Can you REALLY “detoxify” your life?

Almost every time I turn on the television, read a newspaper, listen to the radio or have a discussion with someone – I discover something else in my life that is supposedly toxic. Everything either causes cancer, or has hormones that correlate with all kinds of scary diseases I don’t even want to think about contracting. Here’s a short list of some of the most recent I’ve unearthed (by the way, a lot of this information may be older – I am definitely not claiming that it it breaking news – only that I have recently become aware of it).


1. Your bed. Yep, apparently toxins are even attacking you while you sleep. The first layer of offending attackers can be found in your mattress – PVC, a chemical found in many mattresses, was banned in crib and children’s mattresses in 2009, but since the mattress is not a household item that is replaced all that often, the one you’re sleeping on could contain harmful components linked with serious health problems. On top of that, your bed sheets could be adding to the problem. If they are made with polyester/cotton or permanent press, they could be coated with a resin that releases formaldehyde vapors. Not something you want be breathing in all the time, right?

2. Toiletries. These scare me the most because skin is VERY permeable and absorbs about 60% of products that are applied topically. If you look through the ingredient list on various products that you use, you will likely see a lot of chemicals that have effects ranging from annoying all the way to scary serious. More specifics about what they are called and what their effects can be found on this website.

3. Jewelry. This Los Angeles Times article outlines  a scarily recent situation involving MAJOR retailers (Gap, Forever 21, to name a few that I have frequented personally) that have been forced to agree to stop the use of cadmium in their jewelry. It has, according to the article, been found to cause “cause cancer, genetic problems and kidney damage.”

4. Food. Yes, I know that I am WAY late to the party on this one, but up until now, I’ve basically just viewed organic as a dirty word that stores use to mark up a product that tastes just like the one you can get for less. There is still quite a bit of controversy surrounding this topic, but the general idea is that non-organic foods are more likely to contain pesticides, herbicides and hormones that can lead to serious health issues as a result of continued ingestion. This page has some great information, and I fully intend to read through all of it in order to write a more educated blog post about pros and cons of organic.

5. Dry Cleaning! Dear lord. Does this mean we’re never allowed to purchase any item of clothing that instructs us to head to the cleaners?  Perchloroethylene, a solvent commonly used in dry cleaning, has been linked to a higher likelihood of developing cancer. Yipes!

Honestly, the list could go on and on. I’m sure you’ve read a lot of the studies, heard the rumors, etc. One problem I think we have is overload of information. Personally, I’ve heard over the past few years that so many things cause cancer, that I’ve started tuning it out. I figure … they’ll probably find research that overturns that down the road anyway. But that might not be the case. I love all the articles I’ve found from places like Prevention, Women’s Health Magazine, etc. that address “rumors” and try to inform people what they really have to worry about. There needs to be more information about the prioritization of life changes necessary to address the most pressing problems.

Most people associated “green living” with something that doesn’t relate to them – that’s expensive and unnecessary and will most likely go away at some point in the future. But is that really true?

What are the most immediate steps that people can take to START detoxifying their lives? This is definitely a topic that I am going to be looking into further and I will report back.

What concerns do YOU have about toxins in your life and what do you do to address them? 

2 thoughts on “Can you REALLY “detoxify” your life?

  1. Molly, this is a fascinating post to me. both your responses to the ‘information,’ as well as because I am as concerned as I am with toxicity. I do believe that we live in a toxic world…the air we breathe and the water we interact with (have you read LIVING DOWNSTREAM?), the food we eat, the relationships we have with ourselves and others, the everything everything everything. basically. I don’t know how to begin to address this issue.
    And I trust that we can make choices that resonate with our priorities and belief systems AND accept the world we live in. Because we only have as much control as we have, which is in my perception an especially small quantity of control. AND. if you ever want to talk about ‘organic food’ — I surely have many thoughts… Thanks for sharing your musings…

  2. I have not read that book, but will add it to my list! I think there is so much information out there that we will never fully have a handle on it, which is frustrating for me, and I am INTERESTED in learning about it. I can’t imagine how uninterested parties feel when bombarded with all of these tidbits about organic food, toxic mattresses, etc. Thanks for sharing your point of view!

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