Book Review: Leading from the Roots-Nature-Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today’s World by Dr. Kathleen E. Allen

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“Leadership today is about unlearning management and relearning being human.” – Javier Pladevall, CEO of Volkswagen Audi Retail

You know I like a book when I mark it up with post-its, write notes in the margins, highlight certain passages and nod my head along like one of those bobble-head figurines. Which is exactly what I did while reading Dr. Kathleen E. Allen’s fascinating, timely and revolutionary’s book Leading from the Roots: Nature-Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today’s World.

This book implores organizational leaders (and pretty much anyone else with a stake in the workplace) to look beyond the confines of the physical spaces where we toil to nature and how it can help us and our companies thrive.

Leading from the Roots is divided into 11 well-researched,  and finely-written chapters on concepts like cooperation, diversity, lack of waste, curbing excess, the power of limits and so much more.

Each chapter gives ample evidence on how nature can help worker’s productivity and commitment to their jobs and how simple it is to work these practices into the workplace that won’t break the bank, take up too much time, or distract us from our tasks at hand. Dr. Allen provides ample evidence through both her extensive end notes and bibliography. And each chapter concludes with a summary of the chapter’s main focus and points to ponder and discuss.

Simply put, Leading from the Roots inspired me. Dr. Allen’s lessons are doable, practical and very audience-friendly. It’s ideal for everyone-managers, workers, students and grads, religious leaders, politicians, activists, teachers, creative types, social workers, medical personal, entrepreneurs, and so on.

Leading from the Roots is a great addition to my book shelf. I highly suggest you add it to your book shelf.

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Ecobeauty: Scrubs, Rubs, Masks and Bath Bombs for You and Your Friends by Lauren Cox

Eco beautyI’ve been a big fan of homemade beauty and bath products ever since I learned to make my own soap nearly seven years ago. And since then I’ve also learned to make bath soaks, exfoliating scrubs and massage oils. I’m always on the hunt for more homemade beauty and bath recipes, so I was very happy to find Lauren Cox’s book Ecobeauty: Scrubs, Rubs, Masks and Bath Bombs for You and Your Friends.

Cox learned to make homemade beauty and bath products from her mother Janice, who has also written about the topic. In fact, I have the elder Cox’s book Natural Beauty for All Seasons: More Than 250 Simple Recipes and Gift-Giving Ideas for Year-Round Beauty on my bookshelf and I’ve referred to it many times. Now it’s the younger Cox’s turn to pass her homemade wisdom to others.

Divided up into several sections, Ecobeauty‘s recipes are for your face, body, mouth (yes, you can make your own homemade mouthwash), hands and feet and hair. They include facial masks, bath bombs, foot soaks and deep hair conditioners. There is also a section on combining Ms. Cox’s recipes into different gifts, and fun packaging and wrapping ideas.

A majority of the recipes can be made using products found easily at any grocery store. Some require items only found in health/nutrition stores or online. Do your homework when purchasing these items to find the best deal. And if a recipe calls for more exotic ingredients, stick with the instructions and don’t try substitutions. However, there are times when a recipe can be amended. Use your best judgment.

For the most part, the recipes are very easy to follow. The layout of the book is clean and crisp, and the photos of the products are lovingly done. Interspersed throughout are quick tips on being environmentally conscious, saving money, health and beauty. One quibble: I’m not fond of the book’s binding. I would have preferred a spiral bound book because then I could lay it flat on my work space in my kitchen.

Ecobeauty is an informative manual for anyone interested in making homemade beauty and bath products for both personal use and as gifts. This book helps you to be green, creative and economical. Making these creations is also fun for a girls’ night in, a slumber party or other activity, and it’s full of recipes for everyone’s taste, need and spending habits. It’s one book you just want to refer to again and again.

Brag Book

turns-out-i-rock-the-houseGreat news! I sent an email to author Deborah Niemann with a link of my review to her book Eco-Thrifty, and she emailed me back. She loved the review; she thought it was great. She even posted a link to the review on her Facebook page.

Thanks so much Deborah, and keep up the great writing I look forward to reading your future books!

