Best Sustainability Books

12 Sustainable Living Books to Green Your Summer Reading List

Fun and factual, eschewing problems for solutions, teaching not preaching, these summer reading list books are here to help make sustainable living easy.

Forget the latest domestic noir or celebrity tell-all, grab a “green” book when you hit the hammock or lay on your lounger this summer. According to recent research, 4 out of 10 consumers in the UK now keep environmental issues in mind when purchasing, and 75% of think we should try harder to live more ethically. But how to translate this will into a way? 

Joyful Environmentalist

1. “The Joyful Environmentalist”, By Isabel Losada (2020)

This book does what it says on the (recyclable) tin. You can have fun whilst saving the planet. With a multitude of practical and pragmatic solutions to everyday sustainability problems, the tone of this book is teachy, never preachy. Losada takes us on her journey from a flip out in Whole Foods over plastic cutlery to samba drumming with Extinction Rebellion, peppered with takeaway tips in-between. Both a useful guide to those contemplating a greener life, and a jolly good, fun read.

Get it here.

Renewable Energies for Your Home

2. “Renewable Energies for Your Home: Real-World Solutions for Green Conversions”, By Russel Gehrke (2009)

An engineer, inventor, and green energy consultant, Gehrke’s book is all about showing you how to implement alternative power supplies in your home without breaking the bank. With step-by-step instructions and clear diagrams, see how to replace your unsustainable fossil-fuel based energy systems with wind or solar power at a fraction of the expected prices. 

Get it here.

The Sustainable-Ish Living Guide

3. “The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide”, By Jen Gale (2020)

A down-to-earth guide on protecting the earth in a myriad of small ways, Gale has tips, hacks and switches that cover fashion, food, travel, and work. The idea for the book came from her blog where she detailed the challenges of buying nothing new for a year. Inspired by the “less is more” ethos, Gale wanted to share her experience of how easy it is to go sustainable without dramatically changing how you live. Top tip – keep a mug by your kettle so you can measure out exactly how much water you need to boil! Genius.

Get it here.

How to Break Up With Fast Fashion

4. “How to Break Up with Fast Fashion”, By Lauren Bravo (2020)

Essential reading for shopping addicts, this book will make you think twice about purchasing that next “in” item you think you have to have. It details Bravo’s quest to end her fast fashion habit and become a clothing conservationist. Packed with excellent ideas for repairing, recycling, and reworking your wardrobe, the statistics are sobering – 1 in 3 fast fashion items end up in landfill – but Bravo’s book is an ultimately informative and inspiring guide to staying stylish and sustainable.

Get it here.

Turning the Tide on Plastic

5. “Turning the Tide on Plastic”, By Lucy Siegle (2018)

According to Siegle, enough plastic is thrown away every year to circle the world 4 times, and, if we don’t act now, pieces of plastic will outnumber fish in the ocean by 2050. Her call-to-action includes adopting a “reduce, rethink, refill, reuse” approach to break the vicious cycle of 15,000 single-use items going to landfill annually. Accessible yet authoritative, the book shows us how to protect the sea from our streets and supermarkets.

Get it here.

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference

6. “No One is Too Small to Make a Difference”, By Greta Thunberg (2019)

It may be a pocket-sized paperback, but it packs an almighty punch. Here are teen eco-warrior and Fridays for Futures instigator’s 11 rallying speeches to live more sustainably and save our planet. Featuring her famous United Nations address, this book is living proof that one person – including each of us – can make a huge difference. 

Get it here.

Make Your Place

7. “Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills”, By Raleigh Briggs (2011)

Want to live more sustainably? Briggs believes you need to start at home. With its handwritten and drawn explanations on how to ditch the toxic, expensive consumer products for healthier, home-made versions, the book is entertaining and educational. From natural, DIY disinfectants to sustainable salves, Briggs teaches us how to be eco-friendly domestic goddesses.

Get it here.

How Bad are Bananas?

8. “How Bad are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything”, By Mike Berners-Lee (2020)

Updated 10 years after it was first published – and gave us the term “carbon footprint” – this groundbreaking guide reveals how much carbon the newest things in our modern lives emit. Twitter, Bitcoin, and electric bikes, nothing escapes Berners-Lee’s eagle eye as he calculates and delivers his often surprising conclusions. Clear, factual, entertaining, “How Bad are Bananas” gives us the ammo we need to address climate change. 

Get it here.

The Garden Jungle

9. “The Garden Jungle”, By Dave Goulson (2019)

A professor of biology who specialises in bees and founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, this book explains how making our gardens wildlife friendly can help stop the problems caused by industrial farming and climate change. According to the green-fingered Goulson, many Chinese farmers have to hand-pollinate fruit trees because bee colonies have been killed by the overuse of pesticides. Whilst ‘The Garden Jungle” focusses on less glamorous creatures – think ants and earwigs rather than elephants and zebras – it is packed with fascinating insights and practical advice on how to turn your piece of earth into a wildlife haven.

Get it here.

No More Rubbish Excuses

10. “No More Rubbish Excuses”, By Martin Dorey (2020)

Having successfully founded #2minutebeachclean, which gets people to take 2 minutes out of their time on the beach to pick up any rubbish they see, eco-activist surfer Dorey has come up with another array of easily executed, little actions that can have a big, positive impact on what ends up in landfill. Find out where your unwanted plastics, electrics, clothes etc really go and what simple swaps you can do to avoid this.

Get it here.

101 Ways To Go Zero Waste

11. “101 Ways To Go Zero Waste”, By Kathryn Kellogg (2020)

Any book that can tell you how cut down on your rubbish production so much that 2 years worth fits into a 16oz jar has to be worth reading, right? Great tips abound – from how to make your own beauty products to shortcuts to zero waste shopping – but the tone is always light-hearted and encouraging. As Kellogg herself says of her journey to reduce her environmental impact, “It’s not about perfection. It’s about making better choices.”

Get it here.

The Sustainable Travel Handbook

12. “The Sustainable Travel Handbook”, By Lonely Planet (2020)

Lonely Planet has been guiding travellers to hidden gems and foreign hotspots since 1973. The ethical explorer will definitely want to make room in their backpack for this practical and informative handbook. For those who want to reduce their carbon footprint and holiday more responsibly, there are a plethora of wildlife-watching, city break and culinary experiences suggested. Whilst some of the destinations are pretty far flung, the top 5 and 10 lists give you plenty of options for sustainable ways to safari, scuba dive and ski.

Get it here.

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