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November 5th, 2014
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:
- Disposable which can be worn for up to 12 hours and is then discarded, and
- 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
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 Newsletter. Receive 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.
March 19th, 2014
Yogurt on the Go!
Parents with young children know that snacks are a necessity. When my kids were little we never left home without our arsenal of food. I remember putting a lot of time into packing the right things. Variety was key, as was quantity. Unfortunately I learned the hard way that forgotten snacks could very well mean an early end to our adventure.
On many days, remembering the snacks was only half the battle. There were countless times when snacks were opened, two bites were taken and the kids were off and running again. The playground comes to mind as a place where snacks were quickly discarded so the kids could jump back into a game of tag. Many times the opened and uneaten yogurt cup or applesauce cup ended up in a garbage can since there was no way to close them up for transport. There was a lot of wasted food.
Stonyfield Yogurt Pouches to the Rescue!
I am excited to be partnering with Stonyfield for this post. Stonyfield has a new product on the market that was created to cut down on the amount of wasted snacks. Their new yogurt pouches are a convenient snack option. Each pouch is filled with organic fruit and/or vegetable infused yogurt and never have any high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. There are three different options and each comes in a variety of flavors: YoBaby, YoToddler and YoKids .
Life would have been a bit easier if these were around when my kids were infants and toddlers.
With these new yogurt pouches kids can not only feed themselves, but there’s no need for us grownups to carry around spoons, bibs, bowls, and breakable jars.
The child-safe cap on the yogurt pouches reseals for flexible portions. The kids can take a bite or two and then put the cap back on, saving the rest for later. Each yogurt pouch can be out of refrigerator for up to 4 hours. It’s suggested that the yogurt pouches be re-sealed once and consumed within 24 hrs once they’re opened.
I’m really looking forward to tasting the YoToddlers pear-spinach-mango yogurt pouch. I think my kids will go for the standard blueberry and strawberry YoKids pouches.
What’s your favorite yogurt flavor? I’m sticking with vanilla.
This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. I did receive compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.
photo credit: Mark Kenny via photopin cc
August 8th, 2013
I’ve been working with the folks over at MightyNest for quite some time because they walk the walk and talk the talk. They stand behind their pledge “to keep your family safe“. I’ve written about their products and shared their valuable information on my Facebook page and in my Twitter feed. You’ll even find a MightyNest banner off to the far right on this site. They’ve been longtime sponsors of Groovy Green Livin.
This year MightNest was one of my sponsors for my trip to BlogHer in Chicago. I had a chance to meet the lovely Annie from MightyNest in real life, which always makes such a difference.
Reusable Lunch Products for Tweens and Teens
As back to school approaches I’m finding that it’s harder and harder to find reusable gear that my three boys (ages 9, 11 and 12) will actually use. Many of the products out there are fantastic, but they’re not going to cut it for teens and tweens. Dragons, princesses and rocket ships are no longer cool to carry to school.
MightyNest to the rescue!
Their online store has a whole slew of products that any tween or teen would love. Check out these reusable products that will be making their way into my boys lunch boxes this school year.
If you’ve been following along here you know that vinyl lunchboxes aren’t safe and should be avoided. Check out this double decker lunch bag that is PVC, BPA and Phthalate-free. This clever design has two compartments, the top for easy access and the bottom for bigger items. The lunch bag does come with a BPA free plastic container meant for food storage. I’m choosing not to use the plastic container – I do my best to make sure plastic doesn’t come in contact with food (even BPA free plastic). We have the orange lunch bag and it rocks! Since there’s only one bag and three boys, they’re going to have to arm wrestle for the right to use it.
This water bottle is the perfect size for any lunch box. This water bottle not only keeps things cold, but keeps them hot too. It’s stainless steel and comes in a variety of great colors.
I’ve been using these ice packs for years and absolutely love them. They are BPA, lead and phthalate free. Each pack comes with a cover made from 100% RECYCLED BPA-Free Plastic Bottles. These ice packs don’t sweat so your lunch won’t get wet and soggy.
Snack Taxi reusable bags have been part of our reusable arsenal for a long time. Their bags are made from quality cotton and lined with nylon. All bags are BPA, PVC, Lead and Phthalate Free. The best feature-you can throw them right in the washing machine. The reusable bag I received from MightyNest actually has soccer balls on it. A perfect fit for my two of my boys. No question, there will be a fight over this reusable bag too!
