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Green Mama: The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet


Overwhelmed with information about how to save the planet?

Wondering how you can help your kids make wise environmental choices in the midst of potty training and homework?

Tired of feeling confused and helpless when it comes to “going green”?

If you are a busy, overloaded mom who wants to make wise choices for her family but is clueless about where to begin, Tracey Bianchi is here to calm your fears. She ...

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Green Mama: The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet

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Overwhelmed with information about how to save the planet?

Wondering how you can help your kids make wise environmental choices in the midst of potty training and homework?

Tired of feeling confused and helpless when it comes to “going green”?

If you are a busy, overloaded mom who wants to make wise choices for her family but is clueless about where to begin, Tracey Bianchi is here to calm your fears. She knows what it's like to live in the chaos of raising children while having a to-do list too long to write down. She also knows what it's like to take small steps toward helping the environment, teaching kids to take care of God's world-and loving it.

In Green Mama, Tracey offers creative tips and spiritual inspiration to help you make wise environmental choices in your community, at the office, and during ordinary, afternoons at home. As Tracey enthusiastically reminds us, green living is not something to feel guilty about. It is an invitation to creative partnership with God.

Is “going” really possible for busy moms? Yes, and it might be easier than you think.

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Editorial Reviews

Bianchi artfully blends a Christian outlook with a quest to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.
While unabashedly focused on saving the world as part of God’s plan, she realizes it will take a lot of practical choices to accomplish that goal. So while she does credit her faith for much of her determination,
she also notes that combating global warming so that the onslaught of the Mountain Pine Beetle will be halted is a worthy achievement anyone can appreciate. Bianchi doesn’t make suggestions about specific products so much as point out the connections between our choices and some very dire ramifications. “It’s all hooked up,” she writes, and then draws a line from fewer scallops on her plate to the increase in predatory cownose rays that are booming due to the overfishing of sharks. Bianchi avers that convenience must not be the choice of those truly committed to their faith, family, and environment. Hip, funny, and earnest without being preachy, Bianchi is an environmentally focused author. Fox News fans, among many others, will easily embrace
Publishers Weekly
Writer and speaker Bianchi does what few evangelicals have the courage or social insight to accomplish, treading fearlessly into the minefields of discord between those Christians who go enthusiastically green in their habits and philosophical leanings, and those who do not. The author presents a compelling argument for prudently using (and not simply wasting) everything from water to electricity to foodstuffs. Bianchi shares her personal story of becoming a "green mama" with eloquence and gently calls others to do likewise, making small but significant choices as outward expression of faith, trust, and selflessness. The author also offers plenty of practical "Green Steps" and "Eco-Examen" questions in every chapter for daily application. Readers will not be guilt-tripped into accommodating Bianchi's ardent desire to save the planet, but will instead find themselves compelled to rethink their lifestyle with a more environmentally friendly eye.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310320364
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 3/1/2010
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Tracey Bianchi is an editorial advisor and quarterly columnist for Christianity Today’s Gifted for Leadership newsletter and MOPS International’s Fullfill magazine. A frequent speaker at MOPS groups and MOPS International conventions, she earned a master of divinity degree with honors from Denver Seminary. She is now the director of women’s ministries for Christ Church of Oak Brook, where she regularly teaches large groups and classes. Bianchi lives in Chicago with her family.

Tracey Bianchi is an editorial advisor and quarterly columnist for Christianity Today’s Gifted for Leadership newsletter and MOPS International’s Fullfill magazine. A frequent speaker at MOPS groups and MOPS International conventions, she earned a master of divinity degree with honors from Denver Seminary. She is now the director of women’s ministries for Christ Church of Oak Brook, where she regularly teaches large groups and classes. Bianchi lives in Chicago with her family.

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Read an Excerpt

Green Mama

The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet
By Tracey Bianchi


Copyright © 2010 Tracey Bianchi
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-32036-4

Chapter One

Wisely and Well: Teach Us How to Live

Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! Psalm 90:12 MSG

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Ghandi

Craning my neck, I looked out the back window of my car and zipped down our driveway. We were off again for another morning preschool loop. My toddler whined for his pacifier, my infant daughter had already tossed her rattle to the floor, and my preschooler wanted gum.

As we merged into morning traffic, my then four-year-old gazed out the window and asked, "What does important mean?"

Always hyper about an educational opportunity, I threw the question back at him. "Well, honey, what do you think it means?"

He grunted, not impressed by my savvy parenting, and explained that he did not know, which was why he asked in the first place. So I started rattling off a list of important things: family, friends, God. After a few tries, he got into the game, and we bantered back and forth: his brother, his bed, his blankie.

