Archive for Healthy Choices

February 1st, 2016

Personal Care Products: An Honest Look at What’s in My Shower

Personal Care Products What's in My Shower Groovy Green Livin

Over the years I’ve been asked many times about which personal care products I use. As a fun way to share, I thought I would give you a sneak peek into some of the products currently in my shower.

We all know the personal care products marketplace is constantly changing and the marketplace is extremely confusing for consumers. Finding safe, non-toxic products that work isn’t always easy. The government does no safety testing of products or their ingredients, nor does it approve new products before they’re placed on the shelves in our stores.

If we want safe products we’re forced to become experts by doing extensive research before investing in a product.

I’ve spent some time researching safer products and shared a few of my favorite green beauty products, shampoos, body lotions, nail polish and lipstick. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of what other trusted sources are using. Micaela over at Mindful Momma shared her favorite creamy facial cleansers.  Lindsay from LindsayDahl.com shared some of her finds for safe and effective exfoliators for face and body.

Non-toxic personal care products are constantly evolving, and ingredients are always changing. Part of my job is to test out new and improved personal care products and let you know about them.

My overall advice when making the switch to safer personal care products is to replace products you’re currently using with a safer version as they run out. Take the time to educate yourself and to do the research, then make the switch.

And here’s that sneak peek into my shower for that rare opportunity to check out the personal care products I’m currently using.

Personal care products on the top shelf in my shower

Personal Care Products: What's in My Shower

Avalon Organics Cream Shave ($8)

We’ve been using this for many years. As you can see from the photo, we need to replace it. Maybe we’ll make the switch to something different. I always use the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database as a starting point for determining whether or not something’s safe. Avalon Organics Cream Shave received a 3 out of 10 (on a scale of 0-10 for low to high risk), which reflects a few questionable ingredients.

Tom’s of Maine Lightly Scented Baby Shampoo and Wash ($9)

Even though this is “baby” shampoo and wash our entire family uses it. It’s great for sensitive skin and is made without artificial ingredients found in most conventional body washes. It fared just OK on EWG’s Skin Deep site, receiving a 4 out of 10 with the concern focused on the added fragrance.

Acure Organics Conditioner ($19)

I’ve been using this along with the Acure Organics Shampoo for quite a while. I really love them both. I visited the company website and liked what I saw. Their mission is to create high quality skin care products made from the purest, fair trade, natural and certified organic ingredients. The smell is interesting (can’t quite place my finger on what it is) and mild. The Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database has rated this product a 3 (on a scale of 0-10 for low to high risk). 

Bella Organics Refreshing Jasmine Facial Cleanser  ($38)

I’m hooked on this foaming facial wash, made with a variety of organic oils and peppermint. It’s a bit pricey, but a little bit goes a long way.

And on the lower shelf in my shower.

Personal Care Products: An Honest Look at What's in My Shower

Acure Organics Shampoo ($8)

I recently spotted Acure Organics Shampoo on the shelf at my local Whole Foods Market and decided to give it a try. The shampoo makes me hair feel silky and soft. The Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database has rated this product a 1 (on a scale of 0-10 for low to high risk). 

Juice Beauty Green Apple Brightening Gel Cleanser ($43)

Another pricey product, but it’s one that’s well loved and always in the shower. It really makes my skin feel clean and fresh. I love that it’s formulated without parabens, petroleum, propylene or butylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfates, pesticides, phthalates, artificial dyes or synthetic fragrances. Juice Beauty never tests their products on animals.

Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Castile Soap Bar ($8)

I’m hooked on this soap. It doesn’t have an overpowering scent and does the job. It’s made from certified organic ingredients. The packaging is bio-degradable and there’s no animal testing. Great bar of soap. Buy the 6 pack for a big discount (6 for $26).

What’s your favorite personal care product in your shower? I’d love to hear what you use and love. 


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April 13th, 2015

5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Month

5 Ways to Celebrate Earth MonthApril is officially Earth Month, but why not make every month Earth Month?

This years Earth Month theme is “Our Planet In Peril”. There are so many important issues plaguing our global environment, including climate change and air pollution. It’s time to step it up and for each of us to make conscious changes that will ultimately have a big impact on our planet.

