Archive for Green Advocacy

February 7th, 2017

How You Can Resist: Now is NOT the Time to Bury Your Head in the Sand

How You Can Resist: Now is NOT the Time to Bury Your Head in the Sand Groovy Green Livin

I have to admit that it was a big deal for me to share my first political post on Facebook. I agonized over what to share. Who would “like” it? Who would give me dirty looks at the gym?

Talk with me one-on-one and I’m happy to share my political views loud and clear. But there’s something different about sharing publically. Putting my political views out there for the general public doesn’t come easily to me. I’ve never been one to cover my front lawn with signs and talk politics at a party. One would think that being a blogger is somewhat synonymous with putting it all out there, but surprisingly I’m a relatively private person. My kids are completely off limits when it comes to social sharing unless they consent and my blog has always been (and will remain bipartisan). My goal is to educate and share information that’s applicable to everyone concerned about their health and the environment regardless of race, religion and political affiliation. And political perspectives have been off the table. Until now.

I really don’t care about likes and dirty looks. It’s my responsibility to speak out.

I can no longer sit on the sidelines. The time to resist is now.

When politics turn to basic human rights I no longer can sit on the sidelines cheering on my friends who have the courage to speak out. Yes, I can (and will) continue to cheer them on, but I need to do more.

I’ve been sitting idle for weeks. Months. Not really sure what to do. Paralyzed and overwhelmed by the looming possibilities.

There’s so much happening that I either don’t understand or can’t wrap my head around. I’m a trained lawyer and I’m still having trouble understanding the process behind all of the impetuous appointments and orders being shoved down our throats. I’m not sure where to turn first and where to best use my energy to resist.

One thing I’m absolutely sure about is that the time to act is now.

As we continue to witness horrific changes impacting the diverse people of our country the fight has only just begun.

If we all commit to acting against extremism and devote a few minutes each day to resist, together we can make a difference.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Get involved. Decide what moves you and act on it. Don’t wait.
  • Check before you share. Make sure you’re sharing real news on social media. Check your sources before sharing information.
  • Follow or connect with people you trust and listen for their leads on a call to action. Contact me if you want a list of my go-to organizations and people to follow.
  • Talk to your children. Of course please be age appropriate, but don’t be afraid to talk with them about what’s going on in the world. Use books to help your child understand the issues. Here are a few great books on what it’s like to be a refugee.
  • Sign up for Daily Action alerts by text.
  • Get to work on a local level and elect/appoint those who are like-minded and care.
  • Volunteer for organizations that are working hard to protect our interests.
  • Make a donation. Chose an organization that is making a difference and show your support.
  • Focus on getting good people into the seats in the mid-term elections. That is going to be key!

Don’t forget that resistance works! Your voice does matter.

If you have more suggestions on how to resist please share!

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November 2nd, 2016

Get Out and Vote for Your Children’s Health

Get Out and Vote for Your Children's Health Groovy Green Livin

At this point in the election cycle, it’s pretty easy to lose sight of what’s at stake when we head to the polls to vote. Things have gotten ugly and out of hand and there’s so much hatred and animosity. These days it’s hard to imagine a “United States of America” since division and divisiveness are working against us. With November 8th being the official day to vote, we all have a responsibility to ensure that this horrible cycle stops now.

For many of us, Election Day is already here. We have an incredible opportunity in many states to show up at the polls early to vote. Although yesterday was a crazy day, I found some time in the early evening to cast my ballot because so much is at stake.

We haven’t heard much by way of agreement in the months leading up to the election, but there are a few things I think we can ALL agree on: harmful pollution, climate change, and toxic chemicals are putting our families at risk. And these issues are impacting all children, regardless of their family’s political affiliation.

If we care about our children it's time to get out and vote! #CleanAirMomsVote Click To Tweet

As parents, we care about our children and grandchildren and will do anything to protect them. We know that harmful pollution is making our children sick and increasing the threat of climate change. We also know that toxic chemicals don’t belong in any products sold to our families. There’s so much more work needed to ensure that our children are safe.

