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I'm a Self-Appointed Toxin Detective
by Debra Metler MSW

wasn't always like this. I evolved into this recently. I have had my carefree days of eating whatever I felt like, taking deep breaths in heavy traffic, drinking water straight from the faucet, and using toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, soap, and makeup that I bought in a store, without a care about any possible toxic ingredients, or deleterious effects on my body. What started me on my road to becoming a Self-Appointed Toxin Detective was when I lamented to my daughter that my deodorant was no longer working for me and she urged me to find something less toxic to try. After numerous attempts on her part, I finally heard her.

I morphed rapidly by researching every ingredient in everything I was using on my body. I started looking for less toxic alternatives but had trouble finding them no matter where I looked. I finally began making my own deodorant, toothpaste, moisturizer, nasal spray, and more, and I couldn't turn back. Each label I read made me feel more and more like an alien in our society. Could companies really produce products that might harm people just to make money? Could the products I trusted and used for so many years possibly make people sick? I became disillusioned and disgusted and could not stop researching. Then I bubbled over into researching questionable ingredients in food, toxins in water, air pollution and my carefree (toxin-filled) days were over. I went from my inside the box Clinical Social Worker status to becoming a full-fledged, full-time, Self-Appointed Toxin Detective.

I learned that once I became painfully aware of all of the toxins in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the cosmetics that we slather on our bodies, there was no turning back. It has become increasingly difficult to get through a day without analyzing every ingredient that crosses my path. Researching has become a way of life. Internet searches bring up scary ingredients related to scarier symptoms and even scarier diseases. Spontaneity is permanently compromised. Fewer things taste delicious. I trudge sometimes wearily down my lonely, ragged, unmanicured, toxin-free path and have become a perpetual, nagging voice in my own head and the ears of those around me with phrases like, “You’re actually going to eat that?” “Are you sure you want to put that on your skin?”

Being a Self-Appointed Toxin Detective isn't always pleasant. There is no organized group of Toxin Detectives waiting to welcome you. There is no detective agency to work at. There isn't a fan club congregating to cheer you on. You usually look ridiculous lurking in stores with your cell phone (standing by a window for better reception) and a bunch of products with ingredients that must be researched before purchasing. People don’t appreciate scornful looks at their shopping carts filled with sugary “treats” and other items posing as food. No one wants to be told as they’re lifting their fork with their favorite dessert on it, “Are you sure you want to eat all of that sugar?...and those dyes…?” No one wants to go out to eat with you anymore.

It’s lonely outside the box. My only consolation (other than hoping to be healthier with fewer toxins), has become my quest. I started my company, Sweet Sweat LLC in January, 2012, to begin that quest of “Saving the World Two Armpits at a Time”. Beyond inventing and selling my vegan, toxin-free products, I strive in every way I can to encourage as many people as possible to learn more about what they put onto and into their bodies. I’m hoping this will lead to more and more people buying and demanding products without toxic ingredients and the companies will notice.

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