Another great product from Kids Konserve. I really like this stainless steel container (it does have a plastic lid) for snacks and other lunch foods. Remember-don’t place the plastic lid in the dishwasher. Wash all plastic by hand. Best feature: it doesn’t leak!
Lunchbots have been a staple reusable lunch container in our house for a few years. The bright colored lids and the variety of stainless steel sizes make them a great choice for our lunch box. My only complaint-the lids don’t seal so there’s a risk of leakage. I use these container for dry snacks and other food items that won’t leak. Since these containers have a divider our favorite snack to pack is cheese on one side and crackers on the other.
Now for the MightyNest GIVEAWAY!
The kind folks over at MightyNest have graciously offered to give one Groovy Green Livin reader a set of reusable lunch gear (one of each item listed above valued at $93.00!). The Giveaway will close at 10 am on CST on August 13, 2013. By entering your name and other information you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules. Thanks to MightyNest and good luck to all of you!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
My friend Kathy from SafeMama.com is also having a MightyNest Giveaway! Head on over to her site to increase your chance of winning some fantastic lunchbox reusables!
Disclosure: Thank you to MightyNest for sending my kids samples of the lunch gear reviewed in this post. I didn’t receive any compensation for this review. The opinions expressed in this post are my very own.
March 26th, 2013
Paying attention during March Madness is not high on my priority list, but if Wisconsin is playing and there’s a way to combine the games with good food and good friends I’m in. The Badgers didn’t last long this year, losing in the second round of March Madness to the Ole Miss Rebels. That didn’t stop us from having a dinner with friends and their families.
Our dinner was fantastic.
Everyone brought something to share.
Aren’t these basketball cupcakes da bomb?
We were given a challenge-to host a March Madness party with only one bag of trash at the end of the night.
That might sound easy on a regular day, but when you have 8 adults and 8 children eating together it becomes a challenge to stick to greener habits. Many times when entertaining takes place eco-friendly habits fall by the wayside. According to the Clean Air Council, 43,000 tons of food are thrown out every day in the United States, and each year Americans toss out enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times. Those are some scary statistics.
Considering composting and recycling before throwing something in a trash bag makes it easy to reduce overall waste. During our party our guests were instructed to place all of the food scraps into this Simplehuman Compost Pail. We also had recycle bins available. Making small eco-friendly tweaks to your party planning can ultimately have a big impact on the environment.
Here are a few tips for keeping it green when entertaining.
- Email your invites. I actually didn’t use formal invitations for this party. We just kept an online dialogue going about timing and menu.
- Buy what you can in bulk. Buying from the bulk bins at the grocery store can be a great way to save money on your grocery bill, but that’s not the only reason to shop the bulk bins. I like the ability to buy only what you need and decreasing the chance of creating excess waste.
- Use reusable napkins. We have 5 people in our family-if we eat just one meal a day at home using paper/disposable napkins we are using 1,825 paper napkins per year. That statistic was enough to make me switch to reusable napkins. Making the switch is a simple way to help the environment and save yourself a few pennies in the long run.
- Go for real dishes, reusable water bottles or cups and flatware. Not only do they look nicer, but you’ll be doing the earth a favor. Using reusable dishes, cups, water bottles and utensils prevents disposable paper or plastic from unnecessarily entering a landfill. If you don’t have enough dishes for the party consider borrowing from a friend.
- Donate leftover food. This never seems to be an issue for us. We have a family of healthy eaters! If you have leftovers check with your local food pantry for donation options.
- Have recycle containers and a compost bucket ready for action. Show your guests where to place their refuse. Every city and town has their own recycle system in place, so follow along with their guidelines. We are novice composters over here, but we have a compost bucket that can handle any food scraps.
- Use a compostable garbage bag to collect your one bag of trash. As most of you who follow this blog know I’m on a mission to reduce the amount of plastic in my life. With 5 people and a dog our garbage bags can get pretty messy and runs the risk of leaking. The best alternative I’ve found is a compostable garbage bag by Glad which is made with a vegetable-based material that’s 100% biodegradable and compostable. If a plastic bag is needed for garbage, they’re a much better option than true plastic bags.
Here’s what we were left with after everything was recycled and/or composted. Not bad for 16 people!
