11 Books About Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Living

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written by:  Brightly Staff

editor's note:

Here are 11 great books to read if you are looking to boost your knowledge about sustainability and climate change. Happy reading and feel free to share your reviews in the comments below!

As 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and coincides with quarantine, what better time is there to finally pick up a book about climate change? To make it easy for you, we’ve compiled a list of books for the seasoned environmentalist to those on the fence about sustainable living. These books help underscore the importance of adopting eco-friendly habits and emphasizes that not all actions need to be bold in order to make a difference.


1. The Fate of Food: What We'll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World by Amanda Little

Average Goodreads Rating:

4.19

Where to Buy:

$18 at Amazon

Our Take:

We're always looking for ways to adjust our food purchasing habits to support localized food systems and more resilient agriculture.
Is the future of food looking bleak or is a sustainable food revolution right around the corner? This book digs deep into our current industrial agricultural system while considering the risk factors caused by climate change and population expansion. Little explores the reaches of human innovation and ingenuity while offering a new vision for the future of food. If you eat food, you'll want to read this book.


2. We are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer

Average Goodreads Rating:

3.75

Where to Buy:

$22 at Better World Books

Our Take:

While many of us are not going to adopt fully vegan diets, let's consider staying away from mass-produced meat.
The Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close author brings us a book that aims to rouse the masses to adopt newer, greener ways of living in a global effort to shift the tides of climate change. Naming the climate crisis our "central global dilemma," Safran Foer encourages folks towards collective action -- starting by adopting a primarily vegan diet. Perfect for anyone looking for that little extra push to adopt a fully vegan lifestyle.


Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

Average Goodreads Rating:

4.04

Where to Buy:

$8 at Amazon

Our Take:

Reading about Kingsolver's journey and her ups and downs opened our eyes to some of the key challenges to maintaining a locally sourced diet while convincing us of the importance of a local diet in order to create a more resilient society.
Kingsolver describes the ups and downs of limiting your diet to seasonal foods and the challenges of sourcing all food products within a relatively localized area. This book is great for anyone who wants to learn more about what vegetables grow when (in the Eastern United States at least). You’ll learn about farmer’s markets, CSAs, and home gardening and livestock techniques. At times, the author sounds somewhat tone deaf to the inflexibility of low-income families and families living in urban areas without access to large swaths of land for home gardening. Yet, Kingsolver’s passion for home-grown and local foods shines through strongly throughout.


Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have by Tatiana Schlossberg

Average Goodreads Rating:

3.77

Where to Buy:

$20 at Amazon

Our Take:

Our interest in sustainability spans all sectors and this book enables us to learn more about how our consumer behavior has environmental impacts across the transportation fashion, food, and tech industries.
By examining our convenience-driven society--including internet & technology, food, fashion, and fuel--Schlossberg helps us understand how we are all contributing to climate change--and how we can change that impact through our consumer power. This book is a great read for those looking to learn about sustainability across multiple sectors.


The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change by Annie Leonard

Average Goodreads Rating

4.04

Where to Buy:

$12 at Amazon

Our Take:

We have been trying to cut down on unnecessary purchases and to restrict future purchases with an environmentally-friendly lens, this book helps us on that journey.
This book explores the threat overconsumption is having on our environment and health. Leonard offers a critical examination of our everyday things. She opens our eyes to the materials economy and offers key suggestions for taking sustainable action.


The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good by Elizabeth L. Cline

Average Goodreads Rating:

4.07

Where to Buy:

$13 at Amazon

Our Take:

This is a perfect companion for the budding eco-friendly fashionista and allows us to re-examine our fashion choices while supporting sustainably-sourced fashion.
This book is a call to action to transition away from fast fashion. Cline details where and how our clothes are made and opens our eyes to one of the most polluting industries on the planet. Cline guides us towards a future where we can maintain our impeccable style and still feel good about the impact our closets are having on the environment.


Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson

Average Goodreads Rating:

3.81

Where to Buy:

$15 at Amazon

Our Take:

While it may not be feasible to entirely shift to zero waste living, this book is a great start to transform daily habits to reduce waste.
This book chronicles Johnson's transition into zero waste living. Johnson has been a trailblazer in the zero waste movement, promoting the five R method: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot. Here, she shares her story of how her family produces just one liter of waste per year and offers a step-by-step guide to give readers the tools needed to reduce your own waste footprint and simplify your life.


Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality by Melissa Burntlett and Chris Bruntlett

Average Goodreads Rating:

4.14

Where to Buy:

$17 at Amazon

Our Take:

This is a great book for these interested in the future of transportation, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19 mobility shifts. We love clean transportation and this book promotes a more efficient, accessible and sustainable form of transport!
Bruntlett & Bruntlett chronicle Amsterdam's transition into a bicycle-centric city. The authors highlight shifting to bicycle-centric transportation systems as being a catalyst for better urban development--creating positive shifts in urban affordability, obesity, congestion, climate change, inequity, and social isolation.


The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

Average Goodreads Rating:

4.11

Where to Buy:

$18 at Amazon

Our Take:

This book focuses primarily on potential consequences of inaction, perfect for anyone looking to learn more about the potential dangers of climate change and for those looking for a proverbial slap in the face.
This book is about Wallace-Wells' journey to waking up to the climate crisis. Wallace-Wells urges for a revolution in how the masses perceive climate change, calling on us all to wake up to the horrific implications of the impending future.


Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn

Average Goodreads Rating:

4.00

Where to Buy:

$14 at Amazon

Our Take:

Perfect for anyone looking for a philosophical and easy read with eco-friendly themes. If you enjoy this one, follow it up with The Story of B and My Ishmael, companion novels to this one.
The only novel on this list, this book is a perfect allegory to the reality of our climate. Written in 1995, this beautifully written novel follows the spiritual progression of a man and his guru, a silverback gorilla named Ishmael. The book presents primitivism or “new tribalism” as a response to climate catastrophe. Maybe not the best avenue for society today, but the premise remains thought provoking and engrossing for anyone wishing for simpler times.


This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein

Average Goodreads Rating:

4.17

Where to Buy:

$14 at Amazon

Our Take:

We believe it's important to examine our current systems—how they are working for us and against us—and to consider ways in which we can adjust our behavior to shift those systems to work in better, more sustainable ways.
Klein argues that our addictions to profit, growth, and consumerism are the root causes of the environmental crisis. Our main problem, Klein argues, is not that we do not know how to divest from carbon intensive systems or even what steps to take to reduce climate impact. In fact, we know exactly what to do--the problem is that our existing capitalist system is fighting against us every step of the way.

1. The Fate of Food: What We'll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World by Amanda Little

Average Goodreads Rating:

4.19

Where to Buy:

$18 at Amazon

Our Take:

We're always looking for ways to adjust our food purchasing habits to support localized food systems and more resilient agriculture.
Is the future of food looking bleak or is a sustainable food revolution right around the corner? This book digs deep into our current industrial agricultural system while considering the risk factors caused by climate change and population expansion. Little explores the reaches of human innovation and ingenuity while offering a new vision for the future of food. If you eat food, you'll want to read this book.

2. We are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer

Average Goodreads Rating:

3.75

Where to Buy:

$22 at Better World Books

Our Take:

While many of us are not going to adopt fully vegan diets, let's consider staying away from mass-produced meat.
The Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close author brings us a book that aims to rouse the masses to adopt newer, greener ways of living in a global effort to shift the tides of climate change. Naming the climate crisis our "central global dilemma," Safran Foer encourages folks towards collective action -- starting by adopting a primarily vegan diet. Perfect for anyone looking for that little extra push to adopt a fully vegan lifestyle.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

Average Goodreads Rating:

4.04

Where to Buy:

$8 at Amazon

Our Take:

Reading about Kingsolver's journey and her ups and downs opened our eyes to some of the key challenges to maintaining a locally sourced diet while convincing us of the importance of a local diet in order to create a more resilient society.
Kingsolver describes the ups and downs of limiting your diet to seasonal foods and the challenges of sourcing all food products within a relatively localized area. This book is great for anyone who wants to learn more about what vegetables grow when (in the Eastern United States at least). You’ll learn about farmer’s markets, CSAs, and home gardening and livestock techniques. At times, the author sounds somewhat tone deaf to the inflexibility of low-income families and families living in urban areas without access to large swaths of land for home gardening. Yet, Kingsolver’s passion for home-grown and local foods shines through strongly throughout.

Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have by Tatiana Schlossberg

Average Goodreads Rating:

3.77

Where to Buy:

$20 at Amazon

Our Take:

Our interest in sustainability spans all sectors and this book enables us to learn more about how our consumer behavior has environmental impacts across the transportation fashion, food, and tech industries.
By examining our convenience-driven society--including internet & technology, food, fashion, and fuel--Schlossberg helps us understand how we are all contributing to climate change--and how we can change that impact through our consumer power. This book is a great read for those looking to learn about sustainability across multiple sectors.

The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change by Annie Leonard

Average Goodreads Rating

4.04

Where to Buy:

$12 at Amazon

Our Take:

We have been trying to cut down on unnecessary purchases and to restrict future purchases with an environmentally-friendly lens, this book helps us on that journey.
This book explores the threat overconsumption is having on our environment and health. Leonard offers a critical examination of our everyday things. She opens our eyes to the materials economy and offers key suggestions for taking sustainable action.

The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good by Elizabeth L. Cline

Average Goodreads Rating:

4.07

Where to Buy:

$13 at Amazon

Our Take:

This is a perfect companion for the budding eco-friendly fashionista and allows us to re-examine our fashion choices while supporting sustainably-sourced fashion.
This book is a call to action to transition away from fast fashion. Cline details where and how our clothes are made and opens our eyes to one of the most polluting industries on the planet. Cline guides us towards a future where we can maintain our impeccable style and still feel good about the impact our closets are having on the environment.

Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson

Average Goodreads Rating:

3.81

Where to Buy:

$15 at Amazon

Our Take:

While it may not be feasible to entirely shift to zero waste living, this book is a great start to transform daily habits to reduce waste.
This book chronicles Johnson's transition into zero waste living. Johnson has been a trailblazer in the zero waste movement, promoting the five R method: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot. Here, she shares her story of how her family produces just one liter of waste per year and offers a step-by-step guide to give readers the tools needed to reduce your own waste footprint and simplify your life.

Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality by Melissa Burntlett and Chris Bruntlett

Average Goodreads Rating:

4.14

Where to Buy:

$17 at Amazon

Our Take:

This is a great book for these interested in the future of transportation, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19 mobility shifts. We love clean transportation and this book promotes a more efficient, accessible and sustainable form of transport!
Bruntlett & Bruntlett chronicle Amsterdam's transition into a bicycle-centric city. The authors highlight shifting to bicycle-centric transportation systems as being a catalyst for better urban development--creating positive shifts in urban affordability, obesity, congestion, climate change, inequity, and social isolation.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

Average Goodreads Rating:

4.11

Where to Buy:

$18 at Amazon

Our Take:

This book focuses primarily on potential consequences of inaction, perfect for anyone looking to learn more about the potential dangers of climate change and for those looking for a proverbial slap in the face.
This book is about Wallace-Wells' journey to waking up to the climate crisis. Wallace-Wells urges for a revolution in how the masses perceive climate change, calling on us all to wake up to the horrific implications of the impending future.

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn

Average Goodreads Rating:

4.00

Where to Buy:

$14 at Amazon

Our Take:

Perfect for anyone looking for a philosophical and easy read with eco-friendly themes. If you enjoy this one, follow it up with The Story of B and My Ishmael, companion novels to this one.
The only novel on this list, this book is a perfect allegory to the reality of our climate. Written in 1995, this beautifully written novel follows the spiritual progression of a man and his guru, a silverback gorilla named Ishmael. The book presents primitivism or “new tribalism” as a response to climate catastrophe. Maybe not the best avenue for society today, but the premise remains thought provoking and engrossing for anyone wishing for simpler times.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein

Average Goodreads Rating:

4.17

Where to Buy:

$14 at Amazon

Our Take:

We believe it's important to examine our current systems—how they are working for us and against us—and to consider ways in which we can adjust our behavior to shift those systems to work in better, more sustainable ways.
Klein argues that our addictions to profit, growth, and consumerism are the root causes of the environmental crisis. Our main problem, Klein argues, is not that we do not know how to divest from carbon intensive systems or even what steps to take to reduce climate impact. In fact, we know exactly what to do--the problem is that our existing capitalist system is fighting against us every step of the way.



written by:  Brightly Staff

editor's note:

Here are 11 great books to read if you are looking to boost your knowledge about sustainability and climate change. Happy reading and feel free to share your reviews in the comments below!

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