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June 10th, 2012

Join Me and Take the Team ENERGY STAR Pledge

Groovy Green Livin children protecting earth
I just joined Team ENERGY STAR-and so can you!

ENERGY STAR is a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that helps us save money and protect the environment and our health through energy-efficient products and practices.  In 2011 alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 41 million cars — all while saving $23 billion on their utility bills and reducing the pollution that contributes to heart disease, asthma and allergies.

Sounds as though we’ve made quite a difference, but there’s still plenty to do. Climate change continues to be a very real concern and childhood illnesses, including asthma and cancer, are on the rise. Team ENERGY STAR is asking that we get our children involved and encourage them to save energy at home-because we all know the future is in their hands.

Take the pledge

I joined Team ENERGY STAR and my hope is that you’ll join too (it takes a few seconds and there’s no charge).

Team ENERGY STAR is a new, exciting initiative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program, developed to engage and educate American youth and their families about saving energy in the home. Team ENERGY STAR empowers kids to help protect the climate through easy-to-implement, money-saving actions and provides them an outlet for sharing their passion for preserving our environment. And, with Dr. Seuss’ the Lorax as the engaging theme for Team ENERGY STAR, kids can learn and have fun at the same time.

Being part of the team involves the following simple steps:

Take steps to reduce your energy use at home

  • Help your family and friends save energy
  • Encourage your family and friends to take the ENERGY STAR Pledge
  • Inspire others by sharing your story
Once you join

Once you join you will be given access to Team Energy Star. You’ll receive:

  • A Team ENERGY STAR certificate of participation-a guide for saving energy at home, including Energy-Saving Tips and Tools, the ENERGY STAR Home Check-Up, and the ENERGY STAR Pledge.
  • Energy efficiency games to play with your kids
  • Become a Lorax mustache kit-you’ll have to join to see what this is!
  • An activity booklet filled with fun games and a poster that you can color in and display at home to remind your family about ways to save energy.

Energy Facts: Did you know……

  • The average house is responsible for more than 25,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, about twice as much as the average car.
  • Electricity demand for U.S. homes is expected to climb by as much as 18 percent by 2035.
  • The typical household spends more than $2,100 per year on energy bills. With ENERGY STAR, you can save over one-third, or more than $700 on your household energy bills.
  • If every American household took the actions found in the Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR Pledge, we would save more than126 billion KWh/year of electricity and save $18 billion in annual energy costs. We would prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 20 million cars.
  • This year, EPA is proud to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ENERGY STAR program. For two decades, ENERGY STAR has helped millions of Americans and thousands of businesses save energy, save money and protect the climate.
  • Today, ENERGY STAR is one of the most well-known brands in the country, with over 80% of Americans recognizing it as the symbol of superior energy efficiency.

So I hope you’ll join me and take the pledge with your families to make a difference.

UPDATE: Your kids are invited to participate in the Share Your Story campaign!

Are your kids interested in saving energy and doing their part to make a difference?  ENERGY STAR is accepting submissions to their Share Your Story campaign until September 17th and winners will be announced on October 10th.  If your kids submit a story  they immediately become eligible for a number of prizes, including:

  • The new Lorax DVD, which will go to the first 100 kids to submit essays
  • 25 winners will receive ENERGY STAR qualified electronics products donated by LG Electronics, including computer monitors and televisions, smart phones, and mouse scanners
  • Top winners will also be featured in New York’s Times Square on the LG billboard.
  •  Some of the winners may have a chance to participate in ENERGY STAR day in October with EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
How cool is that??

How do you and your family conserve energy at home?

This post is part of a carnival of posts from many bloggers  and their children who support energy efficiency and Team ENERGY STAR. Please head over to Big Green Purse to see what everyone has to say.

June 8th, 2012

Summer, Clean Air and Organic Smoothies

Groovy Green Livin organic smoothie

I know many of you have already put those school backpacks in storage and are already in summer mode. Over here we have six more days of school and then bring on summer! I have to admit I’m both excited and apprehensive. It happens every year. I’m yearning for days without structure and time to just be with my kids. But I’m also a bit anxious about the “getting to know you” learning curve. You know what I’m referring to-three boys, a dog and their parents getting used to much more togetherness. How do you work through the transition?

In the meantime, I have a lot of exciting projects in the works. I’ll give you all the details as soon as everything is in place. Here are a few hints on the upcoming projects:

  • I’m going to my second BlogHer which will be in New York City this summer
  • I’m joining a group of amazing green bloggers for a fitness challenge started by my friend Erin over at Healthy Home Magazine. I’m hoping that some of you will join me.
  • While I’m patiently waiting for my friend Kathy over at Safe Mama to publish her amazing 2012 Sunscreen Cheat Sheet I’m reviewing a few new sunscreens on my own.

