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Archive for Healthy Living

February 5th, 2016

We Want Safer Flooring and Furniture

Hey Warren Buffet, We Want Safer Flooring and Furniture Groovy Green Livin

Over a year ago I joined thousands of others and wrote a letter to Macy’s letting them know that I was concerned about toxic chemicals that may be in products they were selling.  I was especially concerned about toxic flame retardants, which are common in upholstered furniture.

Flame retardants are bad news. They’ve been linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption and other serious health problems, yet much of the furniture in our stores continues to be filled with these toxic chemicals. They are known to migrate out of couches and other furniture, get into the dust inside our homes and make their way into our bodies.

When I sent my letter to Macy’s my letter was one of thousands of emails that they received from customers encouraging them to address the harmful chemicals.

Macy’s listened!

After much consumer pressure, Macy’s agreed to ensure the furniture they sell is free of toxic flame retardants.

Other big retailers, including Lowe’s, have also agreed to adopt policies to eliminate toxic chemicals in their furniture and flooring.

We want safer flooring and furniture from Berkshire Hathaway

Hey Warren Buffet, We Want Safer Flooring and Furniture

Now the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Mind the Store campaign is asking one of the world’s richest people and one of America’s biggest investors in furniture and flooring retailers, Warren Buffett, to help stop the spread of these unnecessary and harmful chemicals that are getting into our homes.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns companies that are among the biggest retailers of furniture and flooring nationwide.  These include the newest Nebraska Furniture Mart store in Texas that is expected to be the highest-volume furniture store in the U.S., with a projected billion dollars in sales in one year alone.

In 2012, Warren Buffet said, “taking shortcuts is not the pathway to achieving sustainable competitive advantage, nor is it an avenue toward satisfying customers.  A company must invest in the key ingredients of profitability: its people, communities and the environment.”  Warren Buffett has noted sustainability is integral to a company’s profitability – yet his retailers are lagging behind competitors when it comes to addressing toxic chemicals in furniture & flooring– clearly not the Buffett way.

IKEA, Macy’s, Home Depot, Walmart, Lowe’s and Lumber Liquidators are phasing out these same chemicals from furniture and/or flooring, so when will Warren Buffett catch up and do the same?

While not all furniture and flooring contains toxic chemicals, we are asking Berkshire Hathaway’s retailers to work with their suppliers to completely phase out these unnecessary and dangerous chemicals.

We know safer and cost effective alternatives to the toxic chemicals found in furniture and flooring are widely available. Warren Buffett has a responsibility to give consumers safe products, and getting rid of toxic chemicals is good for the environment, consumers’ health, and business.

Stand with the Mind the Store campaign and tell Warren Buffet to be a sustainability leader and invest in safe furniture and flooring.

Send a message to Berkshire Hathaway’s CEO Warren Buffett and its retailers today! Sign this petition to ask Warren Buffett and his company Berkshire Hathaway to join other top retailers and invest in safe furniture and flooring.

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: Dreamer via photopin (license)

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 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. 

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. Thank you in advance.

January 27th, 2016

My Search for a Safe Mattress: Sleep on Latex Review

My Search for a Safe Mattress: Sleep on Latex Review Groovy Green Livin

Over the years I never gave much thought to mattresses. It was a place to rest our heads at night, with comfort being the prevailing factor. They were purchased on an as-needed basis.

And then I had a revelation. There’s so much more than comfort that needs to be taken into consideration when buying a new mattress for your bed. And it’s very confusing!

Here I was spending countless hours researching the safety of personal care products, cleaning products and food and I had never given a second thought to our mattress. Let’s face it, most of us spend a lot of time in bed. When it comes to infants and toddlers, they spend close to half of their early life in contact with a mattress. Americans age 15 and over spend on average about 8.8 hours sleeping.

The bad news is that a conventional mattress can contain a toxic combination of chemicals – from petrochemicals, to dyes and additives and chemical flame retardants. If we’re spending around 8 hours in bed each night that’s a lot of time spent breathing in whatever toxins your mattress is off-gassing.

The good news: there are safer options out there. Just as I began my search to replace an old mattress I was asked to review Pure Green by Sleep on Latex. Perfect timing. I was intrigued.

What is latex?

100% Natural latex is made with a milky white liquid that is extracted from a Hevea-Brasilienis tree, better known as a rubber tree. Rubber trees are native to South America and were spread around the world in the 19th century because of their great value. They are tapped in a very similar way to the way that maple trees are tapped for their maple syrup!

This is a very environmentally friendly way to create a material, because the trees must be grown for several years before they will yield latex, and then each tree can be used for up to twenty years. The process of harvesting natural latex is highly sustainable because it promotes the long-term growth of large numbers of trees. After the latex is collected from the rubber trees, it is thickened and then baked at very high temperatures. It then turns into the latex used to make my new Sleep on Latex mattress.

