Removing Toxicity: A Paradox of Complexity and Simplicity
August 1st, 2018 by Johanna Cyran
Reducing your toxic load: what does that mean? I had the same question myself—that is until I attended an ultra-informative and slightly stressful event at ABC Home’s Deepak Homebase.
How does an event called A Temple of Wellbeing: Your Home Environment and Your Health aggravate stress, you ask? Let’s just say that I can’t un-know the fact that the budget-friendly mattress which seemed like a great idea at the time is silently harming your cells. Every. Damn. Night.
I’ll get to how I got there but first, let me set the vibe. Located on Broadway and E. 19th Street, the ABC Home(base) transports you to a world far away from the daily stressors of living in Manhattan (seriously, a double decker Cuban sandwich with extra sauce on the B train?! No amount of Chamomile tea is going to fix mayonnaise dripping on velvet boots.) The store’s layout, products, and aesthetic are simply dreamy. When directed upstairs, you find a wellness sanctuary. You enjoy browsing the various frames, trinkets, buddhas, and calming decor while the lovely DJ Stefan spins alternative indie beats. The gigantic glass of Italian Pinot Grigio offered to you with a smile doesn’t hurt the ambiance either.
Just when I thought the event space could get any prettier, I entered the area set aside for the panel discussion: exposed brick complimented by deeply-relaxing lighting. Cozy in my seat among an audience of roughly 120 attendees, I looked on as the panel was introduced. Before us a doctor, two founders, a researcher, a plant scientist, and an environmental director prepared to offer us solutions for a happier, healthier, life.
Bridging the gap—physicians and functional medicine
Dr. Taz Bhatia, an integrative and functional medicine physician and author kicked off by explaining her intentions not only for our discussion but for her larger role within healthcare industry: to bridge the gap between healthcare and wellness. Dr. Taz explained that indoor air pollution is a major contributor to your “cumulative toxic load.” Let’s break that down.
Indoor air pollution “chemical, biological, and physical contamination of indoor air,” according to OECD. Your toxic load is the cumulative amount of stress that your body carries around like a backpack full of rocks. In other words, we all carry toxins with us throughout the day which can seriously impede our overall health, down to the level of proper cell vibration. Continual exposure to mold and mildew wreaks havoc on our systems—and as Dr. Taz highlights, there is a strong connection between toxins and allergies, an increase in illnesses, severe asthma, sinusitis, and mental well-being.
Research on cumulative toxic load shows further connections with more serious conditions such as cancer and autoimmune diseases.
Immediately, I felt like all the air had been let out of me and the stress rushed in. How many toxic chemicals are in my home?
How VOC’s sneak into your home
That’s when founder and CEO of Common Good, Sacha Dunn filled me in. VOC’s, or Volatile Organic Compounds are an indoor pollutant present in the majority of household cleaning products on the market. I pictured the hormone-disrupting tsunami of ammonia, chlorine, bleach, and synthetic fragrance washing over the home and apartment spaces they are intended to clean. Sacha and her husband started their company in order to protect their children, dog, and selves from such harmful chemicals. They truly exemplify what it means to be a self – starter and fulfill a need in the market.
The great news is that you can jump on board and grab heir household products for yourself; the bad news is that Common Good commonly sells out.
Enter Christopher Satch. Chris is the head of plant science and education at the NYC-based plant company, The Sill. I love their motto: plants make people happy. Not only can I personally attest to the happiness-inducing effect of plants about beyond the beauty and positive energy plants bring your apartment, they actually detoxify the air while you sleep (and while you’re awake. Plants don’t own watches.)
In fact, different plants filter out different chemicals and The Sill is ready and excited to advise you on the plants which are easiest to care for if you don’t have a green thumb. Need more of a push to visit The Sill and give your body a little more peace at night (and throughout the day)? The Sill has two NYC locations where you are always welcome to drop into one of their fun, monthly workshops!
Chris then shifted the conversation toward long term, systemic ways to protect your health and advocate for a greener, cleaner, society.
The buzzword? Vote. Chris encouraged the audience to remember the power of their vote and their dollar.
Next, Nneka Leiba: director of Healthy Living Science at Environmental Working Group alerted us to an awesome, important resource for decoding what products you should and shouldn’t bring into your home. EWG provides an extensive search-engine-esque system that lets you browse items by toxicity rating,and decide which easy swaps you’re willing to make to aid your personal health. For example, after the event I decided to swap ed Windex for Puracy’s All Purpose Cleaner (which smells phenomenally of Green Tea and Lime) an ‘A’-rated suggestion I discovered on the EWG site. Added bonus: you can grab 2 large spray bottles on Amazon Prime for only 13.99 and spritz your way into safer bathrooms, counters, kitchens, and windows, in no time.
If you do not have the time or ability to attend a panel like this one: Don’t worry. You’re not behind! The bottom line is that this information is available in abundance. Don’t go on a rampage and throw out everything in your home —start small, by setting your intention to improve one area at a time. Makeup, clothes, furniture, food, and household cleaners are all subcategories that provide opportunities to reduce chemicals and aid your body.
Let us know where you decide to start!