Diane MacEachern
Diane MacEachern: Eco Expert

Featured On:

  • LadiesHomeJournal
  • ReadersDigest
  • GoodHousekeeping
Diane MacEachern is the founder and CEO of Big Green Purse and the best-selling author of Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World. It’s referred to as “The Big Green Bible”! Diane’s revolutionary message is: The fastest, most effective way to protect the planet is to mobilize the most powerful consumer force in the world - women. Empowering and enlightening, Big Green Purse offers sensible, time-saving, and immediate strategies for green living that you can incorporate into your life today. Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World is Diane's fourth book.

A successful entrepreneur, award-winning communications strategist, and sought-after public speaker, Diane has launched the only company in the U.S. focused specifically on harnessing women’s enormous consumer clout for the benefit of the environment. Through her books, articles, and speeches, she motivates women to take actions that will make their money matter. She advises companies on strategies to develop more effective green marketing campaigns. She also helps environmental organizations engage more women as members, activists, and donors.

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 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.
  • Best Eco Area Rugs
    Most carpeting is made from synthetic, petroleum-based materials backed with PVC that outgas harmful chemicals long after the carpet has been installed. A healthier and more eco-friendly alternative? Area rugs made from recycled fabrics, wool, organic cotton, and hemp. In addition to their environmental and health benefits, area rugs can be easier and more economical to clean. Plus, since they can be moved from room to room and often reversed, they offer great versatility.

    Best of the Best:

    Area rugs come in many patterns and textures. The most environmentally friendly are made from recycled fabrics by fair trade artisans. Enjoy these colorful patterns.
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  • Best Organic Makeup
    “Organic” makeup is a tricky category. Though the federal government has set strict standards about how to use the organic label for food, it has not set certifications for organic cosmetics. Hence, the cosmetics industry may use words like “organic” and “natural” even though products contain a variety of questionable chemicals you probably wouldn’t want to put on your skin. What can you do? Read the label. In addition to organic ingredients, choose products free of parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances and antibacterial agents, all of which have been linked to human health and environmental problems.

    Environmental Working Group ranks cosmetics according to their toxicity. The cosmetics listed here have received some of EWG’s safest rankings. The variety they offer in terms of textures, colors, and applications have vaulted them into the Best of the Best category.
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  • Best Organic Men’s Grooming Products
    Guys may not want to fuss, but they still want to look fab! Increasingly, they want to look “natural” too, and that starts with the soaps, lotions and creams they slather on from top to toe. Given the many unnecessary and often dangerous chemicals that find their way into personal care products, even the biggest he-men can’t be too careful when stockpiling their bathroom cabinet or shower stall. It helps to know what to avoid when reading a product label. On the top of the list? Steer clear of phthalates (banned by the State of California and the European Union); parabens (which have been found in breast tumor tissue); triclosan and other antibacterials (doctors worry they’re the reason so many people are resistant to antibiotics); and synthetic fragrances (which cause headaches, respiratory problems, and anxiety).

    There are lots of “uni-sex” organic products on the shelves these days. But some guys want more “manly” options fashioned specifically with masculine bodies in mind. Good news: from shampoos and shaving creams to mouthwash and deodorant, gents can groom themselves organically without feeling like Mother Nature has gotten too close.
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  • Best Eco Bibs and Burp Cloths
    Babies need bibs from the day they’re born until they’re old enough to whip off and use the bib as a napkin! Whether they’re drooling, teething, or just having a food funfest, little ones can make a real mess. There’s nothing like a soft, sizeable bib to keep things under control. Sometimes you need all the help you can get, too. Hoisting your child to your shoulder for a boisterous burp will be a lot more inviting if both you and baby can cushion the burp in a cuddly and absorbent cloth. Choosing fabrics made from organic cotton ensures that both you and baby keep the entire experience as natural as possible.

