Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Green Beauty & Introducing My Green Product of the Week!

This week I’d like to focus my greening thoughts on an area that is a major line item in my budget: BEAUTY PRODUCTS.

Shopping green can definitely take a chunk of change out of any woman’s pocket, especially when it comes to beauty products. I’m always searching for the perfect lip gloss, eye shadows, shampoos and body wash. These days, I’m trying to green my routine by not just considering what its doing to me, but what these products leave behind after use. It can cost a lot of money, but from here on out I’ll try to share a “Green Product of the Week” that is not too much of a burden on the wallet. Here is this week’s share:

Whole Foods 365 Lavender Body Wash!!! I discovered it at Bikrahm’s Yoga Studio. Yogi’s are way too good for overly chemicaled or high fragrance products in the bathroom. It was the first time I tried anything lavender-y, but I now love it! You’ll find lavender in a lot of before-bed products (bath salts, lotions, etc) because its scent is so relaxing (and Lord knows I need something to help me relax!) I’ve noticed that since I’ve been using it, my morning allergies have decreased and my skin stays virtually blemish free. I tried going back to a regular Olay-type body wash and it was just too much. The best part about this body wash is it’s only $4.99 for a bottle that can last 2-3 months!

I genuinely love a lot of Whole Food’s 365 store brand products. Don’t be scared to go natural! It doesn’t have to cost that much…

Here is some information I found recently on Women's Cosmetics and Skincare:

Numbers, stats, and figures that put your personal care decisions in a greener context. Compute, learn, enjoy, repeat.

• $35 billion: The size of the booming cosmetics industry. Major loopholes in U.S. federal law allow this industry to put virtually unlimited amounts of chemicals into personal care products with no required testing, no monitoring of health effects, and inadequate labeling requirements.

• 33 percent: Personal care products that contain at least one chemical linked to cancer, according to the Skin Deep report by the Environmental Working Group, a partner of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

• 2 billion: Number of disposable razors end up in U.S. landfills each year.

• 38,000: Number of animals that die needlessly in the EU every year in tests for new cosmetic products, according to animal welfare groups.

• 77 percent: Percentage of rinse-off cosmetics that contain parabens; the figure rises to 99 percent for leave-on cosmetics such as sunscreens.

• £182 million: Annual revenue from the U.K. sun-care market. Government advice for us all to cover up has boosted the sales of higher protection factor creams. SPF 15 and SPF 25 are now the U.K.'s most popular choices. Unfortunately the higher the SPF, the more chemicals the cream will contain.

• 7: SPF rating of the average T-Shirt; 85 percent of fabrics tested in an Australian study had an SPF of 20 or more.

• $3 billion: Revenue from the skincare market, the leading segment of the personal care industry; hair care has showed the strongest growth in the past 5 years.

Found at:

Peace & Green,

Irene Bianca

Friday, April 24, 2009

IN THE NEWS: Black Caucus Releases Letter on Energy Priorities

Washington, D.C.- Today, in recognition of Earth Day the Congressional Black Caucus Energy Taskforce released a letter sent to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman outlining priorities they would like to see included in comprehensive energy legislation. The letter read as follows:

The Honorable Henry Waxman


House Committee on Energy and Commerce

2125 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Waxman,

As you draft and consider comprehensive energy legislation to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and to curb greenhouse gas emissions, we the undersigned Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) respectfully request your consideration of the issues discussed in this letter.

Climate change represents a tangible threat to the communities we represent as well as the United States as a whole and we, therefore, encourage and support your efforts to address this critical issue. We support science-based legislation to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The United States must be a leader on this global issue, and this target is consistent with the proposals of the Obama Administration.

Investment in the Green Economy

Comprehensive energy legislation will revolutionize our economy and energy infrastructure, spurring us to become more innovative and efficient. The growing “Green Economy” presents an opportunity to create large numbers of quality green-collar jobs for American workers, to grow emerging industries, and to improve the health of low- and middle-income Americans. Any public investment in the Green Economy should include serious efforts to train, employ and provide public service opportunities that lead to full-time employment in these industries. This is a significant opportunity to make cost-effective public and private investments to rebuild and retrofit our nation. We recommend the following:

• Develop a career pipeline, particularly in low- and middle income communities, through training, job readiness and entrepreneurship programs, to ensure that people who most need work are prepared for the family-sustaining jobs and careers in energy efficiency and energy service industries. Ensuring local hiring practices will be critical to engaging these distressed communities.