As we pulled up to a stoplight my son's eyes must have been drawn to the park on the corner, ringed by enormous trees.

"Mommy, do you know what else is important? Trees areimportant," he said.

My morning caffeine jolted me into a giddy chatter. "Yes, yes, yes," I cheered from the driver's seat. Indeed, trees are important. After years of coaching and cajoling it seemed my son was destined to start Greenpeace for Preschoolers.

I am a self-proclaimed tree hugger. I recycle like a mad woman. I think camping is God's gift to the overcivilized. I honk at people who whip fast-food wrappers from car windows. Plastic makes me panic. Trees are important! This was the sort of statement I'd waited four years to hear.

"So, honey, why do you think trees are important?" My waiting eyes darted to the rearview mirror.

My darling son paused, and then said thoughtfully, "So they can catch on fire and we can chop them down."

My heart slid to the floor mat as he droned on about firefighters and logging trucks, the things dear to his manly little heart. Apparently impressing the value of God's creation on my children would require more than a few bedtime stories and wishful thinking.

The Green Life

Living a "green" life (one that emphasizes caring for the earth's people and resources) is all the rage. Flip on HGTV, and you will find people building and remodeling houses with green products. Chances are your local newspaper offered several articles on green issues this year. In my community a group of realtors now bicycle together on home tours. And Googling the words organic cotton will leave you inundated with catchy T-shirts and baby onesies that proclaim to the world your witty commitment to all things earthy.

This stewardship (care taking) of the earth, both ecologically and socially, is an issue that lies deep in the very heart of Jesus. Phrases like "climate change" and "sustainable resources" did not exist two thousand years ago. Jesus' disciples never supported organizations called the World Wildlife Fund or the Sierra Club. Fancy blue recycling bins did not adorn the streets of Rome.

Yet long before Al Gore, Cameron Diaz, and a cadre of other celebrities made their mark on environmental and social issues, Jesus shared the passion God has for this world: passion for the poor, the defenseless, and the needy, passion for the wild places, the rivers, and the mountains he created. God starts out with this story actually. It's the first thing we read when we crack the Bible open-God's amazing act of creation in Genesis 1. God was the first environmentalist, Jesus the original humanitarian.

And this planet is a way for us to know something about God. In the book of Romans, we read that "since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made" (1:20). Which means that our majestic mountains and ice blue lakes, our acres of forest and even our dandelions are a display of God's power. Who are we to dare to trash that?

For those who follow Jesus, sustainable living is particularly gripping because it reminds us that all of humanity is called to compassion, wisdom, and stewardship of all forms (see Luke 16:1-13; Gen. 1:26). I am passionate about following Jesus, so this invitation to stewardship pulls me out of my overabundant life and into a different reality. It reminds me that crashing through the giant super-mart and flinging everything from diapers to deodorant into my cart, without thinking about who made them and what happens to them once I'm finished, does not honor what I know to be true about God. Genesis tells us about the creation of the world, culminating with the creation of man and woman, and then this amazing mission for them: "Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground" (Gen. 1:28). If God created this world and then invited the last of his creation-human beings-to help look after it, then I have a responsibility to lavish on this earth more green wisdom than I currently do.

Lawson Younger, an Old Testament professor I once had, said that what the Bible does not say can be as important as what it does say. When it comes to the way Jesus lived, the Bible never says that he owned a four bedroom colonial or did his best to grow his financial portfolio. He was not seen wasting resources or trashing the landscape where he walked and lived. He was a minimalist, only taking what he needed for his journey through this life. He encouraged those who followed him then to do this, to live simply, and he invites us to do the same today.

Sustainable living is absolutely doable. It is possible, even for overworked, often frantic families like mine. If labeling your family "green" feels somewhat new and ambiguous, just dip into your past. You might find this lifestyle crop up in a few unexpected places. My husband and I were not raised by organic farmers or ex-hippies, but our parents exposed each of us to the splendor of God's creation as young children.

I spent my share of summer vacations on the lumpy floor of a canvas tent in Montana and on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. My newborn bottom was diapered in cloth; it was the only option available for my mother.

My grandmother was a product of the Great Depression, and with a deeply ingrained fear of hunger and scarcity she reused everything. She had piles of old rubber bands, plastic bags, and straws all over her house. She kept paper napkins, reused disposable doilies, and even took leftover butter pads home from restaurants. To this day, I've never met another person with an ability to preserve and reuse everyday items the way she did. She never labeled it eco-friendly living, just common sense.

