It’s Easy Being Green

The Next Kid Thing: Easy Being Green
To round out Earth Week, I thought I’d do a round up of green things that we’re currently loving. In addition to some earth friendly items, I included some goodies and gear that we’re already playing with, or are on our ongoing wish list.
l-r clockwise

1. Hello Kitty Raincoat

A departure from the classic yellow slicker, this fun raincoat features the iconic and super-cute Hello Kitty. In addition to the frog raincoat Kitty’s wearing in the graphic, ruffles in back make this chic raincoat stand out in girly outerwear.

2. HDMX Jams Portable Speaker

We are a techy family to say the least, but we’re all about unplugging, too! And when I say unplug, that also goes for wireless technology. I love this HDMX Jams Portable Speaker for so many reasons. Beyond its cool packaging (Jam, get it?), these Blue-tooth compatible speakers pack a punch. For less than $50, the speakers offer an affordable way to share jams with friends, better yet, for those impromtu dance parties with your iphone!

3. Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Playmates makes the hot-again TMNT action figures and sets. If you have boys who are into this sort of thing, perhaps you’re already familiar with the buzz with these familiar ninja-savvy turtles. Donnie is the brains behind the guys (er, turtles’) Ooze-Zooka, so beware, Kraang and the Foot Clan!

4. Lunch Bots Quatro

I love love love Lunch Bots stainless steel containers. The quatro has dividers to give the container the Bento Box treatment, which is especially helpful for school or work lunch, and even appeasing those eaters who just can’t have their food touching.

5. Feeding Baby Green by Dr. Alan Greene

I have been such a fan of Dr. Greene since before Biggie was born. I read his articles and books throughout my pregnancy and subsequent first years as a mom. Dr. Green released Feeding Baby Green a few years ago, but his message on how to feed baby healthy, wholesome food is as timeless as it is invaluable.

6. Hello Kitty Hello Spring

This adorable book from Abrams came to me on a cold wintry day. So, now as the brighter, sunny days reflect the pages in this Hello Kitty book, we can all finally say, Hello Spring. Perfect for the littlest to biggest Hello Kitty fan, this book embraces the best aspects of the season, highlighting them in such a way that Hello Kitty does best.

7. Ruum t-shirt

New this year, Ruum is finding a way to make classic and modern styles merge in our kids’ closets. The company once known as 77Kids was bought by the former head of The Children’s Place, so expect to find fun, functional and sometimes funky clothes from Ruum (sounds like room). Tees like this one showcase the fun fashion that Ruum embodies.

8. Washi tape

I’m absolutely obsessed with washi tape! This paper tape that comes in a myriad of designs can be used for virtually anything—crafts, decor, day-to-day usage and more.  We currently use washi tape for labeling and a number of crafts.  You can find washi tape in crafts stores and on Etsy.

9. Little Green Shampoo and Body Wash

We test out a lot of kid bath products, and one that we’re currently loving is this Little Green Shampoo and Body Wash.  I received several samples of this line in a swag bag a few years ago, and recently learned that this is a local product, as in the creator’s spa is 2 miles away.  What’s great about this combo shampoo and body wash is that it cleans everything without drying the hair our skin out.  There’s no parabens, allergens or sulfates and is formulated for sensitive skin like my guys.  Love this line and can’t wait to try out the other products.

10. Trash Pack Garbage Truck

If you asked me what toys were going to be big in my house last year, I honestly would have never guessed it would be trash.  And when I say ‘trash,’ I’m of course referring to Moose Toys’ Trash Pack.  Despite their small size, these toys are huge in my house.  I wrote about them around Halloween and how we gave them out for our Trunk or Treat, and like the Pied Piper, the neighborhood kids still ask me if I have more.  So, when Christmas time came around, Santa remembered this and gifted Biggie with a Garbage Truck to go with said Trash Pack.  Our Trash Pack Garbage Truck came with Series 3 Trashies like Putrid Boot and Scrummy Screen.  Collecting things didn’t get big for us until last year, so the Trash Pack has become a mainstay around here.  The garbage truck complements the collectibles and is often used to transport and store these eraser-like toys.
And because the Trash Pack has moved onto series 4, be on the look out for a review of their latest and greatest.

