In a world that suffers from the depletion of natural resources, people increasingly recognize the need to take responsibility. In our cities, managing material flows is a significant sustainability challenge1. Apart from big industry, individuals and families realize their role in protecting the earth's resources. As a result, there’s now a plethora of excellent resources and sustainable living books to inspire us.
Experts constantly share their knowledge and practices on eco-friendly and green living topics. Sustainable living books, always a go-to resource, have become more common for the long read as more authors seek to inspire planet-friendly living.
In this article, we share 14 of the best sustainable living books worthy of a read as experts, environmentalists, and proponents of a zero waste lifestyle, and more share their guidance and ideas. These sustainability books will guide you on your green living journey from conscious consumption to the climate debate.
By Barbara Kingsolver, with Camille Kingsolver and Steven L. Hopp
Barbara Kingsolver is an American author, poet, and political activist. Writer's Digest named her one of the most important writers of the 20th Century. Before she began earning a living as a writer, she earned degrees in Biology and worked as a scientist. Barbara and her family have lived on a farm in southern Appalachia since 2004. There, they groom a vegetable garden and raise Icelandic sheep.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a narrative that serves as part memoir and part journalistic investigation. It reveals the journey of how Barbara and her family left the hustle and bustle of city living to pursue a rural life. Through this journey, they vowed that they’d only buy local food from their neighborhood, grow it themselves, or live without it.
As Barbara writes the main narrative, Steven presents facts and figures while Camille tops it with recipe sidebars. This book challenges you to begin to make more informed choices.
By George Marshall
George Marshall is a communications specialist, writer, and founder of Climate Outreach and Information Network. George has worked at several levels of the environmental movement for over 25 years. He is among the leading European experts in climate change communication. George also serves as a lead advisor to the Welsh government.
Many people seem to recognize the dangers of climate change but, for some reason, do nothing about it. This book illuminates the realities of climate change and presents some reasons people are not responding quickly.
George also provides an insight into how our values, prejudices, and assumptions are powerful. Consequently, he suggests that once we understand the things that motivate and threaten us, we can rethink climate change. The goal is to provide you with thought-provoking points that initiate positive changes to sustain the environment.
By Greta Eagan
Greta Eagan is an eco image consultant, fashion writer, and sustainable lifestyle expert. She studied Fashion Marketing and Promotion at the London College of Fashion. She’s the founder of Fashion Me Green. The site serves as a source for eco-friendly beauty and fashion.
Wear No Evil speaks to the people whose values include ethical and sustainable fashion. It offers a look into the effects of the textile industry on the people and the planet. Greta addresses topics such as slave labor, sweatshops, and the effects of toxic textile chemicals on the environment.
In a bid to help you regain your power as a consumer, the book provides an Integrity Index. This serves as a way to identify the ethics behind fashion products. Generally, you’ll be armed with facts, a closet-cleaning exercise, and a directory of eco-friendly products.
By Anna Lappé
Anna Lappé is an author and respected food justice and sustainability advocate. For 15 years, Anna has been using her platforms to promote the idea that our food systems serve a bigger purpose. This includes protecting the environment, promoting health, and providing quality jobs.
She was named one of Time Magazine's “Eco-Who's Who.” She is also a founding principal of the Small Planet Institute.
Diet for a Hot Planet analyses the impact of our food culture and systems, focusing on climate issues. The book reveals how our diet choices and garbage management contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
For anyone committed to healing the planet, this sustainable living book raises crucial conversations to empower people to eat right for the environment. Here, you’ll find a connection between how we eat and global warming.
By Sandy Black
Sandy Black is a fashion and Textile Design and Technology professor at the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. She has in-depth and extensive experience in the fashion industry and academia.
This sourcebook addresses the environmental and social impact of the fashion industry. It takes a look at the well-being of factory workers and ethics. This sourcebook features contributions from experts such as academics, designers, craft specialists, journalists, and eco-entrepreneurs.
There are multiple essays by leading writers and statements from designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney, and Hussein Chalayan. You’re also presented with case studies on topics such as the life cycle of textiles and fair trade projects. Together, these help you make more informed purchase decisions.
By Bea Johnson
Bea Johnson is an environmental activist, motivational speaker, and author. Bea is credited with being the initiator of the zero-waste lifestyle movement. She is sometimes called the mother of the movement.
The book presents both the story of Bea’s family’s journey to a waste-free, greener lifestyle and a guide to the transformation to more eco-friendly living. We’re presented with how family life changed for her after being able to reduce their thrash to just a liter per year.
It also presents zero waste tips, practical, down-to-earth ideas and how-to’s, and insights to help you simplify your life. From reusing food storage containers to reducing junk mail, these tips help you reduce your carbon footprint.
