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If you’ve ever wondered about what you can do to live sustainably, then this list of the top sustainable living books is for you.
Sometimes, talking about humanity’s impact on the planet can be downright depressing. It feels like there’s so much that needs to be done, but that nothing helps. But that’s not true at all. We can all do a little bit of something and make a difference.
Small changes in how we shop, eat and live matter. So, we’re listing the best books on sustainable living that offer practical ways to get you started on making changes to reduce your environmental impact. Let’s dive in!
What is sustainable living?
In nutshell, sustainable living means finding ways to cut back on how we use the planet’s resources and reduce the harm that our consumption does to the environment.
We all rely on the Earth – from the fertile soils that grow our food to the protection of the ozone layer. So, we all must look into how our lifestyle choices affect the world and find ways to live better with less waste.
Luckily, there’s no one way to live sustainably. The possibilities and practical ways we can take action are endless.
For instance, you can start with switching to sustainable fashion, since we know that the clothing industry is one of the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions.
Also, sustainable solutions like eating less meat and growing our food are not only good for the environment, it’s also good for our bodies. So, with that being said let's dive into our list of the best sustainable living books!
10 Best sustainable living books
There are many ways we can make a difference towards sustainability. We can use our voices to vote for policies that prioritize the environment and grow food in our own backyards.
But we can do more. We can learn how to live in a way that is less harmful to the planet. So, here are some books about sustainable living that can help you make small but impactful changes in what you buy and use.
1. The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide by Jen Gale
If you’ve been wanting to do your part in saving the planet, but you don’t have the time nor the energy to sort the garbage and you have so much going on that remembering to bring your reusable coffee cup feels like a Herculean task, then this book is for you.
The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide covers every aspect of our lives – from the stuff we buy and the food we eat, to how we travel, work, and celebrate.
You’ll find lots of practical, down-to-earth ideas that you can use to do something differently in your daily life. This sustainable living book will help you take small steps to change your impact in this world, without making huge changes in your life.
2. Grow Food For Free: The Sustainable, Zero-cost, Low-effort Way to a Bountiful Harvest by Huw Richards
Grow Food For Free came about when author, Huw Richards, set a challenge for himself – to grow fruit and vegetables for free for a year. He did it! So now, he wants to help as many people do the same through this sustainable living book.
The book details tried and tested advice on getting the materials you need and finding space to grow your own food. Richards suggests repurposing an old wooden pallet or looking in your fridge and cupboards for food that you can plant.
This is one of the best books about sustainable living if you’re looking for practical tips and clear instructions on how to grow fruits and veggies organically.
3. Building a Better World in Your Backyard: Instead of Being Angry at Bad Guys by Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop
There’s a continuous debate on who’s fault it is that our oceans are polluted and our planet is in danger of overheating. But instead of being angry at people, the book Building a Better World in Your Backyard explores how you can make a huge, positive, world-changing impact from your home!
It offers dozens of solutions on how we can solve environmental issues. But the options they offer do not include the usual suggestions like writing to politicians, joining protests, and signing petitions.
In this book, the authors present other options like building a mutually-beneficial relationship with nature that doesn’t require anyone to sacrifice anything. What a world that would be!
This is why we recommend this book as one of the best books on sustainable living.
4. Simply Living Well: A Guide to Creating a Natural, Low-Waste Home by Julia Watkins
The book, Simply Living Well is full of recipes, DIY projects, and inspiration for a beautiful and low-waste life. The author, Julia Watkins is also the creator of @simply.living.well on Instagram.
This is one of the best books about sustainable living that offers timely advice and motivational guides for living simply and sustainably at home.
Watkins shows you how to say no to wasteful packaging, harmful ingredients, and disposable items. It includes practical lists of easy swaps you can do. For instance, she suggests getting biodegradable sponges or Swedish dishcloths instead of disposable sponges.
You’ll also learn how to make wool dryer balls and herbal tinctures and balms. Plus, it has recipes for essentials like homemade nut milk, hummus, ketchup, salad dressings, and veggie stock.
5. Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have by Tatiana Schlossberg
As long as we live on the same planet, the Earth connects us all. And that is how Schlossberg discussed how things we do in one corner of the world affect everyone.
The book, Inconspicuous Consumption breaks down how streaming a movie on Netflix in New York burns coal in Virginia. Or how eating a hamburger in California might contribute to pollution in the Gulf of Mexico.
