By KRISTEN NOWAK WINN
Like many soon-to-be-mothers, author Helen Coronato started to realize the significance of her environment when she was pregnant with her first son, now 3.
â€œOnce I became pregnant, I really had to look at my lifestyle and what I was eating and what I was using,â€ said Coronato, calling from her home in New Jersey.
When she learned about some of the potential dangers of the household cleaners she had in the house, she started looking for alternatives.
But it was hard to know where to stop.
â€œThat kind of started this landslide,â€ she said. â€œI became very overwhelmed that there was a right way of doing things and a wrong way of doing things.â€
So, she took matters in her own hands.
â€œI wrote the book I was looking for,â€ Coronato said.
Enter â€œEco-Friendly Familiesâ€ (Alpha Books, $15.95), a great resource for parents hoping to make small changes in their home toward a greener lifestyle.
â€œItâ€™s a map of small changes I can make,â€ Coronato said.
Inside, she advises her readers to view her book as a manual â€” dog ear the pages, write notes in the margins and highlight sections that work for your family. It breaks things down into a 12-month calendar, full of fun, simple ideas that can make a big difference. In May, jump in the mud puddles and collect rocks; in November, create centerpieces out of natureâ€™s decorations, like rocks, leaves or pinecones.
And because every family is busy, short â€œfive-minute makeoversâ€ make it really easy. For example, in a section on avoiding plastic bags, Coronato suggests using a decorated canvas bag to wrap a childâ€™s gift for a birthday party.
â€œFive-minute makeovers really help you keep on track,â€ Coronato said. â€œEverybody can find five minutes in your week to make a difference.â€
The book also points to Web sites and organizations that can help families make more informed choices for themselves and for the environment. And, it gives parents advice on how to talk to their kids about going green in a language they will understand. For younger children, that may mean explaining that turning off the water when brushing your teeth means more water for the trees to drink, Coronato writes.
So what does Coronato hope parents will understand when they finish reading the book?
â€œI hope what they take away is that weâ€™re raising the next generation of environmental stewards,â€ Coronato said. â€œWeâ€™re doing a huge favor for ourselves and for others.â€
Winn may be reached at 330-721-4053 or firstname.lastname@example.org.