Growing Green Families

On World Environment Day last week, The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) reminded us that The Earth is Our Mother, and caring for her is essential to our health.

It’s easy to feel defeated by the burden of environmental degradation we have created and carry though; To be aware is to be afraid.

“…How can we become aware, take action, and not let ourselves become so vigilant, so aware, so motivated, and so afraid that we forget to enjoy the beauty of the Earth around us, the sounds of our children and grandchildren laughing, the calm music softly playing, and living our best life?” Master Herbalist and Certified Aromatherapist Donna Walls, RN, BSN, IBCLC, ICCE, ANLC wonders.

Released earlier this year by Praeclarus Press, Walls’ Growing Green Families: A Guide for Natural Families and Healthy Homes offers families a concise, practical guide complete with simple recipes on how to reduce their exposure to environmental toxins. Walls’ casual tone is easy to digest and makes for a speedy read.

She presents a collection of natural alternatives for personal care and housecleaning products, lawn and garden care, recycling strategies and a cleaner way to feed our families.

The recipes she shares come from years of experience as a lover of nature, all used by herself, friends and family or in classes she teaches.

When asked for her favorite recipe… “That’s like picking your favorite child– impossible, but the ones I use most are general cleaning and many of the aromatherapy recipes like the hand sanitizer,” she says.

Many of the recipes Walls suggests are concocted with easily accessible and relatively inexpensive ingredients like vinegar, plain yogurt, witch hazel, olive oil, baking soda, castile soap, to name a few. Still, some people have concerns about the perceived price of “going green,” like the cost of essential oils and organic food.  

“My usual response is that we all prioritize our budget, so it really is a matter of making healthy, clean living a priority for lifestyle and budget,” Walls begins.

“My snarky response: cancer co-pays are also very pricey,” she alludes to reports by the Environmental Working Group and the Environmental Protection Agency which estimate that many of the products we use are human carcinogens.

Walls’ granddaughter passes on the tradition of green cleaning.

Homemade product preparation has been criticized for being too time-consuming, too.

“Much as with money, we all have priorities,” Walls says. “We have time to do the things we value.”

She suggests combining activities, like preparing products while watching TV or prepping cleaning supplies while cooking. After all, “cleaning with a conscience” starts with vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda, all kitchen cupboard basics!

Of bigger concern is access to organic, clean food in food deserts. It is an opportunity for community and personal activism, Walls says.

She suggests supporting local community gardens, volunteering at local food pantries to help obtain healthy food, and establishing and contributing healthy options to street food cupboards.

Growing Green Families touches on concerns about toxins during pregnancy and nods to breastfeeding as “the best first food.” With fingers crossed, Walls says she hopes to publish her next book with a focus on childbearing years.

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