20 Great Sustainability Books to Expand Your Conscious Horizons

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In a world where environmental concerns are becoming increasingly pressing, sustainability has become a hot topic that more and more people want to know about. Whether you’re interested in reducing your carbon footprint, learning about sustainable business practices, or simply want to be more conscious of the impact your choices have on the planet, there is a cornucopia of sustainability books, blogs, podcasts and documentaries that can assist you in deepening your knowledge and inspiring meaningful action.

With the concepts of sustainability ever-evolving and the introduction of newer, better technologies, it’s only practical that writers keep updating books on sustainability with current facts and statistics. So whether it’s an evergreen classic piece or a new-age version, we’ve curated a list of the best sustainability books to help you on your journey towards a more sustainable future. Excited to curl up cozy with a good read? Let’s go then!

20 Best Books on Sustainability

1. Cradle To Cradle: Remaking The Way We Make Things
2. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
3. Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience and The Fight for a Sustainable Future
4. The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability- Designing for Abundance
5. Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life By Reducing Your Waste
6. Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive By Giving More Than They Take
7. Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways To Think Like A 21st-Century Economist
8. The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming
9. Eating Animals
10. The Climate Book: The Facts and The Solutions
11. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
12. How To Avoid A Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and The Breakthroughs We Need
13. Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed To Reverse Global Warming
14. Wear No Evil: How To Change The World With Your Wardrobe
15. Silent Spring
16. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
17. There Is No Planet B: A Handbook For The Make Or Break Years
18. A Life On Our Planet: My Witness Statement And A Vision For The Future
19. Let My People Go Surfing: The Education Of A Reluctant Businessman
20. How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint Of Everything

Our Favorite Pics of 20 Best Books on Sustainability to Read Voraciously 

Our hand-picked list of the best sustainability books comprises of incredible works from devout environmental enthusiasts who aim to arm you into an eco-warrior so that together we can bring the change we all want to see. And if you’re wondering where to find them, then rest your concerns because these books are widely available on various e-commerce marketplaces, like Amazon, Good Reads, etc.

Here’s presenting Cradle To Cradle, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Climate Justice, The Upcycle, Zero Waste Home, Net Positive, Doughnut Economics, The Uninhabitable Earth, Eating Animals, The Climate Book, This Changes Everything, How To Avoid A Climate Disaster, Drawdown, Wear No Evil, Silent Spring, The Sixth Extinction, There Is No Planet B, A Life On Our Planet, Let My People Go Surfing, and How Bad Are Bananas?

1. Cradle To Cradle: Remaking The Way We Make Things

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Author: William McDonough & Michael Braungart
Coverage: Sustainable Business
Year Published: 2002

The concepts in this visionary book go beyond the “reduce, reuse, recycle,” theory. McDonough and Braungart aim to erase “waste” in the first place by challenging the traditional “cradle to grave” manufacturing model, where products are designed to get discarded once we’re done using them. This approach is how majority of the industries work. But dumping items that are no longer useful only adds to waste and pollution.

As a guide for practising eco-effectiveness, the authors introduce the “cradle to cradle” principle, explaining how products can be created to be functional even after their lifecycle ends. They can be perceived as “nutrients” in creating something new, thereby following circularity.

2. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

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Author: Michael Pollan
Coverage: Sustainable Food
Year Published: 2006

This groundbreaking book explores our broken food system where despite of us being omnivores with access to countless food options, we still get confused about what to eat for dinner. The author mentions that with a surge in people following the never-ending fad diet culture, American supermarkets and fast-food outlets have created a treacherous food landscape. And as the country is suffering from a national eating disorder, what’s really at stake in our eating choices, jeopardising our health and that of our family, along with the environment.

Pollan intricately studies each food chain to emphasize our dynamic reciprocal relationship with the handful of plants and animal species we depend on. A must-read for those intrigued about the commercialized food chain.

3. Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience and The Fight for a Sustainable Future

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Author: Mary Robinson
Coverage: Sustainable Climate
Year Published: 2018

Written by former President of Ireland and UN Special Envoy Mary Robinson— Climate Justice is a collection of empowering stories of grassroots female activists worldwide who faced environmental and humanitarian injustices and took measures to bring unprecedented change. From Malawi to Mongolia to Uganda and Mississippi, Robinson’s mission led her to communities badly affected by climate change and rising water levels. And there she came across ordinary women with extraordinary resilience doing their bit in pulling together their families and neighbourhoods with a hope for a better tomorrow.