In my own life, I remember the special moments when my mom handed my sister and me our very own ice-cold glass bottle of Coca-Cola, complete with the crown cap. It's the sort of idyllic, all-American memory that feels like some commercial. My sister and I would smile, gulp down a bubbly swig, and then, indeed, we wanted to buy the whole world a Coke. I also remember taking all eight of these glass bottles back to the grocery store and turning them in to be reused. Not recycled but actually reused. Cleaned and refilled by the Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

The current American obsession with disposable everything was unheard of just fifty years ago. Church picnics never generated the piles of paper plates that they do today. Grocery aisles devoted solely to throwaway food containers did not exist.

Even our national fascination with bottled water is a recent fad. It began in 1989 when water companies began bottling with plastic. This landfill legacy is now an $11 billion-a-year industry but is a trend barely twenty years old. So if we look back to the way our grandparents and even our parents raised us, we will find many tips and tricks for green living that we already know.

An eco-friendly life does not demand that we overhaul every aspect of our family's life. For many of us, the wisdom to live wisely is already rooted in our family tree.

A Sustainable Life Is Within Your Reach

Green is the color du jour, and we are surrounded by people, whether they practice a faith in God or not, pursuing God's plan for this planet. The number of green programs, resources, and organic products is larger than at any time in recent history. And if you cannot grab greener ideas for living from your local market or library, the internet is pulsing with green tips and strategies for reclaiming wasted items, gardening, recycling, repurposing, and rethinking how we live. Maybe for the first time ever, wise moms like you have easy options to save the planet with and for your children.

I know this whole green life can come off as a bit overwhelming and even snobbish at moments. Rest assured, I am not an eco-snob. I am an overtired, hypercaffeinated, stressed-out mom. I have a busy life, and green options need to work smoothly for my family, or there will be anarchy. Sure, I have visions of grandeur wherein I drive my car on vegetable oil and pull my family off the power grid, but these are just dreams for now. My dear husband still rolls his eyes at more than half my ideas. And, like almost all my greening mommy friends, I have been known to forget those reusable bags at home!

I'm a woman in the throes of parenting three young children, and each day the intricacies of raising them fills me with tremendous joy and grates on my nerves. Yet despite the chaos, each day I still manage to take a few green steps. You can too.

This book does not demand impossible changes for your life. You do not have to compost every banana peel, ditch your microwave, or convert to organic gardening to make a difference (although these definitely do help). You do not need dreadlocks or a hemp handbag.

Instead, let's look at the simple solutions that make the biggest differences. Like this one: Americans toss 60 million of those plastic water and beverage bottles into our landfills every day. There is a cheap, family-friendly, and even money-saving solution for this plastic problem: Drink from a reusable bottle.

You can do this.

You can repurpose your summer play dates by giving kids clean, empty, squeezable ketchup bottles for water wars (and they work much better than many squirt guns). You can turn your car off instead of idling outside the school while waiting to pick up your children (research suggests that if you are going to idle more than thirty seconds you will save emissions if you shut it off). You can wash your clothes in cold water and save 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions in just one year. These are tiny tweaks to your way of life that can add up big for your kids, the planet, and even your wallet.

You can do this.

I've heard it said that there are different shades of green. Families come in every color. You may find yourself dark green in a solar-powered home or pale green with a couple of recycling bins. Green living is not a contest to see which family can compost the most. Every effort no matter the size or shade makes a difference.

What Matters Is That You Do Something

The weight of saving the world does not rely solely upon you. God can save the planet himself. Actually, he already has, which is tough for me to swallow because I like to think God needs me. Ultimately, God is interested in your heart and movement toward wise living and responsible stewardship, not how many gallons of water you saved this month. He created this world and then invited us to partner with him in caring for it. He wants us involved in the process, just like I want my children involved in the projects I design for them. Of course I can make the chocolate-chip cookies myself (and, honestly, it would be so much easier that way), but I want my kids to learn how to measure and count, and then I want them to practice patience as they stare at cookies through the oven window. Their hearts and minds are transformed in the process. We learn magnificent truths about our Creator when we care for God's creation. This is what God wants for your family when it comes to taking care of the earth. The trees and the mountains are bursting forth with God's goodness (see Isa. 55:12). This is good for our souls.

The prophet Moses prayed to God, "Teach us to live well! teach us to live wisely and well!" (Ps. 90:12 MSG). I think this is a brilliant prayer. My deepest hopes do not concern my children growing up happy or content but growing up wise.

Living wisely and well means that our children learn to make God-honoring decisions with their resources. It means they discover how to see through marketing hype and the slick packaging of our culture so they can make solid, planet-friendly choices regarding how they live and move through this world.

This is wise living.