Forward with Ford

As a kid, before I could even spell “Ford” or develop any association with the brand, all I knew was that my dad’s prized possession back then, was his bright orange Mustang.

Not too practical for a young family, but ideal for a young sailor, that car stood much more than my dad even imaged back then.  You see, after he sold this impeccably maintained sports car, he eventually traded up for a much family-friendlier car, a 1981 Ford Econoline conversion van (the 80s was the decade of excess afterall) and thus, began our family’s loyalty to Ford.


So, what does my family’s quick car history do with Ford?  And better yet, what does all of THIS have to do with NKT?

Quite a lot, actually.

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Got Boo Boos? Topricin Junior is a Medicine Cabinet Staple

On any given summer day, like many families, we can be found outside running around, riding bikes, playing pirates or whatever the kid’s imagination may conjure up.  The occasional injury is all a part of growing up, and with all of this summer fun, bumps, bruises, bug bites and boo boos are often the residual effects.

When I was a kid, if it wasn’t my older brother breaking bones, it was clumsy me falling off my bike and getting bloody knees or black eyes.  It wasn’t the injury itself that was painful, but the aftercare that subjected the trauma and excruciating pain.  I have no idea if my mom used salt spray laced with battery acid to clean our wounds, but whatever it was, it hurt like crazy.

As a family that leans toward more homeopathic remedies, I was so glad to be introduced to Topricin Junior.  A Healthy Child Healthy World parent ambassador and a green mama, in general, I do my best to steer clear of harsh chemicals in the conventional medical aisle. (Tea tree oil is my go-to antiseptic) Even if products are geared to kids, I can’t help but question, are they really safe?

Topricin Junior from Topical Biomedics is a pain relief and healing cream that’s intended for injuries such as bumps, bruises, bug, bites and burns.  It is said to relieve muscle spasms, leg cramps, sprains and strains—minor injuries that are sustained from horseplay or sports activities.  Aside from the pain relief it provides to the younger set, Topricin Junior seems to do it without the use of harsh chemicals.

Topricin Junior is fragrance and paraben free, contains no mineral oil, lanolin, menthol, petroleum or other chemicals that may be too overpowering for our little daredevils’ skin.

And like most preschoolers in that “I Can Do it Myself” phase, my kid, of course, wanted to apply the cream himself.  Because of the safe composition of Topricin Junior, I had no worries about the chemicals, or that it would be harmful if he applied it himself.

Now, after the spill he took on his scooter the other day, I didn’t use the cream on the open wound.  I did, however, use the cream after his wound closed up a bit.  From what he described, the cream wasn’t painful when he applied it, and from what I saw, it seemed to do the trick.

I love that Topricin Jr. is fragrance free and doesn’t leave stains.  The cream uses some ingredients that are plant and vegetable derived, unlike most products that line the first aid aisles.  Topricin Jr. is easy to use, seemed to help with the healing process and most importantly, doesn’t contain all the harsh chemicals that, in my opinion, hurt a little more before and after they actually help.  Not only do I give Topricin Jr. a seal of approval, but so does Healthy Child Healthy World and PTPA.

While nothing can heal as “effectively” than mama’s kiss, a safer pain relief cream such as Topricin Jr. is a staple in our medicine cabinet.  Now, if only this cream could curb any unnecessary stunts or spills that make my heart beat out of my chest!

Find it

Topical Biomedics also offers Topricin and Topricin Foot Therapy Cream.  The creams can be found at many health and organic stores, as well as online.  Additionally, Topricin products are now available at Vitamin Shoppe, Vitamin World, Whole Foods, and Wegman’s.

Full disclosure: I received product samples to facilitate this review.  As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Best of Sunscreen for 2011: Tips, Ingredients and Tried and True Brands

It’s finally the unofficial kick off to summer, and I hope everyone has exciting things planned for the weekend!  Just in time for more sunny days, endless amount of outdoor play and loads of BBQs, the Environmental Working Group has released their comprehensive list of Best Sunscreens for 2011.  The list was analyzed in-house, with their findings based on health hazard, protection and overall stability of the product. Find out if your sunscreen made the cut.


