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November 10th, 2014

Why You Should Never Put Plastic in the Dishwasher

Groovy Green Livin plastic in dishwasher

Have you ever accidentally opened your dishwasher in the middle of a cycle? It’s like an instant facial. The steam and heat emitted are enough to make you jump back and close the door quickly.

The water is hot so your dishes are cleaned with minimal elbow grease. Did you know the water must be at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit and not more than 150 degrees Fahrenheit for the best cleaning and to prevent damage to the dishes? That’s hot water!

What do you put in your dishwasher?

We have a relatively new dishwasher and for some reason it seems smaller than our older version. I still do my best to jam as many dishes into the dishwasher as I possibly can for a single load. Everything from plates to glasses to flatware goes right in without much of a rinse.

Over the years I’ve really weaned myself off of plastic in the kitchen. I’ve tried hard to reduce the amount of plastic touching our food in any way. For the few plastic items still remaining, they get washed by hand.

My rule: never put anything plastic in the dishwasher. And here’s why….

Heat and plastic are a bad mix

Repeated wear and tear on plastic, including running plastic through the dishwasher, could cause BPA, Phthalates and other chemicals to leach out of the plastic when heated.

Hormone-disrupting chemicals leach from almost all plastics, even BPA-free plastics. Heating the plastic (stressing it) may cause more leaching of the chemicals. 

Phthalates

Phthalates are chemicals used as softeners or plasticizers in polyvinyl chloride (PVC, vinyl) products and can be found in hundreds of products: pre-2009 toys, wallpaper, cling wrap, shower curtains, plastic PVC containers, nail polish, perfume, blood bags, cosmetics, personal care products, shampoos, carpeting, wood finishes and insecticides (the list could go on and on).

Phthalates have been shown to disrupt hormone activity, reduce sperm counts and some preliminary studies show that they may be causing a slow and steady demasculinizing of men. Other studies have linked phthalates to liver cancer and breast cancer.

Unfortunately manufacturers aren’t required to list phthalates on products. Look out for “PVC,” “V” or the”3″ recycling code on the bottom of anything plastic.

BPA

As many of us know by now BPA is bad news. It’s a hormone-disrupting chemical that’s been linked in lab studies to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty in girls, type-2 diabetes, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

And if that wasn’t enough there’s more:  “BPA-free” doesn’t mean it’s safe“. As new alternatives to BPA are popping up all over the place we have little information about their impact on our health.

The Bottom line

Hormone-disrupting chemicals leach from almost all plastics, even BPA-free plastics.

Plastics are more likely to leach toxic chemicals when they’re heated or exposed to light.

I think I would rather hand wash plastics than risk those nasty chemicals leaching into my food.  How about you?

Are you ready to hand wash those plastic dishes?

 


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photo credit: Skakerman via photopin cc

November 5th, 2014

Softcup Menstrual Cup Review

 

Groovy Green Livin Softcup

Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Softcup. I did receive compensation. All opinions are my own.

Softcup has come in and out  of my life over the past few years and I have to admit that I’m glad it’s back again.

Softcup is a menstrual cup. Never heard of a menstrual cup? Softcup is a flexible cup, worn internally around your cervix (do you know where your cervix is?), that collects rather than absorbs menstrual flow. It replaces the need for tampons and pads if used properly.

I can feel all the cringing as you’re reading this. Stick with me-this is important on so many levels.

There are actually two Softcup options:

  1. Disposable which can be worn for up to 12 hours and is then discarded, and
  2. Reusable which can be worn for up to 12 hours and reused throughout one menstrual cycle.

I’m a fan of the reusable option.

Personal Benefits of SoftCup

Groovy Green Livin Softcup

I’ve put Softcup to the test during a workout and while downhill skiing. It can be worn during any activity including sports, swimming and while sleeping.

I started using a reusable Softcup a few years ago and the journey has been interesting. There were times when I went back to my organic tampons for no reason other than they were close by. But I keep returning to my reusable Softcup. It took a few cycles to get it right, but it’s so worth it. This month I’m feeling completely comfortable and can finally say that I have successfully greened my period.

