all of the things that are killing us and our unborn future children

Minute, our abnormally tiny orange cat, had a flea. Or at least, it looked like it could probably be a flea.

Bear froze. “What is that?” He pointed at her furry forehead. I froze.

(source)

“Oh, god. It’s a bug.”

“Grab her.”

I moved stealthily toward the unsuspecting cat, who was eyeing the chicken on the table. I kept my voice soothing: “It’s okay, Minute…It’s okay…”

She looked at me like she already knew that.

We didn’t catch the flea, but I had suspicious bites on my ankles in the morning.

“Oh, god. We’re infested.”

I took Minute to the vet. The vet said she didn’t see any evidence of fleas. We got into this conversation about living in New York, and she was young and cool and I wished that we could become friends but had no idea how to make that happen so I played it cool and pretended I had to get going so that she wouldn’t be the first one to say she should stop talking and get back to work.

Anyway, it turns out that we can never be friends, because she’s the one who gave me the pesticide that is going to kill me.

 

And Bear.  And possibly our future children. Who, even if they escape a devastatingly young death, will probably have severe deformities.

I didn’t know. She told me to hold the bottle about two feet over the floor, and spray everywhere. And then she gave Minute a pill, and put some of that neon gunk on her back.

“What were you thinking?” cried Bear, later that evening, when I casually mentioned that I had saved us from the fleas. “Did you check the bottle? Do you have any idea what is IN that stuff?”

(lots of scary-sounding chemicals, I’m guessing? source)

I had no idea at all. “The vet said…” I said. “She said to spray it!”

“You just poisoned us,” he said, dramatically. Usually he is gentle and calm, but occasionally he is very dramatic (which I always secretly enjoy and then pretend not to).

He seized the bottle and carried it off to his desk, where he set about googling each ingredient individually.

It turned out that we were definitely going to die.

But that was only the beginning.

Our couch is also killing us.

Our shampoo is killing us.

Our hand soap. Our diet soda. The bottles it comes in.

It’s all killing us.

I had no idea that my entire home is made out of toxic chemicals that have already invaded my every pore and capillary. And the pores and capillaries of the ones I love!

I know now, because we spent the night looking them up.

One website after another. I was running to the shower to pull out body wash and conditioner containers. Oh no. There’s the word “solfate” again. And the ever-ominous “fragrances,” which is sometimes disguised as “parfum.” It used to sound sweet, pretty, if I ever noticed it at all. Now I know it is a thin veil drawn over the grimacing face of death.

I was sounding out words longer than my arm. “Metoxefrom-agisterol-phlemagulated-vaxitronium.” Breath. “Wait– chloride! Don’t forget chloride! Wait– Oh, never mind. This one just means ‘cinnamon.’”

(but do we really know what’s in cinnamon?? source)

And then there are the preservatives in my English muffins. I found myself pleading aloud, “Can I just keep the English muffins?”

And Bear was saying, “We can probably find an alternative—something with less ingredients. Something that will go bad quickly.”

“But I like that they last! That way I don’t have to throw them out and waste them!”

“But isn’t there some rule, about how it’s supposed to go bad or it’s bad for you?”

“Maybe! But they taste good!” Weak. I know. Very weak.

We read about how, if we ever want to have children, I should never have sprayed that pesticide. Bear kept giving me this look that said, “Yup. You did it.” And then we’d both laugh. And then our laughter would begin to have a tinny, nervous quality. And then we’d fall grimly silent and return to the internet.

I didn’t even mention the Entenmanns. A mixed box of donuts that I’d gotten on a joyful whim the day before. The coffee cake ones are the best, and then cider, and then it’s a draw between glazed and chocolate covered. Some of my happiest moments involve those donuts. They dunk perfectly. They are exactly the right size. I like to break off half of one and half of another and alternate dunking them for optimal flavor. An explosion of refined carbohydrates and about thirty types of highly processed sugars that my preservative-addled brain interprets as sheer bliss. I didn’t even want to check the label. I was too embarrassed to even suggest that I should ever consider eating them again, even for a second, even for a bite.

