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June 6th, 2012

Eco-Friendly Jewelry from Eco Lustre

Groovy Green Livin eco lustre is.....

Put together two sisters with great taste and a passion for the environment and you get a jewelry shop that sells chic, unique, eco-friendly jewelry. The two sisters, Natalia and Luda (in the above photo when they were kids!) created Eco Lustre with the intention of creating:

“…a place to shop for cute, cool, elegant jewelry that’s affordable and environmentally friendly. When we didn’t find a single source that had it all, we decided to create one ourselves. And because we have fashion and jewelry merchandising background and two people’s worth of great taste, it was a natural fit.”

When I first had the opportunity to shop around their site I was amazed by beauty and elegance of all the pieces.

The artists

Eco Lustre is a storefront that brings together eco-friendly artisans from all around the US. Each eco-concious artisan approaches jewelry making as a work of art. Browsing through the profiles of each artist, some are inspired by nature, and others find different sources of inspiration: history, the beauty of everyday objects and family. It’s clear that each artist cares about natural resources and strives to preserve them by utilizing eco-friendly practices: using sustainable or recycled materials (most use primarily recycled metals), recycling scrap metals, and running their workshops with eco-conscious principles.

Groovy Green Livin EcoLustre Hanna necklaceThe Hannah Necklace from Eco Lustre

I’m very grateful to the fabulous women behind Eco Lustre for sending me the Hanna necklace for review. I’m loving the necklace and can wear it my outfit of choice: jeans.

This gorgeous necklace is made of labradorite and silver plated multi-faceted beads (nuggets), and strung on a waxed Irish linen cord.  The metals used to create the piece are partially recycled.

The designer is in2 Design, a partnership of two Swedish born women, Inger Mark and Inga Louise Baldwin, who now live in Connecticut.  They use natural and organic materials to showcase the exquisite beauty of the stones.

A few of my favorite things about Eco Lustre

  • It’s eco-friendly. The artisans represented in their shop are all eco-friendly in many ways, from using recycled materials to maintaining sustainable business practices.
  • Groovy Green Livin Eco Lustre eco packagingRecycled packaging. Eco Lustre uses recycled packaging. The necklace arrived in a small cardboard box. Inside the box was a beautiful cloth bag with the necklace inside.
  • It’s handcrafted in the US. All designs are original and unique; items are made by hand in limited quantities
  • It’s hand-selected. All jewelry on the Eco Lustre website is hand-picked by the two owners-who happen to have great taste. They work with indie and emerging designers, so the items on their website generally aren’t widely available.
  • It’s reasonably priced for high-quality, eco-friendly jewelry. There are pieces at most price points.
  • Great customer service.  I know first-hand that they are very responsive to questions and care a great deal about customer satisfaction.

Other comments

I would love to see a few more earrings and bracelets in their selection.  Earring happen to be my jewelry of choice and there are some pretty funky choices that I would absolutely wear.

Don’t leave without checking out their awesome collection of rings. I’m thinking about the Gloria ring. What do you think?

Natalia and Luda of Eco Lustre have generously offered a discount for Groovy Green Livin readers. Enter DISCOUNT CODE GR15 at checkout and you’ll receive 15% off all orders through July 15, 2012.

Disclosure: I was generously sent the Hanna necklace from Eco Lustre in exchange for my honest opinion.

May 8th, 2012

7 Spices for Healthy Cooking

Groovy Green Livin spices

7 Spices for Healthy Cooking

My husband and I both like to cook and when time permits we try to whip up new and exciting dishes filled with all sorts of spices. Over the years we have gradually increased the amount of seasoning we use as the taste buds of our three boys continue to mature.  Both of us are fans of spicy food and our kids are joining the ranks. Not only do the spices taste good, but it turns out they are good for us too. Here are seven spices that end up in many of our dishes.

Turmeric

Groovy Green Livin Turmeric

This gorgeous yellow/orange spice is at the top of my healthy spice list for good reason.  Turmeric is generally found in Indian curries and other ethnic foods. It has been used as both a medicine and a spice for many centuries.

Tumeric contains a nutrient called curcumin and it’s known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The spice is thought to fight a long list of diseases including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Other studies have shown promise for treating Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Cinnamon

Groovy Green Livin cinnamon stick

Cinnamon ends up in our pancakes, French toast and eggs.  Not only does it taste delicious, but studies have shown it has several health benefits:  Reduces LDL cholesterol levels, reduces pain associated with arthritis, regulates blood sugar, and helps with cancer, menstrual pain and infertility.

