tl;dr: I’m not a parent, but I loved this book. Mary DeMocker is concise, approachable, and – most important of all – she is incredibly forgiving when it comes to balancing life and climate activism. You’ll definitely want to keep a copy for yourself, then recommend all your friends who actually have children go out and read it (I find that the Sacramento library is really good about fulfilling book requests!).
Let me start here: I’m not a parent and I have zero plans to ever become one, yet I’d still say this is a must-read book. New author, activist, and parent Mary DeMocker graced 350 Sacramento’s 10th anniversary celebration with a presentation and Q&A, which I attended and subsequently won a signed copy of her first book, “The Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to Build a Fossil-Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get a Good Night’s Sleep.”
Honestly, I figured I’d skim through it before passing it off to one of my new-parent friends. But after just the first few pages, I was hooked. Now, it might be the loneliness and despair of the pandemic, but I really felt like DeMocker was sitting down with me in my living room and having a cup of tea while catching up. It was a little startling that I was having a good ol’ time reading through this book.
DeMocker is concise and approachable – the book is filled with short, relatable anecdotes followed by simple, tiered actions you can take depending on the resources you have available (physical and mental). Granted, not all of them are applicable to a childless heathen like me (like the “chapter” on Diapers – each chapter is about 1-3 pages long), but there are many golden nuggets of information sprinkled throughout this book, making it a keeper. (I think I’ll get another copy to put in a local lending library and lend out my copy to several friends with children!) Oh, and for those of you with very busy lives, this book is extremely easy to skim through. I found myself skimming through parts and wanting to read the full text in others. Either way, it’s an awesome resource and activity book!
What really knocks this book out of the ballpark is how forgiving it is. During a time of constant climate disasters paired with climate deniers who run the world with seemingly no guilt whatsoever, I feel guilty constantly. I feel bad when I worm-compost tea bags because I know there’s still carbon created during packaging and distribution. I feel shame ordering takeout from a local restaurant because I know they’ll pack everything in plastic bags and non-recyclable or non-compostable containers. DeMocker takes those Stupid feelings, slam dunks them into the trash bin, and gives you a warm, pre-pandemic hug before giving you Smart tips.
She comes at you not only as a parent, but as a compassionate human being who understands that our time and mental/physical capacity is limited. In the introduction, she gives you a hypothetical choice between A) cleaning out a peanut butter jar to recycle or B) calling your Congressional representatives to ask them to steward climate-friendly policies. Both choices will take about the same amount of time, but B) is the one with greater impact. DeMocker wants you to focus on system change because, at the end of the day, recycling that peanut butter jar isn’t going to solve the systemic problems caused by the terrible machine within which we are all held hostage. Call it dramatic, but you can’t call it a lie.
Ultimately, we need to feel less negative about the things we aren’t doing and feel more positive about the things we are doing. That’s going to be the sustainable energy source we need in order to continue fighting for a better planet and a healthier future. When I put this book down, I said goodbye to 2020 and gave a look of determination toward the years to come.
Written by Cat X.
This post is not sponsored by Mary DeMocker, but I just really enjoyed my raffle prize!
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