Unearthing the Best Sustainability Books: Must-Reads to Help You Make a Difference

Published: 4 March 2023
Written by Chris Beach

Are you passionate about sustainability, but unsure of where to start? Learning how to make proactive, sustainable choices starts with taking the time to educate yourself. We're here to help you with your journey! Here, you'll find the best sustainability books to delve into the depths of sustainability and arm you with the knowledge you need for more meaningful change.

These amazing reads hold the key to navigating today's changing world, one threatened by climate disaster from global warming. From understanding the threat of climate change to exploring ways of sustainable living, these books explore the intricate relationship between people and their natural world. Learn how to positively influence the environment, sustain life around us, and pave the way for a future that we can all live in peacefully. Dive into any one of these must-reads and uncover new knowledge, indigenous wisdom, real life examples, and incredible insight into our ever-changing planet.

Table of Contents

• Small Changes, Big Impact
• Exploring Our Impact
• Books On Sustainability Strategy
• Can Courageous Companies Thrive?
• Related Posts

Small Changes, Big Impact: Sustainability Books With Actionable Strategies to Help You Live Greener

Third Culture Kids of the World: Exploring Sustainable Travel Mindsets

by Priyanka Surio

Third Culture Kids of the World: Exploring Sustainable Travel Mindsets

"Third Culture Kids of the World" by Priyanka Surio offers an inspiring trip for travelers to become true global citizens. Through an intercontinental journey, this book provides keen insights into how traveling can open our minds, while showing us how to travel in a mindful and sustainable way.

From stories of global scholars, activists, travel guides and tourists, readers will gain a deeper understanding on how to leave positive footprints while gaining a deeper understanding of the world and themselves. This book also delivers helpful advice on sustainable travel practices and on sharing one's expanded worldview with others back home. So, if you're looking to make your best trip yet while giving back to the world around you, make sure to get your copy.

Live Green: 52 Steps for a More Sustainable Life

by Jen Chillingworth

Live Green: 52 Steps for a More Sustainable Life

Living green is a great way to reduce your environmental impact and become more self-sufficient. Jen Chillingworth's "Live Green: 52 Steps for a More Sustainable Life" is a practical guide that makes it easier than ever to adopt a greener lifestyle. With one sustainable living change for each week of the year, the book covers all aspects of life - from cleaning routines to fashion choices.

You'll learn how to make your own eco-friendly cleaning products, buy vintage furniture, make your own moth repellent and improve your natural beauty regime. Live Green also has tips on creating a capsule wardrobe and ethical Christmas decorations. Make small changes throughout the year and discover how to get the most out of life by living with intention. Live simply, live green!

How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything

by Mike Berners-Lee

How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything

We all want to know the consequences of our actions, but sometimes the answers aren't straightforward. Mike Berners-Lee's "How Bad Are Bananas?" gets to the heart of it, breaking down the carbon footprint of everything from text messages to wars. He details everyday items such as food, books and flights, and global issues such as deforestation and volcanoes - in order to give readers a carbon imprint for their activities.

While it does contain life-changing revelations about green living, this book is far from preachy; with its entertaining style you'll want to keep turning each page for more information. Uncovering the previously elusive answer of how bad our every day choices are on climate change is what this book is all about - allowing us to separate the problems we can manage from those that exist on another scale.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

by Barbara Kingsolver

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

In "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", Barbara Kingsolver shares the story of her family daringly embarking on an experiment: to spend a year consuming only locally-produced foods. Instead of stocking their refrigerator with conventionally produced and factory-farmed foods from long distances, they search for an alternative way to live and shop. Through this journey, readers get a glimpse of history and culture as they recover the nation's lost love for farms and food production. In contrast to past generations who allotted high percentages of their income to food, Americans now spend less yet are faced with environmental costs, significant nutritional sacrifices and a shorter life expectancy than past generations. Kingsolver masterfully mixes memoir, journalistic investigation, creativity and passion in order to give readers an engaging and educational read. In doing so she encourages us all to take a step back from our modern industrial dieting habits and focus on bringing the kitchen back into the center of family life.

How to Prepare for Climate Change: A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos

by David Pogue

How to Prepare for Climate Change: A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos

Climate chaos is here, and we need to prepare for the difficult times that lie ahead. That's why New York Times best-selling author and science correspondent David Pogue has released his must-read book, "How to Prepare for Climate Change". In it, Pogue provides commonsense advice on everything from what food to grow, how to protect our families, and how to prepare vulnerable communities for evacuations. He also flags specific parts of the country that are more likely able to withstand climate-related crises due to their infrastructure.