Once Softcup is inserted properly you really can’t feel it. This isn’t the case with tampons-we always know when they’re around. Also, Softcup isn’t linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and does not cause dryness or irritation.

Softcup doesn’t contain latex, silicone, phthalates, BPA, PVC or dioxins.

Environmental Benefits of Softcup

Fifty to 70 percent of American women use tampons. A typical woman can use anywhere between 8,000 to 17,000 tampons in her lifetime. The number varies quite a bit since every woman is unique and her cycle is different. The average woman throws away up to 300 pounds of feminine hygiene related products in a lifetime. That’s a tremendous amount of waste. Then there’s the plastic wrapper around the tampon box or pads and the paper or plastic packaging around every box and individual tampon or pad. I haven’t even mentioned the cardboard or plastic applicator. So much waste.

The process to make each and every tampon and pad also involves a lot of waste. The cotton alone is resource intensive as the farming of cotton requires large amounts of water, pesticides and fertilizer.

A final added Softcup bonus: For every box of Softcup you buy, Softcup will donate a reusable cup to a woman or girl in Africa. You can find out more about Project Dignity HERE.

Phew. You made it! Are you hooked or at least open to giving Softcup a try (or passing the info on to any women in your life)?

 


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: I received product and compensation from SoftCup for this post, but the opinions are my own. 

August 21st, 2014

Mom Detective Asks: Is BPA Lurking in Your Fleece?

Groovy Green Livin BPA Fleece

This piece was originally published over at Moms Clean Air Force.

When my oldest son was born he was showered with all sorts of wonderful gifts from friends and family. One of our favorite presents was a bright red fleece blanket with his name monogrammed in big white letters on one of the corners.

This adorable and durable blanket stayed with my son for many years. He slept with it, rolled around on it and chewed it while teething. After many washes and years gone by, it’s now tucked away in a “save” box somewhere deep within my attic.

Today, as I continue the tradition of giving fleece blankets to many of the new babies in my life, I wonder if these blankets are truly safe.

Could there possibly be bisphenol-A (BPA) lurking in those cuddly, soft gifts?

Is There BPA in Fleece?

Fleece is made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic soda bottles and other discarded plastic. That’s right-fleece is made from recycled plastic!

Here’s how the question of BPA (bisphenol A) in fleece comes into play. BPA is a chemical used in the production of plastics and many other products. BPA has been linked to a variety of health problems such as reproductive disorders, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Since fleece is made from plastic components, the question of BPA in our fleece garments becomes a valid concern.

There’s good news and caution for consumers.

You don’t have to worry about baby’s fleece — or your own — when it comes to BPA. As Dr. Sarah Vogel, author of Is It Safe? BPA and the Struggle to Define the Safety of Chemicals, explains:

BPA is not used in plastics used to make soda bottles.  The kind of plastic it’s used in, polycarbonate, is too hard for that purpose and too expensive. Polycarbonates are not recycled in most municipalities as they fall into category 7 which is ‘mixed’. So they end up in landfill and BPA has been detected in landfill leachate. 

The epoxy resins BPA is in are used to coat metals, like food cans.  BPA has been found in recycled cardboard –most likely because of its use in carbonless paper (like cash register receipts) that is in the recycled paper mix.  It would be quite challenging to remove it from the recycling process, I suspect.

I worry more about the food cans. There is evidence that you can significantly reduce exposure to BPA by removing food cans from the diet, which demonstrates the importance of that route of exposure.”

I decided to look towards the top sellers of fleece products for some answers: Patagonia and L.L. Bean. Both companies confirmed that they use post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic soda bottles to make their fleece.

Patagonia

Patagonia has many green initiatives in place — including recycling used soda bottles, unusable manufacturing waste and worn our garments (including their own) into polyester fibers to produce many of their clothes. One of my favorite Patagonia programs is something called Common Threads where they take back old outdoor garments (including their own!) for recycling into new fibers.

