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Archive for Green Advocacy

May 14th, 2014

The Problem with Pesticides in Our Yards

Groovy Green Livin Pesticides in Our Yards

The smell of pesticides is in the air.

Can you smell them?

When spring hits in New England it hits hard. We always laugh because spring usually sticks around for a week or two and then we dive head first into the heat of summer. But for now it’s spring and we’re all enjoying sports and other outdoor activities after a long winter.

With the arrival of spring comes an overwhelming number of  landscaping trucks lining the roads. Each one competing for the neighbor’s lawn business. Each one promising to make your lawn the greenest of them all.

On my morning run I noticed many lawns with this sign poking out of the green grass.

Groovy Green Livin Pesticides

Along with the sign comes the overpowering smell of pesticides.

There’s something ironic about those small signs poking out of the super green grass. The sign is small. So small that you need to get up close to read it. There’s an outline of an adult, a child and a dog. According to the yellow card we should all keep off the grass.

I run through neighborhoods. I live in suburbia. The neighborhoods are filled with people. Children and pets are everywhere. How can we possibly keep off the grass?

What will happen if we don’t?

What’s the Problem with Synthetic Pesticides?

The synthetic pesticides we’re using on our lawn are filled with toxic chemicals. A chemical cocktail that’s meant to kill weeds and other non-desirable additions to a perfectly manicured lawn. These harmful pesticides end up flowing into lakes, streams and oceans and ultimately end up in our drinking water.

Our kids play outside and hopefully roll around on the lawn. If your kids are like my kids they get dirty and their skin comes in direct contact with the dirt, plants and grass.

The pesticides we’re using on our lawns are known in some cases to cause cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, hormonal disruption and other health issues.

For the life of me I can’t figure out why anyone would want something so toxic on their lawn.

Lack of Regulation 

This is another important reminder that just because something is on the shelves in the store doesn’t mean it’s safe. Unfortunately that’s the way our broken system is currently set up. There are virtually no regulations in place to keep us safe. The synthetic products we’re being encouraged to put on our lawns are filled with harmful and frightening ingredients.

Not something I want my kids rolling around on.

Pesticides and Our Chemical Free Lawn

A few days ago a lawn care company took the time to knock on our front door. Our lawn looks that bad.

The company employee suggested we use their services to whip our lawn into shape. Their services included multiple sprays and pesticide applications.

When we let him know that we already use an organic lawn care service he suggested we get an immediate refund.

Hmmm. Does a lawn covered with dandelions warrant a refund?

My neighbors might disagree (although many of them have their own sea of yellow), but my dandelions mean more than just a pretty yellow covering. They’re symbolic of a safe lawn for my kids and all kids to play on.

What You Can Do

Take your shoes off. In our house we are attempting to contain the toxin filled outdoors by declaring our home a “shoe free” zone.

Don’t use pesticides on your lawn and garden. Use nothing or find a brand or company that uses only organic ingredients that are safe for pets and people. Be prepared that your lawn might not look perfect, but you’ll be making the world a bit safer for all of us.

Where do you fall in the pesticide v. pesticide-free lawn care? Do you use pesticides and fertilizers? Or do you have a chemical-free lawn? 

photo credit: messycupcakes via photopin cc, Nathan Rein via photopin cc

April 17th, 2014

Hey Walgreens, We Still Want Safer Products

Groovy Green Livin Walgreens Mind the Store

Yesterday was a big day. Thousands of people across the nation asked Walgreens to get serious about toxic chemicals. I was one of the thousands.

I went to my local Walgreens to ask them to Mind the Store. And this wasn’t my first visit to Walgreens asking that very same question.

What is the Mind the Store Campaign?

In 2013, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families launched the Mind the Store campaign. The campaign was created to ask our nation’s top ten retailers to avoid carrying the Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals. These toxic chemicals have been linked to cancer,infertilitylearning and developmental disabilities, behavioral problems,obesity, diabetes, and asthma.

Walgreens, the largest drug store chain nationwide, hasn’t responded to our campaign.

My Visit to Walgreens

This visit I had a chance to meet with the store manager and one other employee. We had a fabulous conversation. 