In addition to the more mainstream solutions to climate crisis, Pogue acknowledges the anxiety connected with surviving climate change and provides practical approaches for managing it. This comprehensive guide offers a blueprint for how we can best cope with the challenges associated with this reality.

Wear No Evil: How to Change the World With Your Wardrobe

by Greta Eagan

Wear No Evil: How to Change the World With Your Wardrobe

Greta Eagan provides a modern and friendly guide for those looking for a way to remain stylish while staying true to their values. Featuring the Integrity Index and an easy-to-use rating system, you can learn to shop anywhere while also supporting your values. She also dives into the hard-hitting facts of why the fashion industry needs a reboot, how to cleanse your wardrobe, eco-fashion makeovers, and natural beauty recommendations. Wear No Evil shows that style and sustainability do not have to be mutually exclusive - they can live in harmony. It's time to restart the conversation around fashion - how it is produced, consumed and discarded - in order to fit with today's world.

Exploring Our Impact: Sustainability Books That Highlight How Our Actions Change the Natural World

A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future

by David Attenborough

A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future by David Attenborough

In "A Life on Our Planet", Sir David Attenborough shares his lifetime of wisdom, scientific knowledge and experience as a natural historian. Writing in his 93rd year, he reflects on a life of adventure which was once full of untouched nature, and realises how we have altered the planet's wilderness. He has seen first-hand how biodiversity is declining and has written this book as a witness statement explaining how we got here and what we must do to fix it. We have one final chance to restore our planet home. We just need the will to make it happen.

Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm

by Isabella Tree

Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm

Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell faced a unique challenge with their Knepp estate in West Sussex. Intensive farming was environmentally unsustainable, so the couple took a leap of faith to free their land from human intervention and let nature take charge. What followed was truly remarkable: The introduction of free-roaming grazing animals allowed nature to reclaim this 3,500 acre project, bringing with it an abundance of rare species thriving in the habitat and natural environment they found there. Most notably, these include genetically diverse animals such as nightingales, turtle doves, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies.

"Wilding" is a captivating memoir which follows the Knepp experiment - an incredible story of hope proving that when given the chance to thrive, nature can not only survive but flourish. Awarded both the Richard Jefferies Society and White Horse Book Shop Literary Prize plus being Highly Commended by the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize, Isabella Tree's breathtaking memoir takes you on an inspiring journey which defies convention and challenges the current system to show just how nature will find its own way when given room to do so.

Books On Sustainability Strategy: Planning for a Better World

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America

by Thomas L. Friedman

Hot, Flat, and Crowded

In "Hot, Flat, and Crowded", Thomas L. Friedman digs deep into the pressing global crises caused by global warming and rising competition for energy. He exposes the urgency of taking immediate collective action through his concept of Geo-Greenism, an ambitious national sustainability strategy that emphasizes economic growth alongside planetary health.

A passionate advocate for the green revolution, Friedman provides us with a glimpse into a post-9/11 world struggling to adjust under the new pressures of globalization via the Internet - one that requires an energy technology revolution in order to remain competitive and secure in this Energy-Climate era.

From climate change to geopolitical turmoil brought about by tightening resources, Friedman argues for a transformation led by an increasingly green society dedicated to making America more innovative, productive and healthy - driven by Green Presidents, Green New Deals and innovative leadership from the Greenest Generation. Written with his trademark brilliance and clarity, "Hot Flat & Crowded" shows us why we need this revolution now more than ever before.

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

by Paul Hawken

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

Paul Hawken's book, "Drawdown" is a beacon of hope for us all. Faced with the reality of climate change and the scarcity of solutions, a remarkable international coalition of researchers, scientists, business leaders and policy makers have come together to provide an incredible set of realistic and bold solutions. These one hundred strategies combine both familiar ideas such as clean energy and unexpected solutions like educating girls in lower-income countries.

The deployment of these strategies promises not just to slow global warming but to actively work towards drawdown, the point where greenhouse gases in the atmosphere peak and start to decline. Further gains can be reaped through increased human health and wellbeing while also creating a more equitable world. Take fresh ideas to heart - a range of practical options exist that will ensure we and future generations can look back on this crisis not with fear but with hope for a brighter future!

Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future

by Mary Robinson

Climate Justice

In "Climate Justice", Mary Robinson takes readers on a journey to witness incredible stories about individuals around the world who are making a huge difference in the fight against climate change. Through her travels she's revealed a powerful force of resilience and ingenuity in grassroots communities, especially women. Her book shares these inspiring stories of their successes, like a Mississippi matriarch who used her hair salon as the launching point to speak at the UN, or a farmer in rural Uganda whose work transformed the food system and fortunes of her community.

