Saturday, January 25, 2014

Book Review: ToxIn ToxOut by Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith

An appropriate sequal to "Slow Death by Rubber Duck." "Duck" was a book that explained how insidious toxins are...where they lurk in our environment (everywhere) and how they get into our bodies. And, unfortunately, often stay there. On subsequent book and talking tours, the authors were often asked, "How do you get the toxins OUT of your body?" They decided to answer this question in depth in this book, "ToxIn ToxOut....Getting harmful chemicals out of our bodies and our world." Anyone interested in greener living will appreciate the work and thought that went into this sequel. They investigate a half dozen ways that may help eliminate toxins from our systems: eating organic foods, bottled vs. tap water, perspiration, indoor air quality and the role big business has to play in cleaning up our world. Insightful is an understatement! With the current lack of political will to improve our toxic planet, it is up to a grassroots movement to produce change. As with "Rubber Duck" this book ends on a high note....citing 10 ways to easily, relatively inexpensively and without deprivation, decrease the level of toxins in YOU. I love the feeling of empowerment that knowledge provides!! Don't hesitate to pick up a copy of ToxIn ToxOut from all major book retailers, and set yourself up for a decreased level of toxic body burden.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Update and Re-Post of a Book Review - Slow Death by Rubber Duck

I am doing an updated, but re-printed, blog post. Why do something I have already done, you ask? Well, this is a book near and dear to my heart. It explains why I do what I do - make non-toxic personal care and first aid products. (See my website,, to learn more about my products.) The reason I am re-printing this book review is because the authors have just come out with a NEW book, which I received for Christmas. It's next on my "must read" list and when finished, I'll review the new book. But for those who missed the first post, or need a refresher on the first book, here it is! Then you can rush out and buy the new sequel, "ToxIn ToxOut".

The 2 authors are Canadian...which is significant, to me, as I too am Canadian. I am going to cheat,  (but credit! ) here...I am going to lift the synopsis of this book directly off of the website. Not that I am too lazy to do my own summary, but....I couldn't have done it more succintly or better than they did. Here it is:  " Pollution is not only an abstract, distant problem seen in belching smokestacks and contaminated waterways; it’s also personal. Some of the most dangerous pollutants come from commonplace items in our homes and workplaces—shampoos and toothpastes, carpets and children’s toys.

To prove this point, leading environmentalists Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie conducted their own research by ingesting and inhaling a host of things that are part of our everyday lives. Using their own bodies as the reference point to tell the story of pollution in our modern world, they expose the miscreant corporate giants who manufacture the toxins, the weak-kneed government officials who let it happen, and the effects on people and families across the globe. This book—the testimony of their experience—exposes the extent to which we are poisoned every day of our lives."

For those of you with a keen interest in environmental toxins, this is a must read. The authors, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie are two Canadian environmental activists. The good news is that the book is a fairly easy read, humorously written, and not really fear mongering. True, the bulk of the book can be a bit scary, but, before you despair, the last part of the book provides you with simple things you can do to de-toxify your life. I finished the book feeling empowered, not depressed. Knowledge is power.

I confess that I did throw away my non-stick fry pans, and am now storing food in glass rather than plastic.
I have been using Dr. Bronner's soaps and my own glycerin soaps and products for years, anyway!!
If you have any inclination to be kind to yourself and the environment, read this book!
It is available at Chapters, Indigo, Coles, Amazon and your public library.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Holiday Shopping & Scent

A previous post detailed how what you smell can affect what, and how much, you eat. But, did you know that scent can also affect how much money you spend when shopping??

Needless to say, retailers are often happy to take advantage of this fact. I receive a trade journal for retailers, and one article is subtitled, "How retailers can utilize scent to increase sales.'

Of course, the most obvious link comes from the fact that our sense of smell is linked to our emotions and memories, as all 3 of these are processed in the same part of the brain. Shopping is often an emotional experience rather than a financial one, or one we approach without feelings. Memories that scent conjure up can be very powerful.