Groovy Green Livin Walgreens Mind the Store

I let them know that, as a customer, I’m finding it increasingly hard to find safe products free of toxic chemicals. Due to our lax federal laws on toxic chemicals, products filled with toxins are ending up on the shelves in Walgreens. 

We talked about the new study by showing a range of products that Walgreens sells containing one or more toxic chemicals. These toxic chemicals include PVC, phthalates, and heavy metals that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems and cancer.

The store manager responded with a “Wow! That’s a lot of chemicals!”

Groovy Green Livin Walgreens Mind the Store

Given that their competitors like Target and Walmart  have already begun to take comprehensive action, we want Walgreens to feel the heat and be the next major retailer to develop a corporate chemicals policy.

The store employees promised to pass the message along to their corporate office. Fingers crossed that they follow through.

Take Action

Walgreens is the nation’s largest drugstore chain, and they have the power — and moral responsibility — to ensure that the products they sell do not contain dangerous chemicals harmful to our health.

Unfortunately, Walgreens has yet to respond to our repeated letters and requests to do something.

Join me along with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families to call on Walgreens to Mind the Store and protect our families from unnecessary dangerous chemicals.

Send them a message HERE. I promise it will only take a few seconds.

Do you find it hard to find products without toxic chemicals?

Thank you to my 10 year old for his extraordinary patience while filming the video above. 

Check out some of the experiences people had at Walgreens:

March 24th, 2014

There is No Place for Hate

Groovy Green Livin No Place for Hate

There is no place for hate. Ever.

This isn’t your typical ‘green living’ story so I wasn’t sure there was a space for it on Groovy Green Livin. But there is.

Green living encompasses so much. The umbrella is huge and in my opinion welcoming to all, regardless of where we fall on our green path. The journey isn’t only about finding ways to avoid toxins in the products we consume and use, it’s also about acceptance, community and ongoing discussion about how we can make the world a better place.

This is a story of anti-semitism. A story of hate.  A story of bullying. And it’s happening in my backyard.

The sad truth is this story could be happening anywhere and probably is happening everywhere.  At times hate crimes fly under the radar and other times they’re placed in the public eye.

Although this particular series of events is directed at Jewish people, it’s not only about anti-semitism. This is bigger than that. This is about all forms of discrimination and intolerance and what we can do to prevent it.

Over the past few months there has been a wave of antisemitic events in our small Boston suburb. School officials discovered multiple examples of intolerant and hateful behaviors, specifically in the form of anti-semitic graffiti – swastikas and the words “Kill the Jews”.

After these initial occurrences more anti-semitic events followed.

According to our Superintendent:

Over the past several weeks, we learned of several incidents involving some of our youngest students at ….the elementary schools.  Some children played a game that had anti-Semitic content, another talked about destroying a peer’s country because she was Jewish, a third involved withholding a snack because the friend didn’t believe in Jesus Christ, and a fourth involved the accusation that Jews had killed Jesus Christ. The first incident came to our attention because the parents of one of the children playing the game called the school to alert it to what their child had reported.  

Coming from the mouths of six and seven year olds, who may not even fully understand their meaning, clearly these words echo adult conversations that are overheard.

Thankfully our community is fantastic and jumped on this in so many positive ways, demonstrating that there’s no place for hate of any kind.

Why am I sharing this story of hate?

I’m not naive. I know there are bad eggs out there and there always will be. It just takes one. I guess I’m just surprised that this is happening in my backyard, which happens to be just outside a large metropolitan area filled with diversity. It’s a wake-up call. A reminder that bullying, racism and discrimination can happen anywhere. 

I’m sharing this because I strongly believe we all have an obligation to promote and teach acceptance. We have the power to create an environment at home, work and in the schools that encourages compassion, understanding and acceptance of differences. And I know that there are many more good eggs than bad.

The discussion starts at home.