NKT Faves

Many of my favorite sunscreens made the list once again, and there are also several products that I’m glad to see have new formulas, resulting in better scores.

Blue Lizard
Blue Lizard is what our family uses on a day-to-day basis around here.  With its thick consistency and trusted effectiveness, it’s no surprise the Baby Australian and Sensitive formulas made EWG’s Best of Beach and Sport Sunscreens.

TruKid is a longtime favorite for our family.  Because of its portable, gluestick size, the Sunny Days Stick is a mainstay in my bag and perfect for sending with the kid to daycare.

Kiss My Face Sun Sticks
I love most of Kiss My Face’s products, so I’m excited to see they have a kids’ stick, too.  Remember Zinc from back in the day?  Apparently, the Kiss My Face kids’ mineral sunblock stick leaves shades of blue, pink or white on easily burned spots like, ears, lips, nose and cheeks.  How 80s!

California Baby
Another parent fave, California Baby, puts out a great range of products that are often top-rated.  California Baby No Fragrance Sunscreen Lotion made the list, alongside of several other CF Baby sunscreens.  Even though I personally haven’t used this sunscreen, several of my friends swear by it, so it’s certainly on my list once we deplete our current stash.  Even better about California Baby?  This brand can be found in the baby aisle of most Targets.

Realistically, not everyone has easy access to these safer brands.  In fact, you’ll probably be hard-pressed to find many of the brands listed in EWG’s Top Beach and Sport Sunscreens at your local drugstore.  Don’t have time to order online at or run to a natural food store to pick up one of the safer sunscreens?  Here are a few brands that can be found at most grocery or drugstores and received moderate scores:
Aveeno Active Naturals Natural Protection Mineral Block Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Coppertone Kids Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50

What Does Practically Green recommend?

At the recent Mommybites Summit that I attended last week, I sat in on a wonderful discussion led by green expert, Susan Hunt Stevens of Practically Green.  She mentioned that California Baby and Badger are two popular, safer sunscreen picks for kids.  Both brands are well-rated on EWG’s sunscreen list as well.  Hunt Stevens also pointed out that she has yet to find a safer aerosol spray sunscreen, so in general, she advised to stick to the old school lotions. Trust me, I love the convenience of those sprays, but if there’s an option that contains less chemicals, (the same chemicals which are often linked to health issues and hormone disruptors) why not opt for the safer option versus the convenient option?

Safer ingredients

For safer sunscreens, EWG recommends to look for products that include these ingredients:
Titanium dioxide
Avobenzone or Mexoryl SX

and avoid these ingredients:
Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate)
Added insect repellent

Check out EWG’s sunscreens to avoid.

Tips for Sunscreen

Obviously we all know “how” to use sunscreen, but do you really know how to use it effectively?  Growing up in a beach town, I literally spent my summer days—from dusk to dawn on the beach or at the pool—but, I barely ever used sunscreen.  I have to admit, when I became a parent, proper sunscreen usage was an anomaly, so I had to learn how to use sunscreen for the sake of my fair-skinned babe.  Goodness knows, my husband needed some tips himself!  So, here are just a few pointers courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatolgy and EWG.

  • Sunscreens expire.  Be sure to check your expiration dates when dusting off last year’s stash. You can use the sunscreen that you bought last Beach Umbrellasummer, but keep in mind that if you are using the appropriate amount, a bottle of sunscreen should not last very long.
  • Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin 15 to 30 minutes BEFORE going outdoors. When using sunscreen, be sure to apply it to all exposed areas and pay particular attention to the face, ears, hands, and arms.
  • One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly. Don’t forget that lips get sunburned, too, so apply a lip balm that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Sunscreens should be reapplied approximately every two hours or after swimming or perspiring heavily. Even so-called “water-resistant” sunscreens may lose their effectiveness after 40 minutes in the water. Sunscreens rub off as well as wash off, so if you’ve towel-dried, reapply sunscreen for continued protection.
  • There are a number of combination cosmetic products, such as moisturizers that contain sunscreen, but it is important to remember that these products also need to be reapplied to achieve continued UV protection.
  • Pick the SPF appropriate for your skin type and solar exposure. But remember that UVA protection in U.S. sunscreens maxes out at about 15, so higher SPF products will not fully protect your skin from sun damage. The American Cancer Society recommends that people use a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15, the American Academy of Dermatology opts for 30.