Garlic

Groovy Green Livin garlic

Another one of my favorites-I add garlic to almost everything from pizza to roasted vegetables and broccoli. Garlic adds flavor to so many dishes and it also is known for being anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral. It is known to be a natural antibiotic and can help manage high cholesterol and blood pressure.

Oregano

Groovy green livin oregano

Oregano on pasta, pizza and salads tastes divine.  In addition to the yummy flavors oregano holds some healthy benefits with those who indulge. Oregano also has antioxidants in its oil and leaves. It also has anti-inflammatory benefits. Some people rub the oil on inflamed joints and muscles. Others take oregano oil when the first symptoms of a cold or sore throat appear.

Cumin

Groovy Green Livin cumin

I make chili all the time and it wouldn’t be the same without the addition of cumin (and lots of it!). It also great mixed into a stir fry or on top of roasted veggies. Cumin is also used throughout the world as a medicinal herb. Cumin is known to help treat high blood sugar levels, insomnia, a cold, respiratory issues and cancer.

Ginger

Groovy Green Livin Ginger

Do you like ginger with your sushi? You’ll be getting more bang for your buck. This spice is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s also known to improve blood circulation and helps those tired, achy muscles after a good workout.  Ginger tea is great for relieving menstrual cramps.

Thyme

Groovy Green Livin Thyme

Thyme is delicious in soups, stews, baked or on sauteed vegetables. Thyme contains an essential oil that is rich in thymol, a powerful antiseptic, antibacterial, and a strong antioxidant.  Recent studies show thyme can kill MRSA infections, which are resistant to other antibiotics.

What are your favorite spices to cook with? Do you and/or your kids like spicy foods?

Buy organic spices and herbs whenever you can.

Please check with a medical professional before self-administering any of these herbs.

Linked up with Green Backs Gal.

Photo © Igor Dutina #2068762, Others used under Creative Commons S.Diddy, LowJumpingFrog, Joi, Gusjer, cookbookman17, Steven Jackson /Flickr

May 4th, 2012

Juice Beauty Review and Giveaway

Groovy Green Livin Juice Beauty

I spend a lot of time looking into the safety of personal care products before I ultimately use them. Here’s what happens when I buy a new personal care product:

  1. Look through the ingredient list If everything at first glance looks OK I buy the product.
  2. Take the product home in a reusable bag (would you expect anything else?).
  3. Once home look the product up on EWG’s Skin Deep website.
  4. If the product gets a 0-2 hazard rating it is welcomed into my home.
  5. Anything over a 2 it goes back to the store.

Labor intensive, right? But so worth it.

groovy green livin Juice Beauty logoWhen I was given the opportunity to review a few Juice Beauty products I was armed and ready to go through my 6 step process (a few less steps because the product was mailed to me).  I had been hearing about Juice Beauty for quite sometime from my friend Micaela over at Mindful Momma, so I was curious to see for myself what this brand was all about. I chose the Green Apple Age Defy Collection because how could I pass up products that claimed to “Brighten, Lighten, Tighten”?

I’ve been using the products for a few weeks now and here are my thoughts:

Green Apple Cleansing Gel

I generally use old fashioned soap and water in the morning and evening. The Cleansing Gel has a nice, light green apple scent. It textured like a hand soap and was easy to apply and rinse off. My skin felt great after each application. It received a 1 (very low hazard score) on the Skin Deep site. Sold!

Green Apple Peel Full Strength

I enjoyed trying the peel. Again my skin felt fresh and clean after use. I don’t think I would use a peel on a regular basis. It seems too labor intensive. Juice Beauty recommends using the peel once a week. I guess I could handle that-especially if it’s going to smooth and firm my skin!

Green Apple Age Defy Serum

This serum comes in a pump bottle and I absolutely loved it. It was easy to apply and soaked into my skin without being greasy.

Green Apple Age Defy Moisturizer

This was by far my favorite product. I loved the scent and the texture. My skin felt smooth and it wasn’t greasy or oily.

Repair Eye Treatment

I’m always hesitant to apply creams around my eyes since the skin is so sensitive. I tried this cream a few times-there was a very small sample in the kit. It went on easily and smelled like green apples! I think I would probably stick to using the moisturizer for my entire face, including my eyes.

