Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Green book review: The Zero Footprint Baby by Keya Chatterjee

Babies and sustainability should go hand in hand - after all, sustainability is all about "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

But how do you do it when your new baby has just been born and taking care of the new baby seems nothing but sustainable (take the waste diapers generate for example)? The book we review today has some answers for current and future parents who want to know how to do it right.

The book we review today is:

The Zero Footprint Baby: How to Save the Planet While Raising a Healthy Baby by Keya Chatterjee (publisher: Ig Publishing)

What this book is about?

In our culture, pregnancy, birth, and childrearing are deeply connected to consumption and resource use. From the baby shower to the minivan and the larger apartment or first house, the baby-raising years are the most hyper-consumptive of our lives, and can set a family on an unsustainable track for years to come. 

The Zero Footprint Baby: How to Save the Planet While Raising a Healthy Baby shows how to raise a child with little to no carbon footprint. This timely book covers every issue new parents face, including pregnancy (what kind of birth has the lowest impact?); what to feed your baby (breastfeed, formula, or both?); childcare (who should take care of the baby, and how?); and of course, diapering. Using a mix of personal anecdotes, summarized research, and clear guidance on how to pursue the most sustainable baby-rearing options, environmental expert and new mom Keya Chatterjee has authored the ultimate resource for all new parents with green inclinations.

About the author:
Keya Chatterjee is a Senior Director for Renewable Energy and Footprint Outreach at the World Wildlife Fund. Her commentary on climate change policy and sustainability issues has been quoted in dozens of media outlets, including USA Today, the New York Times, Fox News, the Associated Press, The Washington Post, and NBC Nightly News. She has also served as a Climate Change Specialist at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and worked at the NASA Earth Science Enterprise. She lives in Washington DC with her husband and son. For more info, visit:

Our review:
I found this book interesting and even fun at times. Some of the ideas I thought were very useful and would be easy to put into practice, and then others bordered on absurd. Then there were the ideas that were fascinating to my mind, but not all that reasonable in the long run. One of my favorites though was the toilet sink. The water used in the sink, filters into the tank of the toilet, and then is used as the flushing water. This is ingenious, why had I not heard of it before?  Why do we need clean water to flush with? I can get behind this all the way. 

There are also some ideas that I found ridiculous. Maybe I don’t have the right mind-set. Maybe I am not doing enough to lower my carbon use. There are definitely some things that I can change and am willing to try and change. However, I am not one to put my children at risk in the process. Some of the things in this book I feel have the potential to do that.

As to the writing itself, I found the authors tone to be a bit condescending. Had a bit of the ‘this is why I am awesome’ kind of thing going on. It seemed even a bit insulting at times to me. For instance, one of the ways to cut down carbon use is to recycle (obviously), which includes clothing. The author spoke of all the people that graciously gave her their used maternity clothes, but then complained that these same people had the nerve, the very gall, to share their pregnancy and birthing stories with her. How dare they want to share with her? At first I took this as her shot at humor, but then it didn’t seem all that funny to me.  

All in all, the book is sound. I liked its contents and the information provided. I did. It’s a wonderful book to get parents, or expecting parenting, or planning to be expecting parents to think about their carbon footprint now, not after it’s too late. I suggest reading it, and then taking from it what you can.

The book is available on Amazon in both electronic and paperback formats.