(but…they’re so lovely…source)

Bear was saying something about an air filter. We were on this site that rates all of your household products in terms of how toxic they are and how much cancer they are giving you. We were suddenly ordering a lot of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, with little satisfied smiles. We were feeling like our eyes had been opened and our future children might be born without debilitating disabilities and we were quietly rebelling against a crushingly ignorant mainstream culture. We went to sleep, paranoid and thankful.

In the middle of the night, I woke up, disoriented and hungry. I stumbled into the kitchen. Like an uneducated zombie, I reached for the Entenmanns box. I fumbled it open. I poured myself a glass of milk. (I am very coordinated, for a zombie.) I broke off half of a coffee cake donut, and half of a cider donut, and I dunked them alternatingly, and I—yes—I’m going to say it—I ate them. I ate every bite of them. And, god, they were delicious. I’m sorry, future children. I was even standing near the couch as I ate them. The one with the toxic flame retardant in its foam cushions.

The next morning Bear said, “You know, I think that got a little crazy last night. We can’t freak out too much about this stuff.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I really like our couch.”

“Me too.”

We agreed that neither one of us wanted to be paranoid. It’s a bad way to go through life.

When I came home that evening, he was washing all of our pots with Dr. Bronner’s. He brought it with him into the shower after. I think I’ll give it a try today, actually.

It’s amazing how many weird, potentially horrifying chemicals we are regularly exposed to. I’m not convinced that the companies manufacturing them are looking out for our best interests. I’m pretty sure there’s a lot about our world we don’t understand and are too busy to investigate and too apathetic to be passionate about and too tired to deal with and too generally trusting to question.

I’m also pretty sure that Minute the weirdly small orange cat does not have fleas. And that I sprayed that damn pesticide everywhere for nothing. Bear has some suspicious bites on his legs, though. Is it bedbugs? Oh god. Please no. What will we do if it’s bedbugs?

(Minute, picture taken by my friend Lucy)

*   *   *

Have you ever read about your shampoo on the internet? How careful do you think people should be about this stuff?

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in orange. Yeah, I totally thought that because of writing about Minute. But hey– whatever gets you there.

62 Comments »

Kate on September 10th 2012 in fear, life, new york

62 Responses to “all of the things that are killing us and our unborn future children”

  1. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    If it’s bedbugs I will burn candles and pray for your sanity…and send distant healing to your cat, your couch, you and Bear, and your unborn children. Seriously!

  2. Caroline responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Yeah. I’ve been on a long journey of “naturalizing” my products. I use Dr. Bronner’s for my pits n’ crotch, just scrub elsewhere. Hair is baking soda and vinegar and coconut oil, occasionally flaxseed “gel” which i make on the stove; Dr. Bronner’s makes a good whole-ingredient lotion. I clean with baking soda and vinegar and essential oils (some are toxic to cats). Dr. B’s for laundry except when it’s REALLY dirty or has oil stains – i use oxyclean when laundry has stains, it’s a less-toxic bleach. I use those ball things instead of dryer sheets. Brush my teeth with homemade tooth powder. When it comes to food, if it doesn’t exist without significant human/industrial intervention, i don’t eat it (i eat Paleo and follow the 80/20 rule). CRUNCHY WIN ;)

  3. Liz responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Oh gosh, I totally feel for you guys. I get like this now and then about carcinogens. I look up where we live and our water sources and it looks really grim. Just about everywhere does. We order lots of “all natural” stuff and poor Chris is miserable. He reminds me that just about anything supposedly gives you cancer. He rolls his eyes a lot and sighs. In the moment, I feel like he’d roll in toxic waste and tell me it’s perfectly normal and to get over it. In the same moment, he feels that I’m practically hiding in terror from the very air we’re breathing and that, somehow, I’ll Google water and find that it’s highly hazardous and find a way to switch us over to liquified dirt from uninhabited mountains in Sweden, or something. After awhile, we compromise only to repeat the cycle in a few months when some new study comes out. Ugh.

  4. lik_11 responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    First off- love the picture of Minute! Secondly- I’m a chemist speciallizing in personal care items (SHAMPOOS, soaps, lotions, potions, etc). At least once a month I field random questions from my friends freaking out about something they read on the internet. Don’t get me wrong- there are a lot of chemicals that can harm you… but there’s a reason they’re used! There is at all times a chemical with information being circulated how it is going to kill you, give you cancer, disfigure your children, blah blah blah. Knowledge is power, but ignorance is bliss!!!