Sleep on Latex Mattress Review

The mattress came rolled up in a box. It was hard to imagine how a Pure Green 9 inch firm mattress fit into this box. But it did.My Search for a Safe Mattress Sleep on Latex Review Groovy Green Livin

Once unwrapped it very quickly sprang to life and was placed on our bed frame. I was grateful that there were no strong odors associated with this new addition to our bedroom. We couldn’t wait to try it out.

My Search for a Safe Mattress Sleep on Latex Review Groovy Green Livin

We crawled into bed that night after a great day skiing with the kids. The mattress was firm (there’s a choice of soft, medium and firm when ordering) and incredibly comfortable. Pure Green latex foam contains absolutely no synthetic latex or fillers. The covering is made from 100% cotton knit fabric made with GOTS certified organic yarn.

No toxic flame retardants

Sleep on Latex uses 100% New Zealand wool, which adds a thin layer of softness and comfort to the surface of the mattress.  The wool has inherent fire resistant properties and provides an effective fire barrier.  This allows the Pure Green™ Natural Latex Mattress to naturally comply with federal flammability regulations without the use of any fire retardant chemicals or barriers.

If you’re looking to dump your old mattress the Sleep on Latex site has great info on how to recycle your old mattress.

The cost

New mattresses are not inexpensive, but a safe, non-toxic selection is a good investment. The pricing is dependent upon the size and thickness and can range from $649.00 – $1,700.00 with free shipping.

Bottom Line: I really love this mattress. The materials used are pure, without any synthetic latex or fillers. It’s incredibly comfortable and there are no awful smells from off gassing. I was impressed by their use of organic cotton and 100% New Zealand wool as a fire barrier. The cost is a bit steep, with a queen, 9 inch mattress in the $1,200 range.

*If you have a latex allergy this clearly isn’t a good option for you! 

Are you looking for a new, safer mattress? What have you found?

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.

Disclosure: Thank you to the kind folks at Sleep on Latex for sending me a mattress for review.  All opinions are my own. Always.

January 25th, 2016

Is It OK to Eat the Snow? No!

Is It OK to Eat the Snow? No! Groovy Green Livin

Sorry to be the winter Grinch, but snow shouldn’t be on your menu. Even if you have some amazing snow recipes don’t eat the snow! Ever. Especially if you live in an urban setting.

I remember as a kid making snow cones with the freshly fallen snow. Growing up in Wisconsin snow cones got me through the long winter months. Not only snow cones, but snow ice cream and even just straight up snow. As a kid I had trouble resisting anything made from fresh snow.

Unfortunately eating snow needs to become a thing of the past since there are now known health concerns to worry about. Remember knowledge is power.

According to a new study, a group of scientists found that snow in urban areas absorbs the toxic and cancer-causing particles that are found in car exhaust. What does that mean? That beautiful white stuff on the ground is soaking up all sorts of toxic chemicals from our car exhaust and other contributors to air pollution. If we eat the snow we’re eating a cocktail of those toxins. Probably not something you want to encourage your kids to eat.

According to Tech Times: One in eight total deaths worldwide occurs due to air pollution. There is a strong association between exposure to pollution and diseases like cancer and heart disease.

As we dig ourselves out from one of the first of many snow storms this winter it’s important to teach our kids not to eat the snow.

Bottom line: So now the phrase “Don’t eat yellow snow” has to be taken a step further. “Don’t eat any snow!” It’s not worth the potential health risks.

There must be another way to make this maple candy? Unfortunately it won’t be as fun.

Do your kids eat the snow? I know it’s hard to resist!

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: Snowballed via photopin (license)

January 19th, 2016

Get Your Kids Cooking: Cool Tools to Use

Get Your Kids Cooking Cool Tools to Use Groovy Green Livin

Cooking is a big part of our family life. Over the years we’ve allowed our kids to be active participants in our kitchen. They stir, they pour and they create. They are allowed to help in every way possible. There are plenty of days when there’s no interest -they’re too tired, busy and hungry- and that’s OK.

All three boys have expressed an interest in cooking. They’ve mastered a few specialties with room for plenty more. I’ve spent much time fostering their love of cooking through deep breathing and overlooking sauce, flour, sugar and other ingredients that cover my walls and floors. They try, but the kitchen usually looks like a war zone when they’re done with their creation.

I’ve found that if my kids cook they’re more likely to eat it and hopefully love it. Having cookbooks specifically for kids around the house helps make the process much more fun. Having the right cooking tools for kids make the experience even better!

Cool Cooking Tools for Kids!

