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April 30th, 2012

Global Warming Leads to Death of Chocolate?

Groovy Green Livin chocolate climate change

Chocolate Crisis

Chocolate lovers you are officially placed on high alert: a chocolate crisis is coming. Chocolate is something many of us take for granted. I know I do. The shelves at the grocery store are filled with chocolate choices, restaurants menus are lined with chocolate desserts. It’s hard to imagine life without chocolate.

But life without chocolate is a real possibility, or at the very least chocolate could become a luxury item with a high price tag. Chocolate comes from the raw ingredient cacao, mainly produced in West Africa, South America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.  West Africa provides over 53 percent of the world’s chocolate.

Chocolate is a heat-sensitive crop and even a small increase in temperature will affect the crops. A report released shows why there are big problems to come for the cacao tree:

…an expected temperature rise of more than two degrees Celsius by 2050 will render many of the region’s cocoa-producing areas too hot for the plants that bear the fruit from which chocolate is made, says a new study from the Colombia-based International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

Warming temperatures and changes in the precipitation pattern will mean rapid declines in growing conditions over the coming decades. Not good news for the cacao tree and in turn bad news for chocolate suppliers and lovers on a global level.

Cacao is mainly farmed by small farming operations whose livelihood is placed at risk as cacao tree begins to fail.  These small farmers are starting to look for other job opportunities in the more lucrative local logging industry and moving away from chocolate.

What Can We Do?

  • On May 5, 2012 350.org is building a global grassroots movement to work on solving the climate crisis by organizing Climate Impacts Day. On Climate Impacts Day we are all being encouraged to Connect the Dots between climate change and extreme weather. Head on over to 350.org and type in your zip code – you’ll  find an event in your area to help support the communities on the front lines of the climate crisis.
  • I’ve also taken a personal pledge to fight climate change. Join me in any of my 4 Resolutions to Fight Climate Change.

There are many other things we can do to fight climate change. Are you taking any steps to fight climate change?

This post is part of  the another fabulous Green Moms Carnival carnival hosted this month by Diane MacEachern of Big Green Purse.  The carnival goes live Thursday, May 4, 2012.  Be sure to stop by for lots of great information on ways we can all connect the dots and fight climate change.

Photo:Pile of dark chocolate isolated © Dmitry Rukhlenko #1109622 Deposit Photo

March 15th, 2012

How to Keep Toxic Chemicals Out of Your Home

non-toxic house

In 2009 I participated in my first triathlon. It was much more than a triathlon for me; it was a dedication to a 5 year old boy who was diagnosed with cancer while in preschool with my youngest son. My second triathlon was done in his memory.  After a tragic and long battle with neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer,  5 year old Matty  was laid to rest. The impact on Matty’s family and our community was profound and many of us continue to carry the weight of this loss with us today and forever.

Triathlon loriNot surprisingly, the word ‘cancer’ is surrounded by some daunting statistics. Around 41 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. About 12,060 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2012. Since 1975 cancer in American children has increased, especially childhood leukemia and brain cancer.

As cancer rates continue to soar, toxic chemicals continue to make their way into our products with minimal government regulation.  There is increasing evidence that these chemicals are impacting this surge in cancer cases.

No family should have to go through what Matty’s family, and countless other families, are forced to endure. Companies are adding cancer causing chemicals to their products and there are no repercussions.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

Make our own cleaning supplies.

Cleaning product companies aren’t required to tell us the chemicals they use in their products, and what they’re keeping secret from you could be hazardous to your health. Women’s Voices for the Earth, in a commissioned study, found hidden toxic chemicals in some of the most popular cleaning supply companies.  Until we know what’s in the products we buy off the shelf, we can mix our own with safe ingredients like vinegar and baking soda.

Use the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.

Before heading to the store to pick up new personal care products, try using  Skin Deep. Skin Deep is a safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products put together by researchers at the Environmental Working Group. It’s one of my fav resources.  I use it for all my makeup and personal care products.  I can’t tell you the number of times I bought something and checked it out on Skin Deep, only to find it was extremely toxic.

Open our windows.

It’s finally spring! Many of our homes and apartments were built to be air tight. This might sound like great modern day advancements in building, but in reality it keeps the toxins in and the fresh air out. It’s time to open up those windows and doors to let the fresh air flow.

Take our shoes off.

In our house we are attempting to contain the toxin filled outdoors by declaring our home a “shoe free zone”. All shoes come off in the garage and they stay there until the next time we venture out.

Sign a petition or two.