  5. Kate responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    @lik_11
    Interesting!
    I want to know more, but I don’t want to be annoying :-)
    What kind of shampoo do you use, out of curiosity?

  6. Soph responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    If they are bed bugs, don’t panic! My apartment got them and I was terrified. But if you’re systematic and use lots of those nasty chemicals and wash EVERYTHING YOU OWN, they will go away. I’m 15 months bed bug free! They’re everywhere in the city. It’s not as embarrassing as you fear, and they ARE defeatable.

  7. Melanie responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    This made me laugh so hard. I use chemically flea stuff on my kitties, and because of my anxiety stuff I use very harsh cleaners in my home. But I air it out well. You do what you can.

    I don’t eat hardly any processed foods. The boxed Entenmann’s and english muffins don’t ever get bought by me. As for the english muffins, you can find non-processed and they keep about two weeks in the fridge. If you toast them and don’t eat them raw, they are even okay to freeze half if you need them to last longer. But the consistency gets weird in the freezer if you don’t toast them.

    I have been off of processed foods for over a year now. It’s worth it. But the chemically cleaners and flea stuff…those aren’t going anywhere!!

  8. Melanie responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    I didn’t mean eat them raw, I mean unwarmed. I didn’t sleep last night. :)

  9. Brenda responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    Get over it. Do you want nasty fleas? No? Then give your kitty her flea medicine. You can give her a pill if you are skeeved out by putting the liquid stuff on her back.

  10. Kristina responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    KATE, I WHAT ABOUT WHEN WE HAVE BABIES??? I often fantasize about being one of those moms that doesn’t use epiderals, uses cloth diapers and glass bottles and ONLY breast milk. The need to be chemical-free and help the environment seems to never end….I am totally down with cleaning with vinegar and lemon though. Works wonders on windows.

  11. Mandy responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    Careful, sweetie–once you start reading labels, you can’t go back!
    My own journey stared with a course on essential oils (I’m a massage therapist) and the consequential ridding my house/office/person of anything that had any kind of artificial fragrance and/or coloring.
    Then, I discovered I was allergic to penicillin, and I started thinking about all of the hormones and anitbiotics they feed cows, (I drink a lot of milk) wondered if they were a contributing factor, and decided I’d try organic milk.
    Then, I decided I was opposed to bottled water due to the pollution factor, and the innate silliness of buying water when I could get it out of the faucet. So we installed a water filter to take out the chorine in all of the household water. The side benefit was that my clothing doesn’t fade as much in the wash, my skin and hair are much happier, especially in the winter, and the water just tastes better. AND it’s less expensive in the long run.
    Things kind of snowballed from there. Sodium Laureth Sulfate (a cheap sudsing agent in a lot shampoos and soaps that can be irritating to a lot of people) got eliminated. (I now use Aubrey Organics.) Then BPA (an alleged hormone disrupting agent found in a lot of plastics) made me replace my in-house water bottles with glass water bottles encased in silicone sleeves. I started buying organic fruit (pesticides), recycled paper products, biodegradable (Seventh Generation) laundry detergent and fabric softener.
    And I buy all my bread from a local bakery where they don’t use preservatives, and even grind some of their own flour–the bread doesn’t last as long, but it’s so yummy, most of the time that’s not an issue, because it’s consumed long before it starts growing penicillin.
    I gotta tell you–once you start reading labels, there’s no turning back.

  12. lik_11 responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    Currently- I’m using a salon brand from Tressa for blondes. I am not brand-loyal… and I’m constantly trying new products. A lot of companies are trending towards natural products, so I’ve been trying them lately. Truthfully- I’m not blown away. I still like chemicals- including sulfates.

  13. Sarah responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    I think I now understand why I have been procrastinating over reading Slow Death by Rubber Duck. I expect when I finally do it, I will spend a week like the evening you describe.