Let’s focus on the earth every day together. Here are a few ideas to help you get started during Earth Month.

Remember Those Reusable Bags

I’m still working on this one, but I’ve come a long way.  I try to keep several reusable bags on the passenger side of the car so I have easy access. I also keep smaller bags with me for trips to the pharmacy, bookstore or any other store.

Take a Waste-Free Lunch to School

Children’s lunches create more than 3.5 billion pounds of garbage each year, which amounts to a crazy 18,760 pounds of trash annually from an average sized elementary school. That’s a lot of waste. Making a lunch box zero-waste through the use of reusable products will minimize the amount of garbage kids create through their school lunch. Check out some of my favorite waste-free lunch gear HERE.

Recycle Your Waste

It’s easy! Tom’s of Maine has partnered with TerraCycle®to provide a second life for empty and used toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, floss containers, mouthwash bottles, soap packaging, and antiperspirant and deodorant containers. They can be any brand. For information on how to join this free program click HERE. In 2014, volunteers kept 11,000 pounds of personal care packaging out of landfills. Big kudos to Tom’s of Maine, who gives 10% of their profits back to helping people and the planet.

Walk, Bike or Skateboard to School Instead of Driving

Now that the weather has finally warmed up we’re going to try to take advantage of the nice days by cycling to school as much as we can. This is a tough one for us since much of the path to school doesn’t have a sidewalk, but we’re giving it a try! It’s a great way to get some exercise before having to sit in a classroom all day. It’s also a great way to help improve air quality – less cars on the road emitting toxic chemicals into the environment.

Make Every Day Earth Day

How are your joining in the Earth Month fun this April…..and every day?


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Disclaimer: I work in partnership with Tom’s of Maine as a Goodness Circle Blogger and I am compensated for my work and receive products to test . The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. 

 

photo credit: isaac and aaron bike to school via photopin (license)

October 28th, 2014

Find Out What’s Really In Your Food With a New App

Groovy Green Livin food app

We all know how confusing and time consuming it can be at the supermarket when we’re on a quest to find  healthy, non-toxic food for our families. Going aisle to aisle reading labels and deciphering ingredients is an ongoing challenge for many of us.

Well get ready-there’s some exciting news on the food front!

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) just released Food Scores: Rate Your Plate, an easy-to-use food database and mobile app that will rate over 80,000 foods from about 1,500 brands in a simple, searchable, online format.

This scoring system factors in not only nutrition, but also ingredients of concern, such as food additives, and contaminants. It also estimates the degree to which foods have been processed.

EWG’s Food Scores is hoping to guide people to greener, healthier, and cleaner food choices. Users can find an overall score, from 1 (best) to 10 (worst), for every product in the food database.EWG’s product profiles include highly detailed information on how each food stacks up in terms of nutritional content and whether they contain questionable additives, such as nitrites or potassium bromate, or harmful contaminants, such as arsenic and mercury, and which foods have the lowest and highest processing concerns. They also identify meat and dairy products that are likely produced with antibiotics and hormones and highlight the fruits and vegetables that are likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues.

The food database also has a unique, interactive function that allows users to customize each product’s Nutrition Facts panel by their age, gender, and life stage, including pregnancy. Users can also limit their searches to find only certified organic, GMO-free, or gluten-free foods.

EWG also released its first full analysis of the more than 80,000 foods in the database. It represents a snapshot of products that carry a barcode in a typical grocery store, from bagged spinach to yogurt to tortilla chips. Overall, EWG found that only about 18 percent of products scored best (1-3.5), 57 percent scored in the middle range (4-7), and 25 percent scored worst (8-10).

While we know that Americans are eating too much sugar, EWG’s analysis shows how truly ubiquitous added sugar is across supermarket shelves. Nearly 60 percent of the foods in EWG’s database contain at least one form of added sugar, and in some food categories added sugar is shockingly pervasive. For example, EWG found that 92 percent of granola and trail mix bars in the database contain added sugars. In some cases, almost a third of the bar’s weight is sugar.

Other food categories with surprisingly high percentages of added sugar include stuffing mixes (100 percent), stuffing (96 percent), deli meats (74-98 percent, depending on type), salad dressings (86 percent), peanut and other nut butters (68 percent), and crackers (63 percent).