What I love about Juice Beauty-their EcoChic Values:

  1. Clinically Validated Results: efficacy achieved through cutting edge organic technology.
  2. Authentically Organic: target a standard for all Juice Beauty products to fall within 80 – 98% total organic content. Meet California Organic Products Act minimum of 70% total organic content (excluding water) by using a certified organic base & ingredients.
  3. Powerful Action Without: Stay on the cutting edge of purity by excluding Parabens, petroleum, butylene and propylene glycol, PEG, sodium lauryl sulfates, pesticides, phthalates, artificial dyes or synthetic fragrances. Continual preservative improvement.
  4. Quality Aromas: Achieved from organic & natural essential oils (not synthetic fragrance).
  5. Support our USDA Certified Organic Farmers: Stay close to our suppliers.
  6. Buy Local: Buy the majority of our ingredients locally from the West Coast.
  7. Sustainable & Recycled: Use only sustainably sourced and/or recycled paper for all supplies, focus on recycled components  & recycle again.
  8. Solar Power & Gluten Free Labs: Manufacture the majority of our products using Solar Power and all manufacturing done in Gluten Free Labs.
  9. No Animal Testing: Conduct no animal testing.
  10. Give Back. Juice Beauty currently donates a percentage of all profits to the following charities: San Francisco Breast Cancer Fund; The Organic Center, Teens Turning Green; Conservation International and the documentary-Miss Representation.

A few of my wishes for Juice Beauty products

  • I have been searching high and low for a moisturizer that contains sun protection. I would be completely sold if the Green Apple Age Defy Moisturizer included some SPF. Just checked their site and they have a moisturizer with 15 SPF-I’m sold!
  • There’s a lot of plastic packaging. I’m guessing glass packaging would be cost prohibitive, but it would be nice.

GIVEAWAY

Now it’s your chance to try out Juice Beauty products! Juice Beauty has generously offered to give one Groovy Green Livin reader a $50 gift certificate to be applied towards the products of your choice.

For another opportunity to win this kit, Karen at EcoKaren s is also giving a $50 gift certificate away. Check that out HERE.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Thank you to Juice Beauty for a complimentary Green Apple Age Defy Collection. I didn’t receive any compensation for this Giveaway. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.

 

May 1st, 2012

How to Make Your Own Lip Balm

Groovy Green Livin tin lip balm container

I don’t know about you, but my lips get pretty chapped as the warmer weather kicks in.  Before bed and in the morning I tend to slather on lip balm to keep my lips from chapping. Many over the counter lip balms contain all sorts of toxins and long ingredient names that are impossible to pronounce, so I’m hesitant to put them on my lips.

I’m not by definition a DIYer , but there are times when the urge to use those creative juices is hard to resist. I was DIY lip balm inspired when I saw a recipe for How to Make Naturally Tinted Lip Balm over at Frugally Sustainable. Since my three boys are constantly grabbing my chap stick and using it on their own lips I decided to focus on a color free version.  I was looking for a recipe that was:

  • Vegan
  • Simple to make
  • Toxin free

After several disastrous attempts I finally came up with my own recipe for lip balm and now it’s become an obsession!

Groovy Green Livin organic beeswax

Recipe for Non-Toxic Lip Balm

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 teaspoons beeswax (I bought my Organic Beeswax through Amazon and they also carry it at some Whole Foods Markets and other health food stores)
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic honey
  • 5 teaspoons organic olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vitamin E oil
  • 1 teaspoon essential oil of your choice
  • Containers -either reuse containers or purchase a few tins.

DIRECTIONS:

  • In small double boiler (you can use two pans on top of each other), melt beeswax over low heat. Once melted add olive oil, honey and vitamin E. Once completely melted remove mixture from heat and add your favorite essential oil. I like ylang ylang or peppermint. Mix well.
  • Pour into lip balm tins or tubes. I chose stainless steel containers to avoid using plastic. This recipe will yield between three to four one ounce containers.  For my first attempt I reused a few old lip balm containers that were empty.
  • Let stand on counter until lip balm hardens and cools. Could take a few hours so be patient!

ENJOY!

Have you made your own lip balm?

Photos: Beeswax © Olga Volodina #7630422 and Angela Mabray/Flickr

There is an affiliate link in this post. If you use it, it will place a few pennies in my pocket. Thank you!

 

March 20th, 2012

7 Natural Ways to Treat Bug Bites

mosquito biting

This past Sunday was a gorgeous day in Boston. People were venturing out of their homes to spend the day outside. Bikes were out, skateboards were everywhere and our dog was basking in the warm sunshine.

