Dear Barb – Avoiding Chemicals

Dear Barb:

There is so much talk about the adverse effects of chemicals in our environment. I’d like to be able to eliminate some of these chemicals from my life, but I don’t know how to go about doing that. I have been trying to buy organic food whenever possible. Is there anything else I can do that won’t require a big lifestyle change or a lot of money? I’m looking forward to a more natural lifestyle in 2006.

Madonna in T.O.

Hi Madonna and Happy New Year.

After doing some research on your great question, I discovered several things we can all do to reduce chemicals in our environment. The following are just a few of the many ways we can live a less toxic lifestyle.

1. Everyone admires a lush green lawn. Try to achieve this through natural fertilizers and pesticides. Your lawn will be safer not only for yourself, but also for your children and pets.

2. Store your chemicals, such as paint, gasoline and solvents, outside if possible. Many people keep these items inside their homes where they could leak or emit toxic fumes.

3. Use baking soda to replace other household cleaners whenever possible. For example, washing your sheets in baking soda will help alleviate any suffering from allergies in your home.

4. If you smoke, do not smoke indoors. Smoking not only smells up your home, it also leaves toxic particles on your sofa and other furnishings.

5. Have a pair of shoes or slippers to wear only indoors. This way you will not bring chemicals from outside into your home.

6. Inspect your toiletries. Replace items with organic products whenever possible. Most shampoos, conditioners, soaps and deodorants are available in natural forms. Also, if you colour your hair, look for natural vegetable-based hair colourants.

7. Read labels. Take note of all the chemicals in the items that you purchase. Try to find similar items that contain natural ingredients.

8. Most brands of lipsticks are made with petroleum derivatives. Instead, look for brands made of beeswax or vitamin E.

9. You have already taken a very important step towards reducing chemicals in your life by purchasing organic food. This is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

11. Avoid foods containing preservatives, food colouring, artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate. Be particularly careful to avoid providing these products to children.

12. Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.

13. Trim all fat from meat, as this is where pesticide residue accumulates.

These are few things to get you started. Additional ways to cut toxins can be found through the following references.

“¢ “Everyday Toxins.” Ode Magazine, issue 28.
“¢ Thomas, P. (2004). Living Dangerously: Are Everyday Toxins Making You Sick? Newleaf Publisher.
“¢ D’Mello, J.P.F. (Ed.) (1997). Handbook of Plant and Fungal Toxicants. 1st edition. CRC-Press.

E-mail your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.