It has taken me longer to write this post then to read M. Somerville’s book all you need is less: the eco-friendly guide to guilt-free green living and stress-free simplicity.
The book itself is an easy read with jokes and narratives to keep you entertained. The challenge I face while writing this is that (1) I know the author from my younger years – we often sat around cross-stitching while my brother, I am sure, wondered when he would get to go out with his then girlfriend or I would get tired and go up to my room for the night and (2) because I was excited to try out some of the tips Somerville provides and writing just did not seem important.
I have to admit that living on the West Coast of Canada has turned me into a bit of a hippie. I recycle more than when I lived in Alberta, I compost mostly because it is a requirement of my building and the province, I walk or ride my bike to as many places as possible, and I wear socks with my birkenstokes. Now, living in Vancouver with more than half of my stuff still in Victoria, I am living a fairly simply life with just the basic needs and a couple home comfort items like a self-made blanket and a few free reading books. But I would have never really said that I am an overly eco-green individual. Last year I went on a 10 week mission where I would recycle, donate, or sell one item a week. My friends call me a minimalist (they are wrong by the way); and my 10 week project was a great way to rid myself of unnecessary clutter, just as Somerville suggests doing. This year, 2016, I started off with a decluttering blog post (Declutter 2016) which spurred my brother to gift me with a used copy of Somerville’s book.
There is little chance that I will put into action all of the wonderful tricks and tips Somerville shares, including the baking soda bath-tub clean and the homemade toothpaste, at least right now in my life. But there are certain things I will do and have already begun to do. Some in particular include reducing my shopping (I am not a big shopper to begin with), to create my own bath scrubs (recipes found on page 52), remember my reusable grocery bags (her trick about having to carry all groceries out of the store without a bag if you forget your reusable bag was enough to convince me to leave a pile of bags in my car; page 85), I do not wear much make-up but the next time I purchase some I will be a little more wise, and giving up plastic items (minus my Nalgene water bottle(s)).
More than anything, Somerville does a great job making the transition to a more eco-friendly lifestyle seem doable and without guilt when you opt to discount her ideas of using apple cider vinegar for everything including your conditioner. She provides little tips along the way that anyone can do within a reasonable budget and makes being eco-friendly seem somewhat fun without discounting the work that goes into being eco-conscious. I did not read Somerville’s last three chapters as I do not nor plan to have a child in the near future, I do not have any pets, and Christmas is low key (or non-existent) for me, but I am sure that those three chapters are filled with useful points so do not skip them if they relate to you.
Lastly, I found it interesting to read about the eco-friendly lifestyle, the challenges one may face when attempting to live in such a way, and to see the creativity behind certain things. It may not be occurring a world away from me, in fact many of my neighbours are probably living a similar life to Somerville, but it has opened up my perspective to another’s life, which ultimately is the goal of Books to Build Solidarity. So, if you are looking for an easy, light, and resourceful book that helps you declutter in 2016 or move to a more health conscious lifestyle, I highly suggest seeking out Somerville’s book in a used book store! Or beg, barter, or borrow (page 79) from a friend of yours to lend you their copy and in return maybe you will create a batch of your body scrub for them! (By the way, Madie, if you are reading this I really did not like Eat, Pray, Love and much prefer your Beg, Barter, Borrow theory!)