Sunday, October 23, 2011

Line Upon Line

A couple of weeks ago Nonie wrote a wonderful, highly-detailed post on toxins that we ought to avoid. One of her readers made a very thoughtful comment on the post, which I felt merits a response. The reader wrote, "I'm not sure how I feel about this. There are so many toxins all around us that are known and probably unknown to us that I wonder what the point is in trying to avoid them all. Obviously I wouldn't want to purposefully expose my family to them, but I also don't want to be paranoid. Lead and Mercury are easy enough to avoid, but the plastic and other chemicals are EVERYWHERE!"

I think this reader shares the feeling of many of us when encountering such information (especially a lot at once!) --- it's overwhelming. I felt the same way when reading the huge list of toxins, which we're all aware of but prefer to ignore. I have also felt this way as I have learned more about nutrition and realized how far I have to go to perfect my family's diet. Above all, I have felt this way since becoming pregnant in the face of the mounds of information/advice/warnings out there for pregnant mothers --- nutrition, exercise, labor preparation, labor itself... so much information!

The trick is not to do anything cold turkey. Decide what your priorities are, and work on them item by item --- week by week or year by year. Cam and I, for instance, decided to edge away from using plastics by drinking from stainless steel water bottles instead of Nalgenes, and by not heating or freezing plastic storage containers. But I still carry my sandwich to work every day in a plastic bag. We eat organic produce and grass-fed beef almost exclusively at home, but still eat out about once a week and clean our plates at restaurants that I know don't completely share our food values. We don't make our own bread or pasta or even grow a garden yet, but plan to implement those things as our life allows for them.

I feel good about the changes we have made, and little by little I know we'll get there. The trick is always to be chipping away at the improvements that we have decided are important for us. We shouldn't be paranoid; we shouldn't allow ourselves to become overwhelmed. We are blessed to have so much good information on hand; and more blessed to have brains and hearts to discern what is most expedient for our lives and for our families.

(p.s. Posted by Meredith)


  1. Thanks, Meredith. Keenan and I were just talking about this. We have made a LOT of gradual changes over the last few years. If we were to list them all and show the list to ourselves three years ago, I think we might have thrown in the towel, and never begun.

    That being said, when I think about the many improvements we've made to our home, our health, and the earth, I am inspired by our progress. It makes me want to continue, even though we still have a long way to go.

    I just make the change nibbling at me in the moment (or when an opportunity presents itself): I buy an extra glass pyrex container at the store one day, I grind and soak my grains, I try cleaning my hair with baking soda and vinegar, I start making compost, I plant some seeds, I switch to a greener laundry detergent, I vacuum just a little more often... One day maybe I'll buy untreated PJs for my kids. Maybe I'll cook exclusively in stainless steel and cast iron. Maybe I'll get around to making those great reusable mesh produce bags. Maybe we'll own a greener car... I don't even have a list. I just do the best I can with the information I have, and when it isn't feasible, I log it away for the future. But I keep seeking truth and believing that the changes are possible.

    In the meantime, my feet squirm a bit every time they touch the cords below my computer desk, hoping not to be contaminated by phthalates. :)

  2. Great post, Meredith!! I would like to add to all of these thoughts that I feel strongly all of our efforts combine and fortify us against those known and unknown toxins out there. There is really no way to get away from all of them, but when we strengthen our bodies against the ones we can, (taking care not to over load ourselves), we truly do come away vitalized.

    p.s. I found recently that the Carter's baby/children's clothing brand makes non-treated PJs. The tag says, "Wear snug fitting, not flame resistant". This brand is EVERYWHERE, so they are easy to find at second hand stores!