Get Out and Vote for Your Children's Health Groovy Green Livin

I made a career switch and now work to protect our children by giving them a voice. I’ve asked Procter & Gamble to remove a cancer-causing chemical from their Tide Free & Gentle laundry detergent, I’ve marched in Washington DC to ask our Senators to vote for safer products on the shelves in our stores and I started a petition asking Disney to take toxic chemicals out of their princess and Spiderman lunch boxes marketed to children. I work hard to improve transparency when it comes to food, GMOs, personal care products, and makeup.

By electing candidates who care about these issues we can give all children a voice and a fighting chance. Here’s why it’s important to vote:

  • CLEAN AIR. Air pollution from fossil fuels leads to bad air quality in too many communities. Increases in smog can trigger asthma attacks and exacerbate other chronic health problems. Do not let your child’s health be voted away to protect polluters’ profits. Instead, VOTE to protect little lungs from toxic air pollution.
  • CLIMATE CHANGE. The same harmful pollution that is making our children sick is causing rising temperatures and extreme weather events. Our changing climate is making smog worse. It increases respiratory health threats, particularly for people with allergies and asthma. Also, intense heat waves exacerbate heart and lung conditions. VOTE for candidates who support proposals to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. And vote to put our country on a clean energy path while protecting American jobs!
  • TOXIC CHEMICALS. Dangerous chemicals are found in our daily lives. They often enter our homes and bodies without our realizing it. In fact, these chemicals may not even have been disclosed, identified or studied. Thousands of toxic chemicals found in everyday products are linked to potential reproductive and developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, birth defects, cancer, asthma, headaches and skin irritants. Children are among the most vulnerable to such chemicals.

Please join me in pledging to get out and vote for our children’s health on or before November 8th! Take the time to educate yourself on the candidate’s positions and make the right choice. Your children’s future depends on it.

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

This post was produced with support from Clean Air Moms Action. All opinions are, of course, my own.

July 6th, 2016

Are “Formaldehyde-Free” Hair Straighteners Safe?

Are "Formaldehyde-Free" Hair Straighteners Safe? Groovy Green Livin

For years I struggled with my curly hair. I could never embrace the curl, and instead, I fought it.  I would blow dry my hair for at least an hour to tame the curls. The end result was a shoulder length, stick straight bob. Years later I finally embraced the curl and it was so liberating. My hair was big, bold and curly and I had much more time on my hands.

Years ago I remember everyone getting a Brazilian Blowout or some form of a keratin straightening treatment. I have to admit that I loved the look. So silky smooth and straight. I never tried it myself, but I was tempted.

Then came the bombshell-Brazilian Blowouts and other keratin hair straightening treatments were found to contain high levels of formaldehyde.

According to Women’s Voices for the Earth: “Formaldehyde gas is a dangerous pollutant that can be severely irritating to the eyes, nose and throat, and long-term exposure to formaldehyde in the workplace has been associated with an increased risk of cancer.”

After this news, many made the switch to formaldehyde-free hair straightening products. Unfortunately, there’s more bad news. Many of these “formaldehyde-free” products aren’t much safer.

Here’s the scoop: many of the “formaldehyde-free” straighteners don’t technically contain formaldehyde as an ingredient, but they do contain other chemicals that release formaldehyde when in contact with high heat. For those of us who have struggled with straightening, we know that high heat is an important ingredient in the process. Using a hair dryer and/or a flat iron (both use high heat) is critical for these straightening treatments to work.

Are formaldehyde-free hair straighteners safe? The answer might surprise you Click To Tweet

Even if you straighten your hair at home and use a straightening spray chances are you’re exposing yourself and those around you to formaldehyde. Cyclopentasiloxane, a chemical that emits formaldehyde at high heat, is a common ingredient found in flat iron sprays (also called thermal protection sprays).

In case you’re wondering, there’s less formaldehyde released from the “formaldehyde-free” products, but remember there’s no safe level of formaldehyde.

Here’s what you can do (thanks to Women’s Voices for the Earth for these great tips!):

Read labels! If you’re straightening your hair either at a salon or at home avoid heating products containing these chemicals:

  • glyoxylic acid
  • glyoxyloyl carbocysteine
  • cyclopentasiloxane
  • dimethicone
  • phenyl trimethicone

Take action!

