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Archive for Green Advocacy

February 12th, 2015

Join Me: Tell Congress We Have the Right to Know What’s in Our Food

Tell Congress We Have the Right to Know What's in Our Food Groovy Green Livin

Everyone has the right to know what’s in their food. It’s hard to disagree with that, right?

More than 90% of Americans believe GE (genetically engineered) foods should be labeled. Unfortunately, there are a few who don’t agree that GMOs should be labeled and they’re giving the pro labeling community a tough time.

Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and  G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) have introduced legislation dubbed the Deny Americans the Right-to-Know Act (DARK Act), which would deny consumers the right to know if there are genetically engineered ingredients in their food.

National Week of Action to Label GMOs

This week has been designated “National Week of Action to Label GMOs”. Together, we are trying to prevent another DARK Act from coming before Congress and possibly passing.

What is the DARK Act?

DARK is an acronym for the “Deny Americans the Right-to-Know” Act.  Last year the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” officially H.R. 4432, came before the 113th Congress and is likely to appear before the 114th Congress this year in a new bill.

The DARK Act would make the failed voluntary labeling system that we have had in place over the past 13 years permanent. Simply put, we have the right to know what’s in our food and the current system isn’t working. We need labeling.

How You Can Help. Let Congress Know that You Care.

There are many organizations working tirelessly to make sure GMO labeling remains on the forefront of the political landscape. As consumers, we can work alongside these organizations.

During this National Week of Action to Label GMOs we can work together to put a stop to this new version of the DARK Act.

Here’s what you can do to help: 

  • Sign THIS petition at Just Label It. You will be asked to enter your zip code. This will allow your petition to be sent directly to your members of Congress.
  • Call your Senator. This isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Use WhoIsMyRepresentative.com to determine who to call and then let them know why you care about GMO labeling.

It would also be fantastic if you shared this info with your friends and family. We need to work hard, quickly and together to make the DARK Act go away.

If labeling GMOs is important to you and your family please spend a few seconds on this. Can you help? Thank you!


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


photo credit: OccupyTheFarm: “Family Weekend At The Gill Tract Urban Farm” 4/28/2012 via photopin (license)

February 5th, 2015

Time for Dollar Stores to Stop Selling Toxic Products

 Dollar Store Products Tested Contain Hazardous Chemicals Groovy Green Livin

During one of our vacations last summer I remember making a pit stop at a local “dollar store”. The choices for shopping were few in the remote area of Maine we were travelling through. We were searching for beach toys, kick boards and other items that would help entertain our kids during our much anticipated days at the beach. We left the store with a pile of inexpensive purchases.

Now I’m cringing and kicking myself for making those purchases.

A new report released by The Campaign for Healthier Solutions found 81% of dollar store (referring to a group of discount retailers commonly called “dollar stores”) products contain hazardous chemicals.

The report,  A Day Late and a Dollar Short: Discount Retailers are Falling Behind on Safer Chemicals – includes testing results for 164 dollar store products purchased from the four largest dollar store chains in six states such as toys, jewelry, school supplies and other household items, and found over 81% (133 of 164) contained at least one hazardous chemical above levels of concern.

The chemicals of concern found in dollar store products tested for this report include: phthalates, linked to birth defects, reduced fertility, cancer, learning disabilities, diabetes, and other health issues; polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC or vinyl), which creates hazards throughout its life cycle and has been linked to asthma and lung effects; and toxic metals such as lead, which harms brain development, leading to learning disabilities, lower IQ, and cause other serious health impacts, especially in children.

In addition, 40% of sales at Dollar stores go toward food products (not tested for this report) – much of which is highly processed with low nutritional quality, and whose packaging is another potential source of toxic chemicals including bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic hormone linked to breast and others cancers, reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease.

Many communities served by dollar stores are predominantly communities of color or low-income communities
that are already disproportionately exposed to chemical hazards and health effects linked to chemical exposures.

Other Big Retailers are Listening to Consumers

Fortunately, there is a growing movement by mainstream retail and manufacturing brands – including Target and Walmart – to respond to consumer demand for safer products with publicly-available corporate policies that identify, disclose, and replace priority toxic chemicals with safer alternatives.  By failing to address toxic chemicals through comprehensive policies, Dollar chains are not only putting their customers at risk, they are exposing their businesses to the fate of companies like Mattel, which lost 18% of its value after recalling toys with lead paint, and Sigg USA, which went bankrupt after failing to disclose toxic BPA in its water bottles.

