Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

22 August 2008

Book Review: Eco-Friendly Families & Author Conversation

It's back-to-school time and I personally believe this is the real new year. This is the time for resolutions - yes, I'm that much of an academic nrrd. My life revolves around academic years. So what better resolution than to be more green?

Eco-Friendly Families, a new book by Helen Coronato, gives you the outline for your whole family to lead a more green life. Now let me tell you, we are not the picture of a green family. Forgive me Goddess, for we have sinned! We live in Chicago which has a horrible recycling program and we're too lazy to haul our recyclables to a community center. We have a 5yo girl who could draw and write 24/7 if we let her, so we go thru more than our fair share of paper. I also indulge in frozen dinners for lunch at work.
Did I feel overwhelmed by this book? Yes. Did Coronato address that? YES! Basically she reminds you to go slow. Pick things that you can do or can get your family to do.

My favorite part of the book is near the beginning in chapter 3. She gives us month to month goals and only 4 of them called "The Eco-Friendly Four." The first tip for August is this:

Once school starts, so do computer projects. this year, put a dual-can practice into place wherever you have a printer. Mark one can "garbage" and one can "paper only." If your waste baskets don't have lids, reuse a piece of cardboard from an old box and attach a homemade lid that has to be lifted. this way, no one is absentmindedly dropping paper into the garbage can or vice versa. Before computer paper ever his the recycling container, make sure you have used both sides. Set up a paper tray for collecting sheets that can be used again. When it's time to purchase a new ream, look for recycled paper products.


The book has a lot of achievable goals. Don't work the book front to back as if you have to do this before that. Jump to areas you think you can really accomplish. For us it might be about cleaning solutions and paper use. We do have a new paper collection box just a few blocks from us. I also want to start remembering to bringing old shopping bags to the mall. I keep most of the bags I get from Ann Taylor Loft...they are great reusable bags. My problem is remembering to reuse them at their store!

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I was able to talk with author, Helen Coronato, over the phone this week about her book for a few minutes.

Why did you write this book? I wrote the book that I was looking for and I couldn't find. I am a mom with two young children (ages 3 and 1). I wanted a book that was user friendly, optimistic, and hands-on. I wrote it to be an activity book for the entire family NOT as something that would be one more thing for mom to do. I didn't grow up with being green in mind. I had to change some old habits and I wanted to raise my kids knowing how to be green, so that it was second nature for them. Hopefully if we do that with our kids, they will take being green to the next level.

How do we go from feeling hopeless about the situation to hopeful without being overwhelmed by all that we need to do? In chapter three I break it down with a year-round calendar. Each month I give you four ideas - If you do just one new idea a month, you'll be doing a lot for the environment and our world. There's a lot to do, but most of us need to start with small steps. Little ideas do make a difference. And be realistic. You aren't going to go 100% green overnight. I wrote the book and my family doesn't do everything in it! I don't expect others to do it all. We also have to stop comparing ourselves to others...We have to be as green as we can be.

What was the hardest habit for your family to get into? The easiest? There are two things that are a struggle for us. The first is my husband has a hard time recycling paper. I have to police the paper use in our house. The second is that I am overly optimistic about how much healthy cooking I will do each week. I over buy produce. Thankfully my husband is great at making veggie soup on Sundays and using up the produce. The boys get into it and it's a fun thing for them to do together. My husband & I help each other with our challenges.

The easiest? Bringing our bags to the store. We put our oldest son in charge of the bags. We also store them in the car in front of his car seat, so each time we stop somewhere he asks us, "Mommy, do we need a bag?" When we walk from the car to the store, he holds one handle, I hold the other and so we know when we forget the bags. Do you bring bags to all stores or just the grocery store? Oh, everywhere!

Thanks Helen! Thank you, Veronica.

Purchase this book at an indie bookstore, Powell's, or Amazon!

Disclaimer: The only payment I received for this review was the review copy of the book. 

2 comments:

My family and I are apartment dwellers, and our complex doesn't have recycling bins, so we really don't do as much of this as we should (since we really don't have our own space to set aside recyclables to take somewhere). But it sounds like there are good ideas here, even for us. Thanks for the review!

Thanks for reading! And yes, there are a lot of ideas for all sorts of families. Good luck!