There may be many mothers now who are too young to remember Meryl Streep's sincere and earnest campaign against Alar in the late 1980's. Her forward to Christopher Gavigan's book "Healthy Child Healthy World" is a fitting introduction to this new book that inspires us to create a safer, cleaner, and sustainable environment for children.
HCHW is divided into ten chapters, each focusing on a different strategies for making areas of your household and community less toxic. I loved that this book had a "handbook" feel to it. Read a chapter here or there, skip to the "burning questions", or read an "expert opinion" (the celebrity "testimonials", other than Meryl Streep's foreword, seemed too contrived for me) focusing on the areas that are most important to you at whatever stage you're at. Eventually you will refer to all of it - it's too important not too.
I would love to see a "Pocket Guide" companion to this book, one that would slip easily into your diaper bag or purse. Also, while Healthy Child Healthy World is rather child-focused, my non-Mom co-worker found the book both fascinating (She copied the "Under Sink Makeover") and discouraging ("WHAT?! No microwave popcorn!?"). More importantly it got us talking about the things we were doing, and wanted to do, exchanging ideas and experiences.
Here are my personal "top ten doable steps" that I intend to take after reading Healthy Child Healthy World.
- Use low or no-VOC paints for our next paint job
- Give seed-in-paper cards as party favors!
- Use phthalate-free polish on my toes (and my daughter's!) this summer
- I'm sticking to DEET (West Nile Virus is rampant in my area and I'm not fooling around with that) but I will stick to levels under 10% as the book suggests and still go for the other recommended anti-mosquito tricks.
- Purchase chunk light tuna, not albacore (smaller fish => less time to accumulate mercury)
- Switch to all natural, non-toxic cleaners (repeat after me: baking soda, soap, vinegar - baking soda, soap, vinegar - baking soda...)
- You can bet I'm trying "Volcano in the Drain" with the kids next time I have to de-gunk my disposal!
- Photocopy the Environmental Working Group's list of the Dirty Dozen for my wallet
- Buy safe sunscreen for my children this summer
- Find a way to help people who are just too poor and just too focused on making it day-to-day to worry about these things. Let's worry for them and help make changes so that all their options are, by default, healthy options.
This book review brought to you by MotherTalk