Like many moms, my commitment to a greener lifestyle was strengthened after having children. I’m careful about what we eat, and am selective about products we use to keep our home clean. A report released by Women’s Voices for Earth, Dirty Secrets: What’s Hiding in Your Cleaning Products? found high levels of the cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane in Tide Free & Gentle®.  Please sign my PETITION asking Procter & Gamble (makers of Tide) to strip this harmful cancer-causing chemical out of Tide Free & Gentle®!

While you’re on a roll take a few seconds to sign Anna from Green Talk’s PETITION requesting that strict guidelines be enacted immediately to reduce arsenic in rice and food related products.

Ask congress for help

Toxic chemicals are pervasive in our daily lives, and despite our best efforts to purchase products free of toxic chemicals, we’re still routine exposed through the air, water and our home environment. Due to lax federal laws, industry chemicals are not tested or regulated for health and safety

We need all congressional candidates to know that the American public cares deeply about increased regulations on toxic chemicals. Ask your Congressional candidates to reject the chemical industry’s agenda and support the Safer Chemicals Agenda.

What are some other ways we can reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals?

This post is part of this month’s Green Moms Carnival -How to Keep Toxic Chemicals Out of Your Home- which I’m hosting! The carnival goes live Monday, March 19, 2012.  Be sure to stop back for lots of great tips and  suggestions for keeping toxic chemicals out of your home.

Photo © Ken Hurst – Fotolia.com

 

 

January 27th, 2012

Groovy Green Friday Round-Up

airplane

There are so many exciting things happening in the green blogosphere. The news ranges from the new USDA nutrition standards for school lunches to a study showing drinking red wine in moderation could reduce your risk of breast cancer.

I’ve been jet setting around the web over the past few weeks and wanted to share a few of the places I’ve landed.

Climate Change

Climate change is a growing concern throughout the world.  In an effort to take action and inspire others to join in, the mighty women of the Green Moms Carnival collectively joined voices to speak out and share what we’re doing to fight climate change.  My post, Four Resolutions to Fight Climate Change, is included among the many other suggestions for fighting climate change.

Wintery Weather

Snow and ice has made an appearance in many parts of the world.  Many conventional snow and ice removal products contain toxic chemicals. These nasty chemicals could end up tracked into our homes on the bottom of shoes and boots. They could also end up in our yards, on our sidewalks and in our waterways once the snow and ice begin to melt.

Thankfully, there are a few ways to keep your driveways and sidewalks clear of snow and ice without using toxic chemicals.  Click HERE to read more.

Ready to Abandon Those Resolutions?

If you need that little extra push to help your resolutions stick, hop on over to the J.R. Watkins Clear Conscience Blog for a few tips to keep you motivated and on track for 2012 and beyond.

Reuse and Repurpose

The saying goes: “One person’s trash may be another person’s treasure.” We live in a use-and-toss society where most of the time we don’t give a second thought to using an item once and then tossing it. If we stopped before tossing we might realize that some of those items that seem ripe for the trash can be repurposed into something completely different for our own use. That trash could become our own treasure.

There are so many creative ways to reuse and repurpose everyday items we find in our homes. Head on over to Healthy Child Healthy World for this week’s round-up of posts on repurposing and reusing. I’m honored that my post, 3 Creative Ideas for Reusing and Repurposing, was selected as the Blog of the Week.

Have yourselves a very groovy green weekend! Any big plans?

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Luis Argerich/Flickr]

January 18th, 2012

Interview with the Non-Toxic Avenger

Deanna DukeDeanna Duke wears many hats. She is a mother, author and founder of the well known environmental blog, Crunchy Chicken. Deanna is also a self-proclaimed urban homesteader who lives in Seattle with her husband , two children and three chickens, a rescued chihuahua and four fish. Over the past few months I have gotten to know Deanna through a group that we both belong to: Green Moms Carnival. Deanna is a woman filled with compassion, passion and humor-all of which come through loud and clear in her new book.

Deanna’s book, The Non-Toxic Avenger: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You, walks us through how pervasive toxins are in our environment. Her husbands cancer and her son’s autism are the driving forces in her commitment to reducing the amount of toxins her family is exposed to in their everyday life.  Deanna share’s with humor and  insight the ways we can all avoid and reduce our own exposure to toxic chemicals.

I am honored that Deanna invited me to participate in her book tour. I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions after reading her book.

Non-Toxic AvengerLori: What is the most worrisome toxin out there?

Deanna: Right now I’d say it’s Bisphenol A (BPA) mostly because of the prevalence of this chemical. It’s in plastics labeled #7 (and some labeled #3), in almost all canned food and beverages, on cash register receipts and on paper money. The concerning thing about BPA is its potential health effects. Recent research has shown that BPA not only is a hormone disruptor and has the potential for causing neurological issues, but that it can make healthy breast tissue cells act like cancerous ones and can block the efficacy of certain breast cancer treatments. Additional research has shown that BPA may cause arrhythmia and heart attacks in women.