This powerful and humane book encourages action on one of the most pressing humanitarian issues facing us today and calls for hope to stand our best chance at achieving justice. Robinson makes an urgent call to arms that gives us all something to fight for.

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and The Breakthroughs We Need

by Bill Gates

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster

Climate change is a pressing issue that affects us all and Bill Gates has provided us with a way forward. In his book, 'How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,' he outlines an actionable plan to right the world's misdeeds and get to zero net emissions before further catastrophe. He has a corporate sustainability strategy that takes into account all influences on the environment - from physics, chemistry and engineering to political science, putting forth yearlong investigative work into climate change.

Gates breaks down what needs be done by highlighting where technology needs improvement and where breakthrough innovations are needed. His concrete plan for achieving zero emissions is something everyone can take hold of, with provisions for governments, successful companies and individuals alike.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

by Elizabeth Kolbert

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

Elizabeth Kolbert's book "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" is not just a mission statement but must-read on the future of our world. Kolbert blends intellectual, natural history, and field reporting to provide an insightful account of the devastating mass extinction that is currently occurring around us. This event is predicted to be more severe than the asteroid impact which wiped out the dinosaurs centuries ago. This time, it's us - human beings - who are responsible for this change in the planet. Kolbert writes in a frank and entertaining way, interweaving research from multiple disciplines along with unique stories of species that are already extinct. She delves deep into this concept of extinction, making us reconsider what it truly means to be human. The Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece is a powerful account that everyone should read to better understand our current reality.

Rebuilding Earth: Designing Ecoconscious Habitats for Humans

by Teresa Coady

Rebuilding Earth

The future of the planet is in our hands. In "Rebuilding Earth", author Teresa Coady provides a revolutionary guide to designing humane and eco-conscious homes, buildings and cities for the future. With an anticipated nine billion people on Earth this century, and increased stress on our environment, and natural resources, Coady offers new hope through her uplifting and innovative approach to accommodate our expanding population.

Building with sustainability in mind, Coady encourages us to transition from the Industrial Age towards more seamless integration with green energy sources. This way, we can reuse resources and reduce material required for infrastructure while contributing to a healthier planet. What's more, the author emphasizes enjoying more purposeful lives and happiness by forming vibrant communities that are resilient and communal.

Rather than succumb to the troubles predicted by industrialization, "Rebuilding Earth" celebrates a more inspiring and optimistic view of our future as humanity. It offers solutions for those in finance, business, or design industries, as well as anyone wanting to gain greater insight into how lifestyle choices can impact our health and wellbeing.

The Future Earth: A Radical Vision for What's Possible in the Age of Warming

by Eric Holthaus

The Future Earth

Climate change is arguably the biggest challenge of our time and it is up to us to take action in preserving the state of our planet. But how can we make a drastic difference in the span of only three decades? "The Future Earth", by Eric Holthaus, a leading climate change advocate and "rebel nerd of meteorology", explains the possibility of reversing the short-term and long-term effects of climate change. With real-world interviews and discussions, it offers a comprehensive yet hopeful vision. Holthaus brings together insights from climate activists, business leaders and futurists uncovering what's possible for our world if we aspire to create solutions that match the magnitude of this global issue. "The Future Earth" entices us to imagine an eco-friendly, more conscious way of living that celebrates harmony between our planet and ourselves. It embraces cultivating a shared humanity where we take responsibility now, focused on positive change for a better future.

Silent Spring

by Rachel Carson

Silent Spring

Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" was published in 1962, revolutionizing our understanding of the environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate pesticide use. It became a global phenomenon, taking the world by storm and inspiring a generation of activists. Even today, "Silent Spring" is admired for its well crafted and fearless summary of the issue.

This edition is an ongoing celebration, enhanced with an introduction from author and activist Terry Tempest Williams. An afterword from acclaimed biographer Linda Lear captures Rachel Carson's courageous defense of her truths in the face of a hostile industry onslaught following the book's publication. In short, "Silent Spring" has marked a legacy of global development that renders Rachel Carson one of the greatest nature writers in America.

The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us

by Diane Ackerman

The Human Age

In her book "The Human Age", Diane Ackerman takes readers on a journey to explore the transformational changes the world has undergone due to humanity's dominant presence. With an unparalleled mastery of making complex scientific discoveries graspable to someone without a scientific background, Ackerman confronts us with the reality that 75 percent of land surfaces are now subdued by human forces and man-made lighting illuminates the darkness.