  • Tell the FDA to put an end to Toxic Brazilian Blowouts & Ban Formaldehyde in Cosmetics HERE

Do you straighten your hair? What products do you use?

March 30th, 2016

Is BPA In Your Food Cans? New Report Says Yes!

Is BPA In Your Food Cans? New Report Says Yes!

There’s some bad news for those of us who thought BPA was a thing of the past.

A new report released today tested nearly 200 food can linings for the toxic chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA) and found that two out of three cans tested have the chemical in the lining. The report took a look at cans of vegetables, fruits, soups, broth, gravy, milks and beans from Campbell’s, Del Monte, General Mills, Kroger, Albertsons and more.

BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that negatively impacts our hormonal systems. It can also contribute to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, type-2 diabetes, obesity, asthma and attention deficit disorder. Other studies have shown that BPA can migrate into food and then into people, raising concerns about low dose exposure.

For the first time ever, this report also took a look at the replacement materials for BPA in can linings, and to what extent their safety has been studied.

Here are some of the report findings:

  • 100 percent of Campbell’s products sampled (15 of 15) contained BPA-based epoxy, while the company says they are making significant progress in its transition away from BPA.
  • 71 percent of sample Del Monte cans (10 of 14) tested positive for BPA-based epoxy resins.
  • 50 percent of sampled General Mills cans (six of 12, including Progresso) tested positive for BPA.
  • BPA was found in private-label cans sold at both Target and Walmart, the largest grocery retailer in the United States. In their private label products, 100 percent of Target cans sampled (five out of five) and 88 percent of Walmart cans sampled (seven out of eight) tested positive for BPA-based epoxy resins.

Some good news:

  • On the positive side, Amy’s Kitchen, Annie’s Homegrown (recently acquired by General Mills), Hain Celestial Group, and ConAgra have fully transitioned away from BPA and have disclosed the BPA alternatives they’re using. Eden Foods reported eliminating the use of BPA-based epoxy liners in 95 percent of its canned foods and stated that it is actively looking for alternatives. Whole Foods has clearly adopted the strongest policy of the retailers surveyed in the report. Whole Foods reports that store brand buyers are not currently accepting any new canned items with BPA in the lining material.
  • Upon learning about this report, Campbell Soup Company  agreed to switch to all BPA-Free packaging by 2017. While this is a step in the right direction we still don’t know what they’ll be using as a replacement liner. BPA-free isn’t enough.

What about the BPA alternatives?

The report found that retailers and brands that are phasing out BPA could be replacing it with substitutes that are just as toxic, if not worse. Unfortunately not much is known about the safety of these substitutes. Some of the retailers were lining the cans with a PVC-based copolymer that is made from a known human carcinogen. I think we can all agree that known and possible cancer causing materials don’t belong in a can liner that comes in contact with our food.

What can you do?

  • Consumers should choose fresh or frozen foods, or only purchase canned food from manufacturers and retailers that fully disclose the identity and safety of their can linings. Look for food packaged in other materials such as glass and Tetra Pak containers.
  • Demand that national brands, grocery stores, big box retailers and dollar stores eliminate and safely substitute BPA from all food packaging and label all chemicals used in can liners.
  • Join the national online campaign calling on Kroger and Campbell’s to eliminate and safely substitute BPA.

Campbell Soup Company’s decision to switch to all BPA-Free packaging by 2017 is a step in the right direction. Hopefully other canned food retailers will follow their lead.

The question now becomes what will they switch to and will it be safer than BPA? 

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.



March 8th, 2016

It Can Be Done! Bringing Safe Deodorant to Students

It Can Be Done! Bringing Safe Deodorant to Students

This is a story about deodorant.

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that one of my favorite sayings is “Together we can change the world“.

I’ve seen it happen over and over.

Here’s yet another example of how a small change can have a big impact-and the starring community in this story is none other than my very own.

Bringing Safe Deodorant Into the Schools

Here’s the back story.