Lori: What are your top three products to avoid and why?

Deanna:

  1. Non-stick products: Anything made with Teflon, stain resistant material or non-stick materials, particularly in food packaging. These all contain some form of Perfluorochemicals (PFCs), which persist in the body for decades and present potential harm to a wide range of organs.
  2. Personal care products with parabens: Parabens are another hormone disruptor and can cause organ toxicity.
  3. All products with artificial fragrances and parfums: Artificial fragrances harbor the chemicals phthalates. Phthalates have been found to disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive abnormalities in males. Some studies also link phthalates to liver cancer.

Lori: If you were advising someone on how to begin detoxifying their lives where would you tell them to begin?

Deanna: Start in the bathroom. Get rid of toxic cleaning supplies and analyze all your personal care products for parabens and artificial fragrance. The process of ridding toxins can be very overwhelming so I generally advise people to pick what’s doable for them and start with that. They can always go further once they’ve tackled, say, hair care products. It’s easy to feel like you have to do it all at once but, like everything else, pick your battles.

Lori: What feedback have you received on your book so far?

Deanna: Most of the feedback I’ve gotten was what an easy read it is and that it is funny. I tried to take a topic that is, for the most part, frightening and make it into something approachable and easy to read, while at the same time educational. So, I’m happy that I’ve accomplished that goal.

Lori: Do you see movement in the right direction when it comes to toxic chemicals? Are you optimistic?

Deanna: Absolutely. Recent research and increased public awareness have caused a lot of changes not only with manufacturers offering up alternatives but also from a legislative standpoint as well. From local laws being written in states banning BPA from certain products and other chemicals to the introduction of the Safe Chemicals Act in the Senate, I’m hopeful that, between consumer awareness and scientific research, we can prevent many of the health and environmental effects that these chemicals can cause.

Deanna’s book, The Non-Toxic Avenger: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You, is a worthwhile guide to help navigate our way through an environment filled with hidden toxins. If you haven’t already, check out Deanna over at the Crunchy Chicken.

Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of The Non-Toxic Avenger for review. This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase the book through the link it will put a few pennies in my pocket. The opinions are my very own.

January 17th, 2012

4 Resolutions to Fight Climate Change

Turning the tide on climate change

This month the green moms have gathered once again for the Green Moms Carnival to share our thoughts on Resolutions to Fight Climate Change. The carnival is hosted this month by Amber over at Strocel.com.  The carnival goes live Monday, January 23, 2012.  Be sure to stop by for lots of great information on ways we can all fight climate change.

For a person who rarely makes New Year’s resolutions I sure am writing about them a lot. Last year I pulled together a mid-year resolution –to eat local, sustainable food as much as possible. The timing was right (June) and I was able to succeed. This year, in place of any resolutions, I came up with 3 words to help define my goals and experiences for the coming year: honesty, present and learn.

This month the amazing women of the Green Moms Carnival came up with the idea to write about resolutions to fight climate change. This is the type of resolution that works on my end-probably because I’m already committed to many of these things.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The buzz words “climate change” and “global warming” have been on our radar since the 80’s. Remember when the hole in the ozone layer of Antarctica was discovered? Now it’s our job to slow down or stop the damage that we’ve already done.

There are 4 things that I will be working hard to accomplish this year. Knowing that each of these small actions will help fight climate change keeps me going back for more. Want to join me?

Holy Cow: Meatless Any Day

Meatless Monday is a movement encouraging people to improve their health and improve the health of the planet by cutting out meat from their diet one day each week. There are estimates that the meat industry produces almost one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change. Cows are one of the largest producers of methane (through their digestive process), a gas that helps contribute to global warming. Eating less meat and dairy is one of the most effective ways to reduce our personal carbon footprint and reduce our impact on the environment.

I have to admit, my meatless day is rarely Monday, but it doesn’t really matter. One of our favorite meatless any day recipes is a simple bean and rice burrito.

Plant a Peach Tree or Any Tree

plant a tree

When each of our three boys was born we planted a tree in their honor. Each year we try to plant at least one new tree either near our house or through Treenex, which plants a tree in a forest each time you purchase a greeting card from their site.

As trees grow they help stop global warming. They remove carbon dioxide from the air, store carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

Family Room Renovation: Use Zero VOC Paint

Most conventional paints contain high levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), which emit a breathable gas when slapped on your walls. Some VOCs are greenhouse gases and can contribute to global warming and others are just bad for your health.