Good news: Patagonia confirmed that there is no BPA in their fleece.

L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean responded similarly when asked about BPA lurking in their fleece products.

“The majority of our Trail Model Fleece program contains up to 85% recycled materials, mostly old soda bottles. Our recycled materials do not contain any BPA at all.”

L.L. Bean confirmed there’s no BPA in their fleece. But as I suspected…

“All of our kids’ sleepwear is flame retardant as required by the US Federal government — all of the fabric in our kids’ sleepwear meets federal safety requirements for children’s sleepwear.”

Although there are many more makers of fleece products out there, a confirmation from both of these fleece clothing retailers is a good indication that the majority of fleece doesn’t contain BPA. 

The Environmental Impact of Fleece

Along with the good news that BPA isn’t hiding out in our fleece gear comes another concern about fleece and its impact on the environment.

study found that microscopic plastic debris from washing clothes is accumulating in the marine environment and could be entering the food chain. Some of our synthetic clothes are made of PET or polyethylene terephthalate. PET is a member of the polyester family of polymers, which are spun to make fabric which can release up to 1,900 tiny fibers each time they’re washed! PET does not biodegrade, and these microplastics are being ingested by marine life.

Fortunately BPA in fleece products doesn’t pose a problem, however there are plenty of unregulated toxic chemicals remaining in products found on the shelves of our stores.

Take action! It’s time to put the pressure on. It’s time to take the burden away from the consumer and place it where it belongs – with retailers and industry. We need legislation in place that will strengthen the way our government regulates toxic chemicals by requiring more thorough health testing of products BEFORE these chemicals end up in the bodies of our children.

If you agree parents shouldn’t need to be detectives or have a PhD in toxicology to know that their children are safe from toxic chemicals, please head over to Moms Clean Air Force to sign HERE.

photo credit: dan.danowski via photopin cc

September 25th, 2013

Pregnancy, Infertility and Environmental Chemicals

Groovy Green Livin pregnancy

Pregnancy is a thing of the past in my world.

My oldest just turned 13. How could that possibly be? He’s 5’5″ and pretty much towering over my 5’3″ self. I’m watching him closely now. Watching and waiting for changes. It’s going too fast and I don’t want to miss a thing.

I think back to the days when we were trying to get pregnant and the many years of infertility. So long ago, yet the memories are ingrained.

Creating our family didn’t come easily.  We were forced, as many are, to place a tremendous amount of thought into whether or not we wanted to bring children into this world. Infertility will do that to you. We made a conscious decision to start a family and found our way through both adoption and natural childbirth.

Now here we are-13, 11 and 9 years later-in a world which my boys will soon inherit. A world filled with toxins, chemicals and other poisons that are making our children sick.

New Report Says Environmental Chemicals Could Cause Infertility and Other Health Issues

The nation’s largest groups of obstetricians and fertility specialists just came out with a report saying our daily exposure to environmental chemicals could be harming our reproductive health.

I’m not sure this is new news? But it is coming from a group with a lot of klout so hopefully it will attract more mainstream attention.

The report also said that virtually every pregnant woman is exposed to at least 43 different chemicals and some of those chemicals can make their way directly to the fetus.

And it’s not just about women and pregnancy. The report pointed out that pesticide exposure in adult men has been linked to sterility and prostate cancer.

Most Americans Have Traces of BPA in Their Urine

The report uses  BPA, or bisphenol-A, a hormone disrupting chemical, as an example. BPA can be found in the lining of some metal cans, on cash register receipts and in some plastics.

According to the Breast Cancer Fund-

Exposure to BPA, used to make the epoxy-resin linings of metal food cans, has been linked in lab studies to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty in girls, type-2 diabetes, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Childhood exposure is of concern because this endocrine-disrupting chemical can affect children’s hormonal systems during development and set the stage for later‐life diseases.

The president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Dr. Conry, is advising common sense.

