Whatever happened to reducing? This book on green living wants to bring it back in style!

All You Need Is Less
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Madeleine Somerville is an eco-blogger, new mom, and author of “All You Need Is Less: The Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity.” In a market already saturated with books about green living, I’m happy to say that Somerville presents some fresh new ideas that make her book stand out from others.

Her strongest point is the one she makes at the beginning: “Feel good about being a lazy environmentalist. They’re the best kind.” Huh? At first I was confused, but then realized that Somerville wants people to stop shopping. She urges us to go against the grain of consumerism and stop trying to be ‘green’ while continuing to buy things. I love this idea because it embodies that third “R” that usually gets forgotten. People generally do a good job of recycling, a less good job of reusing, and a pitiful job of reducing. It’s hard and unglamorous, and yet it’s probably the greenest thing we could do.

“In an era when environmentalism has become increasingly trendy, this concept has been almost entirely skipped over, and it’s not hard to understand why: nothing is more antithetical to our consumer culture than the idea of simply not consuming.

"You can’t sell reducing on Etsy, you can’t show off your commitment to the concept with a trendy bumper sticker or a cool water bottle – because the whole point is to not buy superfluous bumper stickers or water bottles in the first place.”

The rest of the book develops from this idea – how to buy secondhand, how to substitute basic household ingredients or items for products you’d normally rush out to buy, how to beg/barter/borrow, and even how to cure yourself of forgetting reusable bags at the supermarket! The suggestion I liked best was to use glass jars in place of a travel mug. After all, why go out and buy a pricey travel mug if you’ve already got a glass jar in the cupboard, and you can seal it up?

Somerville’s writing has a humorous tone that includes plenty of lighthearted jabs at her husband. At first I thought it added a fun personal element to the book, but by the end it started to get annoying. Because of all the pop-culture references and quasi-sexual jokes, I probably wouldn’t recommend the book to someone like my mother, but I’m sure my younger friends would find it entertaining.

The book does a good job at making green living seem more attainable and manageable, and that’s definitely something worth promoting.

Tags: Cleaning | Clothing | Recycling | Shopping

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