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Archive for Healthy Living

June 8th, 2017

How to Prepare Your Child for Overnight Camp

How to Prepare Your Child for Overnight Camp Groovy Green Livin

Overnight camps throughout the country will start over the next few weeks. Both my husband and I went to sleepaway camp and we have successfully passed this tradition on to our own children. The reasons why I love sending my kids to camp is long but allowing a child to develop “broadly as a human being” tops the list.

Getting your kids to go to an overnight camp isn’t always easy. For a child who’s a homebody, the thought of leaving for weeks can be overwhelming and anxiety provoking. Especially when you break the news to them that their 4-8 weeks will be spent without technology. Yes, that means no cell phone for 4 weeks! As a parent, this is truly a highlight.

For some children, this will be their first adventure away from home and for others, this is an annual experience.

Here are a few tips from a seasoned overnight camp family to help prepare your child for their sleepaway adventure.

Visit the camp

Most camps have a visiting day before the official start day. If you can arrange some time to visit the camp your child will have an opportunity to check out the camp before they move in for a few weeks. Seeing the camp will help ease anxiety and remove some of the unknowns.

Pack together

Our camp sends out a detailed list of what the kids need to bring. We have learned to follow the list but remove items that are never used. For example, the list suggests rain boots. My kids have never worn rain boots and this is a heavy item to include in the duffel bag if they’re not going to wear them.

Involve your children in the packing process. Let them label their clothing and pick out their shirts, shorts, and bedding. Use their age as a guide for how much or how little control you can hand over.

Having your child participate in the packing is crucial. They begin to come to terms with going to camp. It becomes real. They also need to know what they’re bringing with them. My sons were very excited while we were packing together once they saw all of the ‘fun’ equipment being packed into the bag. We packed a fancy flashlight, a fan with a water mister, an organizer to hang on the bunk and other camp necessities.

Talk about homesickness

Before you child heads off to camp take the time to talk about feeling homesick. Almost every child misses home at some point over the summer. It can be devastating to receive a letter from your child letting you know that they are miserable and want to come home now. If you do receive one of those letters don’t hesitate to reach out to the camp to let them know. Generally, those feelings turn around pretty quickly and the next letter will let you know that camp is amazing.

Listen

Anxiety about camp can show up at unexpected times and in unexpected ways. If your child is acting out or acting differently it could be a sign that they’re anxious about camp. Take the time to listen to your children and help them find strategies to work through any concerns prior to their departure.

Other articles to help prepare your child for summer camp:

How do you prepare your child for overnight camp?


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


 

June 1st, 2017

Safer Spray Sunscreens for Kids, Teens and Adults in 2017

Safer Spray Sunscreens for Kids, Teens and Adults in 2017 Groovy Green LivinFor years I’ve been trying to persuade my kids to use anything but spray sunscreens.

The problem is getting kids (especially teens) to actually use sunscreen. We all know it’s all about the convenience and finding a brand that blends into your skin.

Every summer I test out non-toxic sunscreens and put together my list of favorite safer sunscreens. I’ve even put together a list of sunscreens that don’t leave a film of white paste behind. The good news is that there are plenty of safer sunscreens to choose from. But they’re almost always a lotion, not a spray.

There’s no denying that despite their convenience, spray sunscreens pose an inhalation risk and may not fully cover your skin (it’s easy to miss a spot). But with some kids and teens we have to pick our battles. Safer spray sunscreens could be the only way to go if we want them to protect their skin from the sun.

If you’re hunting for the safest spray sunscreens here are a few family favorites.

Goddess Garden Organics Kids Sport Spray Sunscreen ($13 for 6 oz)

Safer Spray Sunscreens for Kids, Teens and Adults in 2017 Groovy Green LivinGoddess Garden Organics Kids Sport Spray Sunscreen is our sunscreen of choice for camp this summer. The ingredients are safe and it doesn’t go on thick and white. I love that it comes in a pump bottle and a spray. More good news, the spray isn’t an aerosol spray.