  • Your kids are listening. I know mine are, even if they pretend not to hear. They are sponges and absorb conversations that they shouldn’t. So be careful. Children can easily misinterpret something.
  • Promote acceptance. Have positive discussions with your children, coworkers and family about acceptance.
  • Be prepared. Role play. Ask your children what they would do in certain situations.
  • Encourage comparative religion courses in the schools and participate in celebrations of differences.
  • Empower children to take a stance against any form of bullying.
  • Welcome the fact that we live in an increasingly diverse society

My youngest reminded me with a picture he drew that people are all different, yet they can still get along. Let’s work on this….together.

Have you or your community been the target of a hate crime, racism, bullying or discrimination? How was it dealt with?


March 12th, 2014

Hey Walgreens, It’s Time to Ditch the Toxic Products

Groovy Green Livin Walgreens

Almost a year ago I went into our local Walgreens and asked them to take steps to remove toxic chemicals from the products they sell.

Asking Walgreens to Mind the Store

My visit to Walgreens was part of a larger movement coordinated by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families called  Mind the Store. Together we were asking the nation’s top 10 retailers to avoid carrying the Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals. These toxic chemicals have been linked to cancer,infertilitylearning and developmental disabilities, behavioral problems,obesity, diabetes, and asthma.

Groovy Green Livin Walgreens

Some of the retailers listened! Recently Target and Walmart announced new chemicals policies. While their policies aren’t enough, they’re a big step in the right direction.

I know I’m not alone when I say that many of us are frustrated that toxic chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects are commonly found in products we buy for our families. Basic products such as toys, soaps, shampoo, and cleaning products. Remember there was even a  cancer causing chemical found in Tide laundry detergent?

How you can help

Walgreens is the nation’s largest drugstore chain, and they have the power — and moral responsibility — to ensure that the products they sell do not contain dangerous chemicals harmful to our health.

Unfortunately, Walgreens has yet to respond to our repeated letters and requests to do something.

Join me along with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families to call on Walgreens to Mind the Store and protect our families from unnecessary dangerous chemicals.

Send them a message HERE. I promise it will only take a few seconds.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Walgreens: no more toxic products!

Are you more likely to shop at Target and Walmart since they created new chemical policies?

photo credit: kaihm via photopin cc

February 6th, 2014

Companies are Listening to You!

Groovy Green Livin Listening

Companies are listening to you.

I’ve been so inspired this week by all the change that’s taking place. Companies are listening and making needed changes. In most cases the changes are a step in the right direction, but there’s a long way to go. Nonetheless each small step has a big impact.

CVS to Stop Selling Tobacco Products

Drug store giant CVS will no longer sell tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores by October 1, 2014. The company estimated that this move would shave an estimated $2 billion off in sales. Let’s keep this in perspective- the company had $123 billion in sales in 2012.

Why are they making this move?

“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” said Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Caremark. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

This move by CVS is probably motivated by many factors, but from a consumer’s perspective it’s a fabulous example of an industry leader taking a stand. The hope is that many more retailers will follow their lead.

It also highlights that CVS is a brand who is listening to consumer demand.

I’ve been working with Safer Chemicals Healthy Families on  a campaign called  Mind the Store. Together we’re asking the nation’s top 10 retailers to avoid carrying what are being calling the Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals. These toxic chemicals have been linked to cancerinfertilitylearning and developmental disabilities, behavioral problems,obesity, diabetes, and asthma.

CVS Caremark is one of the top 10 retailers and  a proven leader. It’s time for CVS to take additional steps to remove hazardous chemicals from the products that they sell.

And while they’re at it, how about taking products with GMOs off their shelves?

Subway to Remove Yoga Mat Chemical from Its Bread

The sandwich bread at Subway contains azodicarbonamide, a chemical that’s used to make shoe soles and yoga mats. This is not a joke.

Subway just announced that it’s working towards making its bread without using azodicarbonamide. Yes, that nasty chemical is still in the bread, so if you’re so inclined to stop at Subway you’ll be getting a dose of shoe soles and yoga mat for lunch. Not to worry, a new version will be out soon. Subway you need to do better than “soon”.

Subway claims that this change had nothing to do with a petition started by Vani Hari, The Food Babe, which has over 67,000 signatures. Subway said they were “already in the process of removing azodicarbonamide as part of our bread improvement efforts.”

Come on Subway, we all know that consumer pressure rocks!

