Gardening Nude: Part Two

I had the opportunity to interview Shawna Coronado, author of The Naked Gardener. Shawna lives in Warrenville, IL with her husband and two daughters and brings us some easy tips to start being green.

Talk to me a little about the thoughts behind “get your green on” – how do you begin? Where are you going?
As I say on my website, The “Get Your Green On” Healthy Philosophy addresses the naked truth about our lives: that mental and physical health are intricately connected to being exposed to nature, greening our environment, and building community. There are three easy to follow components to the philosophy – the Go Green Health Plan, The Green and Simple Conservation Plan, and Building a Green Community.

I love the green and simple conservation plan ! How do you think this plan helps the community? What can people who live in town do?
Imagine if all the people in your community began practicing better conservation? The results might just be astounding. My first thought goes to water. Most communities share a water table – either through wells or a single pump water tower. If people in a community stopped spraying pesticides and other chemicals on their lawns, that reduction might help preserve your water supply in the future. By planting drought tolerant plants and shrubs, less water is needed and it is, therefore, less expensive to maintain. If everyone in a community began using rain barrels and creating rain gardens, water savings would go up significantly during the summer drought months.

There are many other awesome ideas for helping your community by practicing better conservation. For example, utilizing landscaping in a fashion that creates protective zones around homes, the community will reduce the money they have to pay for air conditioning and heating utilities. Converting all your lighting requirements to Compact Fluorescent Bulbs is a tremendous money-saver for the average consumer and places much less demand on power companies.

Landfills are tremendously over crowded in the United States . Within our generation we will face a crisis related to this issue. How are we going to cope? One way is for communities to come together to build programs around rescuing items before they ever reach the landfill, like books and school supplies. In my book I write a feature on an incredible group which has rescued over 3 million books and sent them all over the world to children in need. By having a recycling program in a community, it rescues tons of metals and plastics from the landfill. Many groups have found ways to make a profit out of rescuing and recycling products. This creates jobs and a better economy.

Also, by gardening and encouraging land stewardship your community is reducing crime. This statement is based on an amazing inner-city study conducted by the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory out of the University of Illinois Urbana ( My suggestion for all communities is to come together and build gardens – both vegetable and flower gardens – to help beautify and raise the value of homes in your community and also to help prevent crime.

You have a book called Gardening Nude? Who should read this book? I have images of folks in my county outside in the garden – nude! Better explain that concept, please.
Naked gardening – ah yes – the fun way to garden! HA! “Gardening nude” is really a metaphorical expression which means to strip away the excuses, get off the couch, and get outside to make a difference.

The book is based on my journey to better health in the first chapter or so, than the remainder of the guide book focuses on the three parts of the Get Your Green On Healthy Philosophy. Although environmentalists and greening experts will enjoy this self-help guide book, it is truly meant for the every day person. My goal is to reach all ages of people and motivate them to be a little greener every day. Believe it or not, I am not an “extremist” nor do I suggest everyone become one. My philosophy is easy to do and is built on the idea that a little bit at a time can accomplish a lot.

As testimony to this, I write special features on real-life people who are really “living the green life” and have experienced better health and a more positive attitude because of their greener lifestyle.

Can you give me a couple of ways to reduce stress and find more energy?
Absolutely! It’s EASY!! Below are my top three favorites:
#1 – Exercise aerobically, preferably outdoors in the garden or nature, for at least twenty minutes every- day, breathing deeply. (Walking seems to be the best aerobic exercise during the winter season for me.)
#2 – Take multi-vitamins (with B vitamins included) and eat nutritionally between three and five meals/snacks every- day spaced apart as evenly as possible.
#3 – Get regular massage – from a family member, a friend or a professional and regularly do helpful or giving things for others and/or for the community and environment (start with conservation in your own back yard)

I live on a fixed income. What are some affordable ways to begin greening my environment?
How about affordable ways to begin greening that actually MAKE YOU MONEY?
#1 – Once a month recycle all the aluminum and metal you can at a local recycling center that pays you for your aluminum.
#2 – Sell old clothes, tools, appliances, and all items you cannot recycle on an auction website online such as ebay. You are saving these items from the landfill and making income at the same time.
#3 – Get together with all the neighbors in your community – divide and exchange perennial and native plantings. Try to plant drought tolerant plantings together and water dependent plants together so that you can control where and how much you utilize your watering. Save any leftover plants and have a giant plant sale for your community. Think about it – the plants are out there just waiting to make you money and you need an excuse to stay active and rearrange plantings to be more drought tolerant. Seems like a great idea to bring people together so they are less isolated as well!

How easy is it to build a simple conservation and greening plan?
EASY! You start one little step at a time. Try buying local instead of buying from companies that import their veggies and items from overseas – this reduces the carbon footprint each item you consume has. Try using a little less water – this helps everyone in your community by saving your water table. Buy products that are organic or are safer for the environment – this exposes your family to less chance contracting leukemia and other cancers caused by chemical exposure.

To start greening and making a difference in your community, you can find Gardening Nude the book at or on my website –

man up a tree photo provided by

photo of Shawna taken by Sheila Rutledge