All Good Sport Sunscreen Spray ($27 for 6 oz)

Safer Spray Sunscreens for Kids, Teens and Adults in 2017 Groovy Green LivinI’m pretty excited about All Good Sport Spray. There are so many positives including that it’s non-aerosol and uses non-nano zinc. The spray isn’t greasy and doesn’t leave a white, sticky film on your skin. It’s pretty pricey, but a little goes a long way. They also have a kid’s spray which is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Both sprays are non-aerosol.

Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen Spray ($15 for 6 oz)

Safer Spray Sunscreens for Kids, Teens and Adults in 2017 Groovy Green LivinBabo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen Spray is made from zinc, is fragrance-free sunscreen and is perfect for extra sensitive skin. It is water and sweat resistant for up to 80 minutes.  After applying you do need to rub in the sunscreen. As with all zinc spray sunscreens, it’s important to shake them before application.

All Terrain KidSport SPF30 Oxybenzone-Free Natural Sunscreen Spray ($11 for 3 oz)

Safer Spray Sunscreens for Kids, Teens and Adults in 2017 Groovy Green Livin
The All Terrain KidSport SPF30 Natural Sunscreen Spray is more of a pump sunscreen than a spray. I really like that it’s non-whitening, non-greasy, fragrance-free and won’t cause eye sting so it is great for kids (and adults!) with sensitive skin. Reading through the reviews, several customers had trouble with the spray nozzle clogging. Running the nozzle under hot water could help.

If you’re going to make the switch to spray sunscreen make sure you never spray sunscreen around your face or mouth. When applying spray sunscreens on children, pay attention to the wind and spray in a direction that won’t blow into their faces. Lower your inhalation risk by applying it on your hands and then wiping it on your face. All zinc sunscreen sprays should be shaken well before applying.

Do you have any favorite safer spray sunscreens?


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.


 Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links meaning,at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support! 

Safer Spray Sunscreens for Kids, Teens and Adults in 2017 Groovy Green Livin #sunscreen

May 25th, 2017

What to Bring to Summer Camp

Every morning one of my kids makes the countdown announcement: “Only ten more days until summer!” We still have a few more weeks of school here in the Northeast, but summer vacation is right around the corner. And everyone’s ready.

Once school winds down preparations for summer camp kick in. Woo hoo! I have such amazing memories of sleepaway camp. I secretly wish I was going too.

Over the years we’ve created an ongoing list of personal care products that my kids like AND use at camp. There are a few products that seem to work well year after year so we continue to use them. The list has been expanded to include a few newer products that look great on paper but still need to pass the kid test (come home used and loved).

Here are a few of our favorite summer camp suggestions

SHAMPOO: Acure Organics ($8)

summer camp Groovy Green LivinWe’ve been using Acure Organics Shampoo for a few years and everyone seems to love it. It comes in a flexible container which makes it easier to pack for summer camp.

Summer Camp Groovy Green LivinBUG REPELLENT: Kosmatology Bug Repellent Skin Balm ($8)

This year we’re trying Kosmatology DEET-Free Bug Repellent. I like that it comes in a stick, making it easy for the kids to apply on their own or carry in their pocket. I was recently introduced to Kosmotology and I’m really liking their products so far. They also have a hand sanitizer made with organic ingredients that we’ll be sending along.

Kosmatology DEET-Free Bug Repellent contains a mixture of organic herbs and essential oils which all have been shown to repel insects the natural way without the use of DEET. Seeing the MADE SAFE certification on the bug repellent was reassuring. MADE SAFE is America’s first nontoxic seal for products we use every day, from baby to personal care to household and beyond. They certify that products are made with safe ingredients not known or suspected to harm human health.

SUNSCREEN: Goddess Garden Organics Kids Sport Spray Sunscreen ($13)

summer camp Groovy Green Livin I’m not a fan of spray sunscreens but I’ve added this to the list since it’s the only type of sunscreen my kids will use.

