Environmental book review: Spit that Out! The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt
This environmental book review was an original discussion from the podcast Raising Eco Minimalists (my podcast for those raising kids who care about their mind body, community and the planet). You will find the full transcript from the solo episode (meaning, just me!) below. If you’d rather listen to the episode, you can do so via the embedded player below, or by downloading the episode anywhere you listen to podcasts (don’t forget to rate and review, pretty please).
Note: The transcript below reflects the more conversational tone of a podcast episode versus a more formal written article. I did go through and “clean it up a bit” to make the reading easier, but just keep that in mind as you’re going through it.
I hope you enjoy the environmental book review of Spit that Out!
Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of Raising Eco Minimalists. I’m your host, Laura, and as always, thank you so much for taking your precious time and listening to this episode. I know you’ve got a lot going on and I’m just really grateful that you’re here. Today’s episode is going to be kind of a new.
We’re venturing into new territory. I’m gonna be doing a book review and I thought that this would be something that I could try out for season three, see how it goes. So if you like these types of episodes, definitely feel free to reach out and let me know, or if you don’t like them, then I am interested in knowing that as well.
All the content that I create takes time and energy, and while I do enjoy doing it, I also need to put my time and energy into ways that make money. And so if these types of things aren’t of interest to you, I’m happy to focus my energy elsewhere. Shoot me an email at Laura@Raisingecominimalist.com to let me know.
If you like book reviews, I would invite you to check out episode 10. So this was back in season one where I interviewed an author, Jen Gale, about a book called The Sustainable(ish) Guide to Green Parenting. That one is less of an actual review and more of just, I actually talked with the author, which was really cool. Jen was super fun and has a lovely British accent, and we talked about all things Raising kids in an eco-friendly, eco-minimalist way. So if you haven’t checked out that episode yet, I would highly recommend it.
For the format for today’s episode (and what I’m thinking will happen moving forward when I do book reviews) is that I’m just going to share a little bit about the book and then talk about things that I liked and didn’t like about it. And so they’ll probably be shorter episodes, but I know that you have a lot on your plate and don’t have time to read all of the books out there around eco-minimalist kids and raising them. So hopefully this can help you determine books that might go onto your reading list or that you feel like you can skip.
Ok, let’s get started.
So today’s book is called Spit That Out, the Overly Informed Parents Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the age of environmental guilt, and the author is Paige Wolf. Now, I don’t know how I came across this book. I bought it secondhand, so clearly I heard of it somewhere, but it’s a, it’s a short book. It’s maybe 150 pages or so. And one thing that I really appreciated, you can tell that the author is somebody with kids in her life. I believe she has two kids at the time of her publishing.
The chapters are short and they’re easy to digest, and if you get interrupted, it’s not hard to find where you left off. So great for reading when you’ve got kids running around.
I will read a little bit about the book.
From the description it says, “from BPA and baby bottles and asbestos and crayons to misleading natural labels, it can derail even the most steadfast parent lighthearted, yet authoritative spit that out, cuts through the information overload, sorts cloth from disposable and empowers readers to make simple but impactful changes.”
When I hear about an environmental book on raising kids or anything in the environmental realm, I look to see if the author incorporates all the nuances that come up with eco-minimalist living (example: the resource access to resources the abilities), all sorts of things that we’ve talked about on this podcast before.
So that’s really one of the main things that I start to look at because at this point in my own eco-minimalist journey, I’m less interested in books that are for the stereotypical environmentalist, where the assumption is you have a lot of money and you’re looking for the, like, picture perfect aesthetic kitchen and, and all that stuff.
And there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you’re into. That’s just not where I’m interested in being in my own journey. I’m happy to say that “Spit that out” does incorporate those nuances. And a quote from the book, right in the introduction, talking just about basically the lack of resources for everybody in order to participate in an eco-minimalist or sustainable, eco-friendly whatever journey in the same way.
The quote says, “sadly, it’s pretty understandable when a family on a limited budget, Living in a food desert buys soda and bulk and embraces the McDonald’s dollar menu.” So right off the bat, it tells me that this author understands the nuances, the social and racial issues that come into play here. And again, as we’ve talked about in previous episodes, how they’re all connected.