Chasing fireflies, walking to the park, everyday conversations, prayers, and trips to the grocery store can be opportunities to teach your children the importance of God's planet. You have the privilege of nudging your children toward wise living when you help them fall in love with the beauty of this world from the Amazonian rain forest to the anteaters at the zoo.

After my son finished waxing eloquent about setting trees on fire, I realized again how hilarious and unexpected this road of parenting can be. My car that day carried a modest canvas school bag, reusable grocery bags, reusable stainless steel sippy cups, and a reusable travel mug. And one pint-sized lover of the logging industry. No amount of reusable material could convince my son that trees in the parks were for keeping. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the lesson does not stick.

Your kids will not go green by staring at their reflection in your coffee mug. Just like with karate or guitar, they learn best by doing. They watch you, learn a few tips from you, and then set off on their own. If your home is filled with earth-friendly choices, chemical-free food, and the chance to get outside and play, your children will grow up healthier and will be more likely to seek out a similar lifestyle for their own families. Wisdom is a gift to pass down through the generations. So dig out that travel mug hiding in the back of your kitchen cabinet; turns out it makes a difference.

What Does God Have in Store for You Today?

Each day as I wade through the disaster that my house has already become by 8:00 a.m., I sip my coffee and wonder what God might have in store for us that day. Every morning in the fog of mothering it takes a conscious decision to make wise choices for my family. Will it be another afternoon of errands, the mall, whining, wanting, and clamoring for more out of this life? Or will there be a moment when we purposefully live with wisdom and notice the peace of God glimmering in a puddle, streaming through the trees, or dancing on the grass? Will we be part of the problem or creative advocates for change? What does it take to raise children with a heart for others and eyes for God's creation?

When the conservation movement started, most followers of Jesus shrugged it off. Rather than embracing organizations aimed at preserving God's majesty and beauty, many churches have ignored these issues or sloughed them off as the obsession of mountain town liberals. Conservation efforts and Christianity often did not play well together. But we've reached a point in human history where we are running out of resources, and, as with everything else, paying lip service to the ideas of Jesus without acting on them gets us nowhere. It's not a liberal or conservative agenda. Giving our children a healthy future should be every parent's agenda.

As a mom I've used the cliché that I want to give my kids the world. This has meant that I want access to winning sports teams, snappy uniforms, good schools, college scholarships, and a wide assortment of friends, youth pastors, coaches, and teachers to dote on them every step of the way. It did not really mean that I wanted to give them the world.

But it should.

If you can help them learn to save the world, then you can truly help give them the world. I want my kids to have the heart of Jesus for this planet. I want to give them God's vision for this earth. I want them to live wisely and well. I want them to know that the trees are indeed important. My hunch is that you and I have at least this much in common.


Excerpted from Green Mama by Tracey Bianchi Copyright © 2010 by Tracey Bianchi. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 9

Introduction: Why I'm a Green Mama 11

1 Wisely and Well: Teach Us How to Live 21

2 Your One Big Thing: Think Big, Start Small 35

3 Eco-Snobs: How Much Will This Cost Me? 49

4 Too Much Stuff: Curbing Our Consumption 63

5 Cotton Onesies and Bamboo Sheets: Eco-Language Lessons 77

6 Green House: Making the Changes That Work for Your Family 95

7 Carbon Footprints: What's Your Shoe Size? 111

8 Working the System: Purchasing Power 123

9 Green Traditions: Celebrating Holidays and Special Days 137

10 Water Bottles and Jet Fuel: Green on the Go 155

11 Green Worship: Can Your Church Go Green? 169

12 Plant a Tree: Looking Out for Every Mom 183

Conclusion: So When Did You Get Into That? 195

The Green Mama Resource Guide 197

Notes 205

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Bianchi scores major points for advising doable guilt-free environmentalism on a mom's schedule

    A compelling, well-written book for aspiring environmental mommies, Green Mama manages to fulfill its "guilt-free" promise with solid, simple advice that's easy - for even the busiest moms! - to implement. "Leaving things better than I found them even started to seem, well, a little like something Jesus would do," says Bianchi.

    Bianchi's appealing slice-of-life stories, which preface each chapter, document her struggle to balance consumerism with God's call to stewardship. Green Mama: The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet encourages thoughtful, spendthrift behaviors that trickle down immediately to the next generation. Particularly helpful are each chapter's end checklist, where Bianchi repeats the behavior or spending changes she's introduced, letting a reader decide whether each item is important to her or even possible, given the situation.

    If her goal is to leave her children and the planet they inherit infinitely bettered by affecting today's choices, Bianchi scores major environmental points here and readers will too.

    (More reviews like this one at www[dot]christinereads[dot]com.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2011

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