“We developed EWG’s Food Scores in recognition of two trends,” said Ken Cook, EWG’s president and cofounder. “First, Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about excessive amounts of sugar, salt, fat and other unhealthy ingredients in supermarket food. Second, they no longer trust big food companies or popular brands to put health before profits, not even the health of our kids. With EWG’s Food Scores, shoppers can quickly see what food companies are really putting into their food.”

EWG’s Food Scores is built on data gathered by LabelINSIGHT®, an independent product label database and analysis platform, which provides details on packaged foods that carry a barcode.

EWG’s Food Scores is available as a free mobile app for iPhone users. Click here to download the app. With the app, consumers are able to scan barcodes of products with their smartphones to get rating information while they are grocery shopping. They are able to compare a product’s score to that of similar products, right at their fingertips, and find comparable products with better scores.

“Whether they’re making a shopping list or using a smartphone to scan items in the store, EWG’s Food Scores will empower people to shop for healthier products and reward the companies that make them,” added Cook. “We feel confident that this tool will drive the marketplace towards greener, simpler and healthier products, just as hundreds of millions of product searches in EWG’s Skin Deep database have changed the market for cosmetics and personal care products.”

 My Thoughts

A big thank you to EWG for working hard on this much needed information. Food Scores: Rate Your Plate, will be a fantastic guide that we can use while shopping for our families. But remember, it’s only a guide. We still need to continue educating ourselves so we can make informed decisions at the market. We need to keep pressing for full transparency from food manufacturers when it comes to GMOs. This database is a great start, but we still have a long way to go.

Have you tried the app? Can’t wait to hear what you think.

photo credit: Brother O’Mara via photopin cc

March 4th, 2014

5 Snack Ideas for a Healthy Lunchbox

Groovy Green Livin Snack

Every lunchbox needs to have a snack or two.

This time of year my kids start to complain about their lunchbox snack selections. They’re getting bored bringing in the same thing every day.

I’m always curious to hear what others are tacking in for a snack. I’ve found that taking my kids to the grocery store with me is always helpful.  When they’re part of the snack selection process they’re more likely to chose healthy snacks that they will eat.

Before the complaining becomes too loud and out of control I thought I would share a few healthy snack options that will hopefully work in your children’s lunchboxes. 

Grape and Pineapple Skewers. This is so simple and fun to make. It’s also easy to swap out the grapes and pineapple for different types of fruit. I would suggest using fruit that will hold together on the stick. Also, pack the snack in a stainless steel container such as a Klean Kanteen Food Canister (affiliate link–>Klean Kanteen Food Canister 16 OZ) or a LunchBots Canister (affiliate link–>LunchBots Stainless Steel Food Container) to prevent leakage and crushed fruit.

Almond Date Balls. These are so simple to make with only 5 ingredients. Have your kids help out too. They’ll be excited to show off their hard work to their friends. Recipe is HERE.

No Bake Granola Bars. Micaela from Mindful Momma has a great recipe for Go Bars in her book, Practically Green (affiliate link–>Practically Green: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making). These are an easy homemade, no-bake granola bar that make a perfect lunchbox snack. Also try this Homemade Chocolate LaraBar Recipe from EcoKaren.

Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups. My kids still love to unroll the entire fruit roll-up and eat the entire thing in about 5 seconds flat. I love this recipe for homemade fruit roll-ups. Such a simple way to add a little fruit to your child’s diet. There’s no processed sugar added, no artificial colors and they taste delicious!

Granola. There is a great recipe in the novel, Julia’s Child (affiliate link–>Julia’s Child). The author, Sarah, explains her reason for making her own granola: I find that many commercial granolas have a lot more sugar than I’d like, and they also tend to taste stale. This recipe makes a big batch, but at our house it only lasts a few days. Enjoy! Sarah also wrote The Ski House Cookbook: Warm Winter Dishes for Cold Weather Fun.

Please share your favorite healthy lunchbox snack! I can always use a little inspiration.

Disclosure: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of this site. Thank you. (Read all the fine print here.)

photo credit: mcdarius via photopin cc>

February 27th, 2012

3 Safe Natural Sweeteners

Organic and Natural sweeteners

 

I know I’m not alone on this one-I have a sweet tooth and it kicks in A LOT.  There’s a reason behind this love of sweets: they make us feel good. The sweet flavors release serotonin in our brains, which creates a feeling of love and well being. It’s nice to have some validation for my love of sweets.

