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Archive for Healthy Living

July 13th, 2016

5 Fabulous Ways to Donate Used Toys

5 Fabulous Ways to Donate Used Toys Groovy Green LivinThe toys were starting to take over. We have a closet in our basement that was bursting at the seams. It was filled with trucks, cars, trains and every imaginable game from the time my three boys were toddlers.

All three of my kids are at sleepaway camp for a few weeks. I’m missing them like crazy, but I know they’re having a fantastic time. The time for sorting and cleaning out that overflowing closet was here.

Over multiple days I pulled everything out and started sorting them into piles. Most were in decent shape so I really wanted to find a good home for them.

Many of the charities out there such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army take donations and resell them in their retail shops. The proceeds from any sale are then placed back into programs they support. As much as I love seeing the toys used for something good, they’re not directly donated to those in need. While this is an OK option, I knew that I wanted to pass along the toys directly to a family who would use them.

Here are 5 ways to donate used toys directly to a child in need

Here are 5 ways to donate used toys directly to a child in need Click To Tweet

FREECYCLE

I started with Freecycle, which is an amazing nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reusing and keeping good stuff out of landfills. There is a Freecycle group in the town next to mine. I posted all the cars, trucks and trains on the site. A sweet woman was at my house within an hour. She takes care of her great-nephew so the toys were perfect. There’s no tax deduction if you use Freecycle.

ROOM TO GROW, Boston and New York

Room to Grow helps babies born into poverty throughout their first three years of life. The organization provides families with developmental information, customized support, and all of the needed baby items. If you live in Boston or New York this organization is a great option. They are looking for donations that are new or nearly new, clean and in truly excellent condition.

SECOND CHANCE TOYS

If there isn’t a collection in your area Second Chance Toys could be the answer. If you can gather 50+  gently used plastic toys from your community, Second Chance Toys will arrange for a drop-off at a local organization. Just go to collect toys to register.  They’ll give you access to flyers, merchandise and other promotional items to promote your collection.

HOMELESS SHELTERS

Check HERE to see if there’s a local homeless shelter in your area. Please call them to see if there’s a need before dropping off a donation. Local homeless shelters may want small toys to give to children they are housing.

STUFFED ANIMALS FOR EMERGENCIES (SAFE)

If you have stuffed animals to donate try Stuffed Animals for Emergencies. The organization was founded to help ease anxiety and fear when children are in a crisis situation. SAFE chapter members collect new and gently used stuffed animals, toys, books and blankets to be redistributed to emergency organizations, children’s services, hospitals, homeless shelters and many other places that help children during times of crisis.

Do you have any other donation suggestions to add to the list? 


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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?

June 20th, 2016

Top News and Other Groovy Green Updates

Top News and Other Groovy Green Updates Groovy Green Livin

As summer vacation rapidly approaches for my kids (yes, they still have one more day of school!) I wanted to take a moment to update you on a few top stories of interest and other happenings over here.

TOP NEWS

Helpful Tool: Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Food Scores app rates more than 80,000 foods

EWG’s Food Scores helps us find healthier choices in nearly every aisle of the supermarket. EWG’s Food Scores is the first app to rate foods for their: nutritional value; health concerns about ingredients (including additives and preservatives) and contaminants (such as mercury, arsenic and BPA); and the degree and type of processing.

I did a test run by looking up Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies. With 1 being the best score and 10 being the worst, they overall received a 6. The biggest issue for Annie’s, according to the EWG app, was with processing. Annies scored a 5, which means the product likely has more artificial ingredients, more ingredients that have been significantly modified from whole foods, and more ingredients overall.

This app provides a great starting point when you’re at the market. Remember to always read the labels!