  14. teegan responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    i will confirm – it does snowball. it’s hard to be ‘a little’ conscious of all of this.
    i’m a total hippie about this stuff. dr bronners for body soap, baking soda and vinegar for my hair and for cleaning, coconut oil for lotion (and… massage during couple times). i bake 99% of our baked goods and make our granola. as vegetarians in a not-big town, most of our eating out options stink – not to mention the fact that we’re pretty darn frugal – so we cook/make most everything. i worked off a farm share this year so that we could have organic veggies and herbs from may through october. i try to avoid canned goods, and we definitely eschew most plastics (hooray for pyrex and mason jars!). we avoid most meds of any kind (except during my period, because i’m a firm believer in ANYTHING THAT PREVENTS THE PAIN).
    as far as the baby (due in two weeks, give or take), yes. hippie. natural birth at home. cloth diapers. breastfeeding. natural/organic materials. selective immunization.

    it’s overwhelming, but only at first, really. once you get accustomed to, say, only buying whole foods and not using nearly anything out of the cosmetics/soap/drugs aisles, it’s just habit.

  15. teegan responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    oh, and regarding the bakes goods not lasting – bread never ever lasts in this house. and if it does start to get stale? best french toast ever.

  16. Emily G responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Whenever I hear about the harmful chemicals in things like shampoo, disinfectants, etc. I always start to think about how I, um, never use those things. And then I feel like I’m a slob because I’m never gonna need to throw out disinfectants in order to buy more ‘natural’ versions because, uh, I never think to buy those things. Clearly I’m not doing something right. I mean, do people actually scrub their floors and counters with products? And do people really buy bleach? Why would that never occur to me? I’M SO GROSS.

  17. Annie responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    Those donuts… I had completely forgotten about those. Until now, and now I desperately, desperately want to go buy a pack.

    Especially those chocolate ones, oh my goodness.

  18. Christina responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    For future kitty-cats-with-fleas reference: I adopted a kitten that brought a healthy load of fleas into the house, alas, and they hitched on to our resident older cat, too. Here are two ways to vanquish ‘em (the fleas, not the cats):

    1. A flea comb (bought at pet store or online) and a bowl of soapy water. Carefully comb Kitty, which snags the fleas; use thumb to contain wriggly flea in comb. Dunk comb in soapy water. Flea drowns in soapy water (need soap to help keep them in water, also covers flea’s body and makes it hard for it to breathe). Dry comb and keep combing. (Kind of like what you do for kids with lice.)

    2. The above, obviously, is poison-free. Flea collars are nasty but you don’t have to put them on Kitty–cut one up and toss a chunk into the vacuum cleaner bag so that as you vacuum, any fleas and eggs that get sucked up will die in the bag instead of hatching and crawling out. Keep the horrid flea-collar chunks securely bagged.

    Vigilant flea combing and vacuuming for a week got rid of our problem. That was years ago. My cats (indoor only–the poor birds are plagued enough by habitat loss and other problems) haven’t had a flea problem since, and I haven’t had to employ chopped-up flea collars either (so any concerns about the vacuum merrily exhaling fumes are past, too).

    Good luck!

  19. Kate responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    @Brenda
    I know it’s sometimes hard to tell, but this piece is supposed to be funny.
    Minute got her pill, too.

  20. Kate responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    @Christina
    SO clever about the vacuum bag and flea collar!

  21. Kate responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    @Annie
    We should eat them together and you can have all the chocolate ones as long as I can have all the coffee cake ones.

  22. Kate responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    @teegan
    Good for you!! This is how I grew up– my mom is like this. And it was just normal.
    And yes to French toast! A thousand times yes! :p

  23. Kate responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    @lik_11
    OK, so I’m going to be annoying: what do the sulfates do?

  24. Kate responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    @Melanie
    I had no problem with “raw” :-)

  25. Kate responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    @Kristina
    I DON’T KNOW!!!!! I am totally thinking about this and simultaneously trying not to think about it.
    I think I will probably end up being pretty much a hippie mom, but I also don’t want to be too hard on myself. If something isn’t working, I want to be flexible enough to change.
    And epidurals? I’d like to think I won’t get one. I’m also really scared of the thought of not getting one. Argh. I need to read more about them, probably.
    Oh, and Bear was definitely cleaning with vinegar last night. He’s been cleaning everything! It’s amazing!

