Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cutting chemicals: A review of Non-Toxic Avenger

I always figured I lived a fairly green lifestyle given my resources. Reduce, reuse, recycle was ingrained in my practices. I ate locally and organic whenever my budget allowed. I grew my own produce. I eschewed plastic crap in my house whenever I could.

What scares me is it isn't enough.

There's that little bit inside you that tries to dismiss the worries that the things you use every day could kill you. And you try to tune it out.

The reality is chemicals are imbedded in our society, and it's going to take a heck of a lot of effort to get them out. Even if we don't know what the effects of these conveniences are.

A few years ago, I read the Body Toxic, and it scared the crap out of me. That book chronicled the history of hidden chemicals, almost as a government conspiracy. (Who knows? Perhaps it is.) There, I learned to fear PVC shower curtains and microwave popcorn. Fun stuff.

The problem is, while there's much you can do to educate yourself on chemicals imbedded in our everyday things and the possible effects, hunting down alternatives is tough business. That's why I looked forward to reading "The Non-toxic Avenger: What you don't know can hurt you" by Crunchy Chicken's Deanna Duke. If anyone could find an alternative, I figured, she could.

Duke's book focuses on her attempt to reduce chemicals and toxins in her body from everyday exposure. It's a scary thought - particularly since she too was leading a green lifestyle before this project began. The books chronicles her challenges in reconciling with her husband's cancer and son's autism, and in seeking alternatives to polluting her body - in everything from carpet to cleaning products, from mascara to margaritas. (Hey, you have to have fun.)

No, Duke doesn't find all the answers. She's still on the hunt for mold-cleaning products, for example. But I love the fact she's still looking and willing to share what's she's found as the best possible alternatives.
"It's still an uphill, daily battle trying to determine whether a product I pick up at the store will poison me," she writes.

At least we have a new, consolidated resources to help us in this battle. I came away, whether Duke intended or not, with a guide that could sit on my shelf - one that I could point to in order to help me more quickly find solutions to my quests.

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