Do you think you could have a One Bag party and throw away only one bag of trash?
Stay tuned….I’ll be posting a giveaway in the next few days for a One Bag party kit so you can give it a try. You can also enter for a chance to win $10,000 toward your own personal One Bag party through March 31, 2013 HERE.
photo credit: iandavidmuir via photopin cc photo credit: thecocoacakery via photopin cc
Disclosure: I did receive compensation in exchange for having a one bag party and sharing my experience. The content and opinions are 100% my own and always will be. Promise.
January 10th, 2013
Many of us have those few tried and true green products that make their way into our lives on a daily basis. We’ve tried other green products, but they just don’t compare. Once we find a green product that works it becomes ingrained in our routine and we become somewhat dependent, knowing they are safe, non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
We learn from each other
Most of the green products I use come from recommendations from others and brands I trust. Here are a few of my favorite green products that somehow work their way into my daily routine.
Klean Kanteen. This stainless steel reusable water bottle comes with me to the gym, meetings and sits by me in my office while I’m working.
Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash . Yes, I still use ‘baby shampoo’. I love this stuff and it scores a big, fat ZERO on EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic database. No toxins!
ECOnapkin Reusable Napkins. Reusable napkins make their way into my kids lunch boxes and onto our dinner table every night.
Better Life No Regrets Hand Soap. You’ll find this hand soap throughout our house. It smells delicious and is sulfate-free.
All-Clad Stainless Steel 12-Inch Fry Pan. We use this pan so much that I never put it away. My kids love to cook eggs, french toast and pancakes. Cleaning stainless steel is a breeze if you follow these simple instructions.
Reusable Shopping Tote by ChicoBag . These are fantastic! They hold up to 25 lbs and easily stuff into a small pouch for storage. I carry a few in my purse so I have no excuse for forgetting my reusable bags.
I’m sure there are more, but these are things I’ve already used today.
What are your favorite green products?
photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc
There are a few affiliate links in this post which if used will put a few pennies in my pocket and help support this blog. All opinions are my very own.
September 30th, 2012
Ask a group of friends to come over for a sustainable garden party and they will come. I know from firsthand experience. Not exactly knowing what they were in for, they showed up out of sheer curiosity and a knowing that food would be involved!
What is a sustainable garden party?
About a week ago I was asked by DailyBuzz Healthy Living (I’m a contributor to the site) to throw a sustainable garden party in honor of Lightlife‘s new Frozen Veggie Burger. I’m a big fan of veggie burgers and try to always keep them in my freezer so I’m prepped and ready for a Meatless Monday meal. I searched high and low for these new burgers, but to no avail. Since they are a hot new product they are just beginning their distribution and haven’t made it into my neck of the woods yet.
Since the burgers weren’t an option I was given the go-ahead to test out any Lightlife product. I’ve always seen Lightlife products next to the tofu and tabbouleh at Whole Foods, but have never tried them. I picked out a few Lightlife products and brought them home-ready to get creative.
Now onto the sustainable portion of the party. In addition to testing out some new products I knew that I was going to keep this party as ec0-friendly as possible.
We started off setting the table with reusable napkins. Reusables were used for the entire party-no plastic cups, paper towels, plastic utensils or single-use plates.
Energy efficient lighting
Throughout our house we’ve gradually switched most of the bulbs to either compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or light emitting diode bulbs (LEDs). CFLs use 75% less energy and produce 75% less heat than incandescent light bulbs. Our refrigerator, shown in this video clip uses LEDs. LEDs last for years and use only 2-10 watts of electricity (1/3rd to 1/30th of incandescent or CFL bulbs).
There were empty glass bottles decorating my counters from beer, wine and a few fancy drinks that we tested out in our Blendtec blender. Recycling was a breeze and everyone pitched in. We all made the effort to throw anything that can be recycled into our recycle bin.
Now the best part: the food! Everyone brought something to share. We kept this meal vegetarian and I don’t think anyone went home hungry.
I had quite a few boxes of the Lightlife Chick’n Style Seasoned Veggie Strips so we decided to whip up a batch of stir fry. They are made from soy and are vegan, GMO-free, fat free and packed with protein (14 grams per serving).