  26. Lynellekw responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    I had a friend whose mother was crazy obsessed about this kind of stuff. Organic everything, they weren’t even allowed to use highlighters because she’d heard fluorescent inks caused cancer. Then her father died, quite suddenly from a brain tumor. Now she uses whatever suits her.

    BUT I feel like there’s got to be a middle ground. And sodium lauryl sulfate makes my scalp itchy – any of the sulfates do to some degree, but that one’s the worst. I used to wake up in the morning with blood under my fingernails because I’d been scratching my head in my sleep. So most of my food is minimally processed, I don’t use much in the way of chemical cleaners, and if I want a donut then I have it and enjoy it.

  27. Sarah S responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    CUTE KITTY! Ok, I have to back Melanie up on this one. I have no qualms about flea meds, cleaners (love me some bleach), or pharmaceuticals. I refuse to touch most highly processed foods, though. Not because they don’t taste good! (FlufferNutter sandwiches=manna) I guess in the end you can only do so much and choose which devil you want to dance with. (Sorry about the dangling preposition. My inner grammar nerd is cringing.)

  28. Kate responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    @Sarah
    It’s true, about devils and dancing. And if I ever paid attention to dangling prepositions I’d probably have to stop writing. Sometimes they just sound better!

  29. Hillary Embry responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Yup. Slippery slope. It started for me when I was preggo with my first- I became “one of those moms that doesn’t use epiderals, uses cloth diapers and glass bottles and ONLY breast milk.” Yup yup, that’s me now. And I have begun to love all things natural- I clean with vinegar & water (I actually soak orange peels in vinegar for 2 weeks, and use the resulting yummy smelling stuff). The best part is that I’m ok “letting” my kids clean too- no worries! And while you’re reading about pesticides, read up on GMOs too- that’s the scariest. I definitely think that we are all killing ourselves with the gunk in our food and homes. Blech.

  30. P Flooers responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    Here ya go: http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-cosmetics/

    Borax will kill fleas in your apartment. You can buy a huge box for $3 in the grocery store. Sprinkle it on your carpets and upholstery, work it in with a broom, then vacuum like normal. That gives flea protection for a whole year, or until you shampoo the carpets. Kills fleas and their eggs and it TOTALLY works. Even down south with multiple cats and dogs at my house.

    Best cosmetic in the world? Coconut oil.

  31. Cate responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Kate,

    I really loved how funny this was! And I definitely empathise about the ‘ohmygod am I just accumulating all this toxic rubbish in my house am I going to have kids with three eyes’ stuff! however irrational I think it is, it still creeps in sometimes…

    One thing which comforts me though, is looking around at kids. Actual, real life kids. I mean, babies are abso-freaking-lutely adorable, and look so precious and fragile etc. And so do toddlers, and primary school kids… etc! But in reality, kids eat crappy stuff all the time. I know kids who live on food which has never met a vegetable in its life, run round shoving dirt in their faces, rubbing their hands all over animals… and turned out fine!! I certainly did this stuff (and still do. Hello, science…). Just think about all the robust, snot encrusted, mudslinging little angels you actually know or have met and feel reassured??

    And for goodness’ sake don’t think about the hygiene hypothesis or you WILL spontaneously combust! ;)

    Cate
    x

  32. Laura responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    I think I would rather go vote for the flea killer, which I can’t imagine would kill you unless you sprayed it directly into your lungs…than black plague. Or whatever other nasty illness you can get from flea bites.

  33. Katherine responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    I LOVED this! I totally know the feeling of the tsunami of doom that sucks you up once you realize the world of chemicals we exist in. I work at a clinic for kids with developmental disabilities and they’re great, great kids, but as someone who wants kids of my own one day, its definitely a humbling experience. Like some other commenters I found that once you start being aware of chemicals, you can’t really go back.