Book Marks: Earth Day Edition

earth day 2014Good Reads offers us an amazing list of great books concerning green issues.

Awesome kid reads on saving the planet.

Huge list of writers who focus on various environmental issues.

Annie Leonard’s “Story of Stuff” definitely made me think. Ms. Leonard also has a book on this very subject. I just found out my library system has this book. I’m going to check it out. Look for a review of Ms. Leonard’s The Story of Stuff shortly.

100 great websites that focus on the environment.

 

 

 

 

Eco-Thrifty: Cheaper, Greener Choices for a Happier, Healthier Life by Deborah Niemann

51iL1kO2zNL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Tuesday, April 22nd is Earth Day. In honor of this day I’m posting this book review on how to save both the planet and some money.

With a financial situation that can only be described as “meh” and a desire to be a green as possible, I’m always looking for tips and ideas on how to save some money while also being earth-friendly. Some of the money saving tips I find are way too stringent, the kind you might find on the TLC show “Extreme Cheapskates.” No thanks. I refuse to dumpster dive for medication. And as for being green, there are times when I think the green movement has become too elitist or “yuppie,” like high-end green fashion brands and home accessories. I just can’t fathom buying a tank top that costs almost a third of my monthly rent.

Well, thanks to Deborah Niemann’s latest book Eco-Thrifty: Cheaper, Greener Choices for a Happier, Healthier Life, I can I can pay my rent and maintain my desire to be as green as humanly possible.

I first became aware of Ms. Niemann when I profiled her book Homegrown and Homemade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living and her visit to Milwaukee’s very own Boswell Book Company nearly three years ago. Ms. Niemann lives on a huge homestead and farm in rural Illinois where she and her family live a hugely self-sustaining life raising chickens, goats, llamas, and cows. They also have a large garden and orchard. It is from this homestead Ms. Niemann is able to support and take care of her family while being frugal and maintaining an environmentally-sound lifestyle. So needless to say, she is the perfect person to write a book on the topics of saving money and caring for the planet.

Eco-Thrifty is divided into 10 easy to follow chapters covering everything from making your own personal care products to how to make products to keep your home spic and span. Niemann also covers cheap ways to be green when it comes to clothing, raising children, feeding your family, maintaining your health, and gardening. Eco-Thrifty also tells us how entertaining and transportation can also be green and cheap. And the final chapter informs us to get things for free or almost free. Bonus!

I have to admit I looked forward to reading Eco-Thrifty’s chapter on personal care products. I’ve been making own soap for six years now. Not only am I saving money and not using products with a bunch of scary chemicals I can’t pronounce, I’m also having a lot of fun. Making my own soap is another creative outlet. So I was thrilled to read up on recipes on how to make other products like body butter and exfoliating scrubs.

In the chapter on home care, Deborah lets us know how much you can clean with simple vinegar and baking soda (and a little extra elbow grease). You don’t have to buy a mess of products from Wal-Mart. She also has a recipe on how to make your own laundry detergent with items you can easily find at you local grocery or drug store.

When it comes to food, Niemann inspires us to trust ourselves in the kitchen. We can save money, be green and get in touch with our inner Julia Child. She extolls the virtues of making things from scratch, including wine. She also encourages us to grow our own food, letting us know that even an urban dweller like myself can grow an herb garden on my window sill (and I’m planning on doing this shortly).

Other green and thrifty ideas include buying things used, holding clothing swap parties, investing in a good pair of gym shoes to go walking around your neighborhood instead of joining a pricey gym and re-purposing and re-using things you might throw out. Many of her ideas you might be using already!

Most of Ms. Niemann’s ideas and tips are easy to do and practical. Niemann’s writing style is down-to-earth and encouraging. And she knows that not all of her ideas will work for everyone and some may have to be amended to one’s particular lifestyle. Sure, she got a bit preachy about not having a television, but perhaps I was feeling some residual Catholic guilt over watching reruns of “Bridezillas” instead of doing something a bit more worthy of my time.

Ultimately, Eco-Thrifty is a must-read primer for anyone who wants to be green and save some green.