this is not a review: ‘toxin, toxout’, by bruce lourie and rick smith

My intention was to skim through this book (subtitled: Getting Harmful Chemicals Out of Our Bodies and Our World) as I assumed there wouldn’t be tons of new information, i.e. we pretty much know that chemicals + bodies and/or environment = bad. What I was looking for was not confirmation, or more to grumble about, but some clear and realistic ideas as to what can be done about this noxious issue—not what the purveyors of chemical-laced products should do, but what WE can do. Us. The simple folk. The minions with wallets. The ones who say we care.

Turns out this is precisely what Toxin, Toxout  serves up… a do-able plan for the minions. Along with some eye-opening background as to how and why all that chemical ooze exists in the first place. (Bottom line: we are a species of sheep-like beings that too often chooses cheap and convenient and lots of it) Also clarification on things like the importance of ‘organic’, which is not just to put less crud into our own bodies, but to allow agriculture to work in a way that’s beneficial to a whole chain of events, including environment and economy.

Toxin-Toxout-canadian-cover-e1384688557263I especially liked the conversational tone of the book and that it’s not smothered in stats, nor is there any fear-mongering or the drama of doom and gloom. It’s simply well-researched (a bounty of footnotes and source material provided) and straight-forward in its message: yup, there’s a lot of bad stuff out there but we can make a huge difference by what we choose to buy. Of course corporations and government hope we’ll never figure this out, or believe it…

Best of all, Lourie and Smith remind us that it’s actually possible to improve the world. That WE are not necessarily at the mercy of THEM, nor do we have to wait for THEM to smarten themselves up. WE can begin today  to create change by the purchases we make. And the path to doing this is a simple one. Really, REALLY simple… 

So, no, I didn’t skim. I devoured every page in fact, and am happy to say the book’s info-factor is surpassed only by its offer of serious hope to a seriously growing problem.

Three thumbs up.

Here are some excerpts.

Photos are mine. (Wanted to find a mountain of cell phones but apparently they live in China where they’re sent by the boatload to pollute the air, land and water horribly as they’re broken down and re-shaped into toys and other novelties we don’t need and shipped back to us.)

Another image that’s missing is what’s happening in the oceans with all the plastic.


“I like to describe organic agriculture as the hundred-year diet. It’s a system of agriculture that perpetuates itself, that creates a healthy ecosystem that will in turn continue to support plants in the long term, so you’re not in this deathly cycle of creating short-term nutrients—which then can contribute to pest infestations that need to be counteracted by immediate and short-term chemical pesticides, which then kills the life in the soil, which then requires another synthetic input. Just like we need to give our bodies the right tools and conditions to do their detoxifying jobs, organic tries to enable and facilitate the natural predators and the natural nutrition and micro-flora and fauna that should be in the system.”


“A smartphone is replaced, on average, every 18 months, and by 2015 over a billion smartphones will have been sold world-wide. And they don’t just sell themselves: In 2012 Samsung and Apple spent over three-quarters of a billion dollars on advertising campaigns trying to convince us to buy new ones. How much did they spend dealing with the e-waste from the phones they encouraged people to toss out?”


“The big issue isn’t simply what kinds of stuff we should buy; it’s the fact that we need to buy way less stuff, period.”


“We need to be working on all fronts to stem wasteful production  and consumption. And consumers are part of the equation… the big issue isn’t simply what kinds of stuff we should buy; it’s the fact that we need to buy way less stuff, period. Furthermore, that stuff—whether it’s a car, a soft drink or a smartphone—needs to be regulated by governments, not by the companies who have no interest apart from endless growth in sales. These regulations need to cover what the products contain and how they are disposed of.”


“If there is one simple thing that every human can do to improve environmental conditions, it is to stop buying bottled water.”

DSC00200_1 DSC00199_1


“The rules of the game we’re playing now are best defined by the Malcolm Forbes maxim: “He who dies with the most toys, wins.” We need a different game, with different rules—perhaps “Those who use the least stuff win.” And our economic and regulatory systems need to reinforce that motto with another one—such as this: The more you use, wasted, pollute and discard, the more you’ll lose financially.”



8 thoughts on “this is not a review: ‘toxin, toxout’, by bruce lourie and rick smith

  1. Sometimes it is just good to be reminded of all this, so we will remember to think twice before going out to buy something! Bottled water is a pet peeve of mine. And, I can’t stand to think about all those electronics we go through. Obviously, I am guilty of this as I am on my computer right now. However, my husband and I still do not have cell phones. As our kids get older, I start to worry that some day I might cave in. Thanks for writing about this book!

    1. I don’t think the problem is cell phones or computers, or even ‘stuff’… it’s the amount of it. We get sucked into thinking we have to upgrade every five minutes, tossing out the ‘not yet old’ for something new. Someone told me recently that they upgrade their camera every 8 months or so. Is that nuts? Or do I live in a cave?? Same with appliances, shoes, etc. Everything is made to be disposable. One of the things suggested in the book is to insist that governments do what they can to regulate/increase responsibility in manufacturing, packaging and disposal of goods. Of course getting them to do that is up to us, otherwise they’ll just blather on about their imaginary magnificence while doing nothing from election to election. We need to rattle some cages not just meekly accept the increasingly bad decisions being made.

      Ah well. That’s today’s rant. Over and out. (;

      p.s. As for your kids… sounds like you’re already being a good example for them. That’s half the battle.

      1. I hope you’re right (about the kids). As for everything else, I completely agree. You are not living in a cave- 8 months is crazy!

  2. One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure . If you don’t like it have a garage sale . Keep it from getting into the dump .

    1. Hear, hear! I agree. It’s astounding what gets pitched at the transfer station. I can’t fathom why people choose to dump perfectly good stuff. If not a garage sale, then at least take it to the Sally Anne, something, right? I’m guessing it’s just easier for some, one stop dumping, the good and the bad get tossed out together.

      The worst of it is that disposal isn’t even considered at the point of manufacture. Though I’m guessing that eventually it will have to be, because we can’t continue to make, buy and pitch at this rate forever… What a peculiar species we are. *sigh*

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