Our dog in green grass

We were all hanging out outside until around 6 pm; then it got ugly. The mosquitoes swarmed-and I mean swarmed. When we all couldn’t bare it any longer we went inside to deal with the massive amounts of red bumps that were covering our bodies. Mosquito bites.

Why mosquitoes bite

Did you know only female mosquitoes bite? Proteins in human blood are necessary for the female mosquito to produce fertile eggs. Their male counterparts don’t lay eggs so there’s no need to bite.

Back to the red welts…….

I happen to be one of those people that mosquitoes can’t live without.  I’m usually bitten several times in or around the same spot. The bites turn into big, red welts that are incredibly itchy. I then force my children to use their nails to place a big X over the bites-remember that trick? It works, but unfortunately the bites start to itch again after a few seconds.

Solutions for a bug bite itch

There are quite a few non-toxic remedies for an itchy bug bite.

  1. Make a paste of baking soda and water and put a little dab on the bug bite.
  2. Apply a cold compress-either an ice pack or a washcloth doused in cold water.
  3. Put a little toothpaste on your bug bite.
  4. Rub a piece of sliced onion on the bite. You might need to shower after this remedy!
  5. Apply apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball to the bite.
  6. Rub a bar of wet or dry soap over the bite.
  7. Place cool mud on the affected spot or spots.

If the bite gets infected be sure to contact your physician.

If you’re going to use bug repellant when you venture outside this spring and summer, make sure it’s DEET free.

What tips do you have for itchy bug bites?

 

© Sergey YAkovlev – Fotolia.com

This week I’ve linked up with The Green Backs Gal and I Thought I Knew Mama

March 19th, 2012

Green Moms Unite to Talk About Toxic Chemicals

Green moms unite

 

Everything from the food we eat to our cleaning products, furniture, personal care products and our yards can contain toxic chemicals. No one wants to be exposed to these harmful chemicals, but where do we begin? How do we sort through all the information? Sometimes it just makes sense to combine forces to find an answer. The astonishing and knowledgeable women of  the Green Moms Carnival have once again joined together to share their wisdom, tips and stories, helping to shed some light on a confusing and overwhelming issue: how to keep toxins out of our home.

green moms carnivalTIPS FOR KEEPING TOXIC CHEMICALS OUT OF YOUR HOME

Brenna of Almost All the Truth has written an in-depth  post about Keeping Our Homes Free of Unwanted Toxins. She talks about making changes and doing it one small step at a time.

Shane from Environmental Booty shares 3 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Harmful Chemicals in Your Home. Shane had the opportunity to meet the Deputy Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, Lindsay Dahl!

Margie from Healthy Child Healthy World shares Eight Steps to Purging Toxic Chemicals From Your Home. Healthy Child Healthy World’s motto says it all: “No one can do everything but everyone can do something”.

Abbie aka Farmer’s Daughter has a few ideas to Keep Toxins Out of Our Home.

Amber from Strocel.com shares Eight Tips for Avoiding Toxins that she gathered from talking with other green minded folks.

Stephanie from Good Girl Gone Green put together a great list of 5 ways to Help Create a Non-toxic Environment.

Kathy aka Safe Mama has a few good tips for Keeping Toxic Chemicals Out of Your Home.

According to Erin from Green Kids Guide there are  three primary ways that toxins enter our bodies. She shows us how to Keep toxins out of your body with the 3 points of entry.

NON-TOXIC CLEANING

Diane from Big Green Purse shares Clean and Green Dry Cleaning Methods Reduce Your Exposure to Toxic Chemicals.

Lisa from Condo Blues makes her own green cleaners and adorable labels. She explains why her Homemade Green Cleaner Labeling Privileges Have Been Revoked.

Karen from Best Of Mother Earth shows us how we can have a Self Cleaning Bathroom when we avoid using toxic cleaners.

Wondering where to start once you decide to make your home green and healthy? Tiffany over at Nature Moms has a few suggestions in her post:  Green Housekeeping and Protecting Your Family from Hidden Household Dangers.

Micaela from Mindful Momma shares some info on the 3 Most Toxic Cleaning Products.

Charise from I Thought I Knew Mama has 5 Green Living, Spring Cleaning Tips to share.  You’ve got to stop by to check out the adorable baby photo.

Have you ever noticed that horrible smell when you self-clean your oven? Suzanne of Mommy Footprint shares a very interesting post on Self Cleaning Ovens – Toxic For Humans or Only Birds?

Being green and toxin free doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive. Michelle from Simplify, Live, Love shows us how to Decrease Toxins with 4 Frugal Cleaning Ingredients.

