Book Review: Eco-Friendly Families (Win a Copy!)

By Linsey Knerl on 12 September 2008 (Updated 30 June 2009) 106 comments
Photo: Amazon

I didn’t know what to expect when I started into Eco-Friendly Families by Helen Coronato.  I am, after all, only considered “moderately green.”  Would this book, with over 200 pages of family time mixed with eco-awareness be too much for my already hectic lifestyle?  Find out what I loved about it, and how you can snag a copy, too!

I saved this book back for awhile after I received it.  I was overwhelmed with green literature and wasn’t sure how I could handle another book claiming to be the guide to all things eco-friendly.  I gave this book a chance, however, because it had a unique angle:  families.  It’s not every day that a book on the subject is written to include everyone in the home – from the tiniest to the oldest.  I was hooked.

Let me start by saying this book is full of ideas.  So many, in fact, that the average reader may become overwhelmed by all the tips, tricks, and nuggets of useable info.  No one (especially the author) intend for you to make all the changes in the book.  The best part?  You are probably doing some of it and may not even be aware of the benefit!

The book starts with a primer on Taking Inventory: Getting Ready to Go Green.  Ms. Coronato has a family herself, and understands that no change can be done without planning and communication between all family members.  Whether you are interested in changing the way you eat, growing your home recycling program, or finding healthier cleaning alternatives, there will be preparation involved.  (Tip:  If you want to get the most out of this book, take advantage of the “Five-Minute Makeovers” scattered throughout the pages.  They are not only completely doable, but inspiring, too!)

The book then goes into the formula for living green:

Fundamental + Financial + Functional = Forward

The author understands that green is only as good as it is simple, affordable, and useful. These are the tips that will be implemented and easily taught to your children  FOR A LIFETIME.  Way to go, Helen, for grasping the common sense that can accompany any small home green movement.

Other topics discussed in depth and with very specific action plans, goals, and checklists include:


  • A 12-month schedule of Green Goal Setting (something practical for all seasons)        

  • Reduce (personal waste, excessive and dangerous driving, and personal toxins)

           

  • Reuse (the basics, a little frugality, plus cute and creative ideas for the kiddos)

          

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

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  • Room-by-Room Ecodesign (your home in stunning green detail)

          

  • Your Food (what you wish you didn’t know, plus how to deal with it)

            

  • Cleaning Green (DIY options for the frugal, healthy, and safety-minded)

           

  • Green Special Occasions (who knew birthdays could be so special?)

            

  • Green Sites (the appendix of all appendices)

  • No, you don’t have to have a family to enjoy this one.  In fact, it’s all-around good advice for families of one to 100 (college campuses need green, too.)  I found it to be a balanced look at green for every level, and even with the occasional reference to green theories I haven’t quite gotten on board with, it is mild in its politics and bold in its genius.  This is one book that avoids lip-service and gives you the means to go out and do it!

     

    Want to give it a read?  I have 3 new copies of Eco-Friendly Families to send to a few lucky Wise Bread readers.  To enter the giveaway, post a comment below by September 20th, 2008. U.S. and Canada only.  Must be 18 or older to enter.

    Wise Bread will not sell or use your email address for any purpose other than to contact the winner.

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    Guest's picture

    I'm leading an effort to make graduate school much more green. So far I've been successful in establishing double-sided printers on campus and am currently planning a green party event for the school. This book sounds like an awesome resource to pull ideas and to educate others!

    Guest's picture
    Kristen

    This book seems incredibly interesting. We have started to live a little greener, but I would love to have some quick tips and things we can work on

    Guest's picture

    Sounds like a cool book. Thanks for the review!

    Guest's picture
    Heidi

    I am very interested in this book. I've been trying to "go green", but don't feel like I am doing enough.

    Guest's picture
    Charise

    Thanks for the great review! With all the green lifestyle books flooding the market right now, it's hard to know which ones to read.

    Guest's picture
    Beckytoo

    Cool beans. I'd like to win a copy of this book! Sounds like a good book. Seems like all the tips tend to be the same sometimes: Change your lightbulbs, reuse shopping bags, turn off the electricity when you're not using it, etc., so it's cool to hear that so many tips are in this book.

    On a side note, I just discovered your blog, but I've really enjoyed the little I've read so far. Lots of good, useful, relevant information.

    Guest's picture

    I've been watching the PBS E2 series (narrated by Brad Pitt) and am really inspired by it. I really want a Green Roof!!

