A Life Less Throwaway [Book Review]

Author: Tara Button | Publisher: Harper Collins

Now more than ever, we live in a society where we covet new and shiny things. Not only has consumption risen dramatically over the last 60 years, but we are damaging the environment at the same time. That is why buying quality and why Tara Button’s Buy Me Once brand has such popular appeal.

Tara Button has become a champion of a lifestyle called mindful curation’ a way of living in which we carefully choose each object in our lives, making sure we have the best, most classic, most pleasing and longest lasting kettles, desks, pots & pans, scissors, coats and dresses, instead of surrounding ourselves with throwaway stuff and appliances with built-in obsolescence. Tara advocates a life that celebrates what lasts, what is classic and what really suits a person.

 There are 10 steps to master mindful curation and each is explained in this book, from understanding and using techniques to freeing yourself from external manipulations. Finding your purpose and priorities and identifying your core tastes and style. Learning how to let go of the superfluous and how to make wise choices going forwards.

 Mindful curation is a lifestyle choice that will make you happier, healthier and more fulfilled spiritual as well as helping save the planet.

I love a life hack. The day I found out if you push in the ends of the foil box, it creates a roller for the foil… That was a good day. So I picked A Life Less Throwaway up with barely concealed glee, hoping for some handy tips to save me money and protect the environment, reuse items, shop smarter – that kind of thing. To be honest, I was already sold on the basic premise. We are a society that buys to discard, and the consequences of this for us, and our planet, are horrendous: deforestation, species extinction, debt, mountains of rubbish that poison the soil and take thousands of years to degrade. This is a subject where clearly the author and I agree, so I was expecting to thoroughly enjoy the book.

While I found some of the “techniques” interesting, and the points made were certainly valid, overall the book was intellectually lightweight and I didn’t feel I came away with much.

There were definitely things I liked about A Life Less Throwaway. The language was accessible and engaging, and the author had clearly carefully considered the areas she wanted to discuss and how they linked together. The book had a flow from chapter to chapter, which made it easy to follow and kept the reader engaged. If you’re a fan of the self-help genre, and looking for an uncomplicated, fun read, you won’t be disappointed with this book.

The book talks about “planned obsolence”, and how we have been sold materialism as a way to boost company profits and the economy. I mean, it’s shocking. And since I’m not the kind of person who cares much about “things” and “trends”, I felt nicely smug. I suspect that if you pick this book up in the first place, you’re not likely to be a compulsive shopper, or the kind of person who idolises footballer’s wives and wants a big house and lots of shoes. I could be wrong, but I suspect not. In which case, this a rather sweet little ego massage.

Some of the exercises felt silly, and I’m afraid I’m the kind of person that scoffs at phrases like “mindful creation” and “life enhancing”. However, I thought “in for a penny, in for a pound” – I really can’t justify mocking something if I haven’t given it a go first. So, I did them all. And some of them were actually useful. Honestly, I’m not sure how ‘Identifying your home décor aesthetic’ helped me; I still don’t think I have one. However, I did enjoy ‘Digging deeper to find purpose’. So, they weren’t all a complete waste of time. I had a lot of fun trying them out, let’s put it that way.

The problem, for me, was that the topic has been couched in the same field as Minimalism. And I have a problem with Minimalism. I just don’t want a “capsule wardrobe”, and since I’ve never been the kind of person who surrounds themselves with lots of knick-knacks and baubles… It just makes no sense to me. I don’t think giving away all your stuff will make your happier, kinder, or more enlightened. I think the point is, don’t make “stuff” the end goal.

There were also a lot of plugs for the author’s business (the Buy Me Once website). I began to wonder if this book was a marketing tool. Where were the handy tips on re-using, changing your routine, and all the other self-help staples? I came away feeling a little disappointed. The author covered a lot of ground, which led by necessity to skimming over the issues, and there was nothing concrete to challenge the reader.

To sum up, while I found A Life Less Throwaway to be an enjoyable, fun read, it failed to deliver on depth and I can’t say I learned anything. A nice, quick read if you like the self-help genre, but I don’t think Tara Button is changing anyone’s life with this stuff.

Rating: 2/5

Please note: This book was an ARC – I received it through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. FictionFan says:

    Ha – my dad used to rant about “built-in obsolescence” fifty years ago, so either he was way ahead of his time or else some things never change! Pity the book was a let-down, but I agree – people who are attracted to this kind of book are probably already pretty aware of the damage of consumerism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Madam Mim says:

      Oh he was definitely right! It’s so ridiculous the consumer culture we live in! Look at iPhones, and the whole whoo-ha about them being deliberately built to become obsolete… The book made a good point. I guess I just expected more helpful tips from it, to learn something… and it didn’t quite deliver

      Liked by 1 person

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