Common Sense Isn’t Enough

“There’s only so much people can do as individuals and families to limit chemical exposures,” said University of Washington public health dean Dr. Howard Frumkin, an environmental health specialist not involved in the report

That’s right-there’s only so much we can do. Using common sense isn’t enough.

These are the real issues: Why should the burden be on a pregnant woman or a family trying to conceive? Why isn’t our government protecting us? Why are these products allowed on the shelves of our stores filled with chemicals that prevent us from getting pregnant or are making our children sick?

My Infertility and Pregnancy

I think back to those many years of trying to get pregnant. The bouts of crying and conflicting emotions when a friend or family member became pregnant. A feeling of happiness for those I loved and a sadness for what I didn’t have.

Common sense is my middle name. I spent those years struggling with  infertility and eating well and taking care of myself as best I could. But I still wasn’t getting pregnant. The rational side of me knows that there are many different causes of infertility and the environmental component is just one piece of the puzzle. Pregnancy finally did happen, but nevertheless I still pause and wonder if my years of struggling with infertility could have been avoided if our consumer products were safe once they hit the shelves.

And then I think about all the countless others struggling with the same unexplained infertility and unexplained illness.

It’s enough.

You Can Help

Congress is considering updating our laws on toxic chemicals and as they do it, they need to hear from you, me and thousands of other Americans why this issue should rise to the top of their list of priorities.

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families is collecting these personal stories to keep the pressure on our elected officials and will hand-deliver them to Congress in Washington this fall.

Answer this question: 

photo credit: bies via photopin cc

July 10th, 2013

Non-Toxic Preschool Backpack Guide

Groovy Green Livin non-toxic preschool backpack

Non-Toxic Preschool Backpack Guide

Our summer just began a few short weeks ago so I’m really not willing to admit that it’s almost back-to-school time. But I know that it’s a reality for many who kick off the school year in August. So time to address the inevitable.

The emails are already pouring in with back-to-school product pitches and questions from readers.

One question that keeps coming up is ‘how to find a non-toxic backpack for kids?’

I’ve decided to break this question into a few different parts since the age of your child will determine what type of backpack they’ll use. I’m focusing on your toddler and preschool age kids in this post and I’ll be back again with choices for elementary school kids. Stay tuned!

What to avoid in a preschool backpack

No Vinyl, No PVC, No Phthalates, No Lead

If you’ve been following along here for a while you know that a study by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice’s(CHEJ) found children’s vinyl “back‐to‐school” supplies (including backpacks) contained elevated levels of phthalates, hazardous chemicals that have been banned in toys, yet remain widespread in vinyl back‐to‐school supplies.

Phthalates are hazardous at low levels of exposure, disrupt hormones in our bodies, and have been linked to birth defects, infertility, early puberty, asthma, ADHD, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Not something you want in your child’s backpack!

Vinyl backpacks could also contain high levels of lead, which can wipe off onto children’s hands and ultimately end up in the child’s mouth.

Bottom Line: Don’t buy vinyl backpacks!

Here are a few non-toxic preschool backpack suggestions

Groovy Green Livin Non-Toxic Preschool Backpack
Green Sprouts Safari Friends Backpack These adorable backpacks are PVC and BPA free. There are four designs to choose from, a yellow lion, blue hippo, red monkey and green alligator.  So cute and perfect for a toddler or someone just entering preschool.

Price: $17.00

Groovy Green Livin Non-Toxic Preschool Backpack
Crocodile Creek Pocket Backpack I really love these backpacks. There are so many great designs to choose from and they’re the perfect size for younger children. Their backpacks are made of high-quality polyester and are BPA-free, PVC-free and phthalate-free.

Price: $27.00

Beatrix New York Little Kid Backpack Groovy Green Livin Non-Toxic Preschool BackpackAnother awesome line of pint-sized backpacks! Each preschool backpack is embroidered with a forest creature. The packs are designed for ages 2 to 5 and are PVC free, lead free, phthalate free & BPA free.

