Women on a MISSION

Meet Diane MacEachern of Big Green Purse

Meet Diane MacEachern of Big Green Purse

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve just finished my fourth book, “Big Green Purse, Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World.” After 30 years working in the environmental movement for the likes of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the World Bank, the Women’s Environment Development Organization, and World Wildlife Fund, I’ve turned my attention to the power consumers have to protect the environment by using their marketplace clout. My website www.biggreenpurse.com builds on that message, as do the speeches I give locally, and globally to groups like the American Bankers Association, the Professional Business Women of California, and the sultanate of
Oman. In addition to my books, I write widely about the power of the purse on my own blog, in newsletters that are carried by Environmental News Network among others, and in national magazines like Family Circle. On a personal note, I have a wonderful husband, two kids, a dog and two cats — all trying to “live green” in the energy-efficient home we built in 1985.

What do you enjoy most about your profession?
After so many years of working “in the trenches” to motivate people to take the environment seriously, it’s exciting that it’s finally happening! I am thrilled to be networking with so many innovative and interesting people who are using their skills to solve some of the environmental crises we face. I’m particularly inspired by the amazing women who have jumped into the environmental arena with so many thoughtful ideas.

What was your vision for starting BIG GREEN PURSE?
Though environmental progress has ground to a halt on Capitol Hill, every marketplace in America seems to be a hotbed of environmental activity. Given how much clout women have — we spend $.85 of every consumer dollar — it seemed critical to remind women that they can make their money matter by spending it on products and services that protect the planet. Big Green Purse hopes to accelerate the transition to a safer, cleaner world by using women’s marketplace power. The Big Green Purse book tries to make it easier by offering even more information than the website so people can find the products they need without overconsuming and making the problem even worse.

Tell us about the types of projects and organizations your company supports?
We support much good work other organizations are doing to educate, organize and mobilize people locally and nationally. The Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability is doing a tremendous job in setting sustainable standards that serve as benchmarks for companies trying to shrink their “environmental footprint.” I support the effort of Whole Foods to phase out plastic shopping bags in favor of reusables. I’m on the board of the Alaska Wilderness League because I believe we should protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling. As for our own projects, we’ve launched a “One in a Million” campaign to encourage a million women to shift $1,000 of their existing household budget to products and services that offer an eco-benefit. Overcoming the sense that they can’t afford to go green is one of the biggest obstacles shoppers face today. If they join “One in a Million,” they’ll be amazed at how easy it is to shift even $10 of their weekly grocery budget to green goods.

Was there a life event or incident that made you choose to support them? If so, what was it?
Having grown up in Michigan, I spent a lot of time in the outdoors. I remember distinctly one Sunday, going for a family picnic to a nearby lake — only to be turned away because the lake had gotten so polluted, the beach was closed. I never forgot that.

From where do you draw inspiration?
Nature in all its manifestations keeps me going. Nothing is as inspiring to me as a landscape of ocean and mountains, brought to life by the sounds of birds and other wildlife. Probably the most inspiring place I’ve ever been are the Galapagos Islands – some spots there seem like they’ve never been touched by the human hand.

What one thing would you like to learn this year?
I’m not aiming to “learn” as much as I want to focus on the activities that make the most sense for me, given my mission to marshall more of the marketplace to protect the environment. One goal I have is to create more effective networks of people who, working together, can reduce our overall environmental impact.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I want to write at least two more books. I also want to have “tipped the market” on a couple of key commodities whose environmental impact could be substantially reduced if we all pulled together.

What do you do for fun, relaxation?
I cook, garden, walk my dog, dance, watch a movie with my daughter, go to sporting events with my son and husband, have dinner with friends, and do crossword puzzles!

Do you have a secret indulgence?  If so, what is it?
Well, it’s not so secret – I love to travel. I’ve been to five of the seven continents, to 49 of the 50 states, lived in Europe, climbed to 18,000 feet near the Mt. Kilimanjaro base camp, gone on safari…But it’s an indulgence because all that plane travel is so energy-intensive! Still, I have a long checklist of places I want to see, and I’m not nearly through it.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
This is a very exciting time to be an entrepreneur, an activist, or just someone who wants to make the world a better place. There’s no limit to the opportunities to have an impact, especially when we work together.

Learn more about Diane McEachern at www.biggreenpurse.comCheck out Diane’s books at  http://www.biggreenpurse.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=124&Itemid=184

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