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Archive for Green Advocacy

September 21st, 2014

Why This Mom Cares About the Climate Crisis

Groovy Green Livin People's Climate March

This post was originally published in The Huffington Post

Although I live only a few short hours from New York City, a trip to New York this weekend just isn’t in the cards. I’ll be sticking close to Boston as thousands of people join forces for The People’s Climate March this Sunday, September 21st. It’s being dubbed the “largest climate march in history” by organizers, and has the potential to draw hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of New York City.

Unfortunately I won’t be one of them. Like many, I want to be there, but for one reason or another can’t make it happen. Thankfully, we are so fortunate to live in a world where we no longer have to be physically present to have a big impact. The internet and technology make all of this possible. So on Sunday, while so many amazing people find themselves physically marching in support of a climate crisis I so desperately want to stop, I’ll be following along, sharing and adding to the experience virtually.

Why I Care About the Climate Crisis

My family is unique and yet like so many other families. Every day I celebrate my three boys, since without them I couldn’t wear my treasured “mother” hat.  Creating our family didn’t come easily.  We were forced, as many are, to place a tremendous amount of thought into whether or not we wanted to bring children into this world. Infertility will do that to you. We made a conscious decision to start a family and found our way through both adoption and natural childbirth.

Now here we are-14, 12 and 10 years after making that difficult decision to bring life into this world. A world in which my boys will soon inherit along with a climate that’s spiraling out of control right before our very eyes.

It is implausible to imagine saddling the children of today with the world as it presently exists. Something must be done to repair our planet, and it must be done quickly.

As people flood the streets of New York City this Sunday, September 21st,  for the People’s Climate March I’ll be marching along in spirit, doing my part from afar to show I care deeply about this issue (these are things you can do too).

  • I’ll use my voice on social media to share information and spread the words of the march participants, using the hashtag #PeoplesClimate.
  • I’ll continue writing about the climate crisis we’re all facing.
  • I’ll share photos and create banners with the words: ‘Action, Not Words: …..!’ (add your local, national, or regional demand in dotted area at the end). Photos can be submitted by social media share using #peoplesclimate hashtag or check this link.
  • I’ll continue to talk, create discussion and share perspective with friends, neighbors and colleagues on the issues surrounding climate change.

My boys are starting to understand the complexities of our world, but they are too young to have a voice-or a voice that will be heard and make an impact. As parents it is our job to advocate for our children and protect them from injustice. The People’s Climate March is a perfect opportunity to be a voice among many, stepping up to the plate to make the world a better place for us all.

Will you join me?

photo credit: f_lynx via photopin cc

 

September 9th, 2014

The Truth About Candy Sold in America

Groovy Green Livin Candy

 

Wondering why the candy in America might seem just a bit brighter in color than it’s sweet cousin in Europe? The answer might surprise you.  Many candy companies in the US use 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.

I have to admit, peanut M&M’s are my weakness. Especially frozen. But after looking at the long list of artificial food dyes in those delicious candies I’m ready to take my indulgence elsewhere: COLORING (INCLUDES BLUE 1 LAKE, RED 40, YELLOW 6, YELLOW 5, BLUE 1, RED 40 LAKE, BLUE 2 LAKE, YELLOW 6 LAKE, YELLOW 5 LAKE, BLUE 2).

You won’t find those color additives in European M&M’s.

Why are companies selling safer candy in Europe than they are in the US?

According to Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of The Center for Science in the Public Interest:

“There’s been evidence for almost 40 years that food dyes trigger hyperactivity or inattention in children. About six years ago, the British government sponsored studies that found exactly that, so they urged food companies in Britain to replace synthetic dyes with natural colorings or no added colorings, and many British companies switched over. And then the European Union passed a law requiring that any food that contained the dyes used in those two British studies would have to put a warning notice on, warning consumers that the dyes might trigger hyperactivity. And so with the threat of a warning label, it’s really hard to find these synthetic dyes.”

Here’s what a warning label in Europe would say:  “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” We have no such warning label in the US.

What’s shocking to me is that these companies are clearly able to remove dangerous artificial food dyes from their products and have done so in other countries, yet they’re not willing to remove them from products sold in America. What does this say about how they value the lives of American children?

The FDA isn’t helping either. They continue to take the position that more research is needed before they make any decisions about artificial food dyes.

What you can do

  • READ LABELS: In America all food labels must spell out which artificial food dyes are used in a product. If you see ingredients such as Red 40, Yellow 6 and Blue 1 (or any other color with a number after it) steer clear. Read your labels very carefully so you can make an educated decision about the food you buy. 
  • SUPPORT COMPANIES that don’t use artificial food dye. Let your dollars do the talking!
  • SIGN THIS PETITION on Change.org asking Mars, the maker of M&M’s candies, to stop coloring its products with petroleum-based artificial food dyes.

How do you feel about companies selling products in America with harmful ingredients that they’ve voluntarily removed in other countries? 

 


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: SlipStreamJC via photopin cc

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 HealthyStuff.org 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

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I continue on my journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I just might stop to make some noise about issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I fight for a safer world for all of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes in your life can lead to a non-toxic, healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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Lori on ABC World News

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