Philly Enacts Soda Tax

Philly takes the lead and imposes a sugar tax on all sugar-sweetened and diet beverages. According to Philly.com: “The tax will hit thousands of products – essentially anything bottled, canned, or from a fountain with either sugar or artificial sweetener added, with a few exceptions.” The money raised will be used to expand prekindergarten programs in the city; creating community schools; improving parks, recreation centers, and libraries; and offering a tax credit for businesses that sell healthy beverages. Fingers crossed that other cities and towns follow their lead.

GROOVY GREEN UPDATES

Thanks to Cilantro Cooks for including me in their Expert Interview Series. What a fun experience. You can read it HERE.

I’m honored to be included in Tiny Box’s list of 27 of Our Favourite Eco-Friendly Blogs.

Thank you to Laura Wellington and ThreadMB for the wonderful article highlighting my site in her article: ‘Groovy Green Livin’ Is Groovy, Green and Growing! So many friends and colleagues reached out to let me know that they had seen the feature.

Top News and Other Groovy Green Updates Groovy Green LivinFirstSiteGuide.com was kind enough to list Groovy Green Livin as one of The Best Eco & Green Blogs To FollowThey went a step further and made me my own avatar. What do you think? Does it look like me?

Happy summer everyone! Do you have any top news to report? How about big plans for summer vacation?


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.


 

June 14th, 2016

Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Everyone!

Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Everyone! Groovy Green Livin

Summer is finally here and for many it’s also time to head to the beach. This year I wasn’t only on a mission to find the safest sunscreen, but I was also determined to discover a few safe-for-the-beach products for everyone.

Here’s my go-to list for eco-friendly beach essentials this summer.

Goddess Garden Spray Sunscreen ($17) Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Everyone! Groovy Green Livin

Goddess Garden spray sunscreenis the only sunscreen my kids will use.  Goddess Garden Everyday SPF 30 Sunscreen is my absolute favorite sunscreen this season. It smells great and is easy to lather on any squirming child. If you have a child that really doesn’t like sunscreen application try the Goddess Garden Spray Sport Sunscreen or the Goddess Garden Kids SPF 30 Trigger Spray Sunscreen. Goddess Garden is certified organic, reasonably priced and was rated a top choice for sun protection by EWG.

Coyuchi Beach Towel ($68)Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Everyone! Groovy Green Livin

I’ve been a big fan of Coyuchi® Organic Beach Towels for a while. These lightweight organic towels are perfect for a trip to the beach. Spend time on the beach or at the pool knowing that toxic chemicals from conventional towels aren’t coming in contact with your skin.

Klean Kanteen Reusable Water Bottle With Bamboo Cap ($24) Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Everyone! Groovy Green Livin

Say no to plastic bottles this summer with this Klean Kanteen reusable water bottle with a bamboo cap. This is a great water bottle to carry with you everywhere year-round. Breaking the plastic disposable bottled water habit reduces the use of fossil fuels and toxic greenhouse gases that come from manufacturing plastic bottles.  By using a reusable water bottle you are also helping reduce the number of plastic bottles that end up in landfills, sitting for years while they try unsuccessfully to decompose.  I am hooked on Klean Kanteen.

Organic Cotton Bucket Hat ($29)Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Everyone! Groovy Green Livin

Protect your face and head with this Organic Cotton Bucket Hat. I love that this hat is also UPF 50+ and crushable if you’re traveling.

Planet Flops Natural Rubber Flip Flops ($30)Eco-Friendly Beach Essentials for Everyone! Groovy Green Livin

Made in beautiful Brazil with the highest quality natural rubber from the rubber tree (Hevea Brasiliensis), Planet Flops Natural Rubber Flip-Flops are so comfy! Natural rubber, as opposed to synthetic rubber, comes from the rubber tree (Hevea Brasiliensis). The harvesting of natural rubber occurs by harmlessly “tapping” into the tree to remove a milky sap from the bark and doesn’t affect the health of the tree.

 

What’s your favorite eco summer essential?


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.