    Guest's picture
    Matt

    I am curious if this book offers any advice towards making the backyard greener. I really need help when it comes to planting local plants and starting a garden. Either way the book sounds like a must have.

    Guest's picture
    robin

    I am always looking for ways to do a little bit more, since I can't afford the jump to solar panels or hybrid cars, but have moved beyond programmable thermostats and switching to handkerchiefs. Would love to read this book!

    Guest's picture
    Scott

    While I only hug so many trees, I am willing to adopt other green ideas, and this seems like a good place to look for ideas. Thanks for the chance to snag it!

    Guest's picture
    Joanna

    Thanks for the review! It sounds like this book has lots of practical tips- which is what I need.

    Guest's picture
    Valerie

    The book sounds like something right up my alley - my 9 year old is very aware of the 'waste' that goes on in our home and this would be a great guide for all of us. Thanks for the review!!

    Guest's picture
    Keith

    I've been working on going/being green for a while, this looks like an interesting source book for helping with it.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

    Guest's picture
    mellowgeorge

    Wow, I'm interested in this book. It's one thing to be green when you're single but it's a whole different thing when a toddler is involved.

    Guest's picture
    stefanie

    I'd like to read that book.

    Going now to see if my local library has it.

    Thanks for the review and for the blog.

    Guest's picture
    ScottMGS

    I'd like to have a copy. If I don't win it I might have to go buy it! I know we've fallen a bit from our greenish days.

    Guest's picture

    I would LOVE to win a copy! :)

    Guest's picture

    We're working on ways to reduce our footprint - I'd love to read this! I'll add it to my (lengthy) to-read list.

    Guest's picture
    Greg

    Great topic list. Look forward to skimming this for some ideas here and there to improve the footprint I leave on the earth!

    Guest's picture
    Michelle

    This sounds like an awesome book - I hope I win! Even if I don't, I may pick up a copy to use.

    Guest's picture
    jecibel

    wow. that would be awesome- we've been doing what we can on a tight budget (i'm a single mom) but having a list of useful resources would be really handy!

    Guest's picture
    Sarah Small

    Thanks for the review of the book! It sounds great in giving some direction in going green. I have jut started going green and this book would help serve as a source of great information and guidance. I am a military spouse working currently taking classes to become a Financial Councelor and I always like to have side tips to provide to military families. Lately a lot of us have decided to be eco-friendly and I'd like to be a source of more information regarding that.

    I just happened upon your blog today for the 1st time and it is so interesting, educational and also fun! I will definitely become a part of this community. I am definitely all for living large on a small budget! That is our family motto. Thanks for this website being available!

    Guest's picture
    Kevin

    I'm in. Sounds like an interesting book. I recently started composting and am very interested in other ideas.

    Guest's picture
    Leslie

    Last year our financial counselor challenged us: "be as radical as you can be" in saving money. One of the unexpected side effects of accepting that challenge has been that our household has become much greener. Buying in bulk saves packaging and money. Buying on craigslist or getting things from freecycle saves us money and reduces waste. Our most radical change was becoming a one-car household. Our most socially unacceptable change has been using gray water.

    I recently joined the green team at my work. Later this year we'll be starting learning lunches to share info and encourage green practices in the workplace and at home. It's easier to keep going - and to go further - when you've got a group of like-minded people for encouragement.

    Guest's picture
    Laura

    Looks interesting! I'd love to win!

    Guest's picture
    Brandon

    Sounds like a good read - thanks for the review!

    Guest's picture
    Kim

    Sounds like a great book! I've been trying to "get greener" around the house, but I never feel like I'm doing enough; plus it can be hard to do some typical green things where I live (our winter last mid October until April so lots of energy is used to heat our house, we have about a 2 month growing season, and bears are frequent visitors to my backyard, making composting and gardening a challenge).

    Guest's picture
    Amanda

    We're starting to turn our backyard into a garden, and we've already got a worm pit (there's a really cool instructable on how to make a worm bag that we're working on too). I'd be really interested in what other things we can do besides playing with the thermostat and changing all the lightbulbs!

    Guest's picture
    Brenda

    I am always looking for ways to leave less of a footprint on this earth and involve the whole family - what could be better. Does it include goats as family pets?

    Guest's picture
    Katie Babbino

    I'm just beginning my green journey, and I think this would be a big help to me.

    Guest's picture
    karen

    We are trying, but it is hard work, and often seems impossible, to green up our lives.

