Managing the No List

From Seaweed and Skinned Knees Blog

By Coleen Carusi McCoy





Today I opened an adorable, holiday photo of my son that was taken at school. 

It was wrapped in nice paper; he is smiling; he is healthy and I am blessed. As I 

looked at it more, studying his face and how fast he's growing up, it dawned on me 

that he had a Santa hat on his head. Gulp. The Santa hat was not his personal Santa 

hat, I could just tell. Double gulp. Here it comes , welling up like heartburn, slowly or 

not so slowly inching up my stomach to my throat...the thoughts. “What if that hat 

had lice in it? What if ten kids shared that hat and now they all have lice?  Who put 

that hat on him?”. And most importantly, “Who on earth is going to clean and sanitize 

my house if my child has lice!” . I decided when my son started school that faced with 

de-licing my house and belongings the easier option would most definitely be to just 

burn all of our possessions to the ground and start over. Then I took a pause, checked 

myself and remembered he doesn't even have lice. 

  It's not just lice paranoia (although I think that little bug is exceptionally gross and 

destructive) that creeps up on me at any time. It's the constant buzz of mommy 

protective thoughts that makes me feel like I may indeed be harboring a bee's nest 

somewhere in my messy ponytail. The laundry list of what to watch out for or avoid 

any given day in order to stay healthy could swallow an industrial sized laundromat. 

Don't play on playgrounds with ground up tires, don't wear pajamas sprayed with 

flame retardants, don't play with cheap plastic toys, don't play with expensive plastic 

toys, don't let your electronics get dusty and spew that toxic dust on your already 

toxic plastic toys, and don't get me started on food.  It's a daily challenge to not be 

consumed by the by “the no list”.  We wake up and use our toothpaste with no 

fluoride, we eat our breakfast with no gmo's, we pack our lunch in no bpa containers, 

we go to school and ask to say no to hand sanitizer with triclosan and it goes on and 

on until we brush our teeth at night with the same no fluoride toothpaste. Now mixed 

in with all of that is moments of total victory and glory. Maybe my sons surprise 

serenade of AC/DC, maybe it's hearing a three year old say the word “mutagen” but 

whatever it is they do, it's amazing and it's awesome. I remind myself daily that we 

are in the honeymoon phase of life; no diapers, still little enough for plenty of cuddles, 

no algebra homework. This is it, this messy life is very much a dream in many ways. 

I tell myself (and my friend's remind me) to not let the no list cloud my precious 

days but the freedom fighter in me feels an obligation to get mad about it. I get mad 

because Johnson & Johnson products in England don't have the same harmful 

chemicals that they have in the States, m&m's in Europe don't contain food dye while 

ours are full of red 40, granted I have rid our lives of these things but I don't think it's 

fair. I'm mad based on the principal that we here in the U.S get a great big switcheroo 

and that corporations don't think we'll notice. Why do I have to spend my day going to 

4 different grocery stores searching for the non toxic products all the while facing the 

same 6 mainstream fake out natural options? I once cried in the toothpaste aisle. I 

had been standing there, reading labels, thinking about ingredients when I realized I'd 

been standing there for twenty minutes! Who spends twenty minutes in the 

toothpaste aisle only to wind up empty handed and in tears? Me. In all honesty I still 

don't know what to think about toothpaste. No fluoride because it causes cancer but 

also be sure to not ever need a root canal because that causes cancer. I'm left to 

count on the small chance that my children have magical teeth which can go without 

fluoride but will also never decay. 

  Some people say it all comes down to balance. Balancing you're life, making sure 

you say yes as many times if not more than you say no, having as many joyous 

moments as you do worrisome ones. I agree with that. However I also think it's ok to 

get mad, get informed and raise a little hell. The mom who took on Kraft mac n' 

cheese, the teen who took on Gator-aide, Jaime Oliver who took on pink slime; these 

are people I want to high five.  Reading a label, researching an ingredient and blowing 

the whistle. In my house I am Head Label Reader, although I must say after years of 

training my husband is catching up and keeping it real. I don't like that it comes down 

to the individual to avoid harmful substances. You would hope that a company would 

say , “let's not put carcinogens in baby wash”  but that's not the case. The 

responsibility trickles down from billionaires to those barely getting by, with the lame-o 

statement of “it's your choice to buy it”. To which I raise my debit card in protest and 

reply “you will never get a dime of mine.” I'm a firm believer in the concept of every 

time you spend a dollar you cast a vote toward the type of life you want to lead. 

However living by that principal puts me right back at..... you guessed it, the no list.   


*For more information on chemical free living or to learn more about Coleen's blog please email her at