Goddess Garden Kids Natural Sunscreen is our sunscreen of choice for camp this summer. The ingredients are safe and it doesn’t go on thick and white. In addition to the regular tube of sunscreen, it also comes in a pump bottle and a spray bottle.summer camp Groovy Green Livin

DENTAL FLOSS: Desert Essence  Dental Floss ($6)

Everyone should be flossing! Even at summer camp. Brushing your teeth without flossing is like cleaning 70% of your body. Many conventional dental floss brands can contain a Teflon coating, which can be toxic. Desert Essence Dental Floss is a naturally waxed floss that contains no alcohol or artificial detergents, colors or synthetic perfusummer camp Groovy Green Livinmes and no animal ingredients or testing.

SOAP: Dr. Bronner’s Bar Soap ($11 for 2 bars)

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Bar Soaps are biodegradable, vegan, gentle and versatile. They can be used at summer camp as a body wash or for the face and hair!

If you need clothing labels I’ve got you covered!  

Groovy Green Livin Camp Supplies

Everything that goes to camp has to be labeled or it won’t make it home (sometimes it still doesn’t make it home!). I’ve been using Mabel’s Labels for labeling clothing for many years. I’ve tried different brands but they don’t seem to stay on the clothing as well after a few washes.  My favorite labels are the Tag Mates which stick directly onto the clothing tag and don’t come off! This year I decided to get the  Limited Edition Camp Combo Packs which includes a variety of labels.

Do you have any summer camp favorites to add to the list?

My list changes a bit each year. Here are a few summer camp favorites from years past:

May 17th, 2017

Buyer Beware: BPA Could Still Be Lurking in Your Canned Food

Do you eat canned foods? A recent survey found that over half of American families eat canned fruit, vegetables, beans, soups, or meat/fish. About 40% of Americans use canned milk.

If you are one of the millions of Americans who eat canned foods there’s a good chance that you are still being exposed to the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA).

We’ve been hearing about the harmful effects of BPA over the past few years and many of us have been trying to avoid products with this toxic chemical. If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while you know that I’ve been writing about BPA issues for years and was even interviewed by ABC World News about BPA.

Bisphenol A, often called BPA, is one of the most widely used and thoroughly studied toxic chemicals. Overall, progress is being made in reducing the use of BPA in can linings, but more work is needed by the nation’s top retailers to reduce the use of BPA and find safer substitutes.

If you eat canned foods you could be exposed to BPA. Read more here #kickthecan Click To Tweet

Recent testing by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) shows that BPA linings are still found in many brands of these commonly eaten canned food products.

BPA in canned food is harmful

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.

Despite hundreds of scientific studies showing exposure to BPA is linked to significant health concerns – diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer – it is still used in food cans that millions of Americans buy every day. BPA in can linings can migrate into the food stored inside the can and expose us to this toxic chemical.

New report shows BPA continues to be a problem in can linings

A little over a year ago a report was released finding that two out of three cans tested have BPA in the lining. The report took a look at cans of vegetables, fruits, soups, broth, gravy, milk and beans from Campbell’s, Del Monte, General Mills, Kroger, Albertsons and more. As a follow-up, CEH tested cans purchased in 2017 to determine whether can lining materials have changed since 2015.

The testing of more than 250 cans from eleven states shows that nearly 40% of the cans tested contain BPA, a dangerous chemical that is known to cause birth defects and is linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious health problems.

BPA-free could be just as dangerous

There is little publicly available information about the complete list of ingredients used in either BPA-containing linings or alternative linings. PVC is commonly used as an alternative lining and is a plastic made from vinyl chloride, a cancer-causing chemical.

In the testing, 19% of the can linings contained PVC.

  • Albertsons – 17% of the cans tested (12/69) contained PVC.
  • Kroger – 16% of the cans tested (12/73) contained PVC.
  • Dollar Tree –25% of the What you can docans tested (14/55) contain PVC.
  • 99 Cents Only — 17% of the cans tested (9/52) contain PVC

What you can do

  1. Stay away from canned foods when possible and opt for fresh and frozen alternatives.
  2. When purchasing canned food, look for labels that say “BPA-free” and “PVC-free”.
  3. When purchasing canned food, ask your store about BPA-free canned foods. Let your store know that you care about your health and you want only BPA-free products.
  4. Ask Kroger and Albertsons to “mind the store” and do the right thing to safeguard our health and food.