Have a safe weekend, everyone!

Photo credits: Fullofgrace and Paddyduke

Tips for Greening the Kitchen

Even though Earth Day/Month is over, I’m in the camp that hopes that the green momentum keeps going year-round.

On our transition from apartment to house, one room that I’ve emphasized greening has been the kitchen.  It’s the area that is responsible for feeding the people I love, and so, naturally, it’s also a place where we always convene together as a family.

I’ve read so many great resources on greening the kitchen, but I thought I’d reference Whole Living Body + Soul once again.  So, here are some helpful tips on how to green your kitchen.

1.  Use Glass Containers

Like many other homes, we used to use what was convenient and inexpensive…then concerns about BPA sparked several years ago, and the plastic binge began.  Why risk high levels of the hormone disrupting chemical, BPA?  For kitchen storage containers, glass is a safer alternative.  My rec:  check out the Glass Lock Storage Containers from Snapware.  They’re stackable, durable, BPA-free and are seriously air-tight.  I found the best deal on Snapware’s Glass Lock Storage Containers at Costco and loved them so much I had to buy more at Home Goods.  Even Lifehacker agrees that they rock.

2.  Compost

There’s so many good reasons why you should compost. but reducing trash and creating nutrient-rich feed for your plants and garden are pretty high up on the list.  My parents have composted since I was a little girl, so once we had better resources to do so at our house, it was second nature.  Most convenient way to integrate composting in the kitchen: have some sort of pail, whether it’s re-sealable, old coffee tin or a compost bucket by the kitchen sink.  Every time you clear your plates after a meal, scrape waste into the pail.  Veggies, fruit, egg shells and coffee grinds are just a few of the items that can be included in your compost pail.  My rec: check out TJ Maxx or Home Goods for inexpensive compost pails.  They’re unobtrusive and often have carbon filters that help with the smell.

3. Do Smarter Dishes
Whole Living Body + Soul recommends to run the dishwasher at night to avoid peak energy rates.  In the summer, too, this will keep less humidity in the air, which will keep things cooler, thus put less strain on the AC.  Also, switch to plant-based detergents.  I’ll have to do a separate post on this one day, but through trials and tribulation on finding the best natural dishwasher detergent, we had the best luck with BioKleen Automatic Dish Powder.  In my opinion, it cleans MUCH better than most conventional detergents that are found on the shelves.  The grapefruit smell is pretty awesome as well.

4. Minimize paper waste

Paper waste is one of my many downfalls in the kitchen.  I’ve added  dishtowels throughout the kitchen, as well as many reusable towels.  My next step is to use cloth napkins every day.  But there are times when reusable napkins don’t make the most sense, so it’s helpful to use paper products that use recycled fibers.  Scott Naturals napkins uses 80% recycled fibers, which fits the bill for us, especially with all the outdoor picnicking we’ve been doing.

And since it’s the last and final week of the Scott Natural 4-Week Test Drive, we couldn’t end it without another great giveaway.

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Tips for Greening the Bathroom

Bathroom Wall ColoursWith spring cleaning still fresh on the mind, it’s a good a time as any to chat about tips on greening the bathroom. Aside from the fact that I absolutely abhor cleaning the bathroom, a dirty–not to mention toxic–powder room is unacceptable, considering it’s an area that harbors some of the most bacteria in a home.  And with kids constantly going in and out, taking showers, brushing teeth, sticking their head in the toilet (don’t ask), cleaning a bathroom is necessary evil for all us.  So, why not green-it while you’re at it?

Yesterday, I attended an event where we chatted about healthy living, and in the gift bag, I received a complimentary issue Whole Living Body + Soul. It had great content relevant to greening your home, including an insightful section on the bathroom.  So, here’s just a few takeaways from the article on greening your bathroom.

1.  Avoid PVC Shower Curtains According Body+Soul, most shower curtains are made from polyvinyl-choloride, otherwise known as PVC, a plastic that can release hormone-disrupting phthalates into the air. Suggestion: If you haven’t already, ditch all of those gross-smelling PVC shower curtains and head to Target or Bed Bath and Beyond to get yourself a 100% EVA shower curtain or shower liner.  They’re PVC-free, cost almost the same and are much better for your home.