But far from being depressing, Schlossberg makes the climate crisis and its solutions interesting. It also gives anyone a reason to care, even a little, about the planet.
She also empowers readers to think about what they buy and how it affects the environment in a new way. The book is a reminder that the fight against climate change has to involve all of us and we have to do it together.
As the first-place winner of the Society of Environmental Journalists’ Rachel Carson Environment Book Award, this truly is one of the best books on sustainable living.
6. Waste Not: Make a Big Difference by Throwing Away Less by Erin Rhoads
Every year, we produce millions of tons of waste and it’s becoming a massive problem. Especially because less than 20 percent of waste is actually recycled and the rest still goes to landfills.
The waste we create includes thousands of dollars worth of food and an ever-increasing amount of plastic. As we know, plastic takes hundreds of years to break down and often ends up in our oceans or our food chain.
So, if you’re also shaking your head when you see unnecessarily shrink-wrapped veggies and want to know how to waste less, give the book, Waste Not a read.
This book details Rhoads’ journey of eating from plastic-packaged takeout while shopping online for fast fashion, to becoming one of Australia’s leading eco-bloggers.
In a funny and inspiring way, she shares everything she’s learned to help you start living with less waste too.
7. The Fate of Food: What We'll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World by Amanda Little
The book, Fate of Food, is a fascinating story of how will we feed nine billion people sustainably in the coming decades.
The author, Amanda Little, is a professor at Vanderbilt University and an award-winning journalist. She spent three years traveling to many countries and the United States to bring us exciting and encouraging answers to the question.
For this book, Little interviews, and adventures with farmers, scientists, activists, and engineers. And then, she takes readers on a tour of how our food is made in the future. If you want to see what that looks like, pick up a copy of this sustainable living book.
In the book, Little shares a deeper understanding of the threats of climate change. At the same time, she tells readers of the awe and optimism that she found from learning the lessons of our past and of humanity’s resourcefulness.
8. 101 Ways To Go Zero Waste
Food waste is the most ridiculous problem the world is facing. According to Earth.org, one-third of the food produced every year – valued at $1 trillion USD– is wasted or lost. This is enough to feed 3 billion people. If you’re shocked and want some guidance on how to begin reducing your household waste, then let me introduce you to Kathryn Kellogg.
She can fit all her trash from the past two years into a 16-ounce mason jar. If you find that inspiring, 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste is the book for you. You’ll find Kellogg’s tips and more on how she did it.
The book also includes advice for responsible consumption. Plus you can start making better choices for home goods and fashion with her DIY recipes for beauty and home.
This is truly one of the best books on sustainable living. It’s a practical blueprint of realistic lifestyle changes for anyone who wants to reduce their waste.
9. Live Green: 52 steps for a more sustainable life (sustainable gift, self-sufficiency, sustainable home) by Jen Chillingsworth
Many of us are trying our best to adopt a greener lifestyle for the environment. So, we recycle, carry reusable bags, and make “meatless Mondays” a thing. But if you’ve been wanting to do more, reading the book Live Green is a good place to start.
This is a practical guide of 52 sustainable living changes – one for each week of the year. Each weekly change helps you to be more self-sufficient and reduce your impact on the environment.
It’s a treasure trove of ideas on how to live sustainably. You’ll find tips and hacks on how to make your own eco-friendly cleaning products and improve your natural beauty regime. You'll also learn how to create a capsule wardrobe and make your own ethical Christmas decorations.
What a treat to be able to save the environment, save money and live with intention!
10. Minimal: How to simplify your life and live sustainably by Madeleine Olivia
In the book, Minimal: How To Simplify Your Life And Live Sustainably, leading environmentalist, Madeleine Olivia shares practical tips that make sustainable living achievable for everyone.
Inside you’ll find Olivia’s insights on how to care for yourself in a more eco-friendly way, as well as how to introduce a mindful approach to your habits.
It offers ideas on how to declutter your life and reduce your waste and consumption. The book also has recipes for eating seasonally and making your own natural beauty and cleaning products.
Pick up a copy of Minimal and discover how to live a happier and more fulfilled life while saving the planet.
Get inspired with these top sustainable living books
Pick one or two of these books about sustainable living and get reading! Get inspired to make even small changes in what you wear, eat and use.
Maybe you would even be motivated to look at how much food and stuff you throw out. Saving the planet might even save you some money!