Sustainable living is more than just a trend or a buzzword – it's a critical way of life that we all need to adopt to protect the planet and secure a better future for ourselves and future generations. But for many of us, switching to a more sustainable lifestyle can seem daunting or overwhelming. That's where books come in! By reading the right books, we can gain insights, knowledge, and inspiration to live sustainably and make positive changes.
This blog post will share the top 10 books to change your sustainable life. From practical tips and advice to inspirational stories and ideas, these books cover a wide range of topics related to sustainable living, including energy, food, transportation, waste, and more. Whether new to sustainable living or a seasoned eco-warrior, these books will provide new perspectives, insights, and tools to live sustainably. So, without further ado, let's dive into the top 10 books that will change your sustainable life!
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What is sustainable living?
Sustainable living is a lifestyle that aims to reduce a person's or a community's impact on the environment and support the long-term health and well-being of the planet and its inhabitants. This can be achieved by making conscious choices that reduce the use of non-renewable resources, minimise waste and pollution, and promote social justice and equity.
Sustainable living is meaningful because our current way of life is not sustainable in the long term. We are depleting natural resources at an unsustainable rate, polluting the air, water, and soil and contributing to climate change. If we continue on this path, we will eventually face environmental and social crises affecting our health, economy, and quality of life.
By adopting sustainable practices daily, we can reduce our environmental impact, conserve resources, and improve our overall well-being. This can include reducing our energy consumption, using public transportation or walking instead of driving, buying locally sourced and organic food, reducing food waste, using reusable bags and containers, recycling and composting, supporting sustainable businesses and organisations, and more.
Sustainable living can also lead to a more fulfilling and meaningful life. It encourages us to connect with nature, engage with our communities, and live harmoniously with our values.
Top 10 books for sustainable living
Before we launch into the top 10 books which will change your sustainable life, I want also to mention that all of these books are also available on *Audible for those busy people who don't have time to sit down and read, listen to an audible book is a great way to absorb the same information while doing other things like gardening or cleaning. Enjoy!
Rachel Carson – “Silent Spring.”
This groundbreaking book, published in 1962, is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Carson's exposure to the dangers of pesticides and the impact of human activity on the natural world still resonates today, which is why it is first on our list as it sets the scene.
“Silent Spring” (German Version) exposed the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment. It was a landmark work that sparked a global environmental movement and led to significant changes in public policy and regulation everywhere.
In “Silent Spring” (English Version), Rachel Carson presents a compelling case against synthetic pesticides, such as DDT, and their impact on the environment and human health. She highlights the devastating effects of pesticide use on wildlife, particularly birds, and the potential long-term consequences for humans. The book calls for a more holistic approach to environmental management that considers the interconnectedness of all living things and recognises the importance of protecting the natural world.
“Silent Spring” is for anyone interested in sustainability, environmentalism, or public policy. It is a powerful and thought-provoking book that challenges readers to think critically about our relationship with the natural world and the impact of our actions. Carson's writing is both eloquent and accessible, making complex scientific concepts understandable and relatable. Overall, “Silent Spring” is a must-read for anyone who cares about the environment and wants to make a positive difference.
Bill McKibben – “The End of Nature.”
This influential book, published in 1989 (English), was one of the first to bring the issue of climate change to the forefront of public discourse. McKibben also founded the global climate change organisation 350.org.
“The End of Nature” (Deutsch) explores human activity's devastating effects on the natural world. In this book, McKibben argues that we have fundamentally altered the Earth's systems and destroyed the natural world as we know it. We must act quickly to mitigate the damage and prevent further destruction.
The book is a wake-up call to readers to take action to live more sustainably and reduce their impact on the environment. By exposing the severe consequences of human activity, McKibben urges readers to adopt a more conscious and responsible approach to their daily lives, reduce their carbon footprint, and preserve the natural world for future generations.
“The End of Nature” is for anyone interested in sustainability, climate change, or the environment. It is a powerful and insightful book that challenges readers to think deeply about their actions' impact and take responsibility for the world around them. McKibben's writing is both eloquent and accessible, making complex scientific concepts understandable and relatable.