Get Your Kids Cooking Cool Tools to Use Groovy Green Livin
This wooden children’s rolling pin ($8) is perfect for those little hands. Get your kids cooking and baking with this great addition to any family kitchen. Our favorite use for this rolling pin is to make your own pizza crust. Pizza night is a family favorite around here.

Get Your Kids Cooking Cool Tools to Use Groovy Green Livin
Check out this Animal House Monkey Peeler ($14)! Great for peeling fruit and veggies. The blade is stainless-steel and swivels. The handle is non-slip and shaped like a monkey with raised arms. Kids will love using this to help out.

Get Your Kids Cooking Cool Tools to Use Groovy Green Livin
Make them feel like a true baker with this Adjustable Chef Hat ($8). The hat is made from 100% cotton and also comes in adult sizes, if you want to join the cooking party!

Get Your Kids Cooking Cool Tools to Use Groovy Green LivinTest out this heavy-duty stainless steel whisk ($14). It can be used to beat a single egg or mix up a favorite cake batter. The entire whisk is stainless steel.

Get Your Kids Cooking Cool Tools to Use Groovy Green Livin
I love this Alli-Grator ($8) for shredding cheese or vegetables. Unfold the jaws to form the easy-to-hold handle. It’s made with stainless steel cutters.  When you’re finished return the handle to the “closed jaw” position.
Get Your Kids Cooking Cool Tools to Use Groovy Green Livin

 Every chef needs their own chef mitt set! Curious Chef Kids Child Chef Mitt Set ($10) are perfect for the young chef in your family. These oven mitts are cotton, and will be a great addition to your child’s cookware collection.

What’s your favorite cooking tool for kids?

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.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something using an affiliate link they’ll kick me a couple of bucks to offset the cost of the coffee I drank while writing this post. Thank you!
photo credit: Amun and Abital shelling peas via photopin (license)

January 15th, 2016

10 Ways to Use the Sun at Home

How to Use the Sun at Home Groovy Green Livin

Here comes the sun

As I looked outside my office window this morning and saw a light dusting of snow I was forced to squint and close the wood slat shades. The sun was beaming in, filling my entire work space with radiant sunlight. Even during the winter months the sunshine is a welcome addition to any snow-filled day. Sometimes I forget how truly lucky we are to have an infinite energy resource. The sun.

While climate change conversations continue to swirl during the months leading up to the presidential election it’s crucial to remember that more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from energy-related sources.

The sun really comes into play when we become serious about tackling the issue of climate change. Low-carbon energy sources like solar and wind are essential.  Annie said it best: “The sun will come out tomorrow.” Solar energy is where it’s at since the sun’s going to be around for a long, long time.

Solar energy is simply the light and heat that come from the sun and it’s in demand. Over the last year, the solar industry added jobs twelve times faster than the rest of the economy, even more than the jobs created by the oil and gas extraction and pipeline sectors combined.

There are a few simple ways that we can harness the sun’s energy around our homes.

Install Solar Panels

Installing solar panels are one way to use the suns energy in our own homes. Making electricity with solar panels uses 91% less CO2 pollution than using natural gas, and 96% less CO2 than coal.

Solar Chargers

A few years ago I reviewed the Solar Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger which is designed to charge all personal electronic devices including smart phones, iPads and more. Now there are so many options for solar chargers. What a simple way to use the sun’s energy!

Install a Sky Light

Add a sky light to your home. Sky lights can add extra light and warmth to your home and in turn will reduce your heating and lighting cost.

Solar Blanket for Your Pool

If you own a swimming pool you’re going to want to check this out. This eco-friendly solar blanket increases temperature of the pool water by approx. 3 ~ 5 degrees by capturing the sun’s rays.

Solar Powered Lamp Posts

Time to replace your lamp posts with this Solar-Powered LED Streetlight-Style Outdoor Light. The LED bulbs are charged by the sun and automatically turn on at dusk.

Make a Solar Oven Out of a Pizza Box

This is a fun experiment to try with your kids.

Choose Your Roof Color Wisely

The color of the shingles you choose can have a significant impact on your home’s energy efficiency. Use the sun to your advantage by choosing lighter colors in warmer climates which will reduce heat absorption from the sun. In cooler climates go for darker shingles to help to melt winter snow

Solar Keyboard

I really want to try this Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard. What a clever idea! The keyboard charges itself with any light, including the one on your desk.

Solar Flashlight

It’s time to invest in a flashlight where the battery can be charged with the built in hand crank or the built in solar panel.

Line Dry Clothes

An average dryer cycle uses a tremendous amount of energy and contributes to CO2 emissions. If everyone committed to hanging up one load of laundry outside each week, we would save over a million tonnes of CO2 in a year. Yes, you can dry them outside even in the winter!