Moms Clean Air Force

As a mother of a child with asthma I know fear, anxiety and asthma are at times synonymous. I live with the knowledge and the fear that if an asthma attack isn’t controlled it could be deadly. Asthma kills 5,000 people every year in the United States. My new post over at Moms Clean Air Force shares anecdotes from a few of us moms of children with asthma-our hopes and dreams for a world filled with only clean air. Click HERE to read more.

Top 25 Eco Friendly Moms

The contest is winding down and the top 25 Eco Moms will be named on June 13th. We are in the running thanks to all of you who have taken the time to vote. It feels uncomfortable to ask, but please take a moment each day to VOTE for Groovy Green Livin. Thank you so much!

Simple Summer Salad

One of the things I love most about summer is the availability of fresh, seasonal greens and other vegetables. Over at Momtastic I shared my recipe for THIS amazingly simple summer salad, which combines some of my favorite flavors.

Ecocentric Mom

Have you had a chance to check out Ecocentric Mom? They are just about to launch! Each month a reasonably priced box will be sent your way containing healthy, natural and organic products exclusively for moms, moms-to-be and babies. Your monthly box will be packed with natural and eco-friendly goodies from businesses that care for the planet and our health. Sign up HERE.

Pin of the week- Banana Chai Breakfast Shake

I stumbled upon this yummy looking breakfast shake on Pinterest. It comes from one of my favorite foodie sites-Oh My Veggies. We have been on a smoothie kick ever since our neighbors made my son a delicious smoothie. My son challenges me every morning to make a smoothie as good the one he had at their house. I have yet to succeed. Maybe this will be the winner. Come hang out with me on Pinterest, if you’re not already.

How do you handle the transition from structure and school to summer? Have a groovy green weekend!

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Pink Sherbert Photography/Flickr]

April 25th, 2012

Chewing Gum: Plastic and Cancer?

Blue chewing gum

Do your kids chew gum? Mine do. Not all the time, but once in a while. They love to chomp on a piece of gum-working hard to perfect their bubble blowing skills.  This time of year there are many more requests for gum in our house. It’s baseball little league season and gum and baseball seem to go hand in hand. How could it not when they watch their heroes on the Boston Red Sox chomping away on bubble gum? I guess it could be worse, they could be asking for chewing tobacco.

Is there plastic in chewing gum?

Yup. If the gum label lists “gum base” as one of their ingredients there’s a chance your gum contains “petroleum, lanolin, glycerin, polyethylene, polyvinyl acetate, petroleum wax, stearic acid, or latex” according to the Vegetarian Resource Group.  An article in The Ecologist stated that “Today the ubiquitous ingredient ‘gum base’ is label shorthand for an alphabet soup of potentially toxic ingredients.”

My friend Beth from My Plastic Free Life wrote a fantastic piece about plastic in gum. She revealed that polyvinyl acetate (a type of plastic possibly found in gum) is manufactured using vinyl acetate, a chemical shown to cause tumors in lab rats. The catch-all phrase “gum base” makes it difficult for consumers to know which gum actually contains polyvinyl acetate since the specific ingredients that make up “gum base” don’t need to be spelled out.

Gum candy coating possibly linked to cancer

I first read about the potential health issues with candy coated gum on The Lunch Tray. Gum manufacturers are using titanium dioxide to make the hard candy coating found on some chewing gum and other candies. The gum I’m talking about is generally the square chiclet shaped gum with the white candy coating. According to a recent study, children were more likely exposed to titanium dioxide and it was found to be “possibly carcinogenic”. Titanium dioxide has also been linked to Crohn’s disease and asthma. It’s important to note that there have been no conclusive links between titanium dioxide and these health risks-but the question still lingers: should we continue chewing gum if there’s a potential risk?

Bottom line:

If you’re going to chew gum:

  • Read the ingredients and make an educated decision.
  • Opt for the sticks of gum over the Chiclet style pieces with hard candy coating.
  • Be aware that gum is laden with other possible toxins, including artificial sweeteners.

How to Remove chewing gum from the dryer and clothes

If your gum makes its way into the dryer or onto your clothing-Anna from Green Talk has a few great tips for getting the gum out (some are green and some not so green-but they work!).

What do you think: Should we continue chewing gum if there are potential health risks?

Blue chewing gum © Michele Piacquadio #3854681

March 16th, 2012

Groovy Grandmas, Green Driving and Other Odds and Ends

Tulips

My son showed me this morning the flowers that are already starting to pop out of the ground. It feels too early in the season for flowers to bloom, but our winter was so mild that I’m sure the plants are completely mixed up. So are the birds for that matter. They’ve been chirping since February.

This week was filled with excitement on the Groovy Green Livin home front.