    I’ve transitioned to natural shampoo/conditioner and deodorant, I clean with vinegar and baking soda, I rarely wear makeup, I eat 90% organic, I avoid cans and receipts as much as possible (BPA), use a stainless steel water bottle, only have glass containers for food storage, etc. In the past when my cats had a breakout of fleas, I DID use those toxic flea medications, though, because when you think you have fleas in your house you tend to freak out! :)

    But, I also try not to worry about all the rest that we can’t control – air pollutants, pharmaceuticals in our water supply . I do what I can and that’s that. Otherwise, the stress in your system is probably counteracting the good you’re doing! :)

  34. Kristina responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    BTW, I am totally digging everyone’s input on natural cleaners. @hillaryembry, orange peels! Genious. I am going to try that.

  35. Mara responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 8:18 pm #

    Loving all these suggestions about cleaning! I never knew you could clean things with vinegar and baking soda.

  36. Kande responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    I totally digress, but since this thread was brought up in the comments – re: having kids – my belief is flexible parenting is the best – as in ideas, not physically, lol ;) My first was all natural, walk in 8 cm dilated, pop out a baby drug free … yeah, pretty much as easy as that. Second baby? Tried to come out when I was 5 cm dilated, didn’t understand the meaning of the word quit causing me excruciating pain every 2-3 minutes for what felt like an eternity and ended up in an emergency c-section. And yes I do have a high pain tolerance as evidenced by story of baby one and further backed up by my complete lack of need for meds post c-section. So yes to flexible planning in the face of the “unplannable” – also known as child birth. And how to feed your baby. And pretty much every aspect of parenting from conception to death. Rules are great, but unfortunately babies can’t read, so …. And to anyone who agrees to disagree thinking there is never a need for an epidural – no prob – just allow me to stab your cervix every three minutes for an 1.5 hours first, then I would be pleased to listen to your side of the argument ;)

  37. Hannah responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    Love it. My high school art teacher used to make us sit and draw in silence while she lectured us about all the chemicals that were in nail polish and how we were probably all going to die.

    Of course, she also sprayed our drawings with that fixture stuff and probably dyed her hair, but she didn’t paint her nails or drink diet soda because that’s what she learning in nutrition school, where she studied in the evenings.

    She does make for good stories, though.

  38. Vicky responded on 10 Sep 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    This is COMPLETELY random and off-topic, but I thought you all might appreciate it! This is my third day in NYC –okay, maybe just Manhattan– and today I tried THE BEST MUFFIN EVER! Seriously. The best. It was a banana-carrot one, and had something like a cheesecake -type filling. YOU NYC PEOPLE HAVE TO TRY IT! It doesn’t come with a Nutrition Info label, so there’s nothing to be paranoid about ;)

    The bakery is in Madison Avenue, I think, and it’s called ELLI’S BREADS. (maybe it’s a really famous place and I’m making a fool of myself, ha)

  39. Dane responded on 11 Sep 2012 at 2:31 am #

    I loved this piece, and also your cat is ADORABLE

  40. Jiminy responded on 11 Sep 2012 at 6:13 am #

    Whahhahha! Great post (as usual)! Whenever I get the urge to get like this, about all the things I should be conscious of and guilty for using/not doing/eating etc., my husband reminds me about a bit of the Bill Bryson book – (have you read it?) „A short history of nearly everything”. There is a description there about how Yellowstone park is only the mouth of a volcano so big that when it erupts, it covers the whole world in ashes and starts a new ice age (I’m improvising, I can’t remember the right numbers and effects), and that it erupts every 50000 years, give or take, and we are now at around 80000 years since the last one… and then everything gets put in perspective :) . You can only be paranoid about so many things.
    PS – Minute is lovely.

  41. anya responded on 11 Sep 2012 at 8:20 am #

    i’m paranoid about pets and appartments , i have a friend who had a bad experience, but even I laughed at this. In my family, i’m the hippie and my fiance grudgingly eats quinoa or lentil stew. He still buys himself twix and m&m’s though. And he sometimes gives me half of his bounty ice-cream. So we’re fine :)

  42. raquel responded on 11 Sep 2012 at 10:28 am #

    this post cracked me up. while the internet can be empowering, most of the time it just leaves me feeling like i’m going to die. case in point: WebMd.

  43. Susan responded on 11 Sep 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    Oh man… I’ve been there. The late night EVERYTHING IS GOING TO KILL US ALL binge.