It’s Time for the Sale of Toxic Products at Dollar Stores to End

Toxic chemicals in products on the shelves of our stores is unacceptable. The Campaign for Healthier Solutions is asking for change, including:

  • Discount Retailers immediately remove children’s products found to contain regulated phthalates and lead from store shelves; and adopt comprehensive corporate chemical management policies to identify, disclose, and remove hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and from all products in their stores, beginning with their house brands.
  •  Local, State, and Federal Governments ensure that discount retailers comply with all relevant laws and regulations; and adopt public policies (such as Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Law and Washington’s Children’s Safe Products Act) that require manufacturers and retailers to disclose hazardous chemicals in products, research alternatives, and remove hazardous chemicals when alternatives are available, effective, and safer.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  •  Families and Communities let Dollar store chains know that we want safer products, and join local and national efforts advocating for nontoxic products.

I’m hoping that one of the many dollar store chains will will seize the opportunity to become a leader in providing safer products in the competitive discount retail sector. Which one do you think it will be? 

Thank you to The Campaign for Healthier Solutions for providing the information for this post. To read the full report click HERE.


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

photo credit: baby girl shoppin’ via photopin (license)

December 18th, 2014

Hey Kroger: It’s Time to Take the Toxins Out

Kroger Take the Toxins Out Groovy Green Livin

Have you heard of Kroger? We don’t have Kroger in the Boston area, but I know it’s the primary grocery store in many of your cities and towns.

Kroger  is the largest grocery chain in the United States and one of the largest worldwide. They have over 3,500 stores and sales of over $98 billion.

I’ve been working with Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and many others on a campaign called Mind the Store for almost a year. Remember when I went into Walgreens and asked them to take steps to remove toxic chemicals from products they sell? I’ve also traveled to Washington DCtwice- to fight for safer products.

That same day that I headed into Walgreens I joined forces with many others. As part of the Mind the Store campaign we asked the nation’s top 10 retailers (including Walgreens and Kroger) 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.

Other big retailers like Walmart and Target have developed plans to screen out over 1,000 chemicals in products on their store shelves.

But not Kroger. Kroger has continued to be largely unresponsive to the campaign. It’s time to turn up some heat this holiday season.

Kroger still doesn’t have a comprehensive policy to screen out and eliminate toxic chemicals in their products. They have the power and a fundamental moral responsibility to ensure products on their store shelves, especially food, are safe and free of hormone-disrupting chemicals.

We have a BIG problem in our country. Toxins are basically unregulated and can make their way onto the shelves of our stores without our knowledge. That’s why we’ve been asking retailers to take the lead and create their own policies to insure safer products on the shelves of their stores.

If Target and Walmart can do it, so can Kroger! There’s a bit of good news: Kroger has taken some initial steps to eliminate certain chemicals like BPA in canned food. That’s a promising first step.

It’s time to tell Kroger they need to ensure packaged foods and other products they sell are safe, especially for children and pregnant women.

As many of us are getting ready for our big holiday meals for Christmas,Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, dangerous chemicals may be lurking in our favorite dishes.

Studies have shown toxic chemicals like phthalates, chemicals that have been linked to birth defects in baby boys and asthma in children, can migrate out of food packaging and get into the food we eat.

It’s not just toxic chemicals in food packaging.  Many consumer products contain chemicals that have been linked with chronic diseases and health conditions, including cancer, reduced fertility, learning and developmental disabilities, behavioral problems, obesity, and diabetes, chemicals that are getting into our bodies.

A recent study found children’s Halloween trick-or-treat bags laced with dangerous flame retardants sold at Kroger.  Kroger has reported selling over 150 products with hazardous chemicals harmful to children to the state of Washington under an innovative state law.  For example they reported selling tableware with formaldehyde, parabens in skin care products, and phthalates in children’s clothing.

Hope you’ll join me in telling Kroger it’s time to be a leader-it’s time to take the toxins out!


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

photo credit: Nicholas Eckhart via photopin cc

November 11th, 2014

Salon Workers are Exposed to Nasty Toxic Chemicals

Groovy Green Livin Salon Workers

Salons can be a pretty hazardous place to work given that many harmful chemicals can be found in salon products. I’m always reminded of this every time I walk into a salon for a haircut. The overwhelming smell from the products literally stops me in my tracks. Imagine the predominantly female workforce in hair and nail salons who are exposed to these chemicals for many hours at a time on a daily basis.

Women’s Voices of the Earth has once again done some amazing work. They’ve just released a new report showing how these nasty chemicals in salon products harm the health of women working in salons.