• Development of Green Energy Centers of Excellence at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to research and develop new green technologies as well as train implementers in the deployment of green innovation. HBCUs maintain unique relationships with communities of color, and we should use their expertise to educate these communities on the opportunities in green industries and the techniques needed to succeed.

• Ensure local and national certification standards for technical jobs to ensure appropriate levels of expertise.

• Apply large-scale energy-saving measures to the nation’s building stock, which will create hundreds of thousands of green-collar jobs while dramatically reducing American’s energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Consumer Protection

A cap-and-trade system will increase the cost of energy derived from high-polluting production processes for all households. Low- and middle-income households spend a greater share of their budget on energy costs than higher income households. To help prevent climate change policy from being unfairly burdensome on these households, we recommend:

• Measures to offset the disproportionate impact of increased energy costs that could take the form of a climate rebate equal to the loss in purchasing power extended to the lowest quintile, the second quintile and partially extended to the third quintile. For households that file no tax returns, the rebate could be administered through the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system. For all others, the rebate could be extended through a higher Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or alternative tax mechanisms that make the connection with this increased cost.

• Further investments in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program.

• Prevent the creation of “hot spots” and “outsourcing” to communities of color and low-income or otherwise vulnerable communities domestically and abroad.

Job Leakage Protection

Many manufacturing jobs in this country produce goods that compete in global markets. Under a domestic cap-and-trade program, these industries will face pressure from increased costs due to direct regulation of their emissions as well as higher energy costs. If this is not addressed, these industries, as well as the workers and communities they support, will be forced to close or move operations to countries without similar regulations, producing the leakage of American jobs and emissions to foreign countries. To protect the jobs of workers in the energy-intensive trade-exposed industries, the CBC recommends:

• The United States should pursue international agreements on greenhouse gas reductions. Engaging industrialized nations in an agreement to combat this truly global problem will more effectively meet emissions reductions goals as well as “level the playing field” for American workers and business.

• Until an international agreement can be achieved, climate legislation should include measures to protect against unintended disadvantages brought about as a result of global trading partners acting outside of a domestic or international greenhouse gas reductions scheme.

• Provide assistance to ease and facilitate the transition of workers and communities dependent upon high emitting industries to the emerging low-carbon economy.


Regardless of our success in curbing greenhouse gas emissions, we can be certain that there will be ramifications as a result of global climate change. These may include rising sea levels, increased weather disasters, changes in precipitation, loss of biodiversity and the increased spread and range of tropical diseases. This will affect rural, urban and island communities domestically and abroad, with low-income populations being at greatest risk. Providing appropriate adaptation measures for these eventualities is imperative and this legislation should insure regular and predictable funding. We recommend:

• An ecosystem-based adaptation both domestically and internationally, investing in conservation techniques to preserve wetlands, tropical forestland and critical ecosystems such as coral reefs and their relevant fisheries. Thriving ecosystems produce healthy communities, and promote sustainability.

• Agricultural adaptation for areas experiencing shifting weather patterns. Subsistence farmers should be provided aid to manage temperature change and its effect on their growing season.

• Medical adaptation to prepare and prevent the spread of disease. As temperatures rise, tropical-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever may proliferate in previously unaffected areas. Preventing and addressing this through vaccinations, improved sanitation measures, and other burgeoning technology should be a priority in the legislation.

It is with the utmost respect and appreciation for your efforts that we present these policy recommendations to you. We view these principles as essential to any climate change proposal. Please let us know how the Committee plans to incorporate these principles into the upcoming climate change legislation and how we can work with you to pass this critical legislation.


Rep. Barbara Lee

CBC Chairwoman

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver

CBC Energy Taskforce Member

Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee

CBC Energy Taskforce Member

Rep. Mel Watt

CBC Energy Taskforce Member

Rep. Alcee Hastings

CBC Energy Taskforce Member

Rep. Sanford Bishop

CBC Energy Taskforce Member

Rep. Bobby Rush

CBC Energy Taskforce Member

Rep. G.K. Butterfield

CBC Energy Taskforce Member

Del. Donna M. Christensen

CBC Energy Taskforce Member

IN THE NEWS: Black Mayors Announce National “Green The City” Initiative

NCBM Announces National “Green The City” Initiative

earth day - recycleIn observance of Earth Day 2009, the National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM) joins President Barack Obama’s national agenda to promote clean energy innovation and announces its “Green The City” Initiative. This initiative targets three primary areas: city conversion to clean energy vehicles, green-collar job creation and training, and the expansion of biomass energy production. This three-pronged strategy aims to reduce U.S. fossil fuel energy dependence, slow the pace of global climate change and establish a robust green economy in our cities. NCBM Mayors are aggressively moving to organize their communities to fully participate in the Green The City initiative.

