Podcasts & Books

10 Of The Best Sustainability Books To Inspire Change

By Kaci Carson
27th Apr 2021

Chances are you’re already dabbling in sustainability by using reusable products and making thoughtful swaps to better our planet. Now it’s time to take things up a notch by giving your reading list some serious cred with our favourite books on sustainability.

Be prepared to dive into some thought-provoking reads from diverse voices all over the world with the best sustainability books. 

This Is Not A Drill

By Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion’ penned this handbook for everyday people who want to see their governments take action in their city. This movement started in London and has since spread across the world which is seriously impressive. Their aim? To hold governments accountable for their actions or lack of action toward the climate crisis we’re facing. This passionate read was written for a generation of people, united for the same cause—to save the planet and to not wait until it’s too late. 

We Are The Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast

By Jonathan Safran Foer

You might recognise Jonathan Safran Foer for his epic book-turned-movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and his non fiction work Eating Animals (written about his own exploration into the meat industry and its effects). In his latest release, We are the Weather, he dives even deeper. Doing away with tough to understand jargon, Foer gets to the crux of the matter—that by limiting our consumption of meat we can do a hell of a lot of good for the planet. With Foer’s humour and practical advice, you are guaranteed to change the way you view the relationship between food and the environment. 

Braiding Sweetgrass

By Robin Wall Kimmerer

When we look at the issues our world and climate faces today, we tend to look at what we can do now to help it but what if our solutions lie in looking to the past at Indigineous cultures and the traditions they have cultivated for thousands of years? In Braiding Sweetgrass author Robin Wall Kimmerer, an indigenous scientist, aims to create harmony between western science and Indigenous knowledge and captures the beauty of the earth we live on. From this, we can learn that our efforts to live sustainably need to be rooted in a respect for our natural world and the traditional landowners. Yep, it’s pretty damn special. 

How To Avoid A Climate Disaster 

By Bill Gates

While you know him best from Microsoft, Bill Gates is also incredibly passionate about the environment and has spent the last decade investigating the causes and effects of climate change. In How To Avoid A Climate Disaster, Gates provides a practical blueprint for how the world can get to zero greenhouse gas emissions in time to avoid a climate catastrophe. Put simply, he believes solutions lie in expanding the green economy and bringing about innovations to create lasting improvement to our world. While sometimes making a difference can seem overwhelming, Gates offers a hopeful and realistic read that proves real change is possible. 

The Man Who Fed the World 

By Leon Hesser

Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in agriculture and food, this yarn about Dr. Norman Borlag is a must read. Hailed as the person who saved hundreds of millions of people from certain starvation after he developed wheat production technology to be used in countries that were facing famine—he’s a worldwide treasure. In this biography of his life, author Leo Husser tells the story of the scientist who went from a humble farm boy to being dubbed one of the 100 most influential individuals of the 20th century. 

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis

By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

All We Can Save is a compilation of essays and poems written by women who are leaders at the forefront of the climate change movement and yes you read that correctly—it’s all women! From scientists and activists to strategists, teachers, innovators and changemakers, they tell us about their own connection to nature and the why behind dedicating their lives to fight climate change. Rooted in feminism and a desire to change the future, this collection of short reads will give you courage and hope—as well as give you a serious dose of female empowerment. 

How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

By Michael Greger MD And Gene Stone

We all know by now that reducing our meat intake is a great way to help out the environment, but there are so many other benefits you might not know about. Dr Michael Gregor, a physician in the field of clinical nutrition shares his wealth of knowledge in How Not to Die detailing scientifically-proven nutritional advice to prevent our biggest killers—like heart disease and high blood pressure—revealing the incredible benefits that simple food swaps can provide. The book makes eating well super easy and even gives you a checklist of 12 different foods you should be eating every day—we’re all about looking after our health and the environment. 

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education Of A Reluctant Businessman 

By Yvon Chouinard

If you’re a fan of sustainable label Patagonia, then you’ll devour this memoir from the company’s founder Yvon Chouinard. In this moving read, Chouinard reflects on his journey from the son of a blacksmith to becoming one of the most respected businessmen and environmentalists in the world. From his terrifying climbing trips to challenging the model of fast fashion, his incredible rise and passion for sustainability and quality over profit will straight up inspire you. 

To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World? 

By Lucy Siegle

Penned by The Observer’s ‘Ethical Living’ columnist Lucy Siegle, this book poses the question—is green the new black? Siegle exposes just how harmful the world of fast fashion really is to the environment. Deep diving on the carbon footprint cheap fabrics leave behind, and our need as a consumer to have it “now”, the book will make you question your spending habits now, and beyond. The upside? Siegle believes that it’s possible to be an ′ethical fashionista′—yep you can look great without it costing the environment, by being aware of how and where (and by whom) clothing is manufactured. This read will drive you to make real changes and we dig that. 

A Zero Waste Life: In Thirty Days 

By Anita Vandyke

If you’ve wanted to go zero-waste but didn’t know where to start, then this yarn from scientist Anita Vandyke is your new bible. This uber practical guide will help you change your daily habits to eliminate plastic from all areas of your life in just a few weeks. The best bit? Vandyke reveals how you can actually save money and time by living that zero waste life—now that’s something we can get behind. There’s 30 golden rules to master but with loads of practical, easy to follow tips and tricks, you’ll be a waste warrior in no time.

Next, expand your mind with these amazing vegan documentaries.

Image Credit: Unsplash 

Editor's note: Urban List editors independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, so we get revenue from your purchases.

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