Healthy Child, Healthy World

I can’t stop talking about this book. Maybe it’s because many of my friends are also moms of kids who want to do the best thing for them, maybe it’s because not only I am a mom, but a teacher as well. I have mentioned this book to almost everyone I’ve had a conversation with for the past two weeks.

Healthy Child, Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home, by Christopher Gavigan is a book I will refer to again and again. In a nutshell, it outlines a variety of environmental dangers and how to avoid/minimize them. There are recipes for homemade cleaners, guideline for buying baby gear, and the reasoning behind making sound ecological choices.

Many of the topics have been in the news lately-lead in children’s toys, toxic baby bottles and the dangers in our food supply are just a few recent headlines that come to mind. This book goes deeper than a three-minute segment on the evening news, and explains why each of these things are a danger, and more importantly, what to do about it. There are short essays by a few Hollywood types, including Brooke Shields and Tom Hanks, covering a range of green topics. The book also includes a lengthy “healthy resources” section, which includes sources for products as well as websites for further information.

For awhile now, I’ve been bringing my own grocery bags to the store for shopping trips, and I’ve been toting my own travel mug to the coffee shop. The price of gas keeps me fairly close to home and not foolishly driving my car around for fun. This book, challenges me to do more, and to do it for the sake of my child.

A major theme throughout each section of the book is how assorted toxic exposure obviously isn’t good for anyone, but that it is particularly bad for children. Children roll around on the floor, put things in their mouths and their smaller body mass means that chemicals they are exposed to stay more concentrated in their bloodstreams. The thought that the anti-bacterial kitchen cleaner I use might actually leave behind a residue that may make my daughter ill makes me eager to try something less toxic. Now that I know that half of our lifetime exposure to pesticides occurs in the first five years of life, I’m more motivated to seek out organic, regional produce for my fruit maniac.

I could go on and on–I have learned so much from this simple, easy-to-read, 300 page book. At the beginning, there is a sort of warning–not to be too overwhelmed by the information presented. To tackle a few things at a time, and that once something becomes a habit, conquer the next thing you’d like to change.

So as a result of this book, I am declaring here that I am not going to be buying any more toxic household cleaners. And I will divert the money I’ll be saving (face it, vinegar, Castille soap and baking soda are cheap) and put it toward organic produce (which is not cheap). Those are the two things I will be starting with this month. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

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2 Replies to “Healthy Child, Healthy World”

  1. Sounds right up the alley I’ve been heading toward! I’ll add it to my next library foraging list….. thanks for sharing! I’m especially eager to read about the cleaning products…

  2. I use vinegar for a lot of cleaning. It makes a great fabric softener, dishwasher rinse aid and glass cleaner. You can also use it for general cleaning.

    I recently started making my own dishwasher detergent too. Mix equal parts Borax and Baking Soda. Then I use 2-3 tablespoons in the wash. My dishes come out clean (and sparkly, thanks to the vinegar in the rinse compartment), it is much safer and so much cheaper!

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