We’re just about to renovate our family room which will involve painting much of the inside of our house.  We are planning to stay in our home during the renovation and that strong, conventional paint smell isn’t an option. We’ve used no VOC paint in the past and it worked well-we’ll be using it again this go round.

Get a Free Home Energy Audit

After speaking with Kevin O’Connor from This Old House I have wanted to arrange a free energy audit (his suggestion). Most energy companies will send a representative to your home, free of charge, for a home energy audit to help identify areas that may not be energy efficient. There are all sorts of rebates available for upgrading to energy efficient appliances and other upgrades.

A home energy audit will hopefully help us find simple ways to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions and lower our utility bills in the process.

What do you do to fight climate change? I’m having a hard time giving up my hot, hot shower.

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Philippe 2009 and Dan Zen /Flickr]

December 8th, 2011

5 Best Green Toys

tin drums

Drums made from repurposed aluminum cans

These toys don’t have to travel far to get to you. As a matter of fact most of them are already in your home. No wasteful packaging is needed-they’ve already been opened. These green toys reduce excess holiday waste and are made from things reused and repurposed.

If you haven’t had a chance to read the Jonathan Liu post for Wired entitled “5 Best Toys of All Time” you should. He nailed it. He reminds us that the best toys are all around us: sticks, boxes, cardboard tubes, mud, and string.

I thought, in light of Jonathan’s article, I would add a few more  favorite green toys that no child should be without (many of which are likely already in your home).

Wooden Spoons

wooden spoons

They cost no more than a few dollars and they can turn into almost anything. I’ve spied them being used for a one-man-band, a wooden spoon puppet and a toy robot.

Blankets and Sheets

Blanket bedding

Just a few of these thrown together over a couch, bunk bed, table or chairs and voila you have a blanket fort. A blanket fort is fun to play in and easy to build. Pillows are great for filling spots where the light is still coming in. Also needed: a flashlight and scary stories.

Pots and Pans

stainless steel Pots and pans

 

Kids and adults can create a marching band with pots and pans found in your kitchen. Pot lids make great cymbals (ear plugs required). Grab a few wooden spoons and start drumming and marching.

Coffee Table

Coffee table

 

The coffee table is generally thought of as a convenient place to display coffee table books, magazines or other personal items. With young children around coffee tables serve an entirely different purpose. They become a permanent home to crayon marks, scratches and finger prints. Our coffee table is often transformed into a perfect stage. Dance performances and talent shoes have all been performed on top of our square and very trashed  coffee table (three boys=standing on the furniture).

Toilet Paper

toilet paper

The toilet paper rolls are ready for action. They can be unraveled by the sneakiest of children in a matter of seconds. Toilets are frightened by the sheer volume of paper potential each time a little one walks into a bathroom. Toilet paper is just fun to play with. Zombies, mummies and the like have all been created from a few rolls of this fluffy white stuff. The inner cardboard rolls have been used to make a bee, bird and bat. We have also used them for marble runs, telescopes and telephones.

There are so many other things in and around your home that could easily turn into the best toy ever. What other ideas do you have?

This month the green moms have gathered once again for the Green Moms Carnival to share our thoughts on our Favorite Green Gifts. The carnival is hosted this month by Linda over at Citizen Green.  The carnival goes live Monday, December 10, 2011.  Be sure to stop by for lots of great tips and  suggestions for green holiday gifts.

[Photos used under Creative Commons from Pualv, Alan Levine, O5com, Phil Manker/Flickr]

 

 

November 22nd, 2011

Groovy Green Odds N Ends for Thanksgiving

Thankful

In honor of Thanksgiving I am about to close up my lap top for a few days to spend some uninterrupted time with friends and family. I hope many of you get the chance to do the same over this long weekend. Before signing off I wanted to share with you a few groovy green things to think about over the next few days.

Green Advocacy

2011 Safe Chemicals Act

I had a chance to tune in to last weeks Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing on the 2011 Safe Chemicals Act. The 2011 Safe Chemicals Act is looking to reform the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) with the hope that the outcome will be placing the burden on manufacturers to prove the safety of a product before it hits supermarket shelves.

What you can do

If your State Senator is a member of the Environment and Public Works committee ask them for their support in passing the Safe Chemicals Act.

Bisphenol A in your Thanksgiving meal

A new report was recently released by the Breast Cancer Fund showing the presence of the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in canned foods used to prepare a typical Thanksgiving meal.

What you can do

This Thanksgiving please try to avoid canned foods and find safer alternatives. To help out, The Breast Cancer Fund has a list of no-can recipes for Thanksgiving.

Around the web

I am so thankful for all of you who inspire me and  teach me on a daily basis. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

See you back here next week!

Lori

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Scarleth White/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. 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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Lori on ABC World News

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