NON-TOXIC PRODUCTS

Beth at My Plastic Free Live sheds some light on how BPA-Free Does Not Mean Safe.

Did you know that many plastic food containers contain antibacterial chemicals like Triclosan? Beth from My Plastic Free Life talks about how to Get the Antibacterials Out of Your Plastic!

Have you been wondering if Toxic Chemicals are Lurking in Your Furniture and Building Products? Anna from Green Talk shares what to look for when you bring new products into your home.

Do you love or hate that new car smell? CelloMom let’s you in on what’s behind that smell in her post: New car smell: good, bad or ugly?

Have you heard of a Soda Stream? Mary from In Women We Trust talks about how you can create a Toxic-Free Home with a Soda Stream.

Micaela aka Mindful Momma has a few suggestions for Non-Toxic Healthy Art Supplies.

Katy from Non-Toxic Kids participated in a body burden study and discovered that she had a high rate of Deca, a flame retardant.  She explains what Deca is and how to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Deca (a flame retardant).

Betsy from Eco-Novice sheds some light on Avoiding Toxins in Baby Products. Betsy has a three month old and this is her third child. She has lot of tips to share about what she’s learned along the way.

Danika from Your Organic Life talks about the whys and hows of buying second hand furniture in her post: Buying 2nd-Hand Furniture that’s Off-Gassed from Model Homes.

INSPIRATION FOR NON-TOXIC LIVING

Carolyn of Women of Green shares a podcast with Liberty Phoenix, the sister of River and Joaquin Phoenix. Liberty’s story is heart-wrenching: she experienced the death of her baby due to toxic out-gassing in his nursery and started a green building store so no other parent would have to ever experience what she did.

I was and continue to be inspired by the untimely loss of a 5 year old boy in our community to cancer. His family’s strength and perseverance inspired me to find ways to Keep Toxic Chemicals Out of My Home.

Harriet aka Climate Mama focuses on Keeping our Air Clean and Our Children Safe while shedding some light on the Clean Air Act.

Whew! That was a lot of good information. What are your tips for keeping toxins out of your home?

Photo © Alx – Fotolia.com

 

February 23rd, 2012

Softcup: Green and Reusable

ski poles

This past week was school vacation week for many families on the east coast. We are big alpine skiers and try to spend our vacations out on the slopes. Although there hasn’t been much snow this season, we still managed to get some skiing in. Most of the days were spent gearing up three children in snow pants, ski boots and helmets so we could spend the majority of the day outside on the mountain.

For those of you who are non-skiers, skiing generally entails being outside, in a remote area, for hours at a time. When you need a bathroom break there’s not always a bathroom in close range. Finding one can take a while and then using it can be a big production. The skis need to come off, the multiple layers of ski gear needs to be shed and somehow you need to get to the bathroom in those big, clunky ski boots. Not a small effort. Add changing a tampon or pad to the mix and there’s no question I would have been sitting in the lodge with a cup of hot cocoa (for those of you not interested in hearing about tampons, pads and reusable menstrual cups now’s your chance to opt out of the discussion).

As some of you know, I started using a reusable Softcup a few months ago. I’ve been reporting to you on my progress and it’s been slow and steady. This month I’m feeling a bit more comfortable with it and can finally say that I have successfully greened my period.

What does “greening” your period mean?

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.

Using organic tampons and pads reduces the amount of waste on the production end, but doesn’t solve the actual waste of the product and packaging.

Reusable Softcup menstrual cupReusable Softcup

Reusable Softcup is a menstrual cup that can be worn for up to 12 hours and reused throughout one menstrual cycle. The cup is worn internally, around your cervix, and it collects rather than absorbs menstrual flow. It’s non-toxic, hypo-allergenic, latex-free and completely safe when used as directed.

Softcup is affordable and an eco-friendly alternative to conventional tampons and pads. Think of all the waste that’s avoided by using a resuable menstrual cup.

Back to skiing

I still have to make the occasional trip into the bathroom with one of my boys, but I don’t have to carry extra, bulky tampons or pads in my ski jacket. The best part-I can stay out for hours and there’s no worry about leaking.

Ready to give it a try? Let me know how you do.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have been hired by Evofem, the parent company for Softcup, in their Softcup Brand Ambassador Program.  This is a “sponsored post.”  Evofem sent me a sample of Softcup and compensated me via a cash payment for this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers and only share my honest opinion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Laffertyryan/Flickr]

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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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