Exploring how to live a more conscious lifestyle is a bit like falling down the rabbit hole – whether you first get hooked on green beauty, slow fashion or zero waste, there’s so much more to learn and discover that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the abundance of information at your fingertips. Enter Kamea Chayne’s Thrive, an “environmentally conscious lifestyle guide to better health and true wealth” – better described as a whistle-stop tour of everything you need to know about making more mindful choices in only 234 pages.
Since its release earlier this year, the book has appeared on various eco-friendly bloggers’ Instagram feeds, and after reading Style Wise’s positive review I was inspired to give it a try. I wasn’t disappointed – Chayne (a recent graduate, creator of her blog konscious.co and member of the Ethical Writers’ Coalition) has done her research, resulting in a comprehensive introductory guide to a more eco-friendly, healthy and rewarding lifestyle, covering everything from exercise and travel and to style and beauty in an easy-to-read format.
A Holistic View Of Sustainable Living
Rather than focusing solely on one topic like the majority of ‘conscious’ writers and bloggers (think food, fashion, beauty), what makes Thrive stand out is its holistic view of sustainable living: the message that every aspect of our lives impacts our environment, just as our environment impacts our health and well-being. Or as Chayne summarizes:
“While each of us is just one person, all of our individual, everyday choices add up….In this journey toward a thriving you and a thriving planet, we are all in it together.”
By weaving this common thread throughout each section of the book, Chayne creates clear links between topics as diverse as sustainable agricultural practices, healthy eating and eco-friendly fabric choices, striking just the right balance between inspirational lifestyle guide and trustworthy information source.
Clear, Concise, Compact
Covering everything to do with sustainable living in under 250 pages is no easy feat, and Chayne’s strength as a writer lies in her ability to combine multiple topics together in a clear and concise format, with handy guides that list ingredients to avoid, certifications to be aware of or even simple yoga poses to try out after a long day at work. In general, Thrive is all about putting the power back into the hands of the reader – knowing where your food comes from, understanding how your body works, asking how your clothes were made – and these simple checklists are a great way of breaking down barriers to more mindful choices.
For her debut work, Chayne has packed in a hell of a lot of well-researched, well thought out content, but of course there’s always room for improvement – for example, I felt that an eco-friendly sunscreen guide was really missing from the Beauty section, and it seemed contradictory to endorse the benefits of travelling the world without explaining how to offset your carbon footprint.
But my main criticism of Thrive is that it seeks to solve most of the problems it presents through the power of purchasing, rather than political engagement or ‘people power’. Of course, as consumers, we can make a choice to support more environmentally conscious, ethical or artisan brands. We can choose to shop at farmers’ markets and in local stores. But as respected journalist Michael Hobbes explained in his 2015 article, The Myth of the Ethical Shopper, “We are not going to shop ourselves into a better world”. Political reform, corporate regulation and international cooperation between governments and NGOs are what will really make the difference, and I felt it was a shame that this very important point was squished right at the back of the book in a couple of short paragraphs.
As an introductory guide to making more mindful choices, Thrive definitely achieves what it sets out to do. But to truly create the change we want to see, we need to understand our power as people, not just as purchasers.
Did you already read the book? Tell us how you liked it and leave a comment below.
Beth is the founder of sustainable fashion blog THE GREEN SCENE (greenscenestyle.com) and also writes for Oxfam’s UK Fashion Blog, where she offers tips on secondhand shopping and DIY upcycling projects. With a background in fashion merchandising, Beth is currently based in Berlin, one of the leading cities for sustainability. You can follow her journey to a greener and more conscious lifestyle @greenscenestyle.