The number of choices out there for sweetening our food or drinks is overwhelming. Artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame, high-fructose corn syrup and Sucralose, have deservedly gotten a bad rap over the years. They are known to cause numerous side-effects ranging from headaches to cancer. Research also suggests that they can actually cause overeating among consumers.

Even natural sweeteners can come with their own baggage. Organic brown rice syrup recently made it into the lime light with findings that it contains arsenic. Agave nectar also came under fire when a report from The Weston A. Price Foundation said that it’s as bad for our bodies as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

With all this negative information looming about so many of the popular sweeteners the question often arises: Is there a safe sweetener choice?

Thankfully there is a way to satisfy our sweet tooth and, if eaten in moderation, our health won’t suffer.

Here are my top three natural sweeteners:

Honey

raw organic honey

Raw, local and organic are the way to go with this natural sweetener. Not only will it sweeten your favorite cookies, it will also help sooth a cough or sore throat.  Honey is often touted for having mega vitamins, minerals, and protein, but I’m not convinced the amount is significant unless you eat honey by the car load (which you shouldn’t do).

Careful when you choose your honey-recent testing by Food Safety News found that more than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly pure honey. The testing showed that pollen had been filtered out of the honey, thereby stripping the honey of all nutritional value and erasing any way to trace where the honey came from. Your best bet for avoiding honey that’s been filtered is to buy honey directly from bee keepers, farmers’ markets and natural food stores.

Date Sugar

Chopped, dried dates are my snack of choice when I’m looking for a sweet fix. Date sugar is made from finely chopped dried dates. It is a natural and non-processed sugar alternative filled with high fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It’s great for baking, but might not work in your hot or cold tea (it doesn’t dissolve very well).

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup

Maple syrup is one of my favorite natural sweeteners. My kids can’t get enough of the stuff on pancakes and French toast. Maple syrup contains fewer calories and a higher concentration of minerals than honey.  The syrup comes directly from the maple tree and is clear when it first comes out. After the tree is tapped the syrup is then boiled to remove the water. The end result is the deep maple syrup color and flavor that most of us are familiar with.  Maple syrup is perfect for baking and sweetening your favorite drink.

When buying maple syrup it’s important to read ingredient labels carefully. Many of the syrups on the market have additional sugar and/or are not pure maple syrup. Buy organic whenever you can. Use it sparingly because organic maple syrup can be quite pricey.

Remember all sugar should be eaten in moderation-sugar is sugar and can be hazardous to our healthy in any form.

What do you use to sweeten your food and drinks?

[Photo used under Creative Commons from D. Sharon Pruitt, Robert Neff and Jim Sorbie/Flickr]

This post is part of Your Green Resource over at Green Backs Gal.

 

 

February 10th, 2012

Groovy Green Friday Round-Up

All you need is love

I hope everyone has had a wonderful week. Valentine’s Day is sneaking up on us and I’m predicting lots of sugary treats in my kid’s futures next week.

There have been a lot of good green happenings on the web this week. Here are a few headlines that caught my attention:

Petition asking Tide to remove a cancer causing chemical from its detergent

A report recently released by Women’s Voices for Earth, Dirty Secrets: What’s Hiding in Your Cleaning Products? found high levels of the cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane in the detergent.

With the help of Healthy Child Healthy World, MomsRising and  Women’s Voices for the Earth I put together a petition asking Procter & Gamble (makers of Tide) to strip this harmful cancer-causing chemical out of Tide Free & Gentle®!

Please join me by signing the petition asking Procter & Gamble to take immediate action to remove 1,4-dioxane from Tide Free & Gentle® and any other Procter & Gamble products.

Lead in your lipstick

lead in lipstickIn 2007 the FDA began testing various lipsticks sold in the United States for lead. After testing over 400 brands, FDA scientists concluded that none of them contained unsafe levels of lead. In December 2011, the FDA updated its tests and posted the results on its website rather quietly. There are now two brands (Maybelline and L’Oreal) with lipsticks above California’s safe standard. These manufactures don’t actually use lead as an ingredient, the lead is considered an impurity. There are safe, non-toxic lipsticks out there. Make sure yours is one of them!