Naomi Klein – “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate.”
In this 2014 book, Klein argues that climate change cannot be addressed without fundamentally changing our economic system. It has been praised for its thought-provoking and urgent analysis of the climate crisis.
“This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate” (English Version) is a powerful book that calls for a radical overhaul of our economic model to address the urgent climate crisis. The book challenges readers to question the fundamental assumptions and values underpinning our current financial system and explore alternatives prioritising sustainability, justice, and equity.
In “This Changes Everything” (Deutsch version), Naomi Klein suggests that capitalism, emphasising endless growth and consumption, is incompatible with a sustainable future and must be replaced with a more equitable and environmentally conscious system. The book offers a compelling critique of the status quo. It presents a vision for a new economic model that values the environment and prioritises social justice.
By encouraging readers to question the dominant economic model and to imagine new alternatives, “This Changes Everything” inspires individuals to take action to live more sustainably and to advocate for systemic change. The book provides readers with the tools and knowledge to engage with complex environmental and economic issues and become agents of change in their communities.
Paul Hawken – “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.”
This book, published in 2017, offers practical solutions for combating climate change. It has been called a “masterful achievement” and a “ray of hope” in the face of the climate crisis.
“Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming” (English Version) presents a comprehensive plan to reverse global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable practices.
In “Drawdown,” Paul Hawken and a team of researchers and experts present a list of 100 solutions to global warming, ranked according to their effectiveness and feasibility. The solutions include various practices, such as renewable energy, regenerative agriculture, reducing food waste, improving transportation, and more. The book explains each explanation, case studies and real-world examples of successful implementation.
By presenting a clear and actionable plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change, “Drawdown” empowers readers to take action in their own lives and communities. The book provides readers the tools and knowledge to make sustainable choices, reduce their carbon footprint, and advocate for systemic change.
Michael Pollan – “The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.”
This bestselling book explores the complex web of relationships between food, farming, and the environment. Pollan encourages readers to think more critically about where their food comes from and how it is produced.
“The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” (English Version) is a thought-provoking book that explores the complex and often confusing world of food production and consumption in the United States. Published in 2006, the book takes readers from the industrial food system to the organic and sustainable food movement.
In “The Omnivore's Dilemma,” Michael Pollan examines the industrial food system, which relies heavily on monoculture and fossil fuels, and its impact on the environment and human health. He also explores alternative food systems, such as organic and sustainable farming, and these approaches' potential benefits and challenges.
By encouraging readers to question their food choices and the systems that produce them, “The Omnivore's Dilemma” empowers individuals to make more informed and sustainable choices. The book provides readers with the knowledge and tools to engage with complex food production and consumption issues that advocate for a more sustainable and equitable food system.
Aldo Leopold – “A Sand County Almanac.”
This classic work of nature writing, first published in 1949, is a meditation on the relationship between humans and the natural world.
“A Sand County Almanac” is a classic work (English Version) of environmental literature that celebrates the beauty and complexity of the natural world while advocating for a more responsible and sustainable relationship between humans and the environment.
In “A year in Sand County” (Deutsch Version), Aldo Leopold presents a collection of essays reflecting his experiences living and working on a farm in Wisconsin, USA. The essays explore the interconnections between humans, animals, and the environment and the importance of preserving and restoring natural ecosystems. Leopold introduces the concept of a “land ethic,” which emphasises the moral responsibility of humans to care for the natural world and to recognise the inherent value of all living things.
Promoting a land ethic and advocating for responsible stewardship of the environment, “A Sand County Almanac” inspires readers to live more sustainably and take action to protect the natural world. The book encourages individuals to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the environment and to work towards a more equitable and sustainable future.
“A Sand County Almanac” is for anyone interested in our close relationships with the land, environmentalism, conservation, or sustainability. It is a beautiful and poetic book that celebrates the wonders of the natural world while advocating for a more responsible and ethical relationship between humans and the environment.
Anna Lappé – “Diet for a Hot Planet.”
