dollars are their lifeblood.

Corporate need for profit gives women power. And because women spend $.80 – $.85 of every dollar in the marketplace, we’ve got a whole planetful of power.

Or we would have, if we focused it so that it made a difference.

Unfortunately, until now, women’s spending on "green" products has been haphazard and diffuse. Sure some women are buying organic food, non-toxic personal care products, water-saving appliances, and other eco-friendly commodities.

But overall, do our purchases match the serious level of concern we have for the health of the planet and its related impact on us and our families?

Not by a long shot.

In part, that’s because there’s still a supply and demand problem.

Despite the ballyhoo about organic produce, only 4 percent of food sold int he U.S. is pesticide-free.  Less than 1 percent of vehicles in the marketplace are highly energy-efficient. Only 2 percent of coffee purchased in the U.S. is "shade grown," meaning it’s raised in natural rainforest habitat, rather than in rainforests that have been clearcut and doused with pesticides.

Bull But there’s something more critical afoot.  Amazingly, few women understand that their demands for greener products can actually help increase the supply – that if a woman intentionally used her purse as if it were a bright green ring threaded through the nose of the big black manufacturing bull, she could pull polluting manufacturers in a greener, more eco-friendly direction, and do it far more quickly than most laws and regulations.

"I can buy wind power not just to meet my energy needs," she’d say, "but also to protect my kids from asthma and ecnourage other utilities to transition away from fossil fuels that cause air pollution."

"I can buy toxin-free cosmetics not only for their exceptional quality but to assure my own personal safety and force other companies to clean up their incredients."

"I can buy no-VOC paint not only so my family won’t have to breathe nasty chemicals for a week or more after we paint the house, but to encourage other paint manufacturers to eliminate VOCs from their products."

In other words, "I can get what I need… and get what I want, too."

Does the "big green purse" idea work?

Stay tuned…

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2 Responses to Leading the Bull

  1. Maureen O'Connor April 12, 2007 at 7:00 am #

    Yay, I agree with you 100%. Women’s purchasing power can have a huge positive impact on Mother Earth. I love what you’re all about! From the department of shameless self promotion, please visit my blog, The Alternative Consumer, where we’re “consumed by green.”
    all the best,

  2. LaVonne Ellis April 12, 2007 at 1:28 pm #

    Wonderful! I love what you’re doing. I run a discussion group for over 500 chemically-injured people who really appreciate your efforts and those of others to influence how products are made and packaged. Asthma is a major symptom that many of us contend with. I don’t think most people realize what a huge difference detoxifying our homes will make to our health and that of our children. Thank you!

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