Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: The Non-Toxic Avenger

I greatly admire what Deanna Duke has done with this project and book, The Non-Toxic Avenger: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You. After being dealt two difficult blows, a son diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and a husband with a rare form of leukemia, Deanna didn't crumple into a ball of grief (which is what I probably would have done), she took action.

The book description sums it up best:

After coming to terms with the fact that the autism and cancer which had impacted her family were most likely the result of environmental toxins, author Deanna Duke undertook a mission to dramatically reduce her family's chemical exposure. She committed to drastically reducing the levels of all known chemicals in both her home and work environments, using the help of body burden testing to see what effect, if any, she was able to have on the level of toxins in her body.

I was surprised by how readable this book is; I finished it in only a couple of days. I mean, a book that discusses toxins in everyday life and their potential effects on our health isn't exactly my idea of fun reading. Duke somehow manages to make this an easy, yet still informative read, without leaving out the important details.

Duke really does examine many of the items we come into contact with on a daily basis, way beyond the amount of items I've even thought about having toxic potential, including jewelry, sun glasses, potato chip bags, and dental floss. The magnitude of just how prevalent toxins are in our modern lives are quite disturbing. But through testing Duke shows that it is possible to make a difference in our personal levels of toxin exposure.

It would be easy for me to become overwhelmed by the process of learning more about toxins in every day life, and not know when to make changes and when to let go. It would definitely be easy to let yourself get carried away. Although Duke is thorough, she is willing to let some things go, both for the sake of others' feelings, as well as the sake of her own sanity.

This book inspired me to make several changes, or plans to change, including:
  1. Ditch my teflon cookware.
  2. Ditch the PVC shower curtain - done!
  3. Switch to non-toxic deodorant - done!
  4. Switch from body lotion to coconut oil - done
There are a couple of changes Duke made, which albeit simple, I just can't make myself commit to yet: cutting out body wash and using bar soap to wash my face. While I know I don't need body wash (and as Duke points out it uses a lot of unnecessary plastic, not to mention the energy used to make and transport it), I enjoy it. I've switched from my once-loved Bath & Body Works brand of body wash, to Trader Joe's Tea Tree body wash which doesn't have any SLS or parabens. Still, I continue to use soap even with body wash, so it really is a waste. A waste that smells great and creates delish suds, but a waste nonetheless. I've tried using my Trader Joe's tea tree body soap on my face as well, but am not of the fan of the way it feels. Plus, whether it's my imagination or not, the Say Yes to Cucumbers face wash just seems to work better.

I do have one tiny criticism, which is part of the reason it's taken my so long to write this review. It's hard to say anything even slightly critical about someone I admire, especially considering what she is dealing with. I read Duke's blog and enjoy her writing style, which is why I was surprised that her tone was less spunky than I've come to expect. Some of the advance praise comments included in the book also mentioned how funny the book is. I don't know if I somehow missed the humor, but I wouldn't describe this book as funny. Nonetheless, it's still an enjoyable read, and I hope Duke lets more of her personality shine through in her next book.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

1 comment:

  1. Scary to even think about what we come in contact with, but even scarier is what we actually ingest in our foods!


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