    I’m a student midwife and one of the books I recommend pregnant women stay away from is “The Complete Organic Pregnancy.” It’s an awesome resource and it’s a great read a few years before you have babies or after your kids are in school, but it is *full* of things to freak the hell out about.

    I try to clean with vinegar, essential oils, baking soda, and castille soaps, but I still eat like crap. You have to pick and choose and move toward whatever feels comfortable at whatever place works for you.

  44. Sheryl responded on 11 Sep 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Everything is going to kill you, somehow. And the things that we all switch to in order to stop having all those lethal chemicals have other things that are going to kill you. I’ve basically reached the conclusion that I’m going to use the products I’m happy with, and I’ll try to ignore most of the “AAAAH THEY”RE SO BAD FOR YOU” noise.

  45. Julie responded on 11 Sep 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    Hi Kate -

    I’m one of those annoying readers who religiously follows (and loves!) your blog, but never leaves a comment…Anyway…It is really scary finding out about all the nasty chemicals in, well, everything, but I wanted to recommend No More Dirty Looks (the book and blog)…It’s a great and encouraging intro into the world of green and clean! And yeah, the whole things snowballs, but in a good, empowering way!

  46. Madeline responded on 12 Sep 2012 at 3:21 am #

    Minute is so gorgeous!! Beautiful girl :)

    Have to say, having had bedbugs in NYC cured me of taking in used furniture or any secondhand, thrift-store type items ever. (They came from a secondhand armchair and bedstead) We had pets in the house at the time too, and so didn’t want toxic chemicals in the house to treat the problem. If it is (and I hope it’s not!) bedbugs you can suffocate them in the furnishings by wrapping it in plastic and then aiming a blow dryer at it, and/or putting it (safely) near a space heater. And our steam/suffocating method worked, until we had the funds to replace the bad furniture pieces and the bedbugs were gone for good.

  47. Sari responded on 12 Sep 2012 at 5:59 am #

    You wanna read about natural birth? I gots books fo’ yooooou!
    The rest of the conversation we can have elsewhere. You know where to find me.
    (@Susan — I’m a student doula perhaps heading toward midwifery and would love to chat sometime…)

    Also… natural products are so hard to find here, and cleaners (I am simply not effective w/ Israeli tile floors and flooding them and… whatever. Someone else does it.) have some sort of aversion to natural cleaning stuff. Urgh. I don’t want to walk on bleachy floors and track it wherever (bed?). Ditto for the dog, who sometimes likes to lick the floors. I’ve been mildly panicky since last night recognizing the sheer amount of chemicals allowed into my life here that never were there in NY. KAAAAaaaate!!!!!

    To those who clean with vinegar: does your place not end up smelling of vinegar?

    Also, Kate, add another gal to the mix who swears by Dr. Bronner’s. It’s been my soap for years. And I had friends who used it for everything. Watered down as dish soap (hand wash, not dishwasher). Laundry detergent. General apartment cleaning. :) It’s pretty awesome stuff.

  48. Kate responded on 12 Sep 2012 at 10:39 am #

    @Sari
    I definitely want those book recs sometime.
    And also, can I just say— Dr. Bronner’s peppermint STINGS. I mean, in the shower. Do you have a favorite scent?

  49. Kate responded on 12 Sep 2012 at 10:40 am #

    @Julie
    Thanks for commenting, and for the book recommendation! Even better that it’s a blog, since I can look it up right this second!

  50. Kate responded on 12 Sep 2012 at 10:40 am #

    @raquel
    exactly :-)

  51. Kate responded on 12 Sep 2012 at 10:41 am #

    @Vicky
    THANK YOU!!! I always appreciate stuff like this. I’m totally going to try these muffins.

  52. Donella Demma responded on 12 Sep 2012 at 11:43 am #

    This was hilarious! Minute is adorable! I MUST have those Entenmann’s donuts now.. I totally understand the chemical panic attacks! I switched to safe cleaning supplies,shampoo,etc. The company is called Melaleuca. I can hook you up!

  53. Twyla responded on 12 Sep 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    I love Dr. Bronner’s. And yes, I am very careful about what I bring in the house. In fact, I make most of what I use. Sampoo. Laundry detergent. Lotion. Then I know exactly what’s in it.

