Green Book Review: The Eco-nomical Baby Guide

Review summary: This book offers economical and helpful advice that parents can use to raise their baby green right from the start while saving money and time in the process. Very few cons (see my update at the end) and overall I’d highly recommended this book.

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Product: The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet by Joy Hatch and Rebecca Kelley; Foreword by Josh Dorfman (who you likely know as the The Lazy Environmentalist); ABRAMS, March 2010.

Publishers synopsis: Is it really possible to raise an eco-baby without breaking the bank? While the average parents spend almost $7,000 gearing up for a new addition, pregnant pals Joy Hatch and Rebecca Kelley each shelled out less than a thousand—and they did it by going green. In The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, the authors prove that bringing up baby can be easy on the pocketbook and the planet.

Focusing on the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra and writing in a humorous but straightforward style, these resourceful mothers dish about everything from eco-friendly diapers to daycare, making green living with baby accessible to everyone—even those on the slenderest of budgets. Your baby’s happiness and safety top Hatch and Kelley’s agenda as they offer tips on shopping for new and used green goods, blending homemade organic baby food, and limiting the piles of baby gear that threaten to overtake the living room.

Cost: The Eco-nomical Baby Guide – $13.21 via Amazon – paperback.

Background:

I actually cyber-met Rebecca Kelley, one of  The Eco-nomical Baby Guide authors, way back in winter 2008.  I was writing Tree Hugging Family for a blog network at the time and Rebecca had just launched Green Baby Guide so we had green family blogs in common. She’d come and leave the best comments and participate in lively debate (YES you can wash cloth diapers on cold!).

Suffice it to say that I wasn’t very shocked when Green Baby Guide took off with green parents or that The Eco-nomical Baby Guide finally happened. If you’ve been following Green Baby Guide you’d know that for years Rebecca and Joy have been selling just that – 100% economical green baby care. No frills, no jokes, you can afford to go green even if you (gasp) have kids. Since I believe in affordable green living (and kiddos), I was really excited to review this book.

What’s covered in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide:

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This book covers many green baby topics. Following is a quick run-down of some of the information covered, starting with my two favorite chapters (5 & 6).

This book offers the BEST advice on green diapering ever. In fact I think this book is 100% worth the price even if the only chapters you ever read are 5 and 6. Chapter 5 covers everything you could hope to know about cloth diapers, greener disposables, diaper services and price break-downs for all of it. Chapter 6 is Cloth Diapering 101 and it’s perfect for someone who wants to make the most of cloth diapering. How to purchase cloth diapers, how to save money on cloth, how to put them on that wriggling baby, diaper reviews, diaper accessories how to wash and more.

Other good stuff…

  • A great intro chapter about what it means to be a green parent – various shades of green parenting, why we do sin (even as green parents) and how green living can not only save the planet but money and time too.
  • Advice about which baby products to skip, which you’ll actually need and how to find greener versions of all of it. Plus a lot of attention is paid to buying fewer products overall or looking at used. Also covered is how to choose used products safely and even ideas for baby items you can make easily (and cheaply) yourself.
  • Tips about the toxins found in conventional baby products, how to understand green slang, and the most important items to purchase green. There’s also a nice run-down of typical baby items you might buy with ideas for less expensive green options.
  • Green baby showers on a budget.
  • Some information on breastfeeding, homemade baby food and other green feeding options (see note in cons).
  • An excellent chapter on living green with baby when obstacles pop up (and they will). Issues like finding green daycare, single parenting, resistant-to-green spouses and more.
  • Each chapter has a nice set of further resources at the end.

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Perks of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide:

Information you can use – Parents who are new to green living will find this book invaluable. The flip side is that already green parents will like it too. Normally my biggest complaint with eco-friendly books is that I’ve heard it all before. This book actually offers new information for parents who aren’t brand spanking new to the green scene.

Friendly helpful tone - The Eco-nomical Baby Guide is not preachy and will never make you feel bad. Some green advocates use guilt to make their point, i.e. “If you don’t use cloth diapers and make all your own baby food your tot will suffer endlessly” Egad. This book understands that all parents are different and thus deserve varying levels of green choices. If you want to go a little green, a lot green, or whole hog green this book can help but it won’t force anything on you. Also this book is casual – reading it is like chatting with a nice mama pal which makes going green seem that much easier.

Swoon-worthy design – if I had to think up the world’s most adorable book cover, this might win. It’s a lovely book. The cover art is sweet and simple and the interior is perfect – set up for easy browsing and in beautifully calm shades of green and teal.

It delivers the goods – This is not one of those books that boasts money savings then fails to deliver. Any parent can easily follow the tips in this book. If you want to go green and live thrifty you need this book. In fact this book is so darn thrifty and green that authors actually advocate checking their book out at the library to save both money and trees – no these mamas are not salesmen (well saleswomen).

Were there any negatives?

  • Not printed on recycled paper. I could be wrong. It’s funny because it looks like it might be – but officially I looked everywhere (book jackets, publishers site, etc) and I don’t think it is or someone would say so. All eco-friendly books in my opinion should be printed on recycled content. *NOTE – see update about this at the end of the post.
  • Not available in digital format (that I’ve found) which would also be a green option.
  • I think the green cleaning information is a little slim. Green cleaning can save you scads of money and really promotes safe air quality and family health so I would have expected more information on this.
  • The feeding section is not extensive – but this isn’t a book about feeding so it makes sense. However, since a lot of parents ask me about green feeding, I figured I’d mention this. If you’re looking for more information on green food choices check out HAPPYBABY The Organic Guide to Baby’s First 24 Months. I also didn’t like that the book didn’t cover some of the health implications of jarred organic baby food.

Overall score:

4.5 out of 5 little trees. I always take off points for green books not printed on recycled content, however, beyond that The Eco-nomical Baby Guide is an excellent green parenting book and I’d highly recommend it to new green parents and suggest that parents already into green living give it a whirl too – especially if you have a baby on the way.  Additionally I think it’d make a wonderful baby shower gift for reluctant-to-go-green soon to be parents as it provides eco-friendly tips in a non-threatening easy to manage way. If you want to go green and save all kinds of money then you can’t really go wrong with this book.

UPDATE: I got an email from one of this book’s authors, Rebecca, after sending her a link to this review. She notes, “We were also really disappointed that the book didn’t come on recycled paper (as far as we can tell).” According to Rebecca, before they signed on to write this book they asked if they could stipulate that the book be printed on, “Recycled paper with soy-based ink.” They were told no for business reasons within the publishing company and in the end, although Abrams noted that they were headed in an eco-friendly direction with their books, Eco-nomical Baby Guide was not printed on recycled paper. So, just so you know, the authors were as concerned about using recycled content as a good green consumer should be.

I’m glad to hear authors are on board with eco-friendly books but not so thrilled that publishing companies all over ignore this need. Soon I’ll post some tips about how to let publishing companies know that as consumers we do want greener books – not just in content but by design.

Learn more:

See my green product rating system and green product rating criteria or read more green product reviews.

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Comments

  1. says

    Cool. I remember those comments from Tree Hugging Family too. Sounds like a nice book and great baby shower gift.

  2. ihbjhbhgv bjnkn says

    Rebecca is my college professor. She’s an excellent teacher on top of being an excellent writer

  3. Jennifer says

    That’s awesome. One of my favorite tech writing professors also wrote one of my favorite online writing books – maybe good writing and teaching go together :)

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