4. The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability- Designing for Abundance

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Author: William McDonough & Michael Braungart
Coverage: Sustainable Business
Year Published: 2013

The Upcycle is the follow-up book of “Cradle to Cradle”— one of the most reputed ecological manifestoes of the 21st century. In this second book, the authors focus on bringing your attention to practical demonstrations of the cradle-to-cradle approach in real businesses, governments, and ordinary people. Now, they envision the next solution to our ecological crisis.

McDonough and Braungart strongly believe that we don’t just reuse resources for greater effectiveness, but actually, improve the world as we live and create. They envision beneficial designs of products, infrastructures, and business practices, and show us the use of these ideas around everyday objects like chairs, cars, and factories to not only sustain life on the planet but to help grow it.

5. Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life By Reducing Your Waste

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Author: Bea Johnson
Coverage: Sustainable Living
Year Published: 2013

Zero Waste Home is the perfect guide for sustainable buffs wanting to achieve a waste-free lifestyle to reduce their environmental impact. Written by Bea Johnson, known as the “Mother of Zero Waste Living,” this book documents how she improved her family’s life by reducing their trash. She pioneered the “trash jar” concept, which is actually a pint-sized container that Bea used to fit in her family’s yearly garbage.

If you felt that’s impossible, then think again. Because along with sharing her story, Bea laid down the system by which she and her family reached their Zero Waste goals. And if she can do it, you can too! No doubt, it’s one of the best sustainable living books, as it has multiple step-by-step guides, tips and tricks to motivate readers to start their waste-free journey and find peace in a clutterless life.

6. Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive By Giving More Than They Take

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Author: Paul Polman & Andrew Winston
Coverage: Sustainable Business
Year Published: 2021

Net Positive reveals how the ex-Unilever CEO increased his shareholders’ returns by a whopping 300% while ensuring the organization ranks #1 globally for sustainability, for eleven years now and counting. Author Paul Polman teamed up with one of the world’s most authoritative corporate sustainability voices Andrew Winston, to show business tycoons how to build a thriving business by taking on humanity’s most significant and urgent challenges— Climate change and Inequality.

The book boldly argues that companies with a future-forward mindset will profit by fixing the world’s problems and not by creating them. Together the authors bust the most prevalent corporate myths— from the idea that businesses only operate to maximise profits to the naïve hope that just following a bit of Corporate Social Responsibility will save humankind from disaster. 

7. Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways To Think Like A 21st-Century Economist

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Author: Kate Raworth
Coverage: Sustainable Business
Year Published: 2017

In Doughnut Economics, renegade Oxford Economist Kate Raworth identifies seven crucial ways in which mainstream economics led us off-track. In this book, she illustrated her new vision through a doughnut shape, arguing that it’s possible to cater to all of humanity’s needs with whatever resources our planet can provide.

With a radically open perspective on global developments, government policies, and corporate strategies, she laid out a roadmap for economically-minded people in the context of our time’s social and ecological challenges. Raworth’s cutting-edge economic model is fit for the 21st century that points to sustainability and human progress.

8. The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

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Author: David Wallace-Wells
Coverage: Sustainable Climate
Year Published: 2019

The Uninhabitable Earth gives you an alarming peek at the consequences of global warming in future times— from wildfires to floods to climate wars and rising sea levels. It explains how humanity’s thirst for abundance and negligence has brought this world close to the verge of becoming unlivable. But the damages can be reversed, if we do our part to transform our lifestyle, politics, and relationship to technology to improve this beautiful planet we live on. The Uninhabitable Earth is the author’s sincere call to climate action.

9. Eating Animals

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Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Coverage: Sustainable Food
Year Published: 2009

Eating Animals is a recollection of Jonathan Safran Foer’s food habit experiences and how he saw the food chain differently after becoming a father. He mentions that after he started a family, the moral dimensions of food became exceedingly important to him. Therefore, faced with the anticipation of being unable to explain why we only eat a few select animals and not others, Foer investigates the origins of different eating traditions and more.

He narrates his transition to becoming a vegetarian, which occurred upon the revelation of brutal farming conditions within which animals are reared for human consumption. However, don’t misunderstand this book as one of those preachy ones. Because all that Eating Animals aims to do is to inspire the reader to make well-informed choices about their eating habits.

10. The Climate Book: The Facts and The Solutions

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Author: Greta Thunberg
Coverage: Sustainable Climate
Year Published: 2022

Written by recognized climate activist Greta Thunberg, The Climate Book is a collective of short essays written from the wisdom of over one hundred environmental experts. From geophysicists, oceanographers, historians and meteorologists to engineers, economists, philosophers and mathematicians, everybody has done their part to analyse the causes, consequences and, of course, the challenges of the climate crisis.

