ALL YOU NEED IS LESS by Madeleine Somerville

ALL YOU NEED IS LESS by Madeleine SomervilleAll You Need Is Less: The Eco-friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity by Madeleine Somerville
Published by Cleis Press on April 15th 2014
Pages: 266
Genres: Do-It-Yourself, General, Green Lifestyle, House & Home, Non-Fiction, Self-Help, Sustainable Living
Paperback provided by Cleis Press, Viva Editions

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Most eco-friendly books start with terror-inducing lists of the carcinogenic chemicals you are liberally slathering all over every single surface in your house, painting most people as unwitting eco-villains, happily Lysol-ing their way straight to hell. Well, readers can just relax and unpack the (plastic) bags — no guilt trips today!

All You Need is Less is about realistically adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle without either losing your mind from soul-destroying guilt or becoming a preachy know-it-all whom everyone loathes. It’s all gotten kind of complicated, hasn’t it?

This whole eco-friendly thing seems to have devolved into a horrific cycle of guilt, shaming, and one-upping, and as a result people are becoming exhausted. It doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to take baby steps towards a more Earth-friendly lifestyle without stress, guilt, or judgmental eco-shaming. Top eco-blogger Madeleine Somerville is here with really original ideas on how to save money and the planet. Her ideas are even fun! Somerville has emerged as the voice of reason on urban homesteading that is stress-free, sanity-based, and above all do-able.

Reading time 4 mins

I have been trying to figure out way to tackle my stuff problem for a while. All You Need is Less was the perfect book for me. I am so motivated after reading this, I am putting these tips into practice right away. Anyone wanting to cut back on stuff and costs will find ways to live with less in this book.

This book will not turn you into a hippie, or make you feel bad about your habits. I was a bit worried, but the author is really cool and this book was easy for me to read. (even with all my anti-treehugger habits) This book is broken up into sections that were easy for me to digest. All of them were full of tips for putting ideas into practice. Madeleine does a great job of not judging, she admits some of this was hard for her, and she is not perfect. I loved her antidotes and witty writing style. She is honest in this book. Some of her tips were no brainers, but most of this stuff I hadn’t even considered.

I devoured this book in a day, but I have tabs all over it for reference. This book has a bunch of recipes to make things yourself (like soap, deodorant, shampoo, cleaning products, weed killer, baby wipes, etc). Her recipes are 2-4 ingredients, which is great for someone without a large budget. She also includes tips for buying less, by thinking about the longevity of a purchase. I am almost ashamed to say that this has never occurred to me. She puts this idea into practice all over her book and I can say that it has changed my thinking.

Table of Contents

  • HOME
    • the ugly duckling of the green movement; the true cost of consumption; why buy secondhand?
    • make it: (recipes for making cleaners that do what cleaners do, for much less)
    • alternatives to dryer sheets; a word about plastic
  • BODY
    • basic hygiene boot camp; how to choose cosmetics
    • make it: (recipes for awesome holistic body products)
    • lady time; hair removal
    • how being green is good for the waistline; home, sweet home; why beg, barter, borrow should be the new eat, pray, love; remembering your reusable bags
    • make it: (outside the house, a few easy tricks)
    • addictions
    • eating simply; reducing waste in the grocery store; taking on take-out
    • make it: (food and drinks)
    • all about organics; simple food storage
    • a word from the gardening guru imposter
    • make it: (composts, weed killers and more)
    • what to do when your partner is a soul-sucking planet killer; quiz: are you an insufferable enviro-nag?:  self; how living green can save your relationship; giving the gift
    • make it: (oils and lube)
    • apple cider vinegar cures everything; how (and why) to stick a small ceramic teapot up your nose; alternative therapies
    • make it: (recipes to make you feel better)
  • PET
    • your dog does not need a sweater (or a stroller)(or boots)
    • make it: (recipes for animals)
  • BABY
    • welcoming your adorable little waste machine; why craigslist should be your baby’s middle name; toys, toys, toys; keeping it neutral; cloth diapering; baby skin care
    • make it: ( recipes for baby wipes and creams for baby skin)
    • how to curb holiday excess without becoming a Scrooge
    • make it: (wrapping paper and more)

As you can see, she really put living green all over in this book. I enjoyed this read. I am so glad I have it, so I can go back and reference it. I have also found loads of tips on her website, which is motivating me even more to make changes in my household/life. Check out All You Need is Less, and even if you only put one of these ideas into practice, this book will pay for itself!

My Rating

About the Author

MADELEINE SOMERVILLE adores writing in all its incarnations — dramatic exclamation-filled diary entries, pseudo-journalistic endeavors for small town weeklies, and the disfigured, bastard child of the above, blogging. She has a B.A. in sociology and is addicted to commas and soft cheeses. She became an unrepentant, tree-hugging hippie after moving to British Columbia eight years ago, and daughter and dog suffer the effects of this metamorphosis on a daily basis. This is her first book.

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I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.

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By | 2017-12-16T10:57:31+00:00 Saturday, April 18, 2015|5 kisses, Non-Fiction, reviews, Self-Help|7 Comments

About the Author:

Mother, Lover, Writer, Reviewer, Social Media Princess. Karen has been a blogger since 2010. She is a US Army veteran, a medical professional, and the mother of four. She reviews books and shares mind vomit for this blog in her 'spare' time. Karen lives in New England.


  1. Red Iza April 19, 2015 at 7:39 am - Reply

    It looks like a book that’s totally up my alley, I’ve been living this way for several years now. Except I don’t make my own products, I want easy and quick. To clean home, I use white vinegar and black soap and that’s it, no need for more. Huh, maybe yes, essential oils for those who can’t stand the smell of vinegar ? And I used to grow an organic garden and eat my own vegetables : those were the best carrots I have ever eaten in my life, and I didn’t do anything special !
    Check Out Red Iza’s most recent post- The sunday post #44 : What’s up ?My Profile

    • Karen Blue
      April 19, 2015 at 8:10 am - Reply

      I bet you especially would get something from this book. She really has a lot of ideas for cutting down on stuff and living green. That is great that you make your own cleaner. I am going to try it myself.

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