She further introduces people involved in exploring niche technologies such as wearables and synthetic species that might one day become smarter than humans. Throughout her book she offers an optimistic outlook on humanity's relationship with nature, which earned it numerous awards including the National Outdoor Book Award and the Henry David Thoreau Prize. "The Human Age" offers an eye-opening perspective on our planet's future and our rapidly changing world.

There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years

by Mike Berners-Lee

There Is No Planet B

The world is facing a variety of environmental and economic challenges that can seem overwhelming. But Mike Berners-Lee has done the hard work of crunching the numbers and plotting a course of action. His book, "There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years" provides an accessible and entertaining guide to tackling these issues head on. Through astonishing facts and analysis, Berners-Lee offers a big-picture perspective on the most pressing global issues, all while exploring the underlying roots of our attitudes and behavior.

The book contains practical ideas that are both inspiring and achievable, while also shocking readers with its revelations. It's an invaluable resource for anyone looking to make a difference in this make or break era - one that will educate, surprise, and even make you laugh as you help humanity thrive on our only planet.

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

by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson

All We Can Save

"All We Can Save" is a powerful collection of essays, poetry, art, and solutions from women on the forefront of the climate movement. Curated by two climate leaders, Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson, this book amplifies the voices of diverse scientists, journalists, farmers, lawyers, teachers, activists, wonks and designers across generations and geographies.

The stories in "All We Can Save" show that compassion, connection and collaboration are essential to creating meaningful change. It is a reminder that we must never give up on our collective future as we strive to navigate away from the brink of destruction towards life-giving possibility. This book serves as both a guide and an inspiration for those looking to take action against climate change.

Can Courageous Companies Thrive? Essential Books About Sustainability, Business Practices and Corporate Strategy

The Blue Economy 3.0 - The Marriage of Science, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Creates a New Business Model that Transforms Society

by Gunter Pauli

The Blue Economy 3.0

Gunter Pauli's book, "The Blue Economy 3.0", is a fascinating look into how science, innovation, and entrepreneurship can work together to create completely new business models that benefit society. Pauli takes us to China, where he showcases an example of how crushed rocks, including mining waste from centuries ago can be turned into paper without the need for trees or water. He then delves deeper and explains how something as simple as thistles can become plastic, a lubricant, and even a herbicide - transforming an old petrochemical plant into a biorefinery. The Blue Economy 3.0 is an inspiring story about how the marriage of science, innovation and entrepreneurship can create something entirely new - something that has the potential to transform society.

The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win

by Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen

The Responsibility Revolution

The Responsibility Revolution is an essential read for entrepreneurs, leaders and change agents who want to take their company to the next level. This inspiring book by Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen provides the strategies and tactics needed to build a responsible, socially conscious business and culture that competes - and wins - on values.

With groundbreaking interviews from companies like IBM, eBay, Patagonia, Timberland, Linden Lab and Etsy, this book will guide readers on how to become transparent, turn customers into collaborators, transform critics into allies, rewrite the rules and reinvent business. The Responsibility Revolution will equip you with everything you need to create a successful company that not only sustains but surpasses-one that moves beyond 'less bad' to 'all good'.

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

by Yvon Chouinard

Let My People Go Surfing

In "Let My People Go Surfing", Yvon Chouinard - the legendary climber, businessman, environmentalist, and Patagonia founder - reveals the courage and persistence that have gone into making his company one of the most respected and environmentally conscious in the world. Through his inspiring story - from his early years as a French Canadian handyman's son to his ambitious climbing expeditions which sparked innovative designs for sports equipment - Chouinard shows how he has combined doing good and having grand adventures in his business life.

This 10th anniversary edition will be sure to impact entrepreneurs and outdoor enthusiasts alike. According to Naomi Klein, bestselling author of This Changes Everything, it not only aims to change a single company but also to challenge the culture of consumption which is at the heart of today's global ecological crisis.

Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist

by Kate Raworth

Doughnut Economics

Economics is the language of public policy and shapes the way we respond to some of the biggest challenges of our time. Unfortunately, its outdated ideas are still being used in college courses and businesses alike. Kate Raworth's book, "Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist" provides a much-needed update to economic thinking. Her iconic 'doughnut' image - which has been embraced by the Occupy Movement, UN, eco-activists and business leaders - offers a radically new compass for guiding global development.

Combining ideas from ecological, behavioural, feminist and institutional economics with complexity thinking and Earth-systems science, Raworth's book seeks to make us thrive whether or not economies grow. It's an informative yet fun read that will challenge conventional wisdom and inspire a new generation of economic thinkers.

Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit

by Alex Edmans

ALTTEXT

Do companies have to choose between purpose and profit? Alex Edmans' groundbreaking book, "Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit" answers with a resounding "no"! Edmans, a renowned finance professor and TED speaker, provides a roadmap for company leaders to successfully merge purpose with profitability. Through real-life examples from across industries and countries, he explores how to navigate difficult trade-offs, take tough decisions, and unlock value for shareholders and society alike. The latest edition of this must-read has been updated to include the pandemic, new research, and insights on how to make purpose a reality.

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

"Cradle to Cradle" is a revolutionary book that challenges the traditional "reduce, reuse, recycle" industry model. Authors William McDonough and Michael Braungart suggest we use nature as our model and embrace the concept of "waste equals food". They propose that products should be designed so they can be reused or recycled into something new and nourishing, rather than being downcycled into low-grade uses like most recyclables today. Through their own experience redesigning carpets and corporate campuses, they make an exciting case for change.

It's time to rethink the way we make things. "Cradle to Cradle" offers a groundbreaking approach that embraces abundance and sustainability. Rather than simply reducing waste, this book encourages us to create something that can be reused or recycled into something new and nourishing - thereby creating a closed-loop system of production and consumption. It's an innovative vision for a healthier world that's sure to spark conversations about how we can better design our products and practices for the future.

The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability - Designing for Abundance

by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

The Upcycle

"The Upcycle" is an inspiring follow-up to "Cradle to Cradle", one of the most influential ecological manifestoes of our time. Authors William McDonough and Michael Braungart show us that questions of resource scarcity and sustainability are questions of design. They are practical visionaries who believe that through beneficial design we can not only sustain life on the planet but grow it.

With "The Upcycle", the authors turn on its head the traditional human role on earth: Rather than protecting the planet from human impact, why not redesign our activity to improve the environment? By reimagining everyday objects like chairs, cars and factories as well as business practices, we can create a beneficial, sustainable footprint and abundance for all. It is a mission that is as ambitious as Rachel Carson's Silent Spring - but one that is very achievable.

The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health

by Annie Leonard

The Story of Stuff

Annie Leonard's book, "The Story of Stuff" is a classic exposé that explores the threat of overconsumption on the environment, economy, and our health. Leonard examines the everyday "stuff" we use and offers a galvanizing critique and steps for a changed planet. She has been named one of Time magazine's 100 environmental heroes of 2009 for her work uncovering and communicating this critically important idea that there is an intentional system behind our patterns of consumption and disposal.

Leonard has snuck into factories and dumps around the world to visit textile workers in Haiti and children mining coltan for cell phones in the Congo to highlight each step of the materials economy and its effect on people who live near sites like these. With curiosity, compassion, and humor she shares concrete steps for taking action at both an individual level as well as political level that will bring about sustainability, community health, and economic justice. The book has been embraced by teachers, parents, churches, community centers, activists, and everyday readers alike - it is sure to be a long-lived classic!

Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered

by E.F. Schumacher

Small is Beautiful

E.F. Schumacher's book, "Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered", is an influential work that has stood the test of time. In this New York Times bestseller and Eco Bible (Time Magazine), Schumacher challenges us to reconsider our approach to economics and embrace sensible scale instead of excessive consumption. He speaks out against "casino capitalism" and wasteful corporate behemoths, instead advocating for economies that are built around the needs of communities rather than corporations. This timeless classic has been named one of the Times Literary Supplement's 100 Most Influential Books Since World War II, inspiring such movements as 'Buy Locally' and 'Fair Trade'. Bill McKibben sums it up best: "Small Is Beautiful could not be more relevant. It was first published in 1973, but it was written for our time."

The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil

by Christine Bader

The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist

Christine Bader was an idealist working deep within the belly of the beast. Her story of working inside one of the world's largest and well-known companies is both unique and relatable. She was inspired by her then-CEO John Browne's lofty rhetoric on climate change and human rights, yet she felt like an outsider both inside and outside of the company. Despite feeling frustrated with corporate life, she committed to pushing for change from within.

In her book, "The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: Girl Meets Oil", Bader weaves together her own story with those of others who are part of an invisible army fighting for safer and more responsible practices in large corporations - from preventing the next Rana Plaza factory collapse to Foxconn labor abuses. This book will provide readers with a unique insight into how Corporate Idealists are making a difference in large businesses around the world today.

If you enjoyed our review of the best sustainability books, you might enjoy Our Top 20 Environmental Books to Help You Make a Difference This Year.