Disclaimer: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you), which in turn helps support this site. None of the companies I promote on this page have paid me, I just really like their products. Thank you
June 9th, 2016

How to Tell if a Watermelon is Ripe

How to Tell If a Watermelon is Ripe Groovy Green Livin

Last night I went to the supermarket in search of a watermelon. I was on a mission. What I thought would be a quick trip to the market ended up taking much longer than expected. After arriving at Whole Foods Market I almost immediately spotted a bin filled with watermelons. I stood there, looking at the melons for what felt like hours. I had decision paralysis and couldn’t decide which melon to choose. We all know what a disappointment it is to take that first bite of melon only to find that it’s not sweet or ripe. I was determined to not let that happen. I asked for help and ended up learning so much from the produce department about how to find a sweet, ripe watermelon.

How to Pick a Ripe Watermelon

Watermelons, unlike other melons and fruits, don’t continue to ripen once picked.

  • Check out the color. The color of the melon should be a dark green and not too shiny.
  • Look at the exterior. The watermelon should be firm and not have cracks or deep scars.
  • Tap it. Ripe melons will have a hollow sound when you tap the outside.
  • Look at the underbelly. Look for the patch on the melon where it would have been resting on the ground (the field spot). If it’s a milky yellow color it’s most likely ripe. If it’s white it’s probably not ripe.  A good rule of thumb is the darker the spot the better.
  • Lift it. Lift the melon before purchasing to see if it’s heavy. If it feels heavy it’s ripe. You might want to lift a few melons for comparison.
  • Shake it. Shake the watermelon and if you hear things moving around inside it’s quite possibly overripe.
  • Don’t forget to buy organic when you can. Watermelon is number 32 on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list.

Before you cut into your watermelon you can store it at room temperature for up to two weeks. Once cut, place the melon in the refrigerator. It will only last a few days.

Do you have any tips for picking a ripe watermelon to add to the list?


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.


 

 

June 8th, 2016

What Are You Craving This Summer? Yogurt and BIG prAna Giveaway!

What Are You Craving This Summer? Yogurt and BIG prAna Giveaway! #summercravings Groovy Green Livin

Right now I’m craving summer. Real summer. The temperature feels like summer, but my kids are still in school for another two weeks and I’m working my regular hours. I’m craving a vacation. I’m craving not running out to catch the bus every morning. I’m craving a day without a set routine. I’m craving time to eat meals together again. Where homework and projects aren’t a worry. Don’t get me wrong, I know summer comes with a whole host of other challenges, but I’m ready.

Thanks to prAna I have a new Quinn dress to wear on those relaxed summer days. Maybe I’ll wear it while I’m eating my favorite Stonyfield Greek on a beach somewhere far, far away.

What Are You Craving This Summer? Yogurt and BIG prAna Giveaway!

This dress is incredibly comfy and the fit is perfect-lose in all the right places and snug where it should be. It comes in 10 great colors and has an internal shelf bra for added support. I’m about 5’4″ and the hemline hit me right at the knee.

What Are You Craving This Summer? Yogurt and BIG prAna Giveaway! #summercravings Groovy Green Livin

prAna and Stonyfield, a Perfect Match

I’ve been wearing prAna for many years. When I took my very first yoga class years ago I was wearing prAna. I remember their tops were trendy and comfortable, with patterns that truly stood out. I still have a few originals in my closet to prove it. Their clothing line is stylish, extremely comfortable and the company emphasizes sustainability. Fast forward and I’m still wearing prAna today.

prAna’s long list of sustainable initiatives is impressive. This is a brand that I was initially drawn to because of style, but knowing that they truly care about our health, the environment, and our planet makes wearing the clothing that much more appealing. I’ve been a prAna influencer for many years.

Stonyfield is another company that focuses on sustainability. I’ve been working with this fantastic company for many years as well and I know firsthand that they take sustainability very seriously. Stonyfield puts thought into the impact of everything they do–from what’s in the cup and how it’s made, to how it makes its way into your home.

