We’ve talked about losing weight. We’ve talked about getting our act together. Now it’s time for our third major revolution to our personal resolutions. The next favorite swear-to-God-I’ll-do-it-this-time is to detox… quit smoking, quit drinking, and live cleanly (think the opposite of Lindsay Lohan). It may be a tall order, especially since I’m writing this on Blue Monday, the saddest day of the year, but let’s get motivated since it’s really key. If you can manage it, try a little rah-rah, shake your pompoms enthusiasm.
Most smokers, when nagged by their well-meaning loved ones, tell them to butt the hell out (pun intended). They don’t usually quit until they themselves decide that enough is enough and the time is right (or as not-wrong as it’ll ever be). That’s the first step, and if you’ve taken it, bravo! I wish one of my relatives, Jean, had come to that conclusion. She passed away this weekend when she could no longer expel CO2 from her lungs, yet some people visiting her still had to deek out for a butt. It’s hard to quit, we know.
I’ve got a little inside track on the subject, having practiced the evil habit from the age of 14 to 28. 14-year-old me was quite sure that I would never get addicted (incidentally, 14-year-old me was an idiot ;-). As the tobacco smoke damaged my lungs with Benzene, Arsenic, Cadmium and about 4,000 other fun-filled chemicals, the tiny loose cellulose acetate fibres from the filter did too.
I used to tell myself I wasn’t hurting anyone else but me. With each addictive drag, I forgot about the air I polluted, and the waste of all those cigarette butts. It turns out, they also gunk up our waterways and soil. Plus, just producing cigarettes has a heavy environmental toll, like 1 tree cut for every 300 cigarettes (that’s one tree for every one and a half cartons) plus pesticides, plus fuel, plus plus. Not to be blinded by numbers, but with 1.1 billion smokers worldwide smoking over 5 trillion times a year, that’s 5,000,000,000,000 cigarettes smoked and trashed every year. Yowza!
If that number makes your head explode, let’s bring it down to the individual level. Let’s say you smoke a pack/day. If you quit, you’ll prevent the pollution to your lungs, the air, land and water of 9,132 cigarettes every year. If you’re around 30 years old and you quit now, you will save yourself from smoking for about 5 more decades (and might live even longer than that). 5 decades is 456,205 cigarettes. It’s also $182,500 that you could spend on something other than smoking (like a house, yes, even in Toronto). OK, these numbers make my head explode too.
Drinking is a trickier one. Unlike smoking where none is too many, a few drinks can actually be quite beneficial to your health. But when you end up with your head in the toilet, just married to a near stranger, with a new tattoo that says “Sweetums” where the sun don’t shine, you might want to consider cutting back or stopping. If moderation is too hard to balance, abstaining might be simpler. If you can drink moderately, consider supporting some of the great local wineries and craft breweries that might even grow their grapes and hops organically. A quick peek at the LCBO showed me over 100 organic beers and wines, with 184 local options, and at least 13 that were both…then I quickly closed the screen because what if someone looks over my shoulder and thinks “why the heck is she surfing the LCBO at work?”.
While we’re on the subject of detoxing, there’s a lot more that we expose ourselves to when we clean up and get ready in the morning every day. Personal care products (a little more gender-neutral than beauty products) like shampoo, soap, lotion, deoderant and makeup can be filled with the so-called dirty-dozen. And we absorb these nasties by slathering them on our largest organ (yes, it’s your skin, what were you thinking?). But don’t worry, you can have your lipstick, and eat it too (not that you want to eat lipstick, but most people lick it off in the course of wearing it). Environmental Defence has a fantastic Just Beautiful campaign as well as a pocket guide to buying personal care products. There’s also lots of great ways to clean your house without carcinogens at David Suzuki and many other sites. Strangely, many of these green cleaners will save you some money…sustainable 2 ways…which brings us back to revolution 2.
All the best to a detoxed new you. This could be the most important step for you, your family, and all of us. And stay tuned for our final revolution next week.