Price: $42.00

Groovy Green Livin Non-Toxic Preschool Backpack
Dabbawalla Backpacks These sweet little backpacks are sized and designed for preschoolers, with adjustable straps and a sturdy handle. They’re made from Eco-sponge neoprene, a durable fabric that is limestone -based. It has been tested in an independent lab and exceeds CPSIA standards for safety and is free of lead, PVC, BPA and Phthalates.

Price: $38.00

EcoZoo Kid’s Backpack Groovy Green Livin Non-Toxic Preschool BackpackYour preschooler won’t want to put this bag down. Made out of natural cotton this backpack comes in the shape of a puppy, panda, pig and more. It’s made from natural cotton and the company uses toxic free dyes to color the material. They’re BPA and Phthalate-free.

Price: $25.00

Do you have a favorite non-toxic backpack for a toddler or preschooler?

Photo credit: © BestPhotoStudio #2588431

Disclosure:  I received no monetary compensation and all opinions expressed are my own. This post may contain affiliate links for which I will earn compensation if you make a purchase. Thank you for supporting Groovy Green Livin! I’m disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

April 29th, 2013

Reusable Bag Giveaway from MightyNest

Groovy Green Livin Reusable BagReusable bags are taking over our kitchen and that’s a good thing. I’m talking about reusable snack and sandwich bags for packing our school lunch and they’re everywhere, filling drawers and cabinets waiting to be used.

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

My three boys are pretty much on auto pilot in the morning. Once their alarm clock goes off (aka mom) it doesn’t take much nudging to get everyone out of bed.

We all head downstairs and within a matter of minutes our kitchen turns into a tornado. Breakfast preparation and lunch packing begins. Food and reusable bags are everywhere-the floor, counters and other random spots. I just take a deep breath and let it go because it’s well worth it.  All three boys make their own lunch and breakfast with minor supervision from mom and dad. It’s pretty amazing to watch them begin to understand what a green and healthy lunch looks like-starting with reusable bags instead of plastic baggies.

Moving away from the use and toss mentality and investing in a few reusable bags for lunch is such a simple way to make a BIG environmental impact.

Our friends over at MightyNest have an extensive collection of reusable sandwich and snack bags to choose from (and lots of other eco-friendly products!).

MightyNest has graciously offered to giveaway a  snack/sandwich reusable bag set to FOUR lucky Groovy Green Livin readers. Here’s what will be given away (one set per winner):

Eco-Ditty

I had never heard of this brand before. Eco-Ditty reusable snack bags and reusable sandwich bags are made from 100% organic cotton with a Velcro closure. The outer colorful fabric is printed with low-impact inks and the inside is made from un-dyed organic cotton liners. They are all BPA Free, Lead Free, PVC Free and can be hand or machine washed in cool water.

Groovy Green Livin Reusable bag

LunchSkins

I’ve reviewed LunchSkins before and have a few of my own! Lunchskins come in all sorts of great designs and are made from cotton fabric coated with a “food-safe” polyurethane liner. These bags are durable and withstand the high heat of the dishwasher. Fabric and inks have been independently tested for safety and are lead-free, phthalate-free and BPA-free.

Groovy Green Livin reusable bag

Semilla Snack Bags

Another reusable bag brand that’s new to me-Semilla. These bags are hand sewn in one of my favorite cities-San Diego. We’ve been using our bag for sandwich wraps and they actually fit! I love that these bags can go right into the washing machine. The fabric is a Hemp and Organic Cotton blend and the liner is 100% nylon.  The lining is non-toxic nylon: lead free, phthalate free and BPA free.

Groovy Green Livin reusable bag

SnackTaxi

SnackTaxi has been a staple in my reusable bag drawer for a long time. The bags are sturdy and durable. They have a new addition to their reusable bag offerings- gluten free snack bags and reusable sandwich bags! These bags will keep your gluten free snacks distinct from other foods. The label on outside of bag reads “Gluten-Free” as opposed to “SnackTaxi” found on the other SnackTaxi bags.

Groovy Green Livin reusable bag

GIVEAWAY!