A device (new to me) called a "scent cannon" can actually shoot scent into a retail environment at pre-determined intervals. One enterprising gas station in California used a scent cannon to project the smell of coffee around the gas pumps as cars approached. This resulted in an increase in coffee sales of 300%!!! 

Scents are carefully chosen. It's easy to eliminate scents that may contain petroleum derivatives, or alcohol, that may cause respiratory irritation, headaches or allergic reactions. Many stores choose "signature" scents that are designed to become associated with their store. Generally accepted as pleasant scents, like lavender, can  help create a positive mood in a retail store, and, increase the likelihood of you parting with cash. A positive mood also makes you more patient in a lengthy checkout line, and, if you smell the scent elsewhere, you may actually think of the store long after your shopping experience. 

Cinnamon scent seems to have a calming effect, and, citrus scents are mood lifting. 

One retailer actually uses a heavy scent so as to keep "older" shoppers, which they define as over 25 years of age, out!!!

Next time you're shopping, pay attention to what you smell. And, be mindful of sticking to your budget! Happy holidays!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Can What you Smell Affect How Much you Eat?

It sure can! There's been a lot of work on various scents, and whether or not they can be a useful tool in weight loss. How is it possible that scent could cause us to eat less? First, remember that how food tastes depends a lot on smell. It's a bit complicated....but identifying food is actually determined by smell and sight, rather than "taste". Scientific American published a great article on how this works, if you want an explanation.  ( 

There are specific scents that dull our appetite. Grapefruit, for example, affects the nerves that are below our consciousness, (called "autonomic nerves") and smelling grapefruit reduces both appetite and body rats, anyway.  (Read the study synopsis here: Other studies, involving humans, show that the smell of grapefruit may somehow affect liver enzymes to suppress appetite.

Peppermint scent also works. In 2007, a university in West Virginia did a study whereby participants smelled peppermint every 2 hours. The study looked at  hunger levels when the participants smelled peppermint, as well as when they didn't, in addition to how much food they actually ate and what was in the food (e.g., fat intake, caloric intake, vitamin and mineral intake, etc.) over a period of two weeks.
Results showed that participants who were exposed to peppermint consumed nearly 3000 fewer total calories from saturated fat, total fat, and sugar each week. That's about 23% fewer calories based on 1800 calories/day diet for 7 days. Participants also rated their hunger level significantly lower during peppermint inhalation.

Even Dr. Oz has cited this well as supporting the smell of grapefruit as a tool in weight loss. (

As in all things, individual results will vary. But here's the good thing: inhaling pure peppermint scent and/or grapefruit, ideally from an essential oil, can't hurt any! There are no side effects to worry about. Something to ponder with our holiday season fast approaching, and, the temptation to overindulge on rich food, or have second helpings!

Friday, September 27, 2013

What's the Phuss over Phthalates?

eScential Products are Phthalate free. So many aren't...why should you care? Phthalates act as fragrance extenders. They make scent last a long time, something we, as consumers, like. In Canada, you do not need to list phthalates on the label. But, as they are used as part of the fragrance cocktail, if the label says "fragrans," "fragrance' or "parfum", you can bet it has phthalates. Have you ever walked outside, and smelled someone's laundry...that whiff of dryer sheets so potent it drifts out into the great outdoors and can be smelled literally half a block away? Well...that's the persistence and power of synthetic scent. It is not a good thing.

If that's not bad enough, I recently watched a commercial for a new product that you add to your washer, along with your laundry detergent, to make the scent in the detergent extra long lasting. And let's not forget those pesky plug in fragrance products to make your room smell good.

There are many kinds of phthalates, but 2 commonly used ones (dibutyl phthalate and diethylhexyl phthalate) are rated a "10" by Skin Deep. They are considered an endocrine disruptor by the Environmental Working Group, as well as by Environmental Defence. They are toxic to the reproductive system, and normal development. They persist in the environment, and, show up in both blood and breast milk. They are linked with an increase in allergies and asthma in children. As children are so small, they are especially sensitive to the effects of phthalates.