Tide petition takes off

At last count the petition asking Tide to remove a cancer causing chemical from its Tide Free & Gentle® laundry detergent was up to 72,000! That’s incredible in my book of incredible. The petition also made a guest appearance on CNN iReport. Hopefully Procter & Gamble (the makers of Tide) will listen to our plea.

Grandmas rock

I had a lot of fun talking with a few of my favorite grandmas about their take on clean air. My mother, Lynn from Celebrate Green, Linda from Citizen Green, and Sheila offered up their hopes and dreams for their grandchildren in my post for Moms Clean Air Force.

Childhood asthma on the rise

The Huffington Post wrote a fantastic piece on childhood asthma. I couldn’t agree more with what Sylvia Brandt said in the article:

“Any person who would say that the EPA should be eliminated or its ability to regulate reduced, should have to sit in the emergency room holding the hand of a child who can’t breathe.”

I’m also quoted in the piece talking about my son’s asthma. See if you can find me.

Eco-friendly driving

If each of us put a little thought into our driving we could become eco-friendly drivers, making the world a bit cleaner and greener for us all. Over at Momtastic this week I shared a few green driving habits to incorporate into your driving routine.

Hip eco-friendly bag up for grabs

Don’t forget to enter the BagInspiration giveaway! The Be-Bop bag is a pretty cool addition to anyone’s bag collection.

Green Moms Carnival

Stop by Groovy Green Livin on Monday for the Green Moms Carnival and see what the green moms have to say about toxins in your home.

[Photo used under Creative Commons from D. Sharon Pruitt/Flickr]

 

January 30th, 2012

Book Giveaway! Take a Deep Breath: Clear the Air for the Health of Your Child

Baby sleeping 2

Around 11 p.m. most nights I begin my nightly ritual. This routine has been in place since my three boys were born. I methodically go from one bedroom to the next listening for the same sound. Sometimes I hear it right away and other times it takes a few seconds, but I don’t leave until the sound I’m waiting for is confirmed: their breath. Then I’m able to sleep.

When my kids were infants there were times when their breath sounded different or strange. There were nights when they would snore or hold their breath for what felt like an eternity.

Then came asthma. When one of my son’s was around 2 years old we started what became our annual trip to the hospital for severe breathing problems related to asthma. Watching him wheeze and struggle for a single breath is a vision that’s hard to shake. And I know I’m not alone. There are so many children and families afflicted with breathing issues.

Review and Giveaway

Take a Deep BreathThere’s a new resource available for both new and veteran parents that would have been incredibly helpful when my children were infants: Take a Deep Breath: Clear the Air for the Health of Your Child, a book written by Dr. Nina Shapiro.

Read my review of the book over at Moms Clean Air Force. Thanks to Dr. Shapiro, two lucky winners will receive their own copy of Take a Deep Breath. To enter head on over to Moms Clean Air Force and join the force then leave a comment under my review on the Moms Clean Air Force site letting us know that you joined. It’s that simple!

Disclosure: Thank you to Dr. Nina Shapiro for a complimentary copy of this book to review. The opinions expressed in the review are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Seth Baur/Flickr]

September 8th, 2011

Fighting For Clean Air

baby sleeping

Around 11 p.m. most nights I find myself standing at the foot of each of my three boys’ beds. I stand and I listen. Sometimes it’s hard to hear over the roar of the heat or the drone of the fan, but I don’t leave until the sound I’m waiting for is confirmed. I patiently stay until I hear the air moving in and out of their lungs. Then I can sleep.

I’m really not one of those neurotic parents-actually I like to think of myself as pretty easy going. But I have reason to wait each night for that gasp of breath. Over the years my middle son has landed himself in the hospital several times for severe breathing problems related to asthma. Watching him wheeze and struggle for a breathe is a vision that’s hard to shake. Knowing what the outcome could be if his breathing is not regulated is unimaginable.

I’ve always wondered why this tiny little being was afflicted with something so random, so unexplainable. And knowing that so many others are suffering from similar afflictions is unthinkable.

Asthma is on the rise

Reports show asthma is on the rise. For the last several decades the number of people with asthma has risen, but between 2001 and 2009 it shot up 12.3 percent. About one in 12 people in the United States now has asthma.

Asthma is triggered by air pollution

According to Rachel Miller, deputy director of Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health:

We can say for sure that [the rise in asthma cases] is unlikely to be due to genetics because the changes have been too rapid and recent for that.

It’s clear that environmental factors have become a large contributing factor in the significant increase of asthma cases.  Air pollution from cars, factories, and power plants are all linked to asthma, as well as other air pollutants including tobacco smoke, and indoor allergens (dust mites, cockroaches, dogs, cats, rodents, molds, and fungi).  Millions of Americans, including nearly 37 million children, live in areas where smog makes the air unhealthy to breathe.