Are you concerned about BPA and BPA alternatives in your canned food? 

Many Canned Foods Still Contain BPA #mindthestore

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


May 11th, 2017

Here’s Why You Should Stop Using Dryer Sheets

Here's why you should stop using dryer sheets Groovy Green LivinWho doesn’t love the smell of clean laundry? When we take our clothing out of a hot dryer there’s an expectation that they’ll smell fresh and clean. That signature scent is usually from the detergent, dryer sheets and other laundry products we’re using.

For many of us, it’s almost second nature to throw a dryer sheet into the dryer with a load of wet laundry. We use them to prevent static cling, provide a fresh scent, and soften clothing. Dryer sheets have been around for a long time. They were originally created by a chemist way back in 1960 and were called “Tumble Puffs”. A few years later the patented formula was sold to Procter & Gamble who marketed the product as Bounce dryer sheets.

The use of conventional dryer sheets may come with a few perks but there’s a dark side: common ingredients in dryer sheets contain harmful chemicals.

What’s in your dryer sheets?

The Environmental Working Group gave Bounce dryer sheets a “D”, which suggests a high concern and a likely hazard to health or the environment.

Did you know that there’s no requirement in the United States for companies to disclose all ingredients in dryer sheets? One of the biggest loopholes is the use of “fragrance” which is generally a cocktail of hundreds of synthetic chemicals that legally don’t need to be disclosed and are protected as a company trade secret. Some of these hidden ingredients are known to trigger allergic reactions and other health issues.

There could be other harmful chemicals hiding in our dryer sheets that can cause a wide array of health issues ranging from skin irritations to cancer. The toxic chemicals leave a residue on our clothing which gives them a prime opportunity to enter our body through our skin.

A University of Washington study of top-selling laundry products, including dryer sheets, found the products emitted dozens of different chemicals. Each product tested gave off at least one chemical regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws, but none of those chemicals was listed on the product labels.

Alternatives to conventional dryer sheets

Ready to give up your addiction to dryer sheets? Don’t worry, you won’t have to give up all the perks. There are a few safer alternatives that do the job.

  • Here's Why You Should Stop Using Dryer Sheets Groovy Green LivinUse dryer balls. I recently started using Molly’s Suds Wool Dryer Balls ($19 for 3). I received a sample at ShiftCon and finally gave them a try. They’re fantastic! No perfumes, no dyes, and each one can last up to 3 years. If you want to infuse your laundry with a safe scent add 2-5 drops of your favorite essential oil directly to the dryer balls.

Here's Why You Should Stop Using Dryer Sheets Groovy Green LivinAnother option is Eco Nuts wool dryer balls. I’ve tried them and thought they worked well. They cost a few dollars more than Molly’s ($28 for 4).

  • Vinegar. You can also try adding 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar to each load of laundry during the rinse cycle. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar this option isn’t for you.
  • Hypoallergenic option. If you’re trying to stay away from wool there’s a hypoallergenic option: Life Miracle Dryer Balls  ($11).

If you’re looking for a safer laundry detergent I have three favorites.

Do you have any safe alternatives to dryer sheets to share?


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.


 Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links meaning,at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support! 
April 27th, 2017

Unique Mother’s Day Gifts For the Moms in Your Life

Nothing makes me happier on Mother’s Day than a gift or card hand-crafted by one of my kids. Each signature or message inscribed is yet another way to preserve those fleeting moments of their childhood. I don’t save much but one of these treasures is almost always a keeper. If you’re looking for another way to show some love to the mothers in your life here are a few unique gift ideas that could be paired nicely with one of those homemade cards or crafts.

If you’re looking for another way to show some love to the mothers in your life here are a few unique gift ideas that could be paired nicely with one of those homemade cards or crafts.

Mother’s Day: Let the Kids Do the Cooking

How about a meal whipped up by the kids? That sounds like a perfect Mother’s Day to me. Their ages may dictate how much or how little they can prepare, but all ages can participate in some way. There are a few great cooking tools out there to help enhance the cooking experience for your kids. My kids have mastered cooking a few basic foods that will hopefully keep them well-fed when it’s time for college. Allowing my kids to be active participants in the cooking process has always been important to me. They stir, they pour and they help in every way possible. Use this family cookbookto keep track of favorite family recipes.