    Of the wide variety of bibs and burp cloths available, only a handful of them are eco-friendly. The best of those are not only organic: they’re also soft, easy to slip on and off, and big enough to contain either a drip or a deluge.
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  • Best Organic Pet Shampoos and Soaps
    Your pooch doesn’t have to smell like a dog. Naturally fragrant shampoos, soaps, spritzers, and other skin care products will make your pet a pleasure to, well, pet. And their safe, plant-based ingredients infused with essential oils help mount a natural defense against fleas and ticks.

    You can raise an “eco” pet from collar to cuff by using organic, plant-based products that will keep your furry friends happy, healthy and glowing. Some of these soaps and shampoos smell so good you’ll be tempted to use them yourself!
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  • Best Eco-Friendly Pet Toys and Stuff
    Your pets may be your closest connection to Nature. Why not help keep them entertained with toys and other goods that offer the most natural entertainment possible?

    The best natural toys are also the safest for your pet and the healthiest for the planet. In addition to low- or no-synthetic ingredients, they use recycled materials, can be easily washed and dried, and last at least as long as you’re interested in them.
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  • Best Organic and Bamboo Towels
    Is there anything better than stepping out of a shower and wrapping yourself in a big, cozy towel? Not when that towel is woven from organic cotton, using low-impact dyes but none of the nasty finishing agents you’ll find on more conventional cotton products. Whether you’re touching up with a soft and fluffy wash cloth or sashaying around in a body-length towel sheet, you’ll enjoy not just the warmth but the extra absorbency the long fibers of organic cotton allow.

    Unless otherwise noted, all towels reviewed come in four sizes: wash cloth, hand towel, bath towel, bath sheet. Browse around for matching bath mats and robes if you want to complete the set.

    Best of the Best:

    To make the “best of the best” list, towels needed to be “certified” organic cotton. Ideally, they’d be made according to fair trade labor practices, too; so far, only two brands fill that bill: Rawganique and Pure Rest. Still, many other brands are worth considering. Conventional cotton is one of the most water- and pesticide-intensive crops on earth. Organic cotton offers a welcome alternative, whether as a washcloth or a bath sheet.
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  • Best Organic Boys’ Clothes – Toddlers
    Boys really put clothes to the test: whether they’re shorts, pants, shirts, or tees: the fabrics need to be durable, the “fashions” flexible. Ideally, boys’ attire should be equally eco-friendly. That means made from organic cotton or hemp, treated with low-impact dyes, and sewn by adults, not kids, who are paid a fair wage for their work. Several clothing companies fit this bill.

    The best companies are organic or sustainable, affordable, and accessible: they can be found in a variety of toddler sizes. Take a look:
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  • Best Organic Girls’ Dresses – Toddlers
    If you have babies or toddlers, you may be among the millions of parents who have become eager to dress their kids in organic clothes. Though your options aren’t great, they are expanding. Demand for kids’ attire made without fire retardants, insecticides, formaldehyde, polyvinyl chloride, and other chemicals is rising, and many designers are racing to meet demand. When you shop for kid-friendly fashion, where should you begin?

    Girls’ clothes made from organic or recycled fibers run the gamut from fancy frills to sportswear. The following designs made it onto the “best of the best” list thanks to their affordability, versatility, and availability.
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  • Best Organic Baby Blankets
    Often, blankets made for kids are treated with fire retardants and other chemicals that, given the choice, you really wouldn’t want right next to your baby’s skin. It’s hard to find an alternative in the mall, but online, a whole host of delightful options fashioned from organic cotton await you and your beautiful child.

    These blankets are all made from 100% organic cotton and come in a variety of sizes and colors, though the traditional pink and blue are generally available, too. What makes the following blankets “the best”? They’re easy to wash, light to pack, and very affordable.
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  • Best Organic and Fair Trade Blankets
    Cuddling up under a cozy blanket or throw can be extra special when the cover is made from beautiful organic cotton or hemp. Growing conventional cotton is one of the most pesticide-intensive practices in agriculture. Farmers who grow cotton organically are doing us all a favor. So are the workers who transform the fabric into beautiful accessories for our living rooms and boudoirs.