2. Consider Low-Flow Showerheads One of the first things we did in our house after we first moved in, was replace the showerheads.  Not only did we want to dispose old germs, but we wanted something that was eco-friendly and efficient.  It’s recommended to replace older showerheads with Low-Flow models that deliver 2.5 gallons or less per minute.  Suggestion: We went with Waterpik’s Eco-Flow showerhead, which boasts the WaterSense label, the water efficiency label from the EPA.

4. Fresh Air When bathrooms inevitably get smelly, it might be your first reaction to grab an air fresher.  Problem is, most conventional air fresheners contain hormone-disrupting chemicals. Play it safe: opt for safer air fresheners that contain essential oils, or better yet, open a window.  Suggestion: make your own natural spray by using 30 drops of essential oil with one cup of water in a pray bottle.  I’ve tried peppermint, as well as lavender, but there are so many options. You can find brands such as Aura Cacia in health food stores.

5. Use Recycled TP and paper products If every family in the U.S. replaced a roll of conventional toilet paper with a roll of tp that contains recycled material, we’d save a lot of trees.  A LOT.  Some may complain that the consistency of tp made of recycled material isn’t as soft, but in the grand scheme of things, will that matter if our kids’ kids world is no more?  Suggestion: check out the next post.

Crafts Go Green: Eco-friendly Art Supplies for Kids

Crafts are a fun family activity, and one that we love doing outside on our deck.  When we’re painting and doing messy crafts outside, the little artist’s canvas seems limitless, and thankfully, cleanup time is much easier—or so it seems.

Many of my favorite eco-friendly crafts are of the DIY variety.  The kid and I are fans of repurposing old household items and painting scraps of wood from our ongoing remodel.  Even better than recycling the medium is making your own tools.  Aside from DIY crafts, there’s a myriad of eco-friendly and kid-friendly art supplies that make craft time safe and colorful.

Here are just a few of my faves:

Glob Arts and Crafts Paints

Glob Art & Crafts Paints are botanically-based paints that also have fruity scents. These paints are colored naturally with pigments from fruits, vegetables, flowers and spices with natural food-grade ingredients. I love the Glob paints that come in packets; all you do is add water when you’re ready. Whether you and the kids are more watercolor painters or gauche painters, you add water and can determine the desired consistency. Glob also comes in Easy Shake jars, paint sets and other kits.

The color palette that’s offered is pretty basic, but after mixing and matching the paints, the spectrum of colors is seemingly endless. Glob can be used for paints, as well as for coloring DIY play dough, coloring eggs and more.


P’kolino, the makers of gorgeous modern children’s furniture and toys, also have a great line of art supplies.  Through a collaboration with Jovi, P’kolino offers kid-friendly, non-toxic art supplies that includes, Triangle crayons, fingerpaints, markers, colored pencils, dough, creative dough and poster paints.  P’kolino recently introduced their new line of art supplies which are inspired by famed Pop Artist, Romero Britto.  And a coloring book inspired by Romeo Britto?  Yes, please.  The sustainability, bold colors, combined with the modern influence of P’kolino’s products make these art supplies ones to check out.

Stubby Pencil Art Studio

Stubby Pencil Art Studio is the mecca for eco-friendly art and school supplies. This online shop has a plethora of kid crafts and a great selection of supplies that are non-toxic, recycled, fair trade, educational, sustainable or environmentally responsible. I love perusing all of the different crafts and unique supplies, many of which you’d be hard pressed to find at your local big box craft store. Of all the green crafting goodness, however, I’d have to say my personal favorites are the cupcake crayons (!) and the colored Smencils. Ideal for birthday party gifts, the colorful, hand-poured cupcake crayons come in a 4-pack and are made of soy. The Smencils are made from 100% recycled newspaper, sharpen just like wood pencils, and have delicious scents like watermelon, bubble gum and cotton candy!

