top sustainability books to read

If you follow our social media, you’ll know that I’m a massive bookworm and to my delight, our in-store swap shop area has fed this need for new to me books to read. I can drop off books I’ve read and swap for something new to read. It’s great to see the freedom of information spread as well as reducing costs and of course carbon footprints.

Lockdown has given us more opportunity to learn new things and read more, while also getting out in our local communities and environment. When it comes to teaching ourselves about sustainability however, there is a wealth of information and it’s growing with further studies and ideas coming out that we can form our own opinions around.

With so many books and articles on the subject though, where would be best to start? Well, if you can’t find the book in a phone box library, then the first place I’d recommend is accessing your local library online. Failing that, audiobooks, secondhand bookshops online or Bookshop (supporting independent bookshops UK wide) are great alternatives to shopping on Amazon.

I actually found quite a few on this list secondhand on ebay of all places and others on AbeBooks. I’m not only saving a lot of money but also my carbon footprint and I don’t have to give up the feel and smell of paper print books. So, going from the top shelf of my bookshelf at home of my favourite insights into sustainability and the climate emergency I read aside from university books, what books would I recommend you to read?

  1. The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard. Written as a deeper insight to the online documentary released in 2007, the Story of Stuff is ever more prevalent to what happens with our waste even still today, however figures have of course changed and it’s a simple guess which way the figures have went, let’s just say, negatively.
top books to read on sustainability
top sustainability books to read list

2. Project Drawdown, Edited by Paul Hawken. Project Drawdown is an ongoing review and analysis of climate solutions, the book contains ideas that are implementable and show that if we make use of the existing climate solutions, we could stabilise and reach Drawdown by mid-century. Lots of great ideas are in the book for personal, governmental and corporate levels. A great read if you want to spread the word of different impacts and changes we can make.

3. Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart and William McDonaugh. A great explanation of the circular economy, what it is and what we can do to incorporate it in how we create, use and develop it within our lives and products we use, instead of using the model Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and inevitably ending with products in landfill.

top sustainability books to read, this changes everything

4. This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. A great conversation of Climate vs Capitalism. Arguing that the Climate Emergency isn’t about carbon footprints, it’s built from Capitalism. Klein makes a compelling argument about how the environment can’t be saved by just reducing carbon footprints, it has to tackled from an economic viewpoint also. Similar to what Annie Leonard talks about in the Story of Stuff

5. How Bad are Bananas by Mike Berners-Lee. This is definitely one book that will open your eyes to what your carbon footprint means with some really surprising revelations that I came across while reading it. It was written in 2010, so a lot of findings will be different now but it’s a great starting reference point, especially in such a fast moving information area such as Climate Change.

how bad are bananas top sustainability books

6. Grow Food for Free: The Sustainable, Zero-cost, low-effort way to a Bountiful Harvest by Huw Richards. What can be more anarchist and sustainable than growing your own food for free? This is, as the name suggests, a more practical guide to sustainable living and encouraging self sufficiency. I really liked this book, granted it’s not directly about sustainability or the climate crisis but how simple changes like this can have a positive impact for ourselves and very affordably.

7. The Sixth Extinction:: an Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert. I had to read this as part of my degree as a non-scientific approach to the subject but it has become one of my favourite recommendations to friends to gain an insight into the relationship between humans and our environment.

 the sixth extinction top sustainability books to read
uninhabitable earth top sustinability books to read

8. The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells. An up to date scary but sobering insight to what the Climate Crisis is doing to our planet and how things are changing. Including how we’ve come to overlook floods, wildfires and extreme weather as normal as it gets worse year on year. This book is definitely a realistic viewpoint on what is happening around us and what is needed to inspire big changes.

9. There is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years by Mike Berners-Lee. I’ve actually read the previous edition and it has now been updated with new information as of this year but going from my knowledge of the previous edition, I would highly recommend you get yourself a copy as it was such a good insight.

there is no planet b top sustainability books to read

There are hundreds if not thousands of books out there to read on the subject and I’ll no doubt expand this list further as I remember more. I hope you enjoy this reading list and they’ll prepare you to start more conversations about climate change and sustainability.

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