As the mother of two boys, Micaela Preston decided she wanted to start living more mindfully to help promote a healthier planet for her family. When she realized how overwhelming the concept of "going green" can be, she started a blog, Mindful Momma, to make eco-conscious living inspiring rather than intimidating.
"I started the blog on a whim because I liked the casual style of blogs. I had been doing so much research on my own, I wanted to start sharing what I found," Preston said by phone from her home in Minneapolis. Preston is a Madison native and a graduate of West High School and the UW-Madison.
Her blog attracted the attention of publishers, and three years after her first blog post, she's the author of "Practically Green: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making" (Betterway Books, $18.99).
"I wanted to fill the book with practical ideas that aren't overwhelming. It's important to balance your concern for the environment and your family's health with the reality of the constraints in your life," Preston said.
The book is packed with easy-to-digest nuggets of info to help the environmentally conscious while acknowledging time and money limitations. The topics are broken up into six areas: eating, living, cleaning, caring, wearing and conserving.
"I wanted to write about things that people can do themselves that aren't cost-prohibitive. People often don't realize they can make their own organic beauty products," like the delicious-sounding Chocolate Facial Mask that promises softer skin with just three ingredients: unsweetened cocoa powder, plain yogurt and honey.
Preston packs a lot of information into the small book, which is packaged in copy-and-clip pages that are meant for busy parents on the go. The book can easily fit into a purse (or a reusable cloth grocery bag) so shoppers can have a handy reference when standing at the fish counter, for example. Flip to page 25 for a guide to the most sustainable type of seafood to serve for dinner.
Preston said her goal is to encourage small, practical changes.
"Sometimes, we're at the grocery story with a tired, crying child and we just make the choice that's right at the moment. I encourage people to be mindful, but don't beat yourself up if once in a while you make the choice that isn't exactly the most green," Preston said.
And most importantly, enjoy green living - Preston is adamant that it doesn't have to feel like a sacrifice.
"I get such a kick out of reusing things and bringing new life to something old. There are so many little ways to save ourselves a trip to the store if we think creatively," she said.