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January 27th, 2016

My Search for a Safe Mattress: Sleep on Latex Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is latex?

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

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

Sleep on Latex Mattress Review

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

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

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

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

No toxic flame retardants

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

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

The cost

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

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

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

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


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


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

December 14th, 2015

How to Find Non-Toxic Flooring

How to Find Non-Toxic Flooring Groovy Green Livin

This was originally published at Moms Clean Air Force

Choosing non-toxic flooring for your home might sound like a simple task, but unfortunately, many of the flooring options available contain harmful chemicals. Toxic chemicals in flooring can be a significant source of indoor air pollution. Air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk according toestimates. In 2012, around 7 million people died, one in eight of total global deaths, as a result of air pollution. 4.3 million of those deaths were attributable to indoor air pollution.

If you are in the process of choosing new or replacement flooring, it’s important to understand how each option could impact the indoor air quality of your home.

Carpeting

While carpeting has been a popular choice, we now know new carpet installation is a large contributor to indoor air pollution. Carpeting can fill household air with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including probable carcinogens like formaldehyde, benzene and stain repellents. There are a few safer carpet options available, but there are also alternatives to carpet including tile, hardwood, linoleum and vinyl.

Ceramic Tile 

Ceramic tile is generally a safe, non-toxic option that is easy to maintain. It’s important to ask the distributor and installer specific questions about the safety of the grout, the ventilation process used during installation and any other materials used that could cause toxic fumes.

Hardwood 

For anyone with allergies, hardwood is typically a good option. The wood surface allows for dust and other allergens to be removed easily. True hardwood is made from solid wood harvested from trees. It’s important to choose a non-toxic finish when installing new flooring. Hardwood is not to be confused with laminate, which was called out in a 60 Minutes story back in March 2015. Laminate flooring is a synthetic product made to look like real wood. The flooring giant, Lumber Liquidators, was accused of selling illegally sourced laminate wood with high levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Vinyl and Linoleum 

Many consumers are opting for vinyl or linoleum because they are durable, versatile and economical options. Vinyl and linoleum are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are very different types of flooring.

Linoleum flooring is made from all-natural and biodegradable materials including linseed oil, cork dust, pine resin and wood flour. It is very resilient and can last up to 30-40 years. Vinyl on the other hand is a petroleum-based synthetic product, made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin along with additives, such as plasticizers, stabilizers, pigments, and fillers. Vinyl flooring can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years.

Why is vinyl flooring hazardous?

A recent study found that most vinyl flooring, made from reprocessed plastic, contained toxic phthalates, lead, cadmium, brominated flame retardants, and other toxic chemicals. These chemicals can contribute to indoor air pollution by drifting out of the vinyl and into the air and dust inside homes. There’s some good news for consumers: major retailers including Lumber Liquidators, Home Depot, Menards and Lowe’s are all taking steps to remove toxic phthalates from their vinyl flooring.

What to look for when purchasing flooring

    • Instead of carpet, chose hard-surfaced flooring and rugs that can be removed and cleaned outside.
    • Look for non-toxic and eco-friendly options. Ask questions of manufacturers and installers regarding materials used, safety and environmental claims.
    • Decline any stain-resistance treatments.
    • Look for products made without vinyl such as hardwood, linoleum and ceramic tile.

For the health of our families, please continue to support meaningful legislation that prevents these chemicals from ending up in our homes.

What type of flooring do you have in your apartment or home?

FOR MORE INFO: PLEASE CHECK OUT CLIMATE CHANGE AT HOME.

TELL YOUR SENATORS: GET THE JOB DONE ON TOXIC CHEMICAL REFORM


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photo credit: aa2 res via photopin (license)

December 4th, 2015

A Stainless Steel Baking Sheet That Actually Works

A Stainless Steel Baking Sheet That Actually Works Groovy Green Livin

I’ve been gradually replacing my non-stick bakeware with safer options. It’s still a work in progress. Despite the ease and convenience of non-stick baking sheets, I’m committed to dumping the Teflon and replacing my non-stick with healthier options.

Non-stick cookware and bakeware are metal pans (such as aluminum pans) coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms.

Stainless steel and cast iron are at the top of my list for safe baking alternatives to Teflon and other non-stick options.

Introducing 360 Cookware Stainless Steel Large Baking Sheet 

When 360 Cookware asked me to test out their large stainless steel large baking sheet I was thrilled.  I’ve worked with 360 Cookware before when I reviewed their one quart saucepan last year. We use their saucepan all the time.  I’ve been searching for a safe cookie sheet for years and haven’t had much luck. I was curious to see if my baked goods would stick to a baking sheet that wasn’t non-stick.

