The Mindful Materialist
Book Review: 'Minimal: How to simplify your life and live sustainably' by Madeleine Olivia
"My goal is to help you... by sharing information and giving tips, all the while reminding you that nobody is perfect" - Madeleine Olivia
You might be familiar with UK vlogger Madeleine Olivia from her namesake YouTube channel, which documents everything from her vegan shopping and recipe videos, decluttering and minimalism series, home renovation 'before and after' videos, and her sustainable fashion and beauty guides. All these areas of sustainable living have made it into her practical and personable book – Minimal: How to simplify your life and live sustainably.
The book follows a similar structure to Marieke Eyskoot’s This is a Good Guide, with topics broken down into chapters. Madeleine divides her book into eight chapters: minimalism, waste and sustainability, wardrobe and fashion, health and beauty, food and drink, the home, travel and self-care. Each of these chapters includes research but is predominantly based on Madeleine’s lived experiences. The book as a whole is definitely driven by values, with evidence to back them up.
One of my favourite things about the book is its ‘how to’ formular. Madeleine provides countless tips and guides which you can follow step by step. She makes things achievable and simple, from creating a budget to making your own DIY beauty and hair products. The book also features gorgeous illustrations by Anya Kurvarzina.
In the chapter on food and drink, Madeleine includes a great list of pantry staples, a chart of seasonal fruit and vegetables by month (according to the northern hemisphere), and a section for you to plan your own meals. She also includes tips to reduce your food waste, along with some of her vegan recipes. She has recipes to make your own vegan cheeses (with or without nuts), as well as bread, plant-based milks and butter. For the main meals, my favourite would have to be the creamy one-pot pasta. You can also find many more recipes on her website and in her e-books.
While there are a few clumsy grammar mistakes here and there, the book is a great starting point for anyone wanting to make some simple, sustainable changes in their life. Just be mindful that not all recycling policies and waste strategies are the same across different countries. So while her advice may be great for people in the UK, make sure you check your local council for advice as well. The book isn’t too heavy on the research compared to some other texts, but it does include a list of resources you can turn to for further information including books, documentaries and websites - all of which I would also recommend.
Finally, the book is printed on responsibly sourced paper and is also available as an e-book or audiobook – which she recorded herself. I’d recommend buying a hard copy though because the book includes interactive lists and planners for you to fill in as you go.
Madeleine Olivia's website