Too much Sodium

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 9 out of 10 Americans eat too much sodium. Surprisingly, they found that bread and rolls were the top culprits rather than salty snacks.

dandelion greenDandelions

Have you ever cooked with dandelions? When the weather warms up there is usually a field of dandelions on my front lawn. Jeff over at Sustainablog shares 7 Recipes for Dandelions. I might have to try a few when the sea of yellow weeds reappears.

A day in the life of an activist

Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of an activist mom fighting for climate change might be like? Harriet from Climate Mama shares a day in her life. I have to admit, I was exhausted just from reading her post.

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to check out my new addiction (maybe yours too?), Pinterest. Come on over and find me!

Have a groovy and green weekend! Any big plans?

[Photos used under creative commons from D. Sharon Pruitt and Vincent van der Heijden/Flickr]

 

January 10th, 2012

Tips for a Green & Healthy Bag Lunch

Reusable green lunch

It’s been a long haul, but after 8 plus years our kids are finally on semi auto-pilot in the morning. There are still a few pieces of our morning routine where guidance is needed, but our three boys make a good effort to independently get their “jobs” done.

One of those morning jobs is packing their own lunch for school. This is by far the most time consuming task in the morning. I’ve tried coaxing them into packing it at night, but it just doesn’t work. So morning it is.

It’s not pretty in our kitchen when the lunch packing begins. It truly looks like a tornado came through and tossed food all over the counters and floor. But it’s worth it. Through making their own lunch they are beginning to understand what a green and healthy lunch looks like.

Reusable lunch bagWhat is a green lunch?

Waste free

Children’s lunches create more than 3.5 billion pounds of garbage each year, which amounts to a crazy 18,760 pounds of trash annually from an average sized elementary school. That’s a lot of waste.

Every since my kids have been in school we have focused on making their lunches as waste free as possible.We have a few reusable lunch bags -each child has their own assigned color. When buying their lunch bags I wanted to be sure that their food wouldn’t come in contact with any unsafe materials or chemicals. Their reusable lunch bagsare:

If you pull apart a typical lunch box you will find a sandwich in a plastic baggie, all sorts of individually wrapped snacks, possibly some fruit and a drink container.  Once lunch is over the wrappers from each of these items makes its way into the garbage can.

Making a lunch box zero-waste through the use of reusable products will minimize the amount of garbage kids create through their school lunch.

Here are some of my favorite eco-friendly reusable lunch box products. I also make sure to pack a reusable napkin, which occasionally gets tossed and doesn’t make it home.

What’s in our green and healthy lunch bag?

healthy green lunchI wish I could say our lunches are creative and exciting, but they’re really not. My kids tend to be creatures of habit and really don’t like to mix it up much. There are a few staples that end up in their lunches on a daily basis.

  • Fresh, organic fruit. My oldest likes watermelon and my youngest likes oranges, bananas and clementines.
  • Cut up, unpeeled carrots.
  • Healthy snacks.
  • A roasted turkey sandwich on an organic, whole wheat wrap.
  • The occasional treat (sometimes not so green and healthy).
  • Water in a stainless steel, reusable water bottle. Klean Kanteen
    is my reusable bottle of choice.

Green lunch bag tips

  • Make healthy choices when it comes to snacks and treats.
  • Don’t buy individually packaged snacks i.e. fruit cups, single serving cookies, chips and crackers. There is a lot of wasted packaging and the cost per item is much more expensive than buying in bulk.
  • We try to buy organic when we can. Remember Organic doesn’t always mean healthy. There are organic foods out there that that are processed, contain lots of sugar and are unhealthy.  Reading food labels is a must.  Also, be wary of long lists of ingredients that you don’t recognize.
  • Be prepared to lose a few items. I try to label everything with a sharpie. Until your children are used to their new green lunch box, there will be a few reusables that don’t make it home.

What goes in your green and healthy lunch bag?

There are a few affiliate links in this post. If you use them a few pennies will go in my pocket. Thanks!

[Photo used under Creative Commons from avilasal/Flickr]

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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.

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