    Guest's picture
    sylrayj

    I'd like to check this out. :) I strive to save energy partly for the financial savings but also for the environment. There may be some ideas in there for things I've wondered about - that would be a really great thing to find. :)

    If it turns out that I don't find a lot of value in the book, which doesn't sound likely, I'll either donate it to the library or offer it on Freecycle, so someone else could have a chance to examine it. But, since you found it so valuable, odds are good I will too. :)

    Guest's picture
    Christine

    I have joined Sierra Club and began recycling my trash. I have also purchased two flannel sheets I'm going to make into reusable toilet paper. I hang most of my laundry. I wash in cold. I have a programmable thermastat.

    I would love solar panels, a turbine or a Prius but alas, I'm disabled and money is something I don't have a lot of.

    I would love the opportunity to read this book. Please consider me for your drawing. Thanks.

    Guest's picture
    Kirsten

    I came here through GetRichSlowly's blog, and this site looks like a wonderful complement for us.

    Our family of three humans plus assorted four-legged critters is trying to go green, slowly but steadily. Something my 10-year-old son can get his head around, like this book, would be great for us.

    Guest's picture
    Heather

    I have recently become very interested in being more green as a college student and as a future Family Consumer Sciences educator I think it would be a great resource to let others know ways to go green and embrace it as a lifestyle change, not just a trend! =)

    Guest's picture
    barbc

    Sounds like an interesting book, I would love to win it.

    I am always looking for ways to improve how we do things.

    Barb

    Guest's picture
    gt0163c

    Sounds like a neat book with some great ideas. I'd love to have a copy to read and then pass on.

    Guest's picture
    LizMendoza

    This book sounds awesome! My quest to be more conscious of how I affect the environment feels like I'm coming home- my parents raised me in a very low-waste home for both financial and ecological reasons, and it's interesting to see how many of the things I think are new and exciting because they are green are old hat to my parents!

    Guest's picture
    Amy Deal

    I want to be green. I am no composting, recycling, riding my bike, only buying pre-used clothing for the kids, etc. I really want to accomplish green cleaning.
    I don't understand why recycling is not a mandate in the US. I also think our trash should be limited the same as it is in Europe. We American's are awful as a whole.

    Guest's picture
    another guest

    My child's school has started an environmental education program and I'm sure this book has ideas we can use. If the book's not available at our local library, I will probably buy a copy and donate it there after I've finished reading it.

    Guest's picture
    professor

    Somewhat green already, off grid, vegetarians, interested in new ideas.

    Guest's picture
    SusanP

    I keep trying to go green and then buying what is cheaper, so I'd like something like this book to keep me inspired. It is also something to use to teach my grandchildren the importance of green while they are here every school day.

    Guest's picture
    JP

    We have made lots of small changes at home but we're always looking for more. Our strategy is similar to the book - keep it simple, affordable and functional. The ideas that stick around tend to meet all of these criteria. Sometimes, we need to make small changes to keep something simple or make it functional. As a bonus, many of the ideas, especially as they apply to energy conservation are financially positive.

    Guest's picture
    Mark

    If I don't win, I will buy a copy, sounds good.

    Guest's picture
    BW

    I would like to read this book : )

    Guest's picture
    Kate

    I've been going green for 18 months or so. Natural and organic food and cleaning products. Recycling. Giving up bottled water. I'm curious to know what other tips there are, especially in home design (hopefully without breaking the bank!). I'll be checking my local library for sure!

    Guest's picture
    asrai

    Looks like an interesting book. I do all the things I can think of but am always interested in finding more eco-friendly ideas.

    Guest's picture
    David

    sounds good!

    Guest's picture
    Julie

    One of the things I'd like to see in a book like this is attention paid to socially responsible investing. Even your savings account can do good for the world if properly chosen. I work for ShoreBank (http://shorebankdirect.sbk.com/) - where the money you invest into a HYSA not only gets you 3.5% interest, but also the satisfaction of knowing that your investment is being used for environmentally and socially responsible projects.

    Guest's picture
    Sarah

    Just a quick note that ShoreBank Direct Oline Savings website has changed to www.sbk.com/shorebankdirect.

    Guest's picture
    Nick

    I really liked this book as well some other books from this site. Its a great guide that the whole family can take something away from.

    http://sustainify.com/index.php/Books/Eco-Friendly-Families.html

    Guest's picture
    Denny

    If I don't win, it still sounds like a book I would probably purchase. Trying my best to set a good example for my 2 year old daughter as she is copying everything I do now. Never too early to start teaching them good habits!

