Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Confessions: My toxic trangressions

Every now and then I like to remind my one loyal follower (thank you, Jon Evans) that toxicity is not just chemical-related. There's also toxic thinking, toxic behaviors, toxic choices...the list goes on.

Today, after I had my hair bleached and otherwise processed to the nth degree (transgression numero uno), I thought, "Wow. I am an educated person and I still allow myself to do a lot of stupid, unhealthy stuff. I should make a list. On my blog. So I can ponder over it but not feel guilty. (Guilt has no real upside.)"

Resolutions are great, but you have to acknowledge your flaws first. So here we go — my 2012 toxic confessions:

1. Hair color processing. I don't seek out "organic" brands. I don't worry about the effects of the bleach (or dye). I just love the way it looks. Beauty before brains.
2. Putting plastic in the dishwasher sometimes. Yep. I've never wavered on my concern about heating plastic, yet laziness/convenience/germiphobia sometimes gets the best of me (and Alex) and we load them, but always on the top rack only. Duh.
3. Falling back on a nonstick pan. Though the harmful effects of these Teflon-replacements are not completely substantiated, given that safer options exist (stainless, cast iron), it's really just lunacy. Except that some things are HARD to cook in a non-nonstick pan.
4. Buying conventionally grown or hothouse peppers. I know full well that peppers are one of the most-pesticided vegetables, but I cannot deny Gregory his raw bell peppers. And sometimes I either can't force myself to pay the premium (double, usually) for organic or I imagine that hothouse is somehow less toxic, with no proof whatsoever.
5. Ditto on strawberries. With the whole methyl iodide issue in California, you'd think I would stick to organic berries at all costs, especially since Timmy devours them. But Giant always has BOGO on the conventional ones, while the organic ones are half-moldy and twice as pricey, special or no special.
6. Forgetting how bad sugar really is. Somewhere along the way, my mom gave me the book, Sugar Blues and later, I obsessed over Sugar Busters but apparently, when evaluating whole wheat toaster pastries and granola bars, that wisdom flies the coop.
7. Using Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush Flushable Toilet Cleaning Refills. It's hard to be sure what's in these things, but I am pretty confident the blue color is not "natural," the smell is toxic and that flushing something that size down the toilet is not ideal for water treatment plants. But they are very efficient, contain the germs and eliminate mess. I need an alternative.
8. Allowing myself to invest in low-return activities. No, I'm not talking finances here (you can't escape low returns there right now); I'm going all self-help psychobabble on you. I'm a Type A person. I need to feel productive and organized to keep my stress in check and be happy. I too easily get sucked into games, conversations, news, other people's business, etc. And 90% of the time, it does not make me happy, reduce my stress or push me toward my goals. Except for that unbeaten streak I'm eyeing in Words With Friends. I kid, I kid.
9. Not doing enough for my health. Think about this. When Frazier (my poodle, my little love, RIP) was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure at age 10, I found supplements online that extended his life three full years. Amazingly, they were commonly prescribed herbals and amino acids that many people take for heart health. Alex and I watched his health completely turn around and yet, with family history of heart disease on both sides, do not take these supplements ourselves. Madness. Or stupidity. We give Timmy and Gregory their vitamins and meds religiously but can't make a point to take a few pills each day. Seriously, this has to change.
10. Being a lazy consumer. Intellectually I know I can vote with my dollars and if more people did that, we'd have enough purchasing power to force real change. Yet I rarely research companies and products before I buy them, especially low-dollar items, even though I have tools like Fooducate, Good Guide and Better World Shopper that make it much easier at my fingertips. I'm getting better about this, but I have a long, long way to go.

This was sort of cathartic. I stopped at 10 things, a manageable but ambitious number to address. They are in no particular order; in fact, they are probably in reverse order, which explains a lot.

I encourage you to add your toxic transgressions to the list, on Facebook or here in the comments. And then think about doing something better. Because you can.