This new report, Beauty and its Beast: Unmasking the impact of toxic chemicals on salon workers,  is the the first ever to document how toxic chemicals lurking in hair sprays, permanent waves, acrylic nail application and other salon products are harming the health of women who work in salons.

Groovy Green Livin Salon Workers

The report finds that salon workers are at an increased risk of cancer, miscarriages, neurological disorders, immune disorders, asthma, dermatitis and more.

The creation of safer products, better laws, and the use of best practices in salons can significantly reduce the health problems experienced by women working in salons.

Congress can pass the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act to ensure salon products are fully labeled and safe for salon worker health.

What the Report Shows

  • Harmful and irritating chemicals such as acetone, toluene, ammonia, and methyl methacrylate are commonly found in salon air.
  • Cancer-causing formaldehyde can be released from hair straighteners and flat iron sprays when used with high heat.
  • Hairdressers and cosmetologists may be more likely to give birth to low birth weight babies, especially when their work involves using hairspray and permanent waves.
  • Studies have found increased risks of several types of cancer in hairdressers.
  • Nail salon workers have greater risk of immune disorders such as lupus and primary biliary cirrhosis.

Salon Workers Head to D.C. with Report in Hand

With the report as ammunition, Women’s Voices for the Earth is bringing salon workers to Washington DC this week to lobby Congress to pass the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act. They’ll be telling their stories to lawmakers, federal agencies like the FDA, and the media about how their health has been harmed by toxic chemicals.

Everyone has the right to a safe workplace. But as long as companies continue to use harmful chemicals like cancer-causing formaldehyde (found in hair straighteners), styrene (found in hair extension and wig glue), and p-phenylenediamine (found in hair dyes) salon worker’s health will continue to be threatened.

What’s the Solution for Salon Workers?

Women working in salons shouldn’t have choose between their health and their livelihoods. We can support these courageous women by asking our own Congressional representatives to pass the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act HERE.

While we’re waiting for our government to act, salon workers and owners can take the following immediate actions:

  • Wear gloves
  • Use less toxic products
  • Improve salon ventilation systems
  • Don’t offer toxic salon services such as a Brazilian Blowout

Take a look at my picks for safe shampoos, nail polish and body lotion.

Salon workers deserve better. Don’t you agree?

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 
photo credit: spo0nman via photopin cc

November 3rd, 2014

Mom Detective on the Soccer Field: Is Artificial Turf Toxic?

Groovy Green Livin Artificial Turf

This post was originally published at Moms Clean Air Force

It’s another gray, rainy day in New England and in a few short hours I’ll be driving a car filled with energetic young children to one of their four weekly soccer practices on a synthetic turf field. Unless thunder and lightening kick in their practice will go on, rain or even snow notwithstanding. The reason being an artificial turf field is almost always ready for play regardless of the weather.

For this reason and more the demand for artificial turf fields has grown to the point where more than “8,000 multi-use synthetic turf sports fields can be found throughout North American schools, colleges, parks and professional sports stadiums. About half of all NFL teams currently play their games on synthetic turf and, since 2003, over 70 FIFA U-17 and U-20 World Cup matches have been played on synthetic turf soccer fields.

Artificial turf was originally invented by Monsanto in the early 1960’s and has taken several forms since then, with the most recent being “crumb rubber”. This type of artificial turf, which contains tiny black crumbs of rubber made from old car tires, can contain zinc, benzene, carbon black and lead, among other toxic substances.  As many parents well know, these “black crumbs” travel home in our children’s shoes, uniforms and hair and ultimately end up on the floor of our cars and homes.

Now we’re learning those black crumbs may be doing more harm than good. Soccer coach Amy Griffin began doing her own investigation  when two of her goalkeepers from the University of Washington were diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She compiled a list of 38 American soccer players — 34 of them goalies who have been diagnosed with cancer. Ethan Zohn, a former professional soccer player, winner of the reality-television series “Survivor”, co-founder of Grassroot Soccer and a Hodgkins lymphoma survivor has had similar findings. He’s compiled a list of 50 or so goalkeepers who’ve battled cancer.

“Since I’ve been public about my cancer journey, lots of soccer players that have or had cancer have reached out to me via social media etc. I noticed a weird similarity…many were keepers. Then Amy Griffin, the coach at University of Washington reached out because she noticed the same trend. Not all were the same age, but most were young adults, between 15-39.”