So that was one thing that I was really happy to see when I was reading the book. . The other part that I look for is non-shaming, non-judgmental content. I have a quote at the end of every single episode, which is, in order to live sustainably, it must be sustainable for you. And so again, that’s another thing that I’m looking for in these types of books.
I definitely found that and spit that out. I’ve got a number of examples throughout, which I’ll share in a bit. But if, if you’re looking for validation on those two things, this book has it. Now. Overall, I actually really liked this book. I think it’s a good resource. So I’m going to just start with the things that I didn’t care for and since it’s a shorter list, and then I’ll go through the parts that I liked.
And I’ve also got some quotes that I’ll read from the book as well. . The first thing I didn’t really care for in the book was this author is friends with a number of “celebrities”. They’re not people that I’d really heard of, but they would be referenced often and they provided quotes and experiences.
Which is fine. However, I didn’t really know who they were and so to have them constantly pointed out like that was just more of a distraction for me. I wasn’t really sure the point of that if it was to show that even people that maybe make more money, then others have Eco anxiety or feel environmental guilt, or I, again, I’m not really sure what the point of that was.
So that was a little annoying throughout the book. And I think the other thing was the book wasn’t something where I felt like I just learned a ton of things. I think if, if you’re somebody or you know, somebody that’s just starting out in the Eco Minimalism journey or their own sustainable journey, that they might be able to learn a lot.
But having been in the space for so long and doing all sorts of research, there wasn’t anything that was like, or shattering new for me. There was a lot of data, which I always appreciate, and so that was really interesting to me. But I think the part that I appreciated and got out of the book the most was that it was incredibly validating.
So, I mean, in the title it talks about environmental guilt and, I felt that the author did a really great job showing all the nuances, the struggles all sorts of things about how this journey, especially Raising kids, is really hard. So one quote again, it is in the first chapter titled, “Did What Our Parents Never Knew Hurt Us”, and I really like this quote because it incorporates the mental clutter that we often experience when it comes to trying to live more eco-friendly and, and protecting our, the earth for our kids. So it says, “I feel like it has taken up all of my energy and time worrying about and controlling so many other things in my children’s lives, making sure they’re not getting too much screen time, making sure they’re getting enough exercise, making sure I’m reading to them at night, practicing their numbers and letters.”
The author says that this quote was from somebody who told her the biggest problem she faces raising kids in a sustainable way is feeling like she only has the ability to worry about a certain number of things, and she just doesn’t have the capacity to add on anything else to her plate or even her guilt.
And so within the first few pages, the author’s already addressing this issue and that theme continued throughout the rest of the book, in my opinion. And so if you’re looking for a book where you just want to feel validated and feel like you’re not alone in all these things that we talk about, environmental guilt, environmental anxiety, the, just the overwhelm that comes with Raising kids in this way this book, I would definitely recommend picking it up.
As the book description said, the information is presented in a lighthearted way. I have, I wrote in my notes it’s not heavy, and so I think the author does a really good job of adding in humor while still driving the point across. And I never got the sense that the author was not acknowledging the, the severity of the climate, no pun intended, that we’re in right now.
So sometimes environmental books, especially books approaching addressing the climate crisis ,can be really heavy and I would not consider this book to be that. Another thing that I really appreciated, as you probably know if you’ve listened to episodes before, is that I really appreciate resources that give actionable tips.
So in every episode of this podcast, I want at least a couple of actionable tips that we can take away, and I do the same thing in my blog posts/resource guides. This book at the end of every chapter has just a snippet of tips that you can take away, that are really easy to digest, and I think that that was a really smart move by the author and I found it really helpful.
The other thing that I really appreciated is some of the topics that the author covers is really a wide range of things. She talks about: clothing and secondhand or buy new, the chemicals that are in clothing….
And I’ll do a quick side tangent here. Talking about chemicals. There are a few parts and chapters where the author talks about the chemicals in toys or clothes, furniture, and also talks about detoxing.
I am of the opinion that, and this is just my opinion, that everything is made, well, this is not an opinion, everything is made out of chemicals, but my opinion is that it is definitely the dose and while some of the findings of certain chemicals in children’s items is definitely concerning, I’m always really wary about really diving into the whole idea of like detoxing and such.
So I will say the author does talk about that. I thought it was pretty objective. But if that’s something that you are don’t want to engage with, you could probably just skip the chapter of those two parts. So back to the topics the author covers. So clothing, the author talks about diapers, cloth versus disposable.