ImagiPlay Dinosaur Puzzle Play Merges Puzzles, Activity Fun

Puzzles are well known activities that involve cognitive development, problem solving and hand-eye coordination for children of all ages.  Better yet, puzzles are awesome activities that can engage the whole family.  Who doesn’t love an activity that promotes brain power and team work?



ImagiPlay, a toy company that creates sustainable toys and games, has found a way to combine an activity set and a puzzle with their Dinosaur Puzzle Play.  The Dinosaur Puzzle Play is comprised of 13 puzzle pieces that are made of rubberwood.  When not being used as a puzzle, the pieces double as wooden dinosaur play pieces.



My dinosaur-loving preschooler recently acquired an interest in puzzles, so ImagiPlay’s Dinosaur Puzzle Play is such a fitting new activity.  The kid had a fun time with dad, putting the puzzle together over and over, and then going on to exercise their imagination to play a little Jurassic Park on their own terms, with a little help of some colorful dinos.  I appreciate the quality wood pieces, colorful and imaginative design, and the very reasonable price point.  ImagiPlay toys, always a perfect addition to our toy box, has great lineup of toys that would make great holiday gifts.  Don’t be surprised if you see more ImagiPlay on the NKT holiday gift guide.



Speaking of gifts, want a Dinosaur Puzzle Play for your kids?  Please comment below and tell me which ImagiPlay product you’d love to check out.


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Want to do some early holiday shopping?  ImagiPlay has kindly offered NKT readers a 20% discount from their website.  Just enter Play420 to receive a 20% discount from their website.  The coupon code is valid for 30 days and is only available in the U.S.


Full disclosure: I received a product sample to facilitate this review.  As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.


Sale alert: Hape Toys at Mini Social

I’ve pledged my affinity for a variety of sustainable toys, among them, of course, are the fun and educational toys from Hape.  Hape has a fantastic selection of toys that’s appropriate from babies to school-aged kids, but I personally covet their educational playsets and wooden puzzles.











Speaking of puzzles, today on The Mini Social, one of my favorite flash sale sites, is featuring Hape’s bendable Anamalz, Sporty E-racers and educational puzzles.  It looks like some of the toys are half off for a few days, making them great for stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts.  You do have to sign up, but the sales on The Mini Social are well worth it.

NKT Favorite Sunblock Make EWG Top-Rated List

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!  Our family celebrated our country’s independence, perhaps, just like most of you: with tons of fun in the sun, fireworks and good times with friends and family.

Photo Credit: Illuminate Life

I know much of the east coast right now is enduring really steamy weather and with this weekend’s festivities in mind, I thought it’d be a good time as any to share some thoughts about sunscreen. 

Since becoming a parent, I’ve learned so much that I didn’t already know about sunscreen, particularly how it expires, some of those pricey brands are nothing but bottles of toxic lotion and how so many different kinds just are not suitable for the kids.

Earlier this year, the Enivornmental Working Group, released the fourth annual list of their best rated sunscreens.  The nonprofit research organization that says they aim to use information to protect human health and the environment, say their top-rated sunscreens all contain the minerals zinc or titanium. EWG says these types of sunscreen are best for people who are looking for UVA protection without any chemicals considered to be a potential hormone disruptor, and for like-minded parents, these details are pertinenent when selecting sunscreens that work best for our family.  Not-so-surprising observation here:  not a single spray sunblock makes their list

It’s important point out this staggering statistic: 
EWG researchers recommend only 39, or 8 percent, of 500 beach and sport sunscreens on the market this season.

As a full disclosure here, I’m sure I mentioned before that my husband works in the health and beauty sector as a warehouse planner for a big box store, thus I get to try out many great brands (and not so great ones, t00).  When summertime rolls around, I’m always on the lookout for the samples of the “better” sunblock, meaning those brands that aren’t laden with chemicals that I don’t want to slather over the kid’s super-sensitive skin.

EWG’s list this year included many of those brands that I considered tried and true, particularly my two favorite brands for the kid:  Blue Lizard and TRUKids.  Both brands were samples that I came across from husband’s work and haven’t strayed since.  They’re staples in my beach bag and I’m super happy to see them on the EWG top-rated sunscreen list.

Last year, in fact, I reviewed TRUKid’s Sunny Days, which received a 1 overall score from EWG’s rating system.

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