In 5th grade all students in our community have the opportunity to watch a “puberty movie”. It’s a right of passage throughout our country for many kids about to reach puberty. The film talks about what to expect as they approach puberty. I’ve never had a problem with the content shared with the kids. It’s age appropriate and reinforces the information that they’re (hopefully) receiving at home.

Throughout the video there is mention that kids this age should start wearing deodorant. There was also mention of using an antiperspirant, which is not safe for any age.

Each of my sons walked away from that 18 minute video with one piece of information. They needed to start wearing deodorant immediately. They even came home with a sample to test out.

The sample was a conventional deodorant filled with all sorts of ingredients that I really didn’t want under their arms.

I wrote about my concerns. Twice. Which prompted discussions with the principal, community members and the PTA.

For many years the state was supplying samples of deodorant for the kids. And then there were budget cuts. After a tremendous effort was made by the PTA it turned out that the cost of supplying a safe, non-toxic, deodorant sample to the entire student population was cost prohibitive. As most of us know, the safer deodorants tend to be more pricey than the conventional deodorants and antiperspirants and many don’t come in sample size.

But the PTA didn’t give up. One of the board members graciously reached out to a contact at one of my favorites-Tom’s of Maine– and they agreed to help out and share their new Tom’s of Maine Wicked Cool! Boys and Girls Deodorants with our 5th graders!

This deodorant doesn’t contain aluminum, parabens, artificial fragrances, colors or preservatives. I couldn’t think of a better product to introduce young children to their first dose of deodorant.

As many of you know, I’ve been working with Tom’s of Maine as a brand ambassador and part of their Goodness Circle for the past two years. I love this company for so many reasons and the list just got longer.

Big shout-out to all the parent volunteers who made this happen and for Tom’s of Maine who was willing to invest in a group of kids. Many times that first sample is what they’ll end up using for many years to come. It’s nice to know that their first exposure to deodorant will be safe.

If you’re looking to find this deodorant, specifically made for teens, you can find it online or at your local Target.

Check out my list of safe deodorants for teens and tweens HERE.

Does your 5th graders watch the “puberty movie”? Do they come home with samples? I would love to hear about it.

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: Here they come!!!! via photopin (license)

February 22nd, 2016

Is There Asbestos In Your Child’s School?

Is There Asbestos In Your Child's School

This post about was originally published at Moms Clean Air Force

Do you know if your child’s school building has asbestos?

When we send our children off to school each morning there’s an underlying assumption that they are headed to a safe and healthy environment for learning. Unfortunately that’s not always the case.

Asbestos, an issue that many of us thought to be resolved, continues to plague schools and pose a health threat in classrooms throughout the country.

If a school was built before the 1980s, it’s likely that it contains some form of asbestos. During that time it was used throughout schools for everything ranging from insulation, pipe wrap, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, coatings, roof shingles and drywall. It was also used as table tops, theater fire curtains, and backing on chalk boards. It still exists in many of our schools and continues to pose a significant public health threat.

Asbestos isn’t harmful unless it’s disturbed (through routine repairs or renovations) or starts to deteriorate. Once this happens the dust enters the air and can be inhaled by students, teachers and other school employees. Those exposed to the asbestos dust are at an increased risk for mesothelioma, lung cancer and other lung ailments.

The Environmental Protection Agency “… has determined that exposure to asbestos in school buildings poses a significant hazard to public health. Exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to serious and irreversible diseases.” It is a known human carcinogen and its negative health effects can continue even after the exposure has stopped.

Asbestos is responsible for 12,000-15,000 deaths in the United States each year. Although it is banned in 54 countries, it has not been banned in the US.

There is no safe level of exposure.

Is there a connection between asbestos and asthma?

Asbestos is considered an indoor air pollutant and also a human carcinogen. Indoor air pollutants are known to be environmental factors that trigger asthma symptoms.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing. An average of one out of every 10 school-aged children has asthma, the most common chronic disease of childhood. Asthma is generally caused by a combination of genetics and environmental factors.

An asthma attack can occur when someone with asthma is exposed to and asthma trigger such as such as cigarette smoke, dust mites, car exhaust or smog. While there is no definitive correlation between asthma and asbestos exposure, it’s impossible to rule out that it could trigger asthma-like symptoms.