Both lists are not scientifically based, but the sheer number of players (especially goalkeepers) diagnosed with cancer is something that can’t be ignored and they raise concerns about the potential risks of playing on artificial turf.

Zohn started playing soccer when he was 6 years old and really began playing on turf when he was out of college. He freely admits that “the likelihood that playing on crumb rubber turf caused my cancer is very slim”, but goes on to add “kids growing up on artificial turf today with long term repetitive exposure is different.”

When asked why he thinks goalkeepers were taking the brunt of the diagnoses, Zohn responded with this:

“A dedicated goalkeeper trains differently than the others. We are in constant contact with the ground in many different ways. Some training sessions are 90 minutes of just diving to save low balls. We sit, stretch, dive, roll in it. We are down low and breathing the air, injesting rubber, it gets in our cuts, eyes, mouth, nose. On hot days the temp is 10 degrees hotter on turf. Add some water and you boil the stuff. “

As parents we should not have to sleuth around the playground making sure equipment and fields are free from toxic chemicals, nor should we have to tell our children that they can’t play a sport outside because it could make them sick.

If there are potential health hazards they need to be regulated before our children are playing and rolling around on them. It’s time to take the burden away from parents and place it where it belongs – with industry. Our government need to regulate toxic chemicals by requiring a more thorough health testing of products BEFORE known carcinogens end up in our children’s playgrounds, fields and ultimately in their bodies.

What can we do about artificial turf?

Last weekend I was sitting on the sidelines at my son’s soccer game when a group of concerned parents began discussing the dangers of artificial turf fields . While I was angry that there needed to be a discussion, it was refreshing to hear that parents were taking this seriously. The discussion led to the 20 million dollar question: “What can we do?”

Here are a few suggestions for concerned parents and children:

  • Wash your hands immediately after playing on a turf field. Showering is probably the best idea.
  • Encourage your children to take off their cleats and socks outside your home, so as not to track in the “black crumbs”.
  • Advocate for team benches on the sidelines so the players don’t have to sit directly on the artificial turf.
  • Request that goalkeeper training take place on the natural grass, not on the turf.
  • Encourage discussion in your city or town about the safety of these fields. Be present and vocal if your community is contemplating installing an artificial turf field or playground.

Our current chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, is badly broken. It allows chemicals onto the market without adequate safety testing. It’s time to change that.

TELL YOUR SENATORS: PROTECT OUR FAMILIES FROM TOXIC CHEMICALS

 Do your kids play sports on an artificial turf field?

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

photo credit: Bronski Beat via photopin cc

October 23rd, 2014

Dangerous Chemicals Found in Popular Halloween Costumes

Groovy Green Livin Halloween Costumes with Toxic Chemicals

This is a press release by Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org project, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and Clean Water Action. I’m quoted in here as a concerned parent, wondering why we keep finding toxic chemicals in products marketed to our children. 

A study released today by the Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org project, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and Clean Water Action has found elevated levels of toxic chemicals in popular Halloween costumes, accessories and party supplies. The nonprofit Ecology Center tested 106 types of Halloween gear—purchased at national retailers such as CVS, Kroger, Party City, Target, Wal-Mart, and Walgreens—for substances linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer.  Advocates and parents in Massachusetts expressed outrage and dismay about the findings and called for legislators and retailers to act to ensure that consumer products are made safely.

“We found that seasonal products, like thousands of other products we have tested, are full of dangerous chemicals,” said Jeff Gearhart, HealthyStuff.org research director.  “Poorly regulated toxic chemicals consistently show up in seasonal products. Hazardous chemicals in consumer products pose unnecessary and avoidable health hazards to children, consumers, communities, workers and our environment.”

“It is beyond scary that chemicals that have been known or suspected to be hazardous for many years are still turning up in products that are designed for and marketed to children,” said Elizabeth Saunders, Massachusetts Director for Clean Water Action. “And it’s outrageous that the government has done almost nothing to protect the health of everyday people from these hazards.”

Clean Water Action and the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow coalition are working to pass state and federal legislation to require consumer products to be made with the safest available alternatives. The groups are also collaborators in the Mind-the-Store campaign which is calling on the nation’s largest 10 retailers to end the use of 100+ hazardous chemicals.

HealthyStuff.org tested Halloween products for chemicals based on their toxicity or tendency to build up in people and the environment. These chemicals include lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (vinyl/PVC plastic), phthalates, arsenic, and tin (organotins).