Girl Scouts are You Listening? Let’s Make Girl Scout Cookies Without GMOs

Hey Girl Scouts….are you listening?

I’m sure each of you know a few Girl Scouts in your neighborhood who come calling every year when it’s Girl Scout cookie time. I have a weakness for Thin Mints.

Alicia, who is 7 years old, started a petition asking the Girl Scouts to make their cookies without GMOs.  Alicia’s been a Girl Scout for almost 3 years. Her mom is a Troop leader for Alicia’s Brownie Troop and Alicia’s sister’s Daisy Troop.

When Girl Scout Cookie Season came around, Alicia and her mom looked at the ingredients in the cookies. There were a lot of words Alicia couldn’t read and she didn’t know what a lot of the ingredients were.  She did recognize some of the ingredients as being GMO (genetically modified organisms). Knowing of some of dangers related to GMOs, she knew she wanted them out of our cookies. 

Let’s help Alicia. If you want to see GMOs removed from Girl Scout cookies join over 11,000 others and sign HERE.

So what are we going to tackle next? If you have an idea I would love to hear about it.

photo credit: highersights via photopin cc

January 27th, 2014

The Naked Truth About Naked Juice: GMOs and More

Groovy Green Livin Naked Juice

See the Naked Juice in this photo? I’ve been drinking it for years. It’s green and made from a mixture of apple juice, mango, spirulina, broccoli, wheat grass and more. I thought it was so healthy. Boy was I wrong.

My kids also love Naked Juice. I was always so thrilled when they would beg for a Naked Juice at the market rather than a candy bar. How could I say no? All that fresh, “natural” juice in one spot. I practically yelled “YES”. I knew it wasn’t organic, but it did the job.

Unfortunately, all of that Naked Juice love has come to a screeching halt. No more Naked Juice for our family.

I wasn’t going to write about this since my friend Katy over at Non-Toxic Kids did such an eloquent job covering all the bases. But then I decided to try to reach a few more folks with this important information.

Let’s start at the very beginning. You may or may not know that Naked Juice is owned by PepsiCo, makers of Pepsi, Tostitos, Tropicana, Doritos and more.

A class-action lawsuit was filed against Naked Juice for using genetically-modified ingredients (GMOs) and synthetic substances in products that were marketed as “Non-GMO” and “All-Natural”.

Naked Juice denies it did anything wrong.

Naked Juice says: ‘Naked juice and smoothies will continue to be labeled “non-GMO,” and until there is more detailed regulatory guidance around the word “natural” ―we’ve chosen not to use “All Natural” on our packaging.’

So that’s a bit of good news. They’ve removed the misleading “All-Natural” claim from their products.

Here are few allegations from the lawsuit against Naked Juice:

  • Although the juice was labeled “All Natural”, Naked juice was found to contain three synthetic ingredients: fructooligosaccharides, fibersol-2 and inulin.
  • Naked Juice was labeling its products as “Non-GMO” when, in fact, it knowingly used genetically-modified ingredients in its products (genetically modified soy).

What we can take away from the Naked Juice lawsuit

  • ‘All Natural’ is an unregulated term that means nothing. Remember that next time you see ‘All Natural‘ on a product. Products labeled ‘All Natural’ can contain GMOs. Until we have legal guidelines surrounding the use of this term there’s nothing to enforce.
  • If Naked Juice did in fact use GMOs while labeling their products GMO-free that’s clearly deceptive and misleading-and certainly not a company I want to support.

This is yet another reason to buy organic products when you can. Organic is a regulated term and there are clear guidelines for products meeting the organic standard.

If you’re interested in learning more about GMOs join a free virtual conference, GMOs: What You Need to Know, from July 27-30 with Stacy Malkan and leading scientists, farmers, medical doctors, business leaders, advocates and wellness experts to learn about the genetic manipulation of our food system, how to avid GMOs and why this matters for the health of your family and future generations. Sign up for FREE HERE.

Is there a Naked Juice alternative?

My kids were pretty upset when I told them no more Naked Juice. They asked about Odwalla as an alternative.