The kind folks over at MightyNest have graciously offered to give FOUR Groovy Green Livin readers one of these snack and sandwich reusable bag sets. The Giveaway will close at 1 pm EST on 5/3/13. By entering your name and other information you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was given four reusable bags to test out from MightyNest. All opinions are my very own.

 

 

March 4th, 2013

3 Foods to Keep Out of Your Kitchen

3 Foods to Keep Out of Your Kitchen

I think most of us can agree that not all foods are created equal. Keeping up with the latest and greatest information on food can be somewhat of a challenge. There’s so much information floating around out there, making it hard to know where to begin and what to believe.

I received an email last week asking for advice on what foods should be avoided. While many foods could easily be on this list, I decided to put together my top 3 foods that I try to keep out of my kitchen.

Canned Tomatoes

Most epoxy linings in canned foods contains bisphenol A (BPA) which leaches into the contents of the can, some at very high levels. An FDA study found canned green beans contaminated with as much as 730 parts per billion of BPA. Some manufacturers are working hard and have been successful in finding an alternative to BPA (which could be just as bad as BPA!) in tin can liners, but tomatoes are acidic so the packaging options are limited. Almost all canned tomatoes have BPA in the lining.

According to the Breast Cancer Fund-

Exposure to BPA, used to make the epoxy-resin linings of metal food cans, has been linked in lab studies to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty in girls, type-2 diabetes, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Childhood exposure is of concern because this endocrine-disrupting chemical can affect children’s hormonal systems during development and set the stage for later‐life diseases.

Solution

Grow your own tomatoes! If gardening isn’t your thing look for tomatoes packaged in glass containers.

Farm Raised Salmon

Environmental groups such as Seafood Watch and the Environmental Defense Fund, have put nearly all farmed salmon on their “red” or “avoid” list. Farm-raised fish are generally placed in crowded cages and given antibiotics and exposed to pesticides. Their living environment is less than desirable. Wild fish are out in the wild, living and swimming in open oceans as they were meant to be. Wild fish aren’t exposed to the same toxins as their farm-raised cousins.

Farm-raised salmon generally has artificial color added to give it that nice pink color. When salmon are raised in a farm-raised environment they are  fed “fish meal”, made up of ground fish parts, and as a result, the fish color is a shade of gray rather than pink. Coloring is added because consumers expect their salmon to look pink.

Some bad news: Frankenfish (genetically engeneered salmon) could be on your dinner plate by the end of the year. If the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves this we will have no way of knowing whether the salmon we are eating is genetically engineered because at this time there’s no labeling requirement.

Solution

Look for wild salmon at the market, which should be clearly labeled. All Alaskan salmon is wild-caught. Support current actions to demand GMO labeling as listed over at GMO Inside.

Microwave Popcorn

Making a bag of microwave popcorn is about as convenient as it gets. Put the bag in the microwave and in about 4 minutes you have a bag of delicious popcorn. It turns out that microwave popcorn is one of those foods that just doesn’t belong in your kitchen.

The lining of the microwave popcorn bag contains PFOA, a chemical that has been linked to cancer in animals. The chemical was also found to have been associated with a lower vaccine response in children, making them more vulnerable to disease. The Environmental Protection Agency says that PFOA is a “likely carcinogen” and is likely to cause cancer in humans, although no definitive studies have been released yet.

There’s another chemical in the actual microwave popcorn called diacetyl, which is found in the imitation butter flavoring. When heated the fumes released from a bag of microwave popcorn contain this chemical and have caused microwave popcorn factory workers to have a respiratory disease called “popcorn workers lung”.

Some popcorn manufacturers have attempted to replace diacetyl with substitute ingredients, but findings show that these replacements are just as bad or worse.

Solution

Make your popcorn the old fashioned way-in a pot with some salt and oil. Another solution is to invest in an air popper for a low-calorie, healthy snack.

What other foods should be on this list? 

photo credit: PetitPlat – Stephanie Kilgast via photopin cc

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I embark on a journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I might make a few pit stops to fight for issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes can lead to a healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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