Lightlife Chick’n Seasoned Veggie Strip Stir Fry
This recipe is extremely simple. Use the veggies you have in the fridge and cut them into bite size pieces. I happened to have broccoli, peppers, carrots, squash, and sugar snap peas. I always love having the opportunity to use my veggie crinkle cutter.
Take your wok and heat up with 1-2 tbsp of oil and add the Lightlife Chick’n Style Seasoned Veggie Strips. Then begin to add the vegetables. Don’t over cook the vegetables. Make sure you add vegetables first that need a little longer to cook.
Stir fry sauce
- 4 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (add another clove if you want more)
- 1/4 c. water
Add soy sauce mixture to the the vegetable Veggie Strip mixture and cook until everything is lightly coated.
Serve over couscous. The dish was so simple and a big hit! Enjoy.
Have you ever hosted or been to a sustainable garden party?
This series is brought to you in partnership with Lightlife, Live long. Travel light. To learn more, click here http://www.lightlife.com.
Disclosure: As a part of the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program, Lightlife provided me with a stipend and product for sampling.
photo credit: LexnGer via photopin cc, photo credit: greenplasticamy via photopin cc
September 25th, 2012
Usually around October my kids start to complain that their school lunch box selections are boring. The back-to-school thrill has died down and our search for snacks to spice up our lunch routine is on. Then the begging for hot lunch begins. I really don’t get it. Hot lunch at school looks completely unappetizing to me. Quite frankly, I’d rather not eat lunch. Knowing that the complaining and begging is just around the corner (maybe it is for you too?) I thought I’d be proactive and take this opportunity to share a few snacks that may or may not work in your children’s lunch boxes.
Cascadian Farm Organic Ancient Grains Granola
My kids love to use Kids Konserve Stainless Steel Mini Food Containers to pack a trail mix in their lunch. We take Cascadian Farms Organic Granola Cereal Ancient Grains and add mix-ins to it (raisins, nuts, other cereals) to make our customized trail mix. The granola has quinoa, spelt and kamut khorasan wheat. It’s an excellent source of fiber and protein.
NatureBox is a monthly subscription service that costs $19.95/month. Each month a variety of beautifully packaged snacks arrives at your doorstep. The snacks are handpicked by NatureBox and abide by their strict quality standards:
- No high fructose corn syrup
- No partially hydrogenated oils
- No artificial colors or flavors
- No trans fats
If you’re looking for variety this is a great option. Just so there are no surprises-most of the NatureBox snacks I received did contain some form of sugar-agave, evaporated cane juice, but no HFCS.
Late July Organic Snacks
My son grabbed the Late July Organic Snacks Sea Salt by the Seashore Multigrain Tortilla Chips when were grocery shopping together a few months ago. Now we’re all hooked. Every Late July chip flavor is delicious and works extremely well in our lunch boxes. These chips have a lot of good qualities:
- They’re gluten-free
- They’re organic
- You won’t find any GMOs, artificial colors or preservatives or trans fats
- The company donates 10% of their profits to summer camp scholarships
Water in a reusable Klean Kanteen goes into our lunch boxes daily. An Honest Tea drink would only be included as a special treat.
My kids steer clear of any drinks that are caffeinated and thankfully there are plenty of decaffeinated Honest Tea choices. I was a bit disappointed that all of their decaffeinated drinks contained some form of added sugar. Not ideal for three boys with a lot of energy.
My husband loves the organic Honest Tea selections. This selection of tea doesn’t have any added sugar and come in a glass bottle. Keep in mind that they are caffeinated.
Have you seen this candy? I recently spotted it in Staples and CVS as I was about to checkout. UNREAL is a new type of candy with a mission to “unjunk” the world. UNREAL candies contain no artificial flavors, preservatives or hormones; no GMO’s (genetically modified organisms); no hydrogenated oils; and no corn syrup. Instead, they use real sugar, natural oils, and real milk. They make their candy available only where junk food is available.
Candy never makes it into our lunch boxes-our elementary school prohibits sending in any candy for lunch. However, this type of candy does have a place. If there’s a child reaching for a candy bar at the checkout counter no candy is the best option, but UNREAL candy would be a better option.
What are your favorite snacks to spice up your lunch box?
photo credit: kayepants via photopin cc
Disclosure: I did receive samples from Cascadian Farm, Late July Organics, Honest Tea, NatureBox and UNREAL. The opinions are my very own.