    While not all organic blankets and throws are made “fair trade,” we’ve found a few that are. Why should you care? Fair trade practices help artisans and craftspeople earn a livable wage. They also help ensure that workers operate under safe working conditions in communities that help improve social and humanitarian conditions.
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  • Best Vegan Shoes
    It’s hard to keep track of all the eco options cropping up in shoes, sandals, and boots. Some fashions use as much organic fabric as possible. Others focus on incorporating recycled fibers. Still others make “vegan” shoes that contain no leather or other animal products. Any of these choices are still hard to find at the mall, but if you’re not averse to shoe shopping online, you’ll have plenty of designs from which to choose.
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  • Best Big Green Purses
    It’s easy to get your hands on a green grocery bag these days. Some stores are giving them away – others charge a mere $.99 for the opportunity to forego paper or plastic. But buying an actual purse that’s environmentally friendly can pose quite a challenge. Most high-end bags are made from leather that’s been tanned and dyed in ways that are far from “eco”. And canvas or cloth purses may be fashioned from cotton or petroleum-based synthetics that rack up some significant environmental costs during the manufacturing process.

    The purses featured here break the mold in a few important ways: they’re made from recycled materials: some of the manufacturers contribute a portion of their profits to environmental initiatives; they use low-impact dyes; and they’re made, not in sweatshops, but by local artisans who are paid a fair wage for their work.

    These bags set the standard for eco-friendly accessories. They’re creatively crafted from materials that would otherwise end up in the landfill, yet they’re so colorful, you can’t imagine seeing them anywhere but on your shoulder. A terrific alternative to pricey leather, conventional cotton, or petroleum-based synthetics. Take a look.
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  • Best Eco and Safe Baby Bottles
    Debate is growing about whether dangerous chemicals leach from plastic baby bottles into the breast milk or formula they contain. The State of California has banned baby products containing more than trace amounts of plastic-softening phthalates. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has urged parents to make sure that nipples and bottles are not made from PVC plastic, which also contain the toxins. Children should also avoid Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate plastic, the key ingredient in clear, shiny baby bottles and many other plastic products (like reusable water bottles). When heated or stressed, BPA can leach out of the bottle and into the liquid it contains. Research indicates that at very low levels, BPA can disrupt normal hormone function, cause hyperactivity, impair learning, and affect the onset of puberty, among other health problems.

    To be safe, avoid all polycarbonate plastic bottles. They’re generally clear, rigid, and may have the recycling symbol 7 marked on the bottom. Don’t heat breast milk and infant formula in plastic; dangerous chemicals are more likely to leach when plastic is heated. For the same reasons, avoid disposable plastic nursers. Finally, discard scratched, cracked or chipped glass or plastic bottles.

    What options does that leave you?
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  • Best Eco and Fair Trade Teas
    Hot or cold, tea refreshes like no other drink. It’s especially good when brewed from full tea leaves, not the “tea dust” that fills most common tea bags. Plus, when you brew tea leaves in a tea ball or tea strainer, you eliminate the packaging used to make tea bags. Organic tea – grown without pesticides or herbicides – is especially desirable, but even more so when it’s also raised on “fair trade” plantations that ensure workers receive a fair wage for their labor. With the great variety of teas available, you could drink a different cup every day. Here are some of the best to savor and enjoy.
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  • Best Eco and Fair Trade Jewelry
    As beautiful as jewelry is, it comes with a big environmental price tag. One gold ring, conservationists say, generates twenty tons of mine waste. Fortunately, enough gold has already been mined to satisfy jewelry industry demand for the next fifty years, and much of it is available in the form of old or neglected jewelry. Likewise, you can find antique and vintage silver and gems in abundance, sparing the need for more mining and refining. Many jewelry artisans are doing their part, too, by fashioning their crafts from recycled materials and locally available beads, glass, stone, stainless steel, and wood.

    Where should you start? Before you buy new, shop at antique stores, estate sales, yard sales, and specialty shops to locate quality used jewelry you can polish to look brand-new. The following companies may also meet your needs:
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