Unfortunately, Odwalla is owned by The Coca Cola Company. PepsiCo, Nestle USA, The Coca-Cola Co. and General Mills, among many others, secretly donated millions of dollars to the GMA campaign to stop Washington Initiative 522, which would require the labeling of all products containing GMOs.

The best alternative: make your own smoothies from scratch.

I know it’s challenging, but do you try to stay away from products made by these companies when you’re at the store?

Photo credit: thisisbossi via photopin cc

December 16th, 2013

Micah’s Story and How to Cope With the Loss of a Child

Groovy Green Livin Micah

This is the story of Micah and his amazing family. I was incredibly fortunate to meet Jenn (Micah’s Mama) when I traveled to Washington in October for the Stroller Brigade. Jenn and I quickly realized that we have a very special connection-it turns out that I went to overnight camp in northern Wisconsin with her husband. Jenn’s family’s story is heart-breaking and shows the true meaning of resilience. Through extreme tragedy Jenn has found her passion and her mission-to fight for a healthier, less toxic world.

Micah’s story is also prominently featured in the film The Human Experiment. Narrated and executive produced by actor Sean Penn, the film exposes the shocking reality that thousands of untested chemicals are in our everyday products, our homes and inside of us. This film is eye-opening and a must see for all of us.

 Now on to Micah’s story

Groovy Green Livin MicahJenn and Noah struggled for three years to start a family; they were ecstatic when they found out they were having twin boys. Jenn did everything right to stay healthy and strong. The pregnancy was perfect…until suddenly it wasn’t. Micah and Zachary were born three months prematurely, each weighing less than three pounds.

The weeks went by and both boys grew stronger. By the time they were six weeks old, Micah and Zachary each weighed five pounds and were getting closer to going home. But suddenly, Micah developed a severe infection, called necrotizing enterocolitis. Micah’s infection spiraled out of control and left him with life threatening complications, including end stage renal disease. He also lost important pieces of bowel, which made it impossible for him to absorb key nutrients for growth.

Necrotizing enterocolitis left Micah with bowel disease, kidney disease, liver disease, lung disease, fragile bones, and the inability to grow. Micah’s necessary medical care resulted in him being exposed to an enormous amount of radiation, pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, as well as endocrine disrupting chemicals. Despite all of these obstacles, Micah and his family fought hard to get Micah to the 20lbs goal so he could receive a kidney transplant.

Micah remained in the hospital for nearly nine months before he went home for the first time. Micah was home for less than four beautiful weeks before he was re-admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Micah’s family was heartbroken to see all of Micah’s amazing progress slip away.

One month after he was re-admitted, Micah’s care team met for hours before they approached Jenn and Noah to let them know they needed to say goodbye to their precious baby.

Saying goodbye to their beautiful Micah was the most difficult, heartbreaking thing they’ll ever do.

Micah spent his last hours cuddled up with his Mama and Daddy. They sang to him, read him his favorite books, and made hand and footprints. Micah was peaceful, comfortable, and knew he was so deeply loved.

“No more ouchies, baby boy. No more hurt. Just peace.”

~ Micah’s Mama

What do you do after such a tragic loss?

There is no healing when you lose your child. You cope and you learn how to live without him, but your heart is broken forever. It changes every piece of you. It changes how you think, what you do, and how you live. I stay very integrated in my loss and grieve every day by pursuing meaningful, beautiful causes that help other babies and families.

One cause that is dear to my heart is fighting for a healthier, less toxic world. Our children deserve a healthy, beautiful planet. It is up to us to protect the health of our families and sustain our natural resources. Here are some simple steps we all can do to ensure our children have a healthy start to life:

  • Get informed
  • Choose health over convenience
  • Support responsible companies
  • Give experiences instead of stuff
  • Speak up

Last week was the one year anniversary of sweet Micah’s passing and it’s been unbelievably challenging for his family. To learn more about Micah’s short life and to find inspiration to live your life full of joy please connect with Jenn on the Micah Smiles Facebook page HERE. If you would like to contribute to the Micah Smiles Fund, supporting music therapy at Mott Children’s Hospital, please do so HERE.

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

Click HERE to contact Lori


Lori on ABC World News

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