“Diet for a Hot Planet” (English Version) “The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It” explores the links between our food choices and the environment and offers practical solutions for a more sustainable and equitable food system. This book, published in 2010, provides helpful tips for making more sustainable food choices. The book challenges readers to consider the impact of their food choices on the planet and to adopt more sustainable and conscious eating habits.
In “Diet for a Hot Planet,” Anna Lappé argues that how we produce, distribute, and consume food significantly contributes to climate change and other environmental problems. She presents a clear and compelling case for the need to shift to a more sustainable and equitable food system that prioritises healthy, local, and environmentally friendly food choices.
The book provides readers with practical tips and tools for sustainable eating, “Diet for a Hot Planet” offers advice on food waste, labelling, and sustainable agriculture information. It provides readers with the knowledge and resources to make informed decisions about what they eat.
“Diet for a Hot Planet” is for anyone interested in sustainability, food systems, or health. It is a well-researched and engaging book that challenges readers to think critically about their food choices and their impact on the environment and society.
Wendell Berry – “The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture.”
“The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture” is a classic work of environmental literature that explores the interconnectedness of culture, agriculture, and the environment. This influential book, first published in 1977, critiques the industrialisation of agriculture and argues for a return to more sustainable, community-based farming practices. Berry's work has had a profound impact on the local food movement.
In “The Unsettling of America,” Wendell Berry presents a compelling case for prioritising sustainable agriculture practices that promote biodiversity, soil health, and local food systems. He argues that the industrialisation of agriculture and the emphasis on profit over sustainability have led to environmental degradation, the loss of rural communities, and the decline of human health.
By advocating for a return to sustainable agriculture practices that prioritise the well-being of people and the environment, “The Unsettling of America” empowers readers to make more sustainable and conscious choices about their food and agricultural practices. The book gives readers a deeper understanding of agriculture's social and environmental implications. It inspires them to take action to support local and sustainable food systems.
David Orr – “Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect.”
In this thought-provoking book, Orr argues that sustainability should be a key education focus at all levels. He offers practical advice for integrating sustainability into the curriculum.
“Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect” (English Version) is a thought-provoking book that explores the intersections between Education, the environment, and social justice. Published in 1994, the book challenges readers to think critically about the role of Education in shaping our relationship with the natural world and to consider the importance of sustainability in all aspects of our lives.
In “Earth in Mind,” David Orr argues that Education must be reimagined to cultivate ecological literacy and promote sustainable practices. He presents a compelling case for integrating environmental Education into all levels, from kindergarten through higher Education.
“Earth in Mind” is for anyone interested in sustainability, Education, or social justice. It is a well-researched and inspiring book that challenges readers to think deeply about the relationship between Education, the environment, and social justice.
E.O. Wilson – “The Diversity of Life.”
This landmark book, published in 1992, explores the rich biodiversity of the planet and the threats that human activity poses to it. Wilson's work has been instrumental in raising awareness about the importance of preserving ecosystems and protecting biodiversity.
“The Diversity of Life” is a seminal work of environmental literature that explores the interconnectedness of the health and well-being of the planet. The book challenges readers to consider biodiversity's vital role in sustaining life on Earth and the urgent need to protect and preserve it.
In “The Diversity of Life” (German Version), E.O. Wilson provides a comprehensive overview of global biodiversity's current state and threats. He presents a compelling case for prioritising biodiversity protection through conservation efforts and sustainable practices and emphasises the importance of recognising the intrinsic value of all living things.
By highlighting the importance of biodiversity and the consequences of its loss, “The Diversity of Life” empowers readers to take action to protect the environment and promote sustainable practices. The book gives readers a deeper understanding of the complex ecological systems that sustain life on Earth and inspires them to take a more active role in conservation efforts.
“The Diversity of Life” is for anyone interested in environmentalism, conservation, or sustainability.
“Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things” by William McDonough and Michael Braungart
This book explores the circular economy concept and how to design products and systems that eliminate waste and pollution.
“Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things” (English version) is a groundbreaking book that presents a new approach to design and manufacturing that eliminates waste and pollution. Published in 2002, the book challenges readers to reimagine how we make and use products to create a sustainable future.
In “Cradle to Cradle,” William McDonough and Michael Braungart (Deutsch Version) argue that the traditional linear ” take-make-waste ” model is unsustainable and must adopt a circular model that mimics the natural world. They present a vision of a world where all products are designed to be reused or recycled and where waste is eliminated through innovative design and manufacturing processes.
By offering a practical and actionable framework for sustainable design and manufacturing, “Cradle to Cradle” empowers readers to take action towards a more sustainable future.
“Cradle to Cradle” is for anyone interested in sustainability, design, or manufacturing. It is a visionary and practical book that challenges readers to think critically about the impact of our current design and manufacturing approach and embrace a more sustainable and innovative model.
“Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered” by E.F. Schumacher
This influential book argues for the importance of human-scale economics and sustainable development.
“Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered” (English Version) is a classic book that explores the connections between economics, technology, and society. Published in 1973, the book challenges readers to rethink our understanding of wealth, progress, and the role of technology in shaping our lives.
In “Small Is Beautiful,” E.F. Schumacher argues for the importance of human-scale economics and sustainable development. He presents a compelling case for prioritising people and the environment over profit and economic growth. He also advocates for a holistic approach to sustainability that considers sustainability's social, economic, and environmental dimensions.
“Small Is Beautiful” is for anyone interested in sustainability, economics, or social justice. It is a well-researched and thought-provoking book that challenges readers to think deeply about the role of economics in shaping our world.
“Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist” by Kate Raworth
This book offers a fresh perspective on economics that prioritises sustainability and social justice.
“Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist” (English Version) is a thought-provoking book that challenges readers to rethink our economic system and its impact on the environment and society. Published in 2017, the book presents a compelling new model for sustainable economic development that prioritises the well-being of people and the planet.
In “Doughnut Economics” (German Version), Kate Raworth argues that our current economic system is unsustainable and needs a new approach to promoting sustainable development and social justice. She presents the “doughnut” model, which envisions a world where everyone's basic needs are met within the limits of the planet's resources.
“Doughnut Economics” empowers readers to take action towards a more sustainable and just future by offering a practical and actionable framework for sustainable economic development. The book gives readers a deeper understanding of economic policies' social and environmental implications. It inspires them to work towards creating a more sustainable and equitable society.
Raworth's writing is engaging and accessible, making complex economic and social concepts understandable and relatable. Overall, “Doughnut Economics” is a must-read for anyone who cares about the environment and wants to make a positive difference.
The End… of Our Book List: Closing Thoughts on Sustainable Living
So the savvy of you may have realised that there are 11 books in the review above. There are so many more that it's challenging to know where to begin, but I hope these books will get you started. They are in no particular order; I tried to reorder them, but it isn't easy to put them into order because they are a circle! Some of the books have a US-centric focus, but I think it is safe to say that the practices explored in those regions are global issues and can be applied to most cultures.
Each of these books has inspired public policies globally and changes in ideas and movements. If you are interested in understanding more about how we as humans impact the world around us, then “Silent Spring”, “The End of Nature”, “A Sand Almanac”, and “The Diversity of Life” are the books for you and will set the scene.
Once you have read those, You could explore our relationship with food and farming in more detail with “The Omnivores Dilemma”, “Diet of a Hot Planet”, and finally “, Unsettling America”.
Once you understand our complex relationship with food and nature, move on to Economics, how to make a change at a federal level and within your small communities. The books “This changes Everything”, Cradle to Cradle”Small is beautiful”, and Doughnut Economics” give practical tips on how to create a more sustainable society.
And lastly (probably should be first) is Education. How can educators make a difference in the classroom for the next generation? “Earth in Mind” is for any educator at any level to help give them practical tools to help the next generation clean up the mess we seem to have inherited and created.
I hope reading these books gives you tremendous joy, inspiration (as all books should), and accessible, practical tips that provoke change in your life and the lives around you. Head over to our Facebook group and let me know which one you will be starting with!