    Guest's picture
    KelR1

    I've been trying to green up my household and life lately. This book sounds like it has a lot of information and tips. I like how it addresses specific times/situations and has a Green Goal Setting schedule. I need it broken down into smaller, more doable parts like that.

    Guest's picture
    Adam

    My little family and I are planning on moving out to Kentucky from Baltimore in the near future. We went out there to visit family and fell in love with a house while house hunting. We're now trying to quickly sell our house here so we can start our new life there.

    We have 2 kids (3 1/2 yrs and 1 yr) and we are moving to the country to learn to live more self sufficiently. We have a book by John Seymor called "The Self-Sufficient Life and How To Live It". This will be our mock bible once we move onto to our 2 acre home.

    We are constantly looking for ways to employ the 3 R's and other ways to be green like putting a brick in the toilet tank and change all the light bulbs. We would love for our kids to be brought up this way, but those of you who have kids know how hard it is to find creative stuff to do, much less be green about it.

    This sounds like the perfect book to involve everyone and have fun doing it. Thanks for the heads up!

    Guest's picture
    peggy

    sounds like a good, practical book with easy to follow advise. I always hesitated about "green" books that were merely hidden sales pitches for the more expensive allegedly earth friendly products, but this book sounds like legit. Thanks for the contest!

    Guest's picture
    Ellen

    This sounds like a valuable resource. Like many, I'm trying to balance green vs time vs money. This is likely to help.

    Guest's picture
    Niki

    I heard this was a great book. I love scouring the internet but sometimes there is nothing better than curling up with a great book...on a great subject.

    Guest's picture
    Heather

    I hadn't heard of this book until I read your review. Sounds great, so count me in!

    Guest's picture
    C. Raybourn

    We have three kids (5, almost 4, and 2) and would like to learn some easy tips that would benefit the environment as well as ourselves. And if you give us a copy, we promise to pass it along to our friends with families ranging from one child to six. Thanks for the opportunity!

    Guest's picture
    Angie in Asheville

    I would love to have this book. I'm already trying to green things up with my family, so this would help. Thank you!

    Guest's picture
    Megan

    Sounds like a good one for ideas that we all could really implement in our lives.

    Guest's picture
    Amy

    I'm somewhat a clean freak, so cleaning green is the hardest part for me.

    Guest's picture
    Ann

    I do a lot of things at home to conserve energy and reduce my waste, but this book sounds like it has more tips that will get me even "greener". It also would probably be a good addition to my campus library.

    Guest's picture
    Kathi

    We are trying to go green, and balance that with being frugal and getting out of debt etc. It's a hard balance to find. We'd love to read this book! Thanks for the review.

    Guest's picture
    jdp

    Thanks for the heads up!

    Guest's picture
    ashley

    looks like an interesting book! i have a hard time being frugal and being green as well. sounds like a great read.

    Guest's picture
    Erika

    Right now I am the only green one in the house, my 2 year old is still a little young, and my husband, well, skeptic isn't even the word. When I switched from using the dryer to line drying he gave me a hard time until I brought out the old "the dryer is about 12% of our electric bill and the clothes get worn out faster". If I make any green changes around the house I had better have a financial reason to give him or else he will rib me. Maybe this book can give me a few more changes to make and I can come up with the financial parts on my own.

    Guest's picture
    Erika

    I'm always looking for more ways to go green. While sometimes I feel overwhelmed, I remember hearing once that we got here one step at a time and we can return one step at a time. If everyone does as much as they can that is better. I still want to make some bigger changes like rain barrels and a larger garden.

    Guest's picture
    Joe

    It sounds like a good read.Sign me up please

    Guest's picture
    Hollie

    Would love to read it and get some tips.

    Guest's picture
    meechleigh

    Wow! I can't wait to puruse my copy, whenever I get a chance to pick one up! My boys have really jumped in to being "Eco-Warriors" and it reminded me of when I was in 5th grade in the early 90's writing to the tuna companies to ban nets that trapped dolphins - its amazing what an individual can do and even more amazing what a group of people can accomplish! I commend you for letting the Wisebread readers get a chance to make a eco-impact! Thanks!

    Guest's picture
    Shanny

    Thanks for the review!

    Guest's picture
    Danielle

    Great review. Sounds like an very inspiring book for young families just starting out and for families looking to change. Would love a copy.

    Guest's picture

    Thanks for the contest.

    Guest's picture

    This book sounds right up my alley. Please count me in!