Bad move Mr. President, but that won’t stop me

In a controversial and disappointing decision, President Obama asked the EPA to withdraw proposed clean air regulations. According to the Associated Press, “The regulation would have reduced concentrations of ground-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog, a powerful lung irritant that can cause asthma and other lung ailments.”

In spite of President Obama’s step in the wrong direction, there’s so much more that can be done. For my son and all others afflicted with asthma and other respiratory related issues I refuse to sit idle and wait for the President’s next breathe.

The time is NOW to collectively join forces and voices to remind the President and the rest of Washington that clean air is a priority for all.

This post is part of the MomsRising.org blog carnival to celebrate clean air. The carnival goes live March 15, 2012.  Be sure to stop by MomsRising.org for lots of great information on ways we can all celebrate clean air.

[Photo used under Creative Commons from D Sharon Pruitt/Flickr]

July 19th, 2011

Get to Know Your Home: Are There Toxins in the Walls?

toxins in the walls

Our home was built about 11 years ago. I remember watching it turn from a pile of dirt into a place where we now spend the majority of our time as a family. We watched the foundation go in, the studs go up and the placement of drywall and insulation. If only we knew then what we know now- that toxic building materials were being used in and behind the walls of our home.

We work hard to keep it our home safe and free of harmful chemicals.  We avoid bringing toxins into our homes by taking our shoes off, using non-toxic cleaners, eating organic foods and using safe personal care products.

However, the World Health Organization estimates that indoor air pollution accounts for nearly 3 percent of all deaths worldwide. Turns out there are many other sources which can impact air quality –and many of them are in our walls.

DRYWALL

Drywall (plasterboard, gypsum board) is a layer of gypsum pressed between two sheets of paper and is used to construct walls and ceilings in houses.

Issues with drywall

Most drywall itself isn’t toxic (unless it was part of the defective drywall imported into the US from China), but the plaster-like mud substance used to cover seams usually does contain toxins. In a Harvard study done for the EPA, the glue joint compound was found to release as many as 25 volatile organic compounds or VOC’s. There’s more bad news: the release of these VOC’s into the air of your home increases over time.  The higher the temperature and humidity the more VOC’s are released.

Another issue with drywall-if there’s moisture mold can grow on the drywall opening the door to a whole slew of health issues.

On a global level the process of manufacturing drywall is very energy intensive and contributes to as much as one percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

Alternatives to drywall

If you are remodeling or building consider a natural replacement for drywall such as EcoRock or Durra Panels. 

PRESSED WOOD

One of my all time favorite classic TV shows has one of the most iconic houses — the Brady Bunch. It’s also the epitome of pressed wood-think dark wood paneling. Pressed wood is made up of shavings and chips of wood which are glued together under high pressure. The glue that holds the wood particles in place can contain urea-formaldehyde (popular in home construction in the 70’s).

Issues with pressed wood

Formaldehyde is a  known human carcinogen,  linked to nasal and brain cancers and possibly leukemia. It can also set off watery eyes, burning eyes and throat, breathing difficulties and asthma attacks.

How to reduce exposure

  • Don’t be afraid to ask about the formaldehyde content of pressed wood products, including building materials, cabinetry, and furniture before you purchase them.
  • If you live in an older house with pressed wood paneling or insulation, the good news is that it releases less formaldehyde as it ages. Using a dehumidifier and air conditioning to control the indoor temperature and humidity can help. Today, pressed wood products also are more closely regulated to reduce formaldehyde emissions.

toxic fiberglass insulation

INSULATION

Insulation can be made from a variety of materials. Fiberglass insulation, a man-made mineral fiber con­structed from a variety of materials, such as sand and recycled glass, is the most popular form of insulation in the United States. I remember seeing the large rolls of pink insulation before they were placed in our walls and roof area.

Issues with insulation

Over the years health concerns have arisen due to insulation materials such as asbestos and urea formaldehyde foam insulation. Fiberglass insulation is dangerous when the fine glass fibers become air-borne and are breathed in during the installation process-a similar problem discovered with asbestos about two decades ago. Fiberglass insulation can also cause a variety of health problems from skin irritations cancer.

Alternative insulation

Choose insulation with no added formaldehyde. The greenest options for insulation are natural materials such as hemp, coconut fiber or sheep’s wool.

What you can do: healthy home action plan

  • Do Your Part and take charge of your indoor air quality. If you think your air is compromised increase ventilation by opening windows and doors. You may also want to consider purchasing an high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) purifier that will help keep your home free of toxins.
  • Join Moms Clean Air Force- a group of moms and dads joining together to fight for our kids’ right to clean air.
  • Take action with Healthy Child Healthy World.

What do you do to keep the air clean in your home?

[Photos used under Creative Commons from Brock Builders and Ryan McFarland/Flickr]

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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Lori on ABC World News

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