“We are proud to launch NCBM’s Green The City initiative. The National Conference of Black Mayors is committed to help fortify the framework for a viable clean energy economy that will assist in laying a new foundation for the growth and prosperity of our country,” said NCBM President Mayor Heather M. Hudson of Greenville, Miss. “We are 100 percent in agreement with the President. As elected officials, we are called to govern in extraordinary times and this does require an extraordinary sense of responsibility-to ourselves, to the men and women who elected us into office. The National Conference of Black Mayors’ Green The City initiative is vital and should be a priority to all communities as our nation continues to develop and implement creative ways to reduce our carbon footprint and improve and sustain the quality of life of all citizens for this current and future generations.”

The NCBM plan for the greening of our cities will introduce cutting-edge technologies through the creation of green parks, implementation of new energy technologies such as fuel cell, wind and solar energy; green sustainable housing and buildings; energy efficiency and conservation, heightened recycling, redevelopment of brownfields and the creation of local certification programs for green jobs through partnerships with community colleges and historically Black universities.

“Our conference, which represents over 650 mayors across the country and services more than 48 million people, stands to serve as the laboratory for change in this country. We are in the best position to implement our President’s agenda on the local level with ingenuity and efficiency,” said NCBM Executive Director Vanessa R. Williams. “Green economic development is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. Communities of color must be included in this pivotal national movement on new energy and new technologies in order to address and redress the historic economic disparities, social inequalities and environmental injustices that have adversely affected the disenfranchised and vulnerable in our nation’s cities.”

Our nation’s mayors will begin with plans to convert their city’s automobile fleet to hybrid and electric vehicles by 2015, upon completing an assessment of their city vehicles and implementing policy to mandate the consideration of electric and hybrid vehicles in the vehicle purchase process. Mayors will achieve this goal through the leveraging of funding tools such as the US Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program under the Recovery Act.

“This first step is easily adaptable to all cities, as environmentally caustic autos are replaced by green vehicles. We are in accordance with and support the President’s goal to place 1 million plug-in hybrid vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015, beginning with the federal auto fleet,” said Mayor Robert Bowser of East Orange, N.J. “With mayors plugging into the President’s Green Plan for the nation, we say, yes we can, speed past Toronto, Canada in its efforts to become the first North American city to put the electric car on the road wide-scale.”

The second focus of the Green The City initiative is the expansion of local green economies through green-collar job creation and training. Our Mayors will work to ensure that green job training and entrepreneurship occur at the local level. The commitment to invest in our communities through the stimulus bill will empower our cities to maximize our local potential. Through the innovation of small businesses and leveraging of public/private partnerships, we can exceed our President’s goal of establishing 3.5 million jobs.

“There is a reported labor shortage of qualified skilled workers in current and developing clean energy industries. We must enable our constituents to take advantage of the employment opportunities available at every wage and skill level in the various growing green industries,” said Mayor Roosevelt Dorn of Inglewood, Calif. “The mandate to ease the economic suffering in our communities resulting from the astronomical unemployment rates can be resolved through sustainable transportation, green economic and workforce development.”

The third focus of the Green The City initiative is the expansion of biomass energy production and the inclusion of marginalized communities. The production of renewable energy through energy-rich agricultural processes provides a significant economic opportunity for Black farmers and rural areas that have been plagued by persistent poverty and institutionalized racism.

“Rural communities of color have the opportunity to enter the new green economy through the production of biomass. If we begin to organize all of the farming resources, in our communities, to the production of biofuels, we can reduce our foreign dependence on oil by up to 25 percent,” said Mayor Kevin Johnson, President of the NCBM South Carolina State Chapter. “NCBM has been and will continue to work with partners on both the federal, state and local level. Through our initiative, we will strengthen our established partnerships with organizations such as the Corporation for Economic Opportunity and extend the ongoing hard work of Congressional members who have fought on behalf of Black farmers such as Democratic Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC). For many of our mayors in rural communities serve as both mayor and farmer.”


The National Conference of Black Mayors is a leader in the redevelopment of our most vulnerable communities and works towards the empowerment of leadership on the local level. Founded in 1974, NCBM articulates public policy positions and serves as a clearinghouse of information pertinent to municipal development and financing. NCBM provides technical and management assistance through cutting edge research, best practices and partnerships that enable its mayors to challenge and overcome grappling issues that erode the vitality and sustainability of our nation’s cities.

