You may not think of a jet-setting movie star who is a fixture in fashion and beauty rags, as the go-to spokesperson for eco-friendly and natural living. But Jessica Alba has spent the last several years building her reputation as an eco mama warrior. She has advocated for chemical safety measures on Capitol Hill, co-founded The Honest Company, and now she has written all about her green living philosophy in her first book, The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True To You. The book covers numerous pertinent topics in green living, from style to food to prenatal planning. And it’s all done in a non-judgmental, gentle way. As absolutely stunning as Alba is, this book reveals there is a lot more to her than a pretty face: she is truly knowledgeable about healthy living. Read on for my review of The Honest Life.
Early in The Honest Life, Alba lets readers in on a secret: she isn’t vegan, cloth diapers were not the right fit for her family’s jet-setting lifestyle, and there was no way, given her failures as a gardener, her family could live off what they had grown. While these may seem like simple admissions (and some eco-zealots may say Alba’s lifestyle couldn’t possibly be green because of them), I breathed a sigh of relief upon reading them. Too often, celebrity authors write books that are totally unrealistic, especially since they have the means for personal chefs, trainers, nannies, etc. I think most readers glance at them, see the celebrities’ lives as being totally alien to our own, and don’t get anything out of the book or even finish reading it. Alba’s book is very relatable, and she breaks down her lifestyle decisions for readers in an approachable, realistic way. Her passion for this lifestyle is evident and inspiring: being eco-friendly doesn’t mean you have to give up everything enjoyable in life. Alba gives examples of ways to choose greener products and make more eco-friendly decisions, but she also admits to her own eco-vices and sees honest living as a guide for trying to live well (not trying to be perfect).
As a mom of two, Alba is aware of the need for routines, creating a healthy diet for her family, and the challenges of making a balanced life — all topics she covers in The Honest Life. The book covers a lot of ground very succinctly — everything from how to choose style foundations that will last longer and look cooler, to ways to choose and care for vintage furniture. Alba also knows how busy parents are, so the book offers plenty of tidbit, take-away info such as info on “dishonest” ingredients in food, beauty, and cleaning products like GMOs, toluene, and formaldehyde and why they really are so bad for us. The book also includes a few recipes and decor how-tos, which are helpful, but the book is so well-organized and information-packed (without being overwhelming), that I didn’t even find them necessary.
And yes, the frequent touting of The Honest Company products does make the book seem a little, well, informercial-y at times. But they also did make me want to explore the company’s ever-growing product list in more detail. With all the greenwashing out there and with many eco-friendly products being sold now by not-so-eco-friendly parent companies, Alba shows how The Honest Company worked to make their products as clean and green as possible.
The Honest Life is a great book for green lifestyle beginners, and it is also a wonderful reference book for anyone with a family. It features a handy appendix including info on the dirty dozen and how to cook a variety of grains and beans, as well as a list of the sites and companies that Alba relies on for information and resources. The Honest Life is an enjoyable read with style, entertaining, and decor tips that go beyond green decorating and offer real-life utility. Alba makes living green a personal, approachable, and inspired journey: choosing The Honest Life is a way to challenge yourself to live in an eco-friendly way but without green guilt.