Phthalates are found in anything scented. BUT...did you know, that they can even be lurking in products that are NOT scented? In Canada, if you add scent to a product not to make it smell pretty, but, strictly to mask the scent of the raw materials in the product, they do not have to list scent on the label. Even worse - if this is the case, they can label the product "Unscented"!!! No wonder it's hard to get a "clean" product!!

Phthalates are listed as one of Environmental Defence's Toxic Ten. Always read labels! Even the word "unscented" on a product is not a guarantee of being phthalate free. Search out cosmetic lines that actively promote "toxin free" products.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

How "Clean" are your Cleaning Supplies?

Adria Vasil, the Goddess of Green, has reviewed some commonly used household cleaners that are advertised as being non toxic. But, "greenwashing" is a Big Problem. Greenwashing is when a product is promoted as being non-toxic, but, isn't. Sometimes ingredients aren't listed. Companies can use the escape hatch of saying their formulas are proprietary information, and may not be required to list all ingredients. Sometimes, even reading labels is not enough! 
I am always amazed by how smart packaging and expensive marketing campaigns promote products-cleaning, cosmetic, whatever - in such a fashion that consumers have no doubt that the product is both harmless to them, and to the environment. Sadly, this is most often not the case. With cosmetics, at least you have the opportunity to read the ingredient label and decide for yourself. Checking the ingredients against the "Toxic Ten" list is a quick and easy way to see if your cosmetics are following the old adage, "First, do no harm." But cleaners are a different story.
Of course, there are lots of other cleaners out there, in addition to the ones that Adria has reviewed. Be wary! Adria's pick (also my own) is to clean with baking soda and vinegar. You can pretty much do your entire house with castile soap, baking soda, and vinegar. A few drops of essential oil (your choice of fragrance, though lemon and orange are always popular) can provide a great fresh smell! I'm very fond of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint scented organic and fair trade liquid castile soap. Wonderful for hardwood floors! You only need a tiny bit....just a teaspoon in a small pail of water. Too much can leave a floor streaky.
Another hot tip is to add a tablespoon of vinegar to your automatic fabric softener dispenser in your washer, instead of any fabric softener. Fabric softeners are dreadful! They coat fabric with chemicals, they contain a ton of synthetic scent...that's why clothing comes out of the dryer and stays scented for weeks! In fact, I have been outside for a walk, and, can occasionally smell the air coming from someone's dryer vent because they are using dryer sheets. Ugh! You just know that cannot be a good thing. Vinegar prevents static cling, disinfects the clothes and washer. I have a front loader, and, I no longer have that "skunky smell" so common to front loaders. Towels dry fluffy. Save money...use your own cleaners.
Have a look at Adria's chart to see if what you are currently using meets her "clean and green" standard.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Toxins in Shampoos

I am forever suggesting to people that they read labels. No one, not the federal or provincial government, not Health keeping you safe from toxins in your personal care products. 

In this latest case, The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) revealed independent testing on Tuesday finding a cancer-causing chemical in 98 shampoos, soaps and other personal care products sold by major national retailers. The chemical in question is cocamide diethanolamine (cocamide DEA), a chemically-modified form of coconut oil used as a thickener or foaming agent in many products. California listed this as a known carcinogen last year. These are well known brands...everything from Prell, Organix, Paul Mitchell, and more. 

As you know, eScential Wellness is a supporter of environmental defence ( and lists their "Toxic Ten" ingredients on the eScential Wellness website ( As it happens, cocamide DEA is not on their toxic ten list....but it does make David Suzuki's Dirty Dozen.  (link here: Of course, eScential Wellness is free of the Dirty Dozen, too. But what do you do when the chemical is not required to be on the label? Not much you can do about that...except, be labels whenever you can.

Read the full article. It's very informative!  This link will take you to a list of the exact shampoo offenders. You can see if the shampoo you use is among the entire article.