What’s being done about asbestos is schools?

In 1986 legislators enacted the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) to require public school districts and non-profit schools including charter schools and schools affiliated with religious institutions to:

  • Inspect their schools for asbestos-containing building material
  • Prepare management plans and to take action to prevent or reduce hazards

A recent report  published by United States Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) determined that the passage of AHERA in 1986 has done little to protect our children from the asbestos issue still prevalent in our schools.

In March of 2015 Senators Markey and Boxer sent letters to the governors of all 50 states to ask whether they’ve been implementing and enforcing AHERA.  They received responses from only 20 of the 50 states. Their findings indicated that states are not in compliance with the inspections required by AHERA and asbestos issues continue to trouble many of our country’s aging schools.

The failure of 30 states to respond and the ambiguity in the responses from the states that did respond prompted the Senators to propose a set of recommendations to strengthen AHERA and to raise awareness about the large problem in the United States.

“The public deserves access to information about where asbestos can be found in products, school buildings, and elsewhere to empower the public to avoid preventable asbestos exposures.”

Their recommendation is to amend The Asbestos Information Act of 1988 (which required a one-time publication of asbestos-containing products) to provide consumers with access to current information about asbestos-containing products. They also propose strengthening the original AHERA and make funds available for AHERA enforcement.

This is progress, but we have a long way to go before our schools are safe for our children and school employees. We can do better. We have to do better.

Do you know if there’s asbestos in your child’s school? 

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: SAKURAKO – Entrance ceremony. [Explored] via photopin (license)

February 9th, 2016

Mars to Remove Artificial Food Colors from M&Ms and More

Mars to Remove Artificial Food Dye from M&Ms and More Groovy Green Livin

Big news! Mars, Inc. recently announced that it will remove synthetic food dyes from its entire human food portfolio. Not only is this a step in the right direction, but Mars, Inc. has taken the lead on something that many of us have been fighting for over the past few years. Along with this monumental decision comes the hope that others in the food industry will recognize the need for change and follow along.

Mars, Inc. is the maker of M & M’s, Skittles, and many other food products.

According to Mars:

“Mars, Incorporated….will remove all artificial colors from its human food products as part of a commitment to meet evolving consumer preferences….Products across the range of the company’s chocolate, gum, confection, food and drink businesses will be affected by the change, which will take place incrementally over the next five years.

A big shout out to Mars, Inc. for listening to the concerns of consumers (spearheaded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest). For years we’ve been worried that artificial food dyes are many times made from petroleum and possess a “rainbow of risks to children.” Those risks include hyperactivity in children, cancer (in animal studies), and allergic reactions. We’ve been saying for years that adding artificial food coloring serves no nutritional purpose. It’s sole purpose is cosmetic, making the food more appealing and marketable to kids. Not cool.

There’s no question that this is a huge advance for parents and children. I’m all for companies taking steps in the right direction. Every small (or large) step helps to make the world a bit safer for everyone.

Here’s the crazy part that I’m really having a hard time understanding.

Many candy companies in the U.S. (including Mars, Inc.!) have used artificial food coloring for the candy they sell and distribute in the United States, but that same candy sold in Europe gets its coloring from natural sources. Food and other products containing artificial food coloring and sold is Europe would have a warning label in that would say:  “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” We have no warning label in the US.

This is not a new issue. Mars, Inc. UK removed artificial food dyes in 2006. But Mars, Inc. has continued to use artificial food coloring in the US for 10 years!

Kudos to Mars, Inc. for FINALLY removing artificial food coloring from their US products.

But now the real question is why will it take 5 years to phase out the use of synthetic food dyes? There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Mars, Inc. is clearly able to remove dangerous artificial food dyes from their products and has done so in other countries, yet for some reason the process will take 5 years to implement in America.

That’s 5 more years of our children being exposed to the dangers of synthetic food dyes.

Also, it’s important to point out that this decision is only regarding colors, not artificial flavors. We still have some work to do!

What do you think about the Mars, Inc. decision to remove artificial food coloring from its entire human food portfolio?  

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: Forever M&Ms via photopin (license)


About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

Lori on ABC World News

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