Cool fact:

How do you use the sun’s energy at home?

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: I’m working in partnership with SolarCity for this post and I am compensated for my work. 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: Percée de lumière via photopin (license)

January 11th, 2016

Introducing Beautycounter: Putting the Truth Back In Beauty Products

Introducing Beautycounter Putting the Truth Back In Beauty Products Groovy Green Livin

A wide assortment of beauty products fill an entire drawer in my bathroom. I’m always on the lookout for new, safe, non-toxic beauty products. I was first introduced to Beautycounter at Shiftcon two years ago. After trying out a few of their products I was intrigued. The Every Day AM Hydrating Cream was my first addiction. Over the past two years I’ve spent some time getting to know this company and the deeper I dig the more I like what I’m uncovering. I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll be hearing a lot more about Beautycounter in the near future.

Putting the Truth Back in Beauty

Beautycounter stands out from other beauty product companies. They are on a mission to get safe beauty products into the hands of everyone. They have taken the initiative to ban more than 1,500 ingredients from their own personal care products. Beautycounter is all about transparency (ingredients are fully disclosed in all products). Not only is this company selling personal care products, but they are also a social-mission company, providing safe products and working to change the broken system that allows harmful ingredients in the products we use every single day.

An interview with Linsday Dahl, Director of Policy and Partnerships at Beautycounter.

Beautycounter Putting the truth back in beauty products Groovy Green Livin

I’ve worked closely with Lindsay Dahl for many years. I first met Lindsay when she was the Deputy Director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. Now she works with Beautycounter as their Director of Policy and Partnerships. She also the founder of the widely read blog, Recently I had a chance to catch up with Lindsay to ask her about Beautycounter.

What makes Beautycounter stand out from other beauty companies?

A lot. Beautycounter is a skin care and cosmetic brand that is dedicated to brining safe, high-performing products to market. We also bring radical transparency to an industry that was built on secrets. We tell you everything about our formulations, ingredient screening and sourcing even when the answers aren’t perfect. We have an industry-changing Ingredient Selection Process, which starts with a list of 1,500 ingredients we will never use and goes on to screen each ingredient for safety before it’s used in a product. And we are proud to lead the industry by screening every batch of color cosmetics for heavy metals like lead and cadmium before they come to market.

How is Beautycounter hoping to impact the beauty industry (through regulation or any other means of advocacy)?

BeautycounterWhen we talk about “getting safe products into the hands of everyone”, we don’t just mean Beautycounter products; we want to transform an industry and make products safer for everyone. Our company is dedicated to moving a market away from harmful ingredients and we’re leading by example with our formulations. But what really stands us apart is our outspoken advocacy for stronger state and federal laws on cosmetics. We are unafraid to ask Congress to regulate our own industry.

We recently worked with team at the Oregon Environmental Council and played a small role in passing one of the strongest consumer safety laws in the country, the Toxic Free Kids Act. The bill requires manufacturers of children’s products to disclose and eventually eliminate 66 of the most toxic chemicals. In November of last year Beautycounter headed back to Washington D.C. to ask Congress to prioritize safe cosmetics legislation.

What are the top three things consumers should look for when buying safer beauty products?

  1. Look for companies who are dedicated to telling you everything about what’s in their product. With unregulated marketing terms like “natural” “preservative-free” and “botanical”, sometimes you need to look up ingredients on your own and you can only do that homework if a company tells you what’s in their products. (I recommend the Skin Deep database to learn how ingredients rank).
  2. Avoid products with generic ingredients like “fragrance” “musk” or “parfum”. This can be code for known allergens and ingredients that disrupt the hormone system.
  3. Buy color cosmetics like lipstick, blush and bronzers from a company you trust. Most aren’t screening these products for dangerous heavy metals like lead, cadmium and arsenic. At Beautycoutner, we do the homework for you.

Share with us your favorite Beautycounter products

Where do I start? I love our Countertime Restorative Night Cream, it helps even my skin tone from years of sun damage. Our Eye Perfector is great at reducing dark circles and fine lines under my eyes. I wear our Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20 everyday to give a little coverage and I’m in love with our newer Cream Blush in Caramel, which gives a natural pink cheek and can double as a lipstick or eye shadow.  And I love massaging our best-selling Lustro Face Oil #3 into my face after a shower or before bedtime.

Thanks to Lindsay for this eyeopening interview!

In case you were wondering, here are a few of my favorite Beautycounter products:

Have you tried Beautycounter? What’s your favorite product?

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.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something using an affiliate link they’ll kick me a couple of bucks to offset the cost of the coffee I drank while writing this post. So thanks.

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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

Lori on ABC World News

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