  54. Barbara responded on 14 Sep 2012 at 10:50 am #

    I also feel that when you start paying attention to all the toxics we are exposed to on a daily basis, it is a bit overwhelming.

    But I am glad you included the link to article about flame retardants in your sofa. I have learned something from Arlene Blum about the behind-the-scenes lobbying, big money, etc., used to tilt regulations to favor the industry, not the public safety. It is very similar to what the tobacco companies did/do to promote sales even when research shows cancer risk.

  55. Sarah responded on 15 Sep 2012 at 1:36 am #

    The products of Dr. Bronner is one the best that i have ever found.

  56. Evil Killer Poptarts responded on 17 Sep 2012 at 12:18 am #

    Honestly, I try to recycle, and be environment-conscious, and buy smart, but as someone struggling with an actual anxiety disorder, along with bipolar disorder and PTSD, I really can’t even let myself get swept into that sort of paranoid state if I want to avoid the hospital.

    My brother and his wife are vegan, and all kinds of crunchy. I just worry about their two very small children, and getting enough of the nutrition required to grow healthy without meat, eggs, and dairy. I worry about B vitamins. I look at them, realize just how much trouble it is, and decide I’m much happier just ignoring it all.

  57. Amyranth responded on 27 Sep 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    I’m fairly certain that I’m allergic to SLS (sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates) because if I use commercial soaps I break out all over my back. And it’s not acne, because I thought that’s what it was too for the longest time. They’re these soft bumps that get deeply itchy as soon as I dry off from a shower, and once I scratch them, they pop and ooze this yellowish-clear fluid. Then, there’s a small divot in my skin that never really heals over, no matter what I put on it. It took me years to figure it out because as a teenager, I thought it was acne, and just left it alone. It wasn’t until I picked up a box of Pears soap at Wal-mart out of desperation (they didn’t have my regular soap, and I kinda liked the smell of Pears), and used it that the light started to dawn on me. My back healed up, and I realized it was something in my regular soap that was causing the reaction.

    Sadly, I had to quit using Pears as well when they changed their formulation to include a different type of fragrance because that also begain causing an allergic reaction on my skin.

    So, I switched to Rocky Mountain Soap Company, a local store that makes soap so natural you could eat it in a moment of desperation. Same with all their lip glosses, lotions, body butters and even the shampoo and conditioner would probably not even give you a tummy ache. (Although I wouldn’t try it to find out.) In the two years that I’ve been using their products I haven’t had an allergy-related breakout once, although I haven’t been able to completely eradicate SLS/Fragrance/Parfum from my life due to my roommates using commercial products.

    But hey, my back doesn’t look pearl-clutchingly bad anymore!

  58. Eat the Damn Cake » the man in the baseball cap who thinks women should be a lot more obedient responded on 01 Oct 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    [...] his life with a pop tart I’d bought on a whim from a gas station convenience store even though I’m really trying to be healthier and not eat stuff with so many preservatives.  So that’s a story about how sugar addiction saves [...]

  59. Eat the Damn Cake » stop judging my diamond ring, I already know I’m a bad rebel responded on 25 Oct 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    [...] I try not to use a lot of chemicals these days, but then I just go ahead and put regular deodorant on because oh my god, I STINK when I use the natural one. I know my armpits are going to get cancer, but it seems more polite. [...]

  60. Eat the Damn Cake » One of those days…where you end up with a lot of cow blood on the floor and your cat might be dead responded on 28 Nov 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    [...] actually isn’t the most interesting story, but it made Bear’s dreams come true. He reads about food and chemicals and that sort of a thing a lot. And he made this rule for our little household that involves not eating beef that’s not grassfed [...]

  61. Eat the Damn Cake » god help me, I’m supposed to have a baby in a month responded on 03 Jul 2013 at 8:19 am #

    [...] But I finally bought a changing pad, so that’s good, I think. It’s all-natural! So she won’t die of the toxins! Bear is worried about the toxins. [...]

  62. Courtney Ostaff responded on 07 Jul 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    If you haven’t found this yet, it’s useful: http://www.ewg.org/consumer-guides