What I Love About Mom Fill In The Love Journal ($10)

This gift is similar to those construction paper cards I was talking about. Unique Mother's Day Gifts Groovy Green LivinWhat I Love About Mom Fill In The Love Journal is a great way to preserve a small piece of their childhood and it’s all about you! Each child can personalize the book with their own comments and memories.

Donate a Year of School ($58)

International Rescue Committee (IRC) has put together a list of rescue gifts that help those in need. Their gift ideas range from donating a year of school to a child in need to providing a newborn baby kit to mothers in Zimbabwe. In Afghanistan alone, IRC helped educate more than 13,000 girls in 2015. $58 can supply the tuition, books and other supplies a girl needs to attend school for a year.

Grow Pizza Kit ($10)

Unique Mother's Day Gifts Groovy Green LivinI’m in love with this Grow Pizza Kit that comes with everything you need to grow a pizza garden. The egg carton garden includes 6 packages of heirloom seeds (sweet basil, heirloom Rutgers tomatoes, green bell peppers, greek oregano, Italian parsley, scallions), starter soil, pizza recipes, wooden plant ID stakes, growing instructions, pencil & 100% recycled fiber egg carton planter. They also have a Little Fresh Veggie Garden if pizza isn’t her thing.

How do you celebrate the moms in your life? Or how are you celebrated? 


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.


 Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links meaning,at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support! 

 

April 14th, 2017

Hey Costco: It’s Time to Get Toxic Chemicals Off Your Shelves

Hey Costco It's Time to Get Toxic Chemicals Off Your Shelves Groovy Green LivinWhen I joined Costco a few years ago their organic selection was limited so I opted for other markets for the bulk of my shopping. Fast forward to the present and Costco is now taking the lead as the largest organic retailer in the United States. In 2015 they sold $4 billion of organic produce and packaged foods.

Costco it’s time to get toxic chemicals off your shelves

While Costco has become a leader in carrying organic produce and adhering to fair wages, they have a problem that needs to be addressed. Some of the products on the shelves in their stores contain harmful chemicals. I’m talking about chemicals like cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting flame retardants, some of which show up in toddlers at five times the rate of their mothers.

Safer Chemicals Healthy Families released a report called Who’s Minding the Store? — A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals“. This report gave large retailers a letter grade for actions they’ve taken to eliminate toxic chemicals. Costco received the second lowest grade of any retailer evaluated, receiving only 9.5 points and a letter grade of F. The company has no public written safer chemicals policy in place, unlike many of their competitors. Costco was surprisingly the only major retailer that did not publicly report any progress in getting rid of chemicals of high concern over the past three years.

Costco has made some progress since the report was published by recently updating its website. The site describes the development and implementation of a Costco Restricted Chemical List (RSL) and Smart Screening Program for toxic chemicals.

While this is a step in the right direction, they still have some work to do.

Joining Costco again

I let my Costco membership lapse a few years ago and have been contemplating joining again. The store is a 15-minute drive from my house so it’s not convenient, but I’m drawn to their commitment to organic products. My decision would be much easier if they also committed to reducing toxic chemicals in products they sell. Not only would they be a leader in selling organic products, but they would pave the way for other retailers to eliminate harmful chemicals from their products. The time has come for Costco to take the next step and announce a robust safer chemicals policy with clear benchmarks and timeframes to reduce and eliminate toxic chemicals in products on the shelves in their stores.

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Go to the store and fill out a comment card.
    Next time you are at Costco, fill out a comment card voicing your concerns. Costco comment cards may be available in stores near the customer service desk. Or you can print a card HERE, fill it out at home, and drop it off at a nearby Costco.
  2. Make an electronic comment.
    Take action online and submit a digital comment to Costco.
  3. Call the customer line.
    Dial the customer support line and express your concerns with a Costco customer service agent: 1-800-774-2678

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.


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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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