    Guest's picture
    Annie

    Always looking for more ways to go green! Hope to get the book :)

    Guest's picture
    Guest

    My 8 and 6 year old daughters and I are raising hens in our backyard as pets and to get fresh eggs. Is this an environmentally sound activity, or should we just buy our eggs at the grocery store...? Maybe the book will answer our questions. We'd love to win a copy.

    Guest's picture
    Kristin

    The book looks very interesting. I'm always looking for ways to save money and be more green.

    Guest's picture
    Guest

    ...but I'm willing to win a free copy!

    Guest's picture
    Kaila

    This book looks like a great resource. Thanks for reviewing it!

    Guest's picture
    Janine

    This sounds very interesting. My family is lloking for ways we can live greener>

    Guest's picture
    kchip2

    What we should all strive to be! Looks like a great read. Thanks for the tip.

    Guest's picture
    Mister Shiny Pants

    Our family of 4 use green methods of living, but we not consistent enough [I think] with those methods. I think having more reference material on the subject would help. Not to mention that Linsey gave it a good review, which doesn't hurt. Thanks

    Guest's picture
    TJ

    Old enough to remember the 'be-ins' and sit-ins of the pro-ecology, anti-war activists, I'm delighted to see the Green Movement literally being recycled once again. In those days, we mostly tried to cut down on driving, reduce landfill and clean up the water and air. Today's movement goes much further. The locavore is closest to my heart; this summer we had a garden which supplied all produce for months except for potatoes, onions and carrots. (Guess what we're including next year?) Our on-line business is moving rapidly away from printed, bound books to downloadable products only, and we recycle copy paper, paper clips, etc. until they're no longer useable.
    Are we green? Yes, but we can do better. And it looks like this nifty book has the answers. Can't wait to get my hands on it and start my granddaughter 'growing up green' at seven months!

    Guest's picture
    FL

    Thanks for the review; I added it to my reading list. Would like to enter to win a copy.

    Guest's picture
    Guest

    Looks like a pretty good read. Thanks for taking the time to review it!

    Guest's picture
    Sasha

    Thanks for offering a chance to win a copy of the book!

    Guest's picture
    Isa

    We've been trying to be more green at home, but I would love some more ways to help my 7-year-old get more involved in the process!

    Guest's picture
    Rhonda

    This sounds like an amazing book. I love books that give actual, practical, do-able advice. Count me in please! Rhonda

    Guest's picture
    CharlesP

    I heard the author of this interviewed on the Jumping Monkeys podcast (it's one done by Leo Laporte and Megan Morrone who were both on TechTV's ScreenSavers "back in the day") recently, and she was quite interesting. I liked that she was realistic (Prius is dandy, but not practical if you've got 3-4 little kids and carseats to shuffle).

    The other "green" (actually "blue") podcast on the TWiT network that I love(d) was Roz Rows, and so my recent "green" thing has been to buy the reusable grocery bags (I went CFL a year ago because I was trying to save money, not be green :D), to try and be lest "waste"y.

    Guest's picture
    Sandy

    looks like a great book and don't forget to pass it on

    Guest's picture
    Jen

    wow, just found this site today! sounds like a great book. i love ecofriendly stuff. would love to read this book!

    Guest's picture
    carrie

    This book sounds amazing! I love any tips on going green! I try everyday make less of a carbon footprint! I would love to read this book!

    Guest's picture
    Bonnie

    I just moved from an apartment to a house about 6 months ago. Having such a bigger place to heat and power, I am constantly trying to find new ways to adapt my usual green ways. This book looks like it would help a lot!

    -b

    Guest's picture
    Kris

    I have been trying hard to be more environmentally conscious. I don't have a car. We try to make good use of the library. I do recycle (what is okay to recycle as per the city of NY) but I know that I need to do more. We still generate so much household trash, and our very old (1900) apartment is energy inefficient. I worry about all of the toys my kids are surrounded with as well.

    This book sounds very good, and I am always looking for more tips on going green.

    Guest's picture
    Allison

    I stumbled across your review today and am very interested in this book. I think all of us, even people who are already doing small green things, can benefit from more tips and tricks on how to be green while saving some green! I hope to be one of your lucky winners.

    Guest's picture
    Ruben

    Is it made of recycled paper? In any case, thanks for the chance to win.
    PAZ!

    Guest's picture
    Amanda

    This actually sounds practical and UN-advertisey....I'd love to read it!

    Guest's picture
    Guest

    Parties, even our simple ones, seem to produce so much waste- I would love to see what this book recommends to keep them green.

    Linsey Knerl's picture

    Yes!  It's printed on recycled paper!

    Linsey Knerl