She talks about all the different food options, toys, cleaning products and supplies, how to raise eco kids who have to go to a school where it may not have the same values or products or what have you that you use at home, and how you can potentially approach that. She talks about eco-living on a budget.
There’s also themes of Eco Minimalism that kind of weave through here as it does with all sustainability or climate crisis topics. She addresses gifts and other influences from family, grandparents and such. One example would be going to birthday parties and having the cake that have bright colored frostings, and how some people really wanna avoid that and how to navigate that. She talks about traveling and also how to identify green washing.
A couple of topics that I pulled out that I really appreciated is a section on breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
This is another topic that makes me really concerned generally cuz I had a really rough experience trying to breastfeed and it’s a story that I won’t go into now. But eventually at my son’s one month pediatrician appointment, his doctor at the time told me that I needed to stop trying breastfeeding cuz he could tell the mental toll that it was taking on me.
And so I ended up pumping exclusively for almost until he was a year. But I also had a job that allowed me to have ample time, and I had a lot of privilege around that which I know that not everybody has. So that chapter actually does a really good job of addressing all those nuances in a really delicate way.
And sometimes I can find those conversations really triggering, but I did not find myself getting triggered in this chapter. I thought the author handled it really well.
Another really interesting chapter and one that approached topics that I haven’t really seen a lot before is “when best intentions backfire”.
I think if you’ve been in this journey for a while, you know that sometimes things happens. And I think in the book, the chapter talks a lot about recycling and kind of the nuances on that and, but there’s so many examples that we could think of for that, and I think it really drives home the point that we need to do what’s best for us. And so I really, again, I really appreciated that chapter.
And then the author also has a whole chapter on Eco anxiety and asking if there’s a way that we can ease it. So I loved seeing that because that’s not something that I think is talked about very often either.
Two more quotes that I wanna read from the book that I really appreciated, and then we’ll wrap up on this review.
So the first one says you have to “put your own sanity and your family’s happiness first. I think we all have some issues we rarely bend on, but you have to pick and choose. You can’t do it all.”
And that is something we talk about all the time. You have to move forward according to your values and some of the other things that you don’t have the resources for, you let go.
And that’s not always gonna be that way. As our lives change, our seasons change, we may be able to incorporate more. It’s stuff we’ve talked about many times, but it was, as I said, the beginning, the validation component of this book was, was so nice. And that was a quote that I just really resonated with.
Another quote is: “I do what I can and find what fits into my family’s lifestyle. I’ve let go most of the guilt and focus on spreading awareness so we can all make educated decisions.”
I liked that quote as well because I felt like that touched on the mental clutter component of the environmental guilt that we’ve all felt and how if we can learn to let it go, we’ll have more room to educate or even maybe take on another eco action. i
If you struggle with environmental guilt, in the first season of the podcast, anytime I interviewed a guest, I always asked them them three or four questions at the end, and one of them had to do with how do you handle convenience items versus eco-friendly items because they often conflict and I think almost every single guest answered: “You just have to pick and choose, basically. And sometimes you can be really sustainable and eco-friendly and other times you can’t.”
And so it was just, it’s interesting looking back now at all those guests who had very similar answers about you just have to let some of the guilt go because we can’t do everything. And then, one more quote that I really appreciate because I think it really incorporates the eco-minimalist theme of simple living, mental health, eco-friendly living, Minimalism, all that stuff.
So this will be the last quote and then we’ll wrap up this episode.
“Sustainability and simplicity do not have to be about deprivation. Living a more simplistic lifestyle can actually become more freeing in the quest to be perfect parents. Or those Raising kids. In this age of environmental information overload, we’re bound to make mistakes. At the end of the day, we’re still human and can only do so much. We need to make sure we give ourselves permission to not be perfect, to not be so hard on ourselves, and to be okay with doing what we can while letting the rest go.”
And on that note that’s the book review. Overall, I would recommend it even if you have been at this eco-minimalist journey for a while, it’s always nice to have some validation and I think especially if you’re at a point where you’re feeling guilty or feeling that Eco anxiety or just feeling down, which is stuff we all go through, it’s a good little pick me up and a reminder that you’re doing the best you can. So as always, in case you forgot , in order to live sustainably, it must be sustainable for you.
Until next time, bye.