Alongside these editorials, Greta shares her own stories of uncovering greenwashing tactics worldwide as a revelation of how much we have been kept in the dark. The book is divide into 5 parts: How climate works, How our Planet is changing, How it affects us, What we’ve done about it, and What we must do now.

11. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

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Author: Naomi Klein
Coverage: Sustainable Business
Year Published: 2014

This Changes Everything is a detailed analysis of how political ideologies and special interests of business houses are running the economy to the extent that nobody is getting that the profit-addicted market is what’s pushing us deeper into global warming. Through this thought-provoking book, Naomi states that we need to change the way our economic system works as that might be the only way to stop climate change in whatever short time we still have. This Changes Everything was named as the New York Times Book Review’s 100 Notable Books of the Year, and even a documentary was created by the same name. 

12. How To Avoid A Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and The Breakthroughs We Need

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Author: Bill Gates
Coverage: Sustainable Business
Year Published: 2021

Bill Gates has come out with a fierce take on sustainability with his book How To Avoid A Climate Disaster. He explained why he cares so strongly about climate change and what makes him hopeful that the world can still prevent the worst impacts of global warming. As an engineer, he explores niche technologies such as carbon-free cement manufacturing along with mainstream industrial solutions.

Bill Gates interest in climate change is an honest effort by his foundation that works towards reducing poverty and disease. The billionaire gives the solution that if we work on a local, national, and global level to construct technologies, businesses, and industries, we can avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Recently, Bill pledged $1.5 billion for climate change projects. 

13. Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed To Reverse Global Warming

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Author: Paul Hawken
Coverage: Sustainable Lifestyle, Climate, Agriculture & Business
Year Published: 2017

While we continue to live in a broken world of widespread fear and apathy, Drawdown serves as a beacon of hope for a future of reversed global warming. A combined work of an international coalition of scientists, researchers, and professionals, this book offers 100 techniques and practices as realistic solutions to climate change. The ideas range from clean renewable energy to educating girls in developing nations and regenerative agricultural practices that reduce carbon from the air.

The solutions are economically feasible, and what’s amazing is communities worldwide are already implementing them with determination. Hawken guarantees that if the strategies are deployed collectively at a global level for the next thirty years, not only the earth’s warming will slow down, but the scale of greenhouse gases will begin to decline.

14. Wear No Evil: How To Change The World With Your Wardrobe

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Author: Greta Eagan
Coverage: Sustainable Fashion
Year Published: 2014

For all you fashionistas wanting to incorporate a sustainable wardrobe, Wear No Evil is just the right place to start. Considered as one of the most reviewed sustainable fashion books, it exposes the dark exploitative ways the fashion industry operates. The author takes you on an eye-opening ride on how fast fashion brands manufacture their clothes in sweatshops where garment makers work for unreasonable hours in exchange for unacceptable pay.

Eagan encourages the reader to break free from chasing fast fashion trends and, instead, choose brands with sustainability and ethical practices at their core. She suggests checking on their “Integrity Index”, which is a metric of ethics for conscious labels. To ease your search, the book has a directory of such eco-fashion brands, which will definitely help you revolutionise your wardrobe.

15. Silent Spring

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Author: Rachel Carson
Coverage: Sustainable Environment & Agriculture
Year Published: 1962

As one of the most long-serving books on climate change, Silent Spring documents the threatening environmental effects caused by the extensive use of pesticides. Carson blamed the chemical industry for spreading misinformation regarding only the benefits of such synthetic insecticides, shielding their adverse effects on soil health, human exposure, waterbody contamination, and so on. She also accuses public officials for accepting this industry’s marketing claims without any questions.

However, while critics called her “unscientific” and “hysterical”, her work caused a huge outcry that forced a nationwide ban on DDT, eventually creating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Discover Magazine has listed Silent Spring as one of the 25 most outstanding environmental science books of all time.

16. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

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Author: Elizabeth Kolbert
Coverage: Sustainable Climate
Year Published: 2014

The Sixth Extinction gives you an unnerving look at the threats posed by climate change due to the insatiable greed of human behaviour. Author Elizabeth Kolbert states that there have been five mass extinctions over the last half-billion years, which led to the diversity of species on earth dwindling dramatically. Adding to the horror, she highlights that we are very much in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, which is predicted to be the most devastating eradication event since the wipeout of dinosaurs by the asteroid impact.

From stories of extinct to endangered species such as the Panamian golden frog, Sumatran rhino, staghorn coral, and the great auk, you’ll be disheartened by the facts. As a Pulitzer Prize winner, The Sixth Extinction is one sustainability book that should definitely be on your reading radar.