Groovy Green Livin Halloween Toxic ChemicalsSome products contained multiple chemical hazards, including a Toddler Batman Costume whose belt contained 29% regulated phthalates, 340ppm tin, and lead in the lining of the mask at 120 ppm. Overall, 39% of the products contained tin at levels suggesting organotin stabilizers, which are endocrine disruptors and can damage the developing brain and immune system.

Saunders noted that Toddler Batman Costume is currently sold out at all Wal-mart stores in a 50 mile radius of Boston and on Wal-Mart’s website, suggesting that this highly toxic product is extremely popular among unsuspecting parents and children.

Parents in the Boston reacted to the news with outrage and dismay.

“It’s shocking to me that these toxic costumes and toys are sold completely legally, and that the government is doing nothing about it,” said Quanda Burrell, a South End mother of two. “My children love Halloween, my 9 year old will even wear her costume to bed, but I never knew that I could be harming my kids.”

“I put lots of time and effort into finding safe products for my children and giving advice to other parents, and in many cases even I can’t tell which costumes are safe and which aren’t,” said Lori Alper, mother of 3 from Bedford, and author of the blog Groovy Green Livin’. “We can’t keep leaving parents alone with this struggle, it’s time for state and federal legislators and retailers to step in.”

Upon hearing about the report, Michelle Gottlieb of Marblehead immediately worried about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mikey costume that she just bought for her youngest son, Asher, “If it turns out to be toxic, then I’m going to be extremely upset, because there is no way that I could have known from looking at the packaging and he will be heartbroken if I have to tell him he can’t wear it.” Fortunately for Asher’s Mikey dreams but unfortunately for Michelle’s peace of mind, the costume was not included in the study.

The results of this study are available on the easy-to-use consumer website – www.HealthyStuff.org and build on recent HealthyStuff studies on back-to-school products, summer seasonal & beach products and university-themed products.  The majority of these seasonal or specialty products routinely contain one or more toxic chemicals. Due to the fact that many consumer products are largely unregulated, the items tested sometimes have levels of toxic chemicals that exceed the regulated levels set for children’s products and toys.

In addition to finding many products with chemical hazards, HealthyStuff.org test data shows that many Halloween products do not contain dangerous substances, proving that safer products can be made.  For example, the results show shifts in some products away from hazardous phthalate plasticizers to less hazardous non-phthalate plasticizers.  The represents a market shift in the face of growing consumer and regulatory pressure.

SEE THE RESULTS HERE

It’s time to regulate consumer products so we don’t have to worry about this. Don’t you agree?!

photo credit: CaseyLessard via photopin cc

October 14th, 2014

Known Cancer Causing Chemical Found in Always Pads

 

Groovy Green Livin cancer causing chemicals in Always Pads

It’s enough. I don’t know about you, but  I’m getting tired of hearing that there are cancer causing chemicals in products that go in and/or on our bodies.

This time we’re talking menstrual pads. Not a comfortable subject for some, but this is something we need to talk about. It’s time to put an end to toxic chemicals showing up in these products that come in direct contact with our bodies.

Groovy Green Livin Always Cancer causing chemical

Cancer causing chemicals found in Always pads

Our friends at Women’s Voices for the Earth just discovered that Always pads release styrene, a known cancer causing chemical, along with chloroform, acetone, chloromethane, and other toxic chemicals listed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the State of California Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogens, and reproductive and developmental toxins. 

Both scented and unscented Always Ultra Thin pads were tested, as well as scented and unscented Always Infinity.

None of these chemicals—and no ingredients whatsoever—are listed on the Always label.

The worst part? These secret toxic chemicals are coming into contact with some of the most sensitive and absorptive skin on our bodies!

Toxic chemicals don’t belong in feminine care products. Period.

What you can do

Always shareholders are meeting in Cincinnati TODAY to talk about what’s important to the company, and they need to hear from you!

Please take a moment to call Always and tell them to list ingredients so that we have the information we need to protect our health.

Always Customer Service number: 1 (800) 888-3115

Sample script:

Hello. I just saw test results from Women’s Voices for the Earth that show chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and allergies in Always pads – and no ingredients are listed on the label. We have a right to know what we’re using on our bodies. Please list all ingredients and remove harmful chemicals.

Take action

Send an email HERE telling Always and Tampax to list all ingredients and remove harmful chemicals!

Today Women’s Voices for the Earth and Naturally Savvy will be delivering over  21,000 signatures to the makers of Always from women demanding to know what’s in pads!

Did this info surprise you? How are you planning to take action? 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

photo credit: Timothy Valentine via photopin cc

 

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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