Plastic pollution, species loss, and climate change are all topics that are gaining increased coverage in mainstream news, and our awareness of these issues is rising which is great to see. But it can seem terrifying and depressing to focus on what seems like the rapid decline in our environment and the uncertain future of human life on this planet. I am here to show you that learning more about sustainability can be inspiring, motivating and uplifting.
I suppose that I have been interested in the natural world since I was a small child, I was always an outdoorsy kid! But I seriously became interested in the environment and living sustainably in my late teens. To feed my curiosity about sustainability and what I could do to live sustainably, I started reading as much as I could on the broad subjects of the natural world, human behaviour and activism .
Here are 5 books that started me on my journey:
Zero Waste Home
This is the book I recommend that everyone starts with because it is super inspiring, but also very relatable and practical. Bea Johnson transformed her and her family’s life from living the so-called ‘American Dream’ to a much simpler way of life that reduced their household waste to as close to zero as is possible.
Thinking about the things that we bring into our homes and the waste that we generate is a brilliant starting point when trying to become more sustainable. Bea shares the journey that her family has embarked on to simplify their lives, and what this has meant to them. This book is jam-packed with ideas and tips that each of us can implement in our own homes right now.
If you have already started to implement some sustainable actions into your lifestyle, then reading this book is a great next step to take. Richard Girling unpacks a variety of topics under the banner of rubbish and waste. The book begins by looking back into resource use and disposal of things throughout British history. The reader is brought right up to the last decade where consumption is booming, and waste is growing like never before. This book takes an expansive look at this subject but is written in a way that informs and inspires the reader about how they can get involved in creating positive change in these areas.
This book can seem daunting and could make you feel like the issues we face are just too large to tackle, but I urge you to stick with it and look for all the positives amongst the scary statistics and predictions!
Once you have started to grow your awareness and knowledge of the challenges that face us in terms of the environment and our impact upon it, I would recommend this book, Sustainability by Chris Goodall. This is a resource book rather than a book that you would read cover to cover, although you can do that if you wish. It might look like a small but the content is big! Split into 10 chapters, this book gives informative and understandable definitions of loads of different sustainability terms. From carbon foot-printing to the circular economy, this book will give you short but punchy insights into each element of sustainability. A great one to dip into on a commute, or over a morning coffee.
How Bad Are Bananas
This is another resource-style book rather than one with a flowing narrative. How Bad Are Bananas is an invaluable tool for anyone who wants to try to reduce their carbon footprint. The book deep dives into all sorts of products and services that we use regularly, and it gives you the carbon impact associated with each product or service. This book truly aids you to make impactful decisions about the way you choose to live. This would be a great resource for a family or group of friends to use together to help each other to reduce their negative impacts.
The Uninhabitable Earth
I have left this book till last, both because it’s the most recently published, but also because it’s the most emotionally intense book to read. Even as someone who considers themselves to have a good knowledge of sustainability issues, this book opened my eyes and shocked me. In The Uninhabitable Earth, David Wallace Wells helps us to look into our future as humans on the planet earth. Covering global issues such as hunger, ocean health, and climate conflict, this book shows what could be if we do not begin to act now. Arguably some things are already damaged beyond our control, but the book does end in a sense of hope. Mostly this book is a powerful call to action. I challenge anyone to read this book and not be inspired to get to work! We all have a part to play and if you are searching for your motivation then you may just find it in the pages of this book!
I hope that my selection of books is helpful to you and gets you started or gently nudges you along your journey to creating a sustainable and planet-friendly lifestyle.
Guest Writer Bio: Didi Aben
Didi is a sustainable lifestyle blogger who lives in Cornwall with her partner. In 2018 Didi completed an MSc course in Sustainability and her studies inspired her to switch from the retail sector to the sustainability sector. Didi started her blog in 2019 with the aim to document her sustainability journey and share the tips and tricks she learns along the way. The Sustainable Deeds blog focuses on simple actions that anyone can implement into their own life if they are looking to live more sustainably. You can join Didi and her journey at www.sustainabledeeds.com or connect with her on Instagram @sustainable_deeds
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