• Pat Birnie

What's that you say? Toxins?


There are so many aspects to maintaining overall health, that sometimes it becomes a little overwhelming. Let's go in a slightly different direction this month, where small changes could truly make a difference in long term health. Let's face it, we live in a toxic world. (I'm assuming you are living in an urban environments, and lead a fairly '2022' sort of life.) If you live off the grid, in an unspoiled environment and ride your bike everywhere, you can stop reading now!


Fact: we live in a fairly toxic environment. The stats are staggering; in fact as I looked at this website with the numbers ticking up every second, well, I had to close the page and take a breath. It is overwhelming. This topic aligns with my mission of "changing the world, one person at a time", by inspiring others to reduce their toxic load, reduce, reuse and recycle (this ties right into my thriftiness) and to make small choices in their daily lives. If sharing a few simple tips here will move you to make one or two changes, then my job is done (briskly dusts hands together:).


Don't get me wrong, I love my modern life and conveniences, but have found that there are a number of incremental changes I can make that are really quite simple. Let's start with a few stats:

  1. Women put approximately 168 chemicals on their bodies every day (yikes!).

  2. Phthalates are found in thousands of products around us; Phthalates are believed to be an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) that can alter hormonal balance and potentially cause reproductive, developmental and other health issues. (they are found in food packaging, personal care products, vinyl flooring - it's a huge list!) They are also found in processed food, likely transferred from the packaging.

  3. Up to 95% of the chemicals used to make artificial fragrances are derived from petroleum. Our clothing should not smell like 'mountain air' unless we live in the mountains!

  4. Non-stick coatings have been under investigation for years. Products such as Teflon contain a polymer called PTFE, one of the slipperiest substances in the world. Unfortunately at high temps it will release potentially hazardous fumes and particles. In fact, birds like canaries, finches and macaws cannot safely be in the room when cooking with Teflon - they can be poisoned and die from the fumes.

These are just a few of the ways we can be affected by toxins. But it's not all gloom & doom! The book My Healthy Home helped me learn more about everyday exposure, but more importantly about simple steps to reduce exposure. I love that the book provides 3 options to make changes - from very simple to more drastic. It's all very doable.


Here are a few small but very effective steps you can take with regard to the above risks.


  1. "If you wouldn't drink it, don't put it on your skin". We know that a substance on the skin is in the bloodstream in seconds. If you don't want to overhaul your entire personal products line, think about what is on your skin the longest. Moisturizers, day & night creams are on for hours, hand or body wash is rinsed off. Consider a certified non-toxic line of skin care and worry less about other products. My skin care choice is Celavive; it's well researched with effective anti-aging technology (Important to me!) but nowhere on the label does it say "for external use only". It's luxury quality with mid-range pricing. Makeup is another story. I haven't found "clean makeup" that I love. I wear a touch of makeup daily, but minimize the time it's on my skin. Simple fix: once I am home for the day I wash my face and do my evening skin care routine. I reduce the time it's on my skin by 3-4 hours, and as a bonus I'm ready for bed when tired!

  2. Choose a few items to reduce or eliminate our exposure to phthalates. Ditch the plastic water bottles (or definitely DON'T refill them). Stop putting plastic in the microwave or dishwasher. Even if it says it's safe, there is still evidence that plastic leaches out. Start replacing plastic containers with glass. Simple fix: if you must use plastic, let your food cool before putting in the container.

  3. Consider going fragrance-free whenever possible. Dryer sheets, laundry soap, and cleaning products are some of the biggest offenders. Clean really should not have a smell. I'm willing to bet that if you start eliminating fake scents, you will soon find chemically produced fragrance really offensive. My asthma issues have moved me to be quite diligent about this. To this end, I have started making my own cleaning products (laundry soap, granite cleaner, all purpose cleaner). It is honestly quite easy, inexpensive and quick -- I did promise "simple steps" so I'm not suggesting this, but if you are interested, text or email me and I'll send you a few recipes. In the above photo i was making granite cleaner. Once you have the ingredients on hand it takes literally minutes. Funny story about fragrance - I was paying in a store recently, standing a few feet from a heavily fragranced woman. I started coughing uncontrollably, and could see her giving me the side eye and moving away. I wanted to shout "it's you not me!!" but just buried my face in my sleeve and got out as quickly as possible. Two simple fixes: ditch dryer sheets and replace with wool balls (if you miss the scent, put a few drops of essential oil on the dryer balls); replace unnecessarily toxic window cleaner with vinegar & water.

This is what I wanted to do!


4. You may not be in a position to replace your pots and pans all at once. If you have ptfe coated cookware, and it's chipped or scratched, please discard those pieces. Consider replacing with stainless steel, or ceramic coated for a non-stick product. Simple fix: if you want to continue with PTFE coated products, keep the heat at medium or below and never preheat an empty pan.


These ideas may not seem like much, but any small change we make will reduce our exposure incrementally! I would love to hear your ideas, tips and tricks. What steps have you taken to reduce your exposure to toxins? If you are interested in cleaning product recipes, more about The Healthy Home book or anything else, you know where to reach me. Finally "Wear Gloves!"- this is one of these easiest ways to reduce exposure. Remember, if you wouldn't drink it, don't touch it!




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