By Kathryn Kellogg
Kathryn Kellogg is the founder of Going Zero Waste. This is a lifestyle website she has dedicated to helping people live sustainable and healthier lives. She is a recognized person in the waste-free movement.
In this book, Kathryn shares tips and advice for responsible consumption. It serves as a blueprint for practical tips and tools to make eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle changes. Kathryn also offers DIY recipes for you and your home.
By Lucy Watson
Lucy Watson is an author, a PETA ambassador, and an RSPCA campaigner. She is committed to animal activism and addresses this in her body of work.
Beyond what we eat, a vegan lifestyle addresses other aspects of life, such as what we wear and own. In her sustainable living book, Lucy demystifies the changes to veganism. She provides practical solutions to reducing environmental impact and embracing organic food and ethical choices. Essentially, it covers the basics of living as a vegan.
By David Johnston, with Kim Master
David Johnston has been active in the green buildings movement for the past 30 years. He is the founder and president of What’s Working, Inc., an internationally recognized sustainability consultancy. Over the years, he has trained many builders and industry professionals. He has earned several awards and has influenced the construction of thousands of energy-efficient green homes with a lower carbon footprint.
Green Remodelling addresses sustainable home design. If you’re looking to remodel in a healthy and eco-friendly way, it serves as a comprehensive guide. The book addresses the advantages of green remodeling, leading to less pollution from fossil fuels and fewer health risks. It then offers solutions and ideas for green remodeling.
By John Pabon
John Pabon’s work focuses on strategic communication, sustainability, and geopolitics. For over 15 years, his work has led him to advise organizations, governments, and corporations. John is a member of the United Nations Association of Australia. He serves on the board of advisors to the US Green Chamber of Commerce.
This is one of those books that forces you into questioning the actual impact of your sustainable endeavors.
In Sustainability for the Rest of Us, John takes us on a journey to reveal why our eco-friendly efforts may not yield the greatest results in the grand scheme of things. Regardless of your experience in this field, you’ll be armed with what you need to change. It also presents why we need to change and how we can make that happen to protect what we have for future generations.
By Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop
Paul Wheaton is knowledgeable and passionate about permaculture. As a result, he has created DVDs, courses, podcasts, articles, and videos about permaculture design.
Shawn Klassen-Koop initially pursued computer engineering as a career. Afterward, he had the desire to create solutions to the problems of modern technology. This was when he discovered permaculture as a way to use his skills to work with nature.
Several sustainable living books highlight environmental problems but fail to give concrete, actionable steps. In this book, Paul and Shawn provide actionable steps for you to make a difference - right from your home. They provide solutions and alternatives to help you reduce your environmental footprint. From simple changes to more complex ones, there’s something for everyone.
Related: For more, we have a list of the best permaculture books a click away.
By Erin Boyle
Erin Boyle is a writer and photographer. She’s also a former editor at Gardenista, a sourcebook for cultivated living. She has a blog where she offers practical and purposeful approaches to slow, simple and sustainable living.
Simple Matters offers Erin’s insights and practical guidance for conscious consumption and small-space living. It supports the notion that simple and purposeful living is sustainable for the environment and our well-being and health.
She presents essays, projects, and advice on being resourceful and inventive even in a small place. Simple Matters is your guide to living with less and ending up with more. This means more free time, more savings, more things of beauty, and more time with loved ones. With an emphasis on living in a small place, Erin provides easy ideas to simplify your life.
By Janice Cox and Lauren Cox
Janice Cox is a natural beauty expert. She teaches the techniques of making your products with simple at-home ingredients. Jamie is the author of 3 best-selling books. She is a member of many associations, including The Herb Society of America, the International Herb Association, and the United States Lavender Growers Association.
Lauren Cox is Janice’s daughter. She has been making her beauty products for over ten years.
The global personal care industry, which generates about $500 billion yearly, largely relies on plastic. As a result, it heavily contributes to pollution. In EcoBeauty, you’ll learn new DIY recipes to create your own eco-friendly beauty products at home. After all, making your own products helps you save the environment and your money.
By Michael SanClements
Michael SanClements is a scientist at the National Ecological Observatory Network. He holds a Ph.D. in Ecology. His research works as an ecologist have been published in several journals. Michael is an affiliate faculty member of the University of Colorado Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.
In Plastic Purge, Michael SanClement provides scientifically backed information to explain the effects of plastic toxins on health and well-being. If you have questions about the impacts of plastic, Plastic Purge provides you with the necessary information.
The book divides plastics into good, bad, and ugly categories. It goes on to offer practical tips on reducing the number of ‘bad’ and ‘ugly’ plastics within the home.
If you’re on the path to sustainable living, these books offer insights, tips, and practical steps to support you. They target various aspects of your life, from simple DIY products to home remodeling. The most important thing to take away is that sustainable living is achievable.
Cohen, S. (2017). Understanding the Sustainable Lifestyle. The European Financial Review, 7-9
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.