[Tweet “Satisfy your #summercravings with @groovygreenlivi’s @prana and @stonyfield GIVEAWAY!”]

So as I sit here craving the carefree days of summer I thought I would offer you a summer discount and giveaway!

prAna Discount Code for Everyone! What Are You Craving This Summer? Yogurt and BIG prAna Giveaway! #summercravings Groovy Green Livin

As a special thank you, all Groovy Green Livin readers are eligible for 15% off at prAna.com by entering this code at checkout: SCS16LOAL

Please note that the discount is valid through July 7, 2016 and is not valid for Influencers, on gift certificates or with any other offer.

prAna Quinn Dress Giveaway!

Now for the good stuff!  The kind folks at prAna and Stonyfield have joined forces to offer one Groovy Green Livin reader the same Quinn dress that I’m wearing in the photos (value $79). How cool is that?! You can choose your size and color (there are 10 colors to choose from!) if selected as the winner. By entering your name and other information you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules. This is only open to my US readers through midnight on June 26, 2016. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Take a look at some of the other Stonyfield YoGetter and Clean Plate Club sites for prAna giveaways! Or search for #summercravings.

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Disclosure: I’m a prAna influencer, which means I receive special pricing on prAna products as well as sneak peeks at new collections and product releases. I’m also a Stonyfield YoGetter Captain and I do receive compensation.  I was sent a prAna Quinn Dress for review. All opinions are, of course, my own.

May 31st, 2016

Groovy Green Livin Favorites: Top Picks for Safe Sunscreens for Kids (Adults Too!)

Top Picks for Safe Sunscreens for Kids (Adults Too!) Groovy Green Livin

Safe Sunscreens are big business these days. New brands continually make their way into the sunscreen market with the hope that they too will be added to our ever growing arsenal of safe sun protection. Once the warm weather hits I find myself sounding like a broken record every time one of my kids heads outside: “Did you remember to put on sunscreen?” I know I’m annoying, but I don’t really care. With startling statistics like these I have to do my best to protect my children:

  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
  • An estimated 76,380 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2016.
  • Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent and the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent.

So without further ado, here are my favorite safe sunscreens for kids this year.

Goddess Garden Sunscreen ($11 for 6 fl oz)

Goddess Garden Everyday SPF 30 Sunscreen is my absolute favorite sunscreen this season. It smells great and is easy to lather on any squirming child. If you have a child that really doesn’t like sunscreen application try the Goddess Garden Spray Sport Sunscreen or the Goddess Garden Kids SPF 30 Trigger Spray Sunscreen. Goddess Garden is certified organic, reasonably priced and was rated a top choice for sun protection by EWG.

All Good Sunscreen ($16 for 3 fl oz)

All Good SPF 33 Kids Sunscreen Lotion doesn’t leave any  white residue. I’ve been pretty obsessed with not looking like Caspar on the beach and last year put together a list of sunscreens that don’t leave  a white residue. The active ingredient is Zinc Oxide 22.5% (Non-nanoparticle). It’s also not greasy and easy to apply. The Environmental Working Group found gave All Good a low hazard score and rated it a top choice for sun protection.

ThinkBaby and ThinkSport Sunscreen ($10 for 3 fl oz)

Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ is free from harmful chemicals including avobenzone, oxybenzone, parabens, phthalates, PABA, 1,4 dioxane or UV chemical absorbers. It has an SPF 50+ and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. I love how easy it is to apply. If your kids won’t use anything with the word “baby” on it, try
Thinksport Kid’s Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+. Both are rated a top choice by EWG for sun protection.

Of course, each of these sunscreens is for adults as well as children!

What’s your favorite safe sunscreen?

Here’s more information on sunscreen if you’re interested:


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.


Disclaimer: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you), which in turn helps support this site. None of the companies I promote on this page have paid me, I just really like their products. Thank you!
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About Lori

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

Click HERE to contact Lori

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