Raising Baby Green:The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care (Kindle Edition)
By Alan Greene/ Published by Jossey-Bass/ Reviewed by Brooke Benoit
Every time I have a new baby, I’m a bit of a new mum all over again. It seems like I should have at least learnt the basics after six babies, but the basics keep changing on me! The wealth of baby-related products and the methodologies are constantly being updated, while my responsibilities to my baby and to Allah (SWT) remain the same. Wait, that’s not true. My responsibilities grow as my knowledge-base grows, so while it’s great that I learned so much after having six babies, it certainly would have been nice from the start to have learned more about sustainable parenting and less about the latest parenting trends. Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care by Alan Greene is not only a great place to start understanding the immense impact one little bundle of joy can have on our entire shared environment, but it had plenty of new ideas for an old green-palmed mum like me.
I have always strived to be conscious of whether or not I am feeding my children organics, but I hadn’t fully considered the exposure to chemicals via what I put on my babies or their beds, which they mouth and suck on more than food in some stages! As Greene explains, baby sleeps up to sixteen hours a day and are almost always clothed, but the fabrics you buy for baby have not undergone the same regulated restrictions as food – actually there is good reason new clothes and bedding are suggested to be washed before using, they are made with and tainted with many chemicals, even potentially toxic ones. While I always considered organic clothing to be too expensive and maybe even extravagant, I now have a better understanding of its efficiency and would prefer to gift friends pricey organic clothing rather than anything else – except maybe fair trade chocolates for mum.
Nappies (What the British call diapers)
Greene thoroughly covers issues regarding nappies, referring to current studies and for those of us, like me, who are trapped somewhere between the guilt of wishing to use cloth nappies and actually using landfill-nappies (as Greene points out they are not truly disposable since they stick around forever!), there are some alternatives available: eco-diapers, made with less toxins and more sustainability or disposable cloth liners, which can be flushed thereby making cloth diapers easier to clean and carry. With a new, less toxic detergent on hand, Green has inspired me, and we are back in the cloth!
Labour and Delivery
The section on eco-birthing was especially interesting to me as I have birthed in several different environments, both home and hospitals. Even though I have home-birthed four of my children, they were all in different homes. In the Labour and Delivery Room section of the book as well as the Whole Home section, Green gives plenty of areas to consider when creating a safer home environment for our babies. He also details the larger impact of hospital births, offering alternative suggestions for a “carbon neutral delivery” within both hospitals and homes.
And even though I am already completely sold on the idea, I loved Greene’s section on toys where he waxes the goodness in wood, wool, cotton, and toys made of natural materials. “Research on the health effects of many plastics is still in its early stages, but it is known that some of our children’s plastic toys contain chemicals, including lead, cadmium, and toxic softeners, that may cause permanent damage to the brain, liver, and reproductive system” warns Greene. Being from San Francisco – the city Green highlights, where certain plastic toys are actually illegal – I have long known about the toxicity of plastics and their manufacturing, but rereading the litany of environmental and health problems caused by these products is always a good refresher. Plastics are so convenient and common, I find them constantly sneaking into my home! Natural materials can be more costly and time-consuming to care for, but what is time? And what is our rizq (income) for? Allah (SWT) allots us our time, so being green is an act of ‘ibadah (worship) and our money should not be spent on buying goods which are poisonous to both ourselves and the shared environment.
Overall I really appreciated Greene’s book. Even though I consider myself an eco-jihadist, I still found through the read that there are several areas of my life in which I could do a little more greening, and there are a good variety of ways to do it.
Green Deen: What Islam Teaches about Protecting the Planet by Ibrahim Abdul-Matin
All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life by Winona LaDuke
This book review originally appeared in the April 2013 issues of SISTERS Magazine– the magazine for fabulous Muslim women.
Brooke Benoit lives in a rural village in the High Atlas Mountains where she is trying to lightly walk her own eco-talk.