For those of you who don’t know me, I have a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology with an emphasis on infectious disease. I spent over 10 years doing hands-on research in the fields of immunology, microbiology, gastroenterology, and even did work on the microbiome. During this time and in the years after I left lab life behind I have systematically reduced the use of conventional cleaning and beauty products in order to reduce my exposure to toxic chemicals. Yet one of my biggest hangups about the “green” lifestyle is the word “chemical.”
Use that word and you get smart asses telling you about dihydrogen monoxide (aka: water) or flippantly proclaiming everything is made of chemicals while ignoring true concerns over what we are exposing ourselves to on a daily basis. So when we talk about going green in our home and beauty products, let’s stop using the word “chemicals” when what we really mean is toxins.
What *IS* a toxin exactly?
Good ole Merriam-Webster defines a toxin as “a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, and typically capable of inducing antibody formation”
Lots of fancy talk, but important to understand. When exposed to toxic substances or other irritants, our body mounts an attack via our immune system. When we are constantly exposing ourselves to these materials we end up in a constant state of inflammation. Want to know what happens when you’re in a constant state of inflammation? Chronic Disease. Not cool, and definitely not fun.
Want to know a scary truth? The European Union has banned over 1000 different compounds intended for human use vs. 9 banned here by the United States FDA – and that is just for cosmetics! Guys, we need to take control of our own health and well being and start being more aware of what we put in and on our bodies. To be actually listened to, we need to stop using the word “chemicals” and focus on toxins. Hopefully then other people will begin to take our health seriously, especially those who would normally dismiss our concerns.
In what ways do you reduce your toxin exposure in and around your home?
Every morning you call to me.
Long after the leaves have fallen,
you still come
to perch on thorny branches.
Today your song
is a reproach:
I couldn’t sleep again.
I rise from bed,
my hip aching
and watch you pick your way,
through frozen tufts of grass.
Your red does not fade.
I want to be like you
and never lose my appetite for morning.