IN THE NEWS: The Root Goes Green

The Root has quickly become a must read in our communities. Here is their effort to go green:

The Root Goes Green

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

It's Earth Day 2009, and I am on a mission to rededicate myself to going green. Not that I haven't been living it (I've been doing pretty well actually!), but I haven't been on here talking about it.

Here are some personal updates:

I tried growing a mini forest in my bedroom in hopes that I could enjoy a little more greenery and clean air. I've done ok, but some of my plants have recently died. I'll be starting a new batch for the summer, may even grow my own produce :)

So we were doing really good with recycling at the house. I'm proud of my roomies for taking it so seriously with me! BUT, one day my land lord mentioned to my roomies that while it was good we were putting forward the effort, he always saw the garbage truck take the recycling bin!!! My heart broke! So, now I'm on a mission to find out whats up with DC recycling. I stopped in an eco-friendly store on U St and asked about it. They said DC collects all of the garbage together and separates everything at the dump, so we really don't need to do the separation at the house. Sounds complex, but Detective Green Irene is on the case... I think I'm going to request a tour of the dump for proof (this is DC, they'll tell you anything...)

My work continues with the Congressional Black Caucus, but our office is now housed by Rep. Barbara Lee from Oakland, California. It is GREAT to be in an office that takes recycling so seriously! What can I say, the West is the best... The CBC recently put out a letter on upcoming climate change legislation, highlighting the CBC's legislative priorities for protecting and empowering our communities. I'll post the text language soon so you can see that your Black legislators are serious about going green as well. In fact, at our last meeting Rep. Yvette D. Clarke requested that we no longer use Styrofoam materials. I heart her!

Please visit: to find an Earth Day project near you.

Peace & Green,

Irene Bianca

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Green summer kick off...

SO, there has been so much progress in my attempt to go GREEN! Not just on a personal tip, but efforts have sauntered into my workplace as well. Here are some highlights:

In life...

  • There is nothing I love to do more then be outside and sit in the sunshine!!! I've been waiting on the DC weather to get it together, but recently been chilling on the water front, hiking and bike riding! I know that's probably not technically going green, but I'm just saying, being outside... being with/in nature helps me want to get it together. Preserve what we've still got for my future kids... The Botanical Garden has a great outdoor exhibit on conservation and preservation. I'll try to take some pics but encourage you to stop through...
  • We got our recycling bin! We now recycle so much of our waste products that I think we’re going to have to order another bin!!! My roomy has also dedicated herself to the cause… Hopefully the Mayor will let us have two bins!
  • I've also started a mini garden on our sun-porch... I'll put pictures up soon. It was going really well at first, but there have been some technical difficulties. You'll see in the pics.

At work...

  • My office has been a big job to tackle, but we’re slowly but surely getting there… I work on Capitol Hill and the CAO (Chief Administrative Office) is working with Speaker Pelosi to Green the Capitol. The two biggest shifts have been the food service provider and the new office recycling program.
  • The new food service (in addition to having WAY better food) uses all compostable materials!!!! How neat is it that everything from the forks to the containers are made out of plant products. The plastic looking containers are really made out of corn. I have to admit the utensils tasted a little funny at first, but it feels good know it’s biodegradable…
  • Our office was the WORST at recycling when I started here last year… every time I would walk by a bin marked “paper” and see bottles, plastics and wrappers, I would cringe! So, I signed us up to be a pilot for the new recycling program and we’ve been doing all right… Some folks have a hard time paying attention to the signage… but we’re getting the hang of it. And our intern (shout out to my boo Q!) put up extra instruction signs to assist! I’ve also recruited a few other offices to join the recycling program as well… (shouts out to Mike for hooking my up with them!)
  • I also joined something called “The Green Team.” I’m still not really sure what they do yet… but I get emails occasionally so I’ll keep you posted.
  • On another tip, I’ve recently taken on environmental justice and climate change issues so I'm embarking on my own personal research… I attended that annual Environmental Justice Conference at Howard Universities Law School and we just hosted a staff briefing on Climate Change 101. I'm doing so much reading I feel like I'm back in school! (Which I need to work on anyway) I’ll have more detailed entries on those soon…

Til next time...

Peace & Green,


Monday, May 19, 2008

And... I'm back

So, I've been asked "When's the next post?" by a few too many people, so I'm back! and will keep you posted...