A Stainless Steel Baking Sheet That Actually Works Groovy Green Livin

360 Cookware is stainless steel (my favorite) and comes with a lifetime warranty. Here are a few other favorite features:

  • This baking sheet is strong. And I mean strong. No bending and warping like other stainless baking sheets that I’ve tried.
  • Conducts heat evenly and efficiently.
  • It’s large. The 14” x 17.5” area will accommodate lots of small cookies or just a few monster cookies!
  • The pots and pans are oven safe up to 400 degrees.
  • There are no harsh chemicals used in the finish of this pan and food rarely sticks.

If you’ve ever invested in quality pots, pans and bakeware you know that true quality comes at a price. This stainless steel large baking sheet
is not cheap ($99), but it is durable and will probably last you a lifetime.

Why 360 Cookware?

I have no choice but to love this company since 360 Cookware is manufactured in Wisconsin.  If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I spent most of my childhood in Madison, Wisconsin. I guess that’s not enough reason to love a brand, but it’s a good start! Here are a few interesting facts about the company with corporate headquarters in central Florida.

  • The entire factory is operated using power from wind turbines.
  • The factory has floor to ceiling windows which allow natural lighting and cut down on the need for and use of indoor electrical lighting.
  • The factory doesn’t have or use any smokestacks and there are no harsh chemicals used in the facility or in any of 360’s products.

There’s no denying that $99 is a bit pricey for a stainless steel large baking sheet, but the quality is there. If you’re buying top of the line cookware this is a great brand to check out.

Do you have a favorite baking or cookie sheet that works well?


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: 360 Cookware sent me a stainless steel large baking sheet for review. Some links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. All opinions are my own. Thanks for your support in this way!

 

 

October 13th, 2015

My Search for a Safe Waffle Maker

My Search for a Safe Waffle Maker Groovy Green Livin

My kids love pancakes and waffles. We’ve decided that almost everything tastes better with maple syrup. Most weekends we’ll have some variation of pancakes to start off the day. We add fruit, flax seeds, chia seeds and occasionally chocolate chips for a special treat.

For the past few years my kids have been begging for a waffle maker. Just for the sheer ease of making breakfast, I would love one too. I’ve been looking, but have had no luck finding a safe, non-toxic waffle maker.

Most waffle makers contain a Teflon (PTFE and PFOA), non-stick coating. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms. Not something I want on my waffles!

So what’s a waffle lover to do?

After searching for many, many months (maybe years?), I’ve come up with a list of safer waffle makers (affiliate links*)

Rome’s Old Fashioned Waffle Iron ($19.99)

We’re going old school here. This waffle maker sits on top of your stove top and makes traditional waffles. There’s nothing fancy about it, but it works. This waffle iron is cast iron so remember it needs to be seasoned to work properly.

If you’re not interested in cast iron for your waffles the next step up would be a waffle maker with a ceramic (PTFE and PFOA free) coating.

KitchenAid Waffle Baker with CeramaShield Nonstick Coating  ($399)

This waffle maker has a CeramaShield coating. I contacted the company to find out what exactly that meant. I was told that the coating was PTFE and PFOA free. Unfortunately this model comes with a hefty price tag.

Oster DuraCeramic Belgian Waffle Maker ($19)

This Oster Belgian Waffle maker is designed with a DuraCeramic non-stick coating. After speaking with the company they assured me that the coating is free of aluminum, nickel, cadmium, and Teflon (PFOA and PTFE free). The price is right on this model.

Pancakes too!

If you’re looking for a safe pancake griddle this one is the best! I use my Lodge cast iron griddle all the time.

Do you have a safe waffle maker that you love?

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


*Disclaimer: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you), which in turn helps support this site. None of the companies I promote on this page have paid me, I just really like their products. Thank you in advance.

October 6th, 2015

Safer Beauty and Personal Care Products~How You Can Help

Safer Beauty and Personal Care Products~How You Can Help Groovy Green Livin

I’m back after an incredible weekend in Los Angeles. I was in LA to speak at ShiftCon, a social media conference focusing on wellness, health, and the environment. This is the second year for this conference and it did not disappoint.

This year my panel was called “Beauty and the Beast: Navigating the World of Green Beauty“. I spoke alongside Lindsay Dahl of Beautycounter and Lindsay Dahl’s Blog and Micaela Preston of Mindful Momma. Our panel tackled the confusing world of green beauty and what we as consumers, advocates and writers can do to help transform the beauty industry.

Safer Beauty and Personal Care Products~How You Can Help Groovy Green Livin

The confusing world of green beauty

In 1938 congress passed a law regulating the cosmetics industry. Unfortunately, the United States has not passed a federal law to regulate the ingredients used in personal care products since that 1938 law passed. Although there’s been tremendous growth in the beauty product marketplace, the regulations governing personal care products have changed very little in the last eight decades.

The cosmetics and personal care marketplace is extremely confusing for consumers. The government does no safety testing of products or their ingredients, nor does it approve new products before they’re placed on the shelves in our stores.

Shoppers shouldn’t have to be chemists or experts to find safe shampoo, mascara or blush!

What You Can Do: Safer Beauty and Personal Care Products Groovy Green Livin

How can we help the marketplace shift towards safer beauty products?

Consumer pressure works! As more and more of us understand the impacts that toxic chemicals have on our health there is a huge drive for safer products. Each time we buy a safer product we’re casting a vote. We are demanding safer beauty and personal care products.

A few BIG changes are happening because consumers are demanding safer products:

  • Johnson & Johnson. After intense public pressure Johnson & Johnson agreed to remove 1, 4-dioxane and quaternium-15 from nearly all of their toiletry and cosmetic products worldwide by 2015.  In 2014 they did it.
  • Clorox (Burt’s Bees) made a statement that in 2015 it will expand its ingredient disclosure program.
  • Target.  Target Corporation, the second-largest discount retailer in the United States, has new sustainability standard for the household cleaners, personal care and beauty, and baby care products it sells.

Encourage companies (green, natural and conventional) to disclose ALL ingredients.

  • Skip the most toxic ingredients when you buy personal care products-use the Skin Deep app as a starting point.
  • Get to know your products. Contact the company and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to do this! Be an educated consumer.

Use your voice to encourage members of Congress to pass a strong Personal Care Products Safety Act. 

  • Join forces with some of the powerful organizations already doing good work: Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Breast Cancer Fund, EWG and Beautycounter . Get on their email lists to remain updated.
  • Call members of congress.
  • Call local politicians  and let them know that we deserve safe cosmetics and non-toxic personal care products. Let them know that we them to stand up for meaningful reform.

Join Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Mind the Store campaign

In 2013, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families launched the Mind the Store campaign. The campaign was created to ask our nation’s top ten retailers to avoid carrying the Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals. I went to Walgreens several times to ask them to carry safer productsWalgreens has finally committed to developing a chemicals policy!

Take a look at my picks for-

For more helpful information check out Micaela’s post over at Mindful Momma on how to buy better beauty and personal care products

We all deserve safer cosmetics and personal care products, don’t we? How do you find safer personal care products?


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

photo credit: my new isadora 1 via photopin (license)

September 14th, 2015

7 Safer Containers for Food Storage

7 Safer Containers for Food Storage Groovy Green LivinFood storage is a tricky topic. For many of us Tupperware and other plastic food storage containers were and still are the norm. There’s no question that they’re convenient and durable, but we’re learning that they’re not the safest option for us. Plastic containers can release toxic chemicals into the food and liquids we store in them. Even plastic that’s “BPA free” might not be any safer.

Over the years I’ve worked hard to wean myself off of plastic in the kitchen. My goal is to remove any plastic that comes in contact with food and liquids. Not an easy task. I’m also trying to never put anything plastic in the dishwasher. Heating the plastic (stressing it) may cause more leaching of the chemicals.

If you’re looking for a simple way to green up your kitchen try swapping out your plastic food storage containers for glass or stainless steel. The one questionable feature with most glass containers is a plastic lid. I’ve tried other food storage containers without plastic lids and they tend to leak.

Take a look at these non-toxic food storage containers (affiliate links) 

Duralex Lys 10-Ounce Square Bowl Set of 6 ($45)

Made from tempered glass, Duralex is more resistant to breakage, sudden thermal shock and chipping than normal glass. These containers are dishwasher, fridge and microwave safe. The one down-side: Duralex lids are made from BPA free plastic. 

Anchor Hocking 10-Piece TrueSeal Storage Set ($25)

This is a 10-piece set which includes: one 1-cup, two 2-cup, one 4-cup and one 7-cup round TrueSeal food storage containers: 5 glass containers and 5 matching TrueSeal lids. This Tempered Glass is dishwasher safe and made in the USA.

Wean Green Garden Pack Lunch Cubes Glass Food Containers($25)

Wean Lunch Cubes keep homemade mac & cheese or left over curry fresh and chemical free. They’re made from 100% recycled glass and are dishwasher and microwave safe. The glass is durable and temperature-resistant with leak-proof, locking lids.

These food storage containers are made from food-grade stainless steel and the lids are non-toxic no: 4 plastic.The containers are free of bpa, phthalates, pvc and lead. They are dishwasher safe, top rack recommended. Don’t wash the plastic lids in the dishwasher. 

Lifefactory Glass Food Storage Container ($38)

Lifefactory’s mobile food storage collection is perfect for taking a healthy lunch to work or storing family leftovers. There is a range of colors and sizes to choose from that can be mixed or matched. Each piece has a silicone sleeve that covers the glass container.

Anchor Hocking Baking ‘N’ Store Dish with Glass Lid ($5)

This container is completely made of glass (even the lid!). The glass dish and lid are oven safe to 425 degrees F. No guaranty that this one won’t leak, but if you’re looking for something made entirely of glass this is a great option.

Pyrex Simply Store 10-Piece Glass Food Storage Set  ($16)

This clear tempered glass food storage set includes easy-find lids that snap to the bottom of the container and to each other. Bases and lids are easy to keep organized. The containers have a built-in gasket  which creates a leak proof seal to keep out air to help keep foods fresh. These glass containers are dishwasher, freezer, microwave, and oven-safe to 425 degrees F.

Do you have a favorite food storage container?


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


Disclaimer: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you), which in turn helps support this site. None of the companies I promote on this page have paid me, I just really like their products. Thank you in advance.

photo credit: Watermelon Aqua Fresca via photopin (license)

May 7th, 2015

5 Safer Nail Polish Brands

5 Safer Nail Polish Brands Groovy Green Livin

 

Nail polish comes in and out of my life. Over the past decade it’s pretty much been out. Pre-kids it was a different story. Enjoying an occasional mani/pedi was something I truly looked forward to when I was practicing law. It was an escape from the office. There was a cute nail salon just a few short blocks away. On occasion I would treat myself  to a new color and a few moments of “me time”.

As much as I loved the pampering, I remember walking into the salon and being overwhelmed by the smell. As most of us know, nail polish has a very distinct smell that’s impossible to ignore. After a few years of regular nail salon visits I started to question what was causing that smell and the safety of the nail polish I was putting on my fingers and toes. A little bit of research caused me to go cold turkey. I decided that the chemicals in the polish didn’t belong on my body. No more nail polish for me.

Problem with conventional nail polish

Nail polish often includes this “toxic trio”:

  • Toulene– Toluene is added to gasoline,  and used as a solvent.  Inhaling toulene has been found to cause irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes, sore throat, dizziness, and headaches.
  • Formaldehyde– Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that has been classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance).
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) -This chemical is banned in Europe. 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.
  • Other assorted toxic chemicals.

There are safer, toxin free nail polish options on the market.

Not only are these safer nail polishes made without the 3 common chemicals found in nail polishes (Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde), but they are also free from 2 other very dangerous chemicals (Formaldehyde Resin and Camphor).

Now I’m back. My fingers are for the most part still au natural, but an occasional pedicure is back in the mix .

Here are a few of the nail polish brands I feel comfortable using:

  1. Zoya Nail Polish –  My local nail salon uses Zoya Nail Polish and I really like this brand. The polish is easy to apply, comes in a wide variety of colors and stays on well.
  2. Acquarella Nail Polish – Acquarella Nail Polish received a 1 (low hazard) score on the Skin Deep website.  This polish is completely water based with virtually no odor.
  3. Piggy Paint Nail Polish – Piggy Paint Nail Polish scores a 2 over at Skin Deep. This polish is kid friendly and doesn’t contain formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, biphenyl A, ethyl acetate and acetone.
  4. Scotch Naturals Non-Toxic Nail Polish – Scotch Naturals Non-Toxic Nail Polish and their kiddie line, Hopscotch Kids got it right with their polish.  Both water based polishes are safe polish that actually lasts.  They come in very cool, eco-chic colors and there is no chemical smell!
  5. Suncoat Non-Toxic Nail Polish Suncoat’s motto is “We believe beauty and toxic chemicals don’t belong in the same sentence.” Their polish is water-based and free of toluene, formaldehyde, phthalate plasticizers (BDP etc) and alcohol, and also free of acetates and toxic preservatives such as parabens and methylisothiazolinone (Neolone 950). It’s colored with mineral pigments and natural colorants. The coolest feature: it peels off! No remover needed

Don’t forget to find a safe nail polish remover

Many nail polish removers and artificial nail products contain a host of toxic chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer, reproductive harm, asthma and other negative health effects. If you’re looking for a safe nail polish remover take a look HERE.

What’s your favorite nail polish brand?


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: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you), which in turn helps support this site. None of the companies I promote on this page have paid me, I just really like their products. Thank you in advance.

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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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