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What My Cancer Journey Taught Me About Toxins

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What My Cancer Journey Taught Me About Toxins

Hey #stashersquad, meet Kara Ladd! Her blog and Instagram page, Boundless by Kara, covers sustainable lifestyle, holistic wellness, and nontoxic beauty.

Born and raised in the Midwest, “nontoxic”, “plastic-free”, and “organic” lifestyles weren’t exactly commonplace. It wasn’t until I moved to New York City to work in sustainable fashion consulting that I began to learn about the interconnectedness between the material world, the planet, and our bodies. However, it truly was my one-in-a-million cancer diagnosis of synovial sarcoma, that was the real motivation behind my now, all-encompassing nontoxic lifestyle.

Toxins are everywhere these days — from the air you breathe and the food you eat to your beauty routine and your wardrobe. But what exactly are they? A toxin is a poisonous substance that is a specific product of metabolic activities. In other words, it’s anything that is harmful to your body that you’re unable to get rid of. Short-term effects of toxins include fatigue, swelling, constipation, muscle aches, sleepless nights and more. Long-term effects can evolve into more serious consequences like infertility, chronic pain, and disease… like my cancer.

Alas, it’s almost impossible to escape toxins today — and that fact scares a lot of us, including myself. I was in and out of neutropenia for four months during chemotherapy. Consequently, some of my favorite things (like NYC deli flowers and people watching on the subway) became exiled from my life due to the overwhelming amount of environmental toxins. However, deli flowers and the mountains of trash in the subway aren’t exactly the main toxic culprits here — and I am conscious of that despite the genuine terror that I experienced during treatment.

I have channeled my insights during my cancer journey to curate a healthier, happier, more mindful lifestyle. And, of course, help others like you! I don’t want you to be like me and wait until you are faced with a life-threatening diagnosis to learn about toxins and how to limit your exposure to them. Check out six quick and easy tips to detox your lifestyle and eliminate toxins.

Kara Ladd talks toxins on

1. Nix plastic and go zero-waste

From strawless ocean efforts to innovative products fighting the plastic epidemic (like Stasher, of course!), it’s no doubt we are seeing a shift towards sustainable consciousness and consumption. BPA and phthalates are the primary toxins found in a lot of convenient plastic products that we know all too well — think to-go food and drink containers and water bottles. Both BPA and phthalates are linked to reproductive disorders, cancer and hormonal imbalances. I am a huge Stasher fan (debatably an addict) because the naturally-derived silicone is completely nontoxic and endlessly reusable, combating both the negative physical and planet side-effects of plastic. Other favorite products include To-Go Ware’s lunch box, Koffie’s reusable straw, and mason jars.

2. Eat (and drink) organic

One billion –– that’s how many pounds of pesticides the US uses every year. It’s apparent that technological and scientific advancements are, sadly, a double-edged sword. Pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics are pervasive in farming and, thus, in our foods so always shop organic, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables where you eat the peel. The Dirty Dozen is dubbed the most heavily sprayed foods and include: peaches, apples, strawberries, grapes, cherries, nectarines, pears, red raspberries, sweet bell peppers, celery, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, milk, and meat. Beyond organic, when it comes to fish, go wild and when it comes to meat, go grass-fed.

3. Beautify the clean and green way

You may have a 5-step morning and evening beauty routine, but what’s the point if your rubbing toxins into your face? The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was passed in 1938, and hasn’t been updated under the FDA’s watch since. You may see products with “natural”, “organic”, “clean”, and “nontoxic” claims but in reality, there is no legal certification process behind these beauty buzzwords. Therefore, it’s always wise to go one step further and take a peek at the ingredients. Be sure to steer clear of the big beauty toxins: parabens, sulfates, phthalates, triclosan, formaldehyde, toluene, and propylene glycol. I highly recommend downloading the EWG and ThinkDirtyapps to keep your beauty routine squeaky clean.

What I learned about toxins from my cancer journey

4. ...Also when it comes to your cleaning products

What even is cleaning without the “clean?” Nontoxic, all-natural, and organic multi-purpose cleaner, dish soap, laundry detergent and more are an easy way to eliminate excess toxins that could potentially harm you and your family. Branch Basics has caught my eye recently and I am a loyal Mrs.Myers consumer as well.

5. Sweat it out

Whether its yoga or bootcamp, get your body moving one way or another! Exercise gets your blood and lymph fluids flowing to accelerate detox. Bigger toxins are flushed out by your major organs (ie. your liver), however, studies show that your sweat may contain higher levels of BPA and phthalates than your urine. Personally, I love a good infrared chromotherapy sauna session that helps my body detox heavy metals — a phenomenal treatment for cancer fighters battling radiation treatment!

6. Embrace your inner plant lady

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times higher than outdoor levels. A mixture of solvents(perfume, hair spray, cleaning products), the building infrastructure, air fresheners and more can all increase toxin exposure  — but have no fear, plants are here! Did you know that plants can act as air filters for your home? NASA even did a study on it proving that they decrease the most significant indoor pollutants — benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. Just another excuse to head to the plant store this weekend! However, please be careful of where you purchase plants because some are heavily sprayed with chemicals, thus defeating the purpose.  

CLICK HERE to shop stasher and start your non-toxic journey! In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness, we will be donating $3 for every Boobie Bundle purchase to The Keep A Breast Foundation throughout the month of October.


Follow along my mindful lifestyle journey at @boundlessbykara and