Book Friday: Simply Living Well by Julia Watkins.

Simply Living Well has the subtitle A Guide to Creating a Natural, Low-waste Home. Living well, living simply are cornerstones of my life, and I am always keen to read up on how other people live and see how environmental principles can be embedded in daily living for everyone.

Julia Watkins is the creative force behind @simply.living.well on Instagram. It’s a beautiful feed, classy, elegant, understated and absolutely full of the little actions, thoughts and reasons why Julia lives the way she does. The book is full of her pictures, too, with no more than 3 pages of text between each beautifully arranged and staged vignette. Understand, though, that although I say ‘staged’, it’s obvious that this is an ordinary house, just a very photogenic one, and that nothing she shows is just put there to look good: it all serves a purpose.

If you, like me, have a fondness for simple but useful tools, or enjoy shots of housework caddies and jars of preserved vegetables… you will love this book. Seriously, it’s visually beautiful: 7 inches by 10 inches, hardback, 272 pages of quality thick paper and well designed throughout.

And Julia knows her stuff. This isn’t some influencer pushing green goods she’s been sent by a company keen to brush over the history of bleach-filled products in their past: Julia has a graduate degree in conservation science and policy. I’m guessing she worked or still works in environmental causes and that her green home is green to the core, not a light wash of sage living. Her introduction tells us how she got introduced to the idea of a zero waste life (like many, it came from experiencing a different way of living in a different part of the world, where recycling, making do and mending has to happen) and recognised that our modern, Western world has moved far away from its roots. That, in following our linear economy, we have turned our back on the sustainability of a circular economy, and lost precious skills in the process.

The book is divided into five sections: low-waste kitchen, natural cleaning, natural wellness, natural bath & body, and kitchen garden. Each section is a complete lesson in why to go zero-waste or green and instructions on how to do it. She offers plenty of swaps, clear advice and a host of creative ideas and recipes to help you change from plastic (often single-use, always a burden on the earth) to more natural, compostible ideas. Beeswax wraps, for instance, or homemade lipbalm.

This is a great book on several levels: you’ll enjoy skimming through and looking at the goods, equipment, styling and set up in the photographs, for one thing. They are beautiful, I can’t say it often enough. Then, little sentences and sections will catch your eye and give you pause for thought… do I really need to buy another plastic tupperware box, or should I make beeswax covers now? And finally it is very densely written with information, the ethos of Julia’s simple life, the reasons behind living simply (that others may simply live) and the whole regaining of lost skills.

Certainly, I got this book for Boxing Day and I’m still working my way through it again to make notes, jot things down in my planner, mark pages to go back to. The book looks good enough to leave out on your coffee table, thank goodness, because this one doesn’t deserve to be opened, flicked through and slid quietly into the book shelf to be ignored. With a comprehensive reading list at the back (Valentine’s Day, I know you’re a commercialised spending fest, but you’re a handy excuse for another few books to me) and a tone that makes it clear we have to change our way of living without making it seem like we’re bad people for living the way we do, Julia has written a book that will feed my need for green inspiration for a long while. Thank you.

Today’s header is a photo by Gareth Hubbard on Unsplash. I chose this one because wood has to be the ultimate green product, doesn’t it? You grow the tree, make the item, use it well, which means with age it grows a patina and grace that a new item just does not have, and then dispose of it by composting or leaving to decay. We need more wood in our lives, and to treat it well. I also like that the kitchen shelf has glass containers, and that the glasses look like mine at home. They’re Duralit and so strong you seriously can drop them and, if you’re lucky and on a carpeted area, they won’t break. Strength, sustainability and beauty.

All my blogs, Facebook groups and other social media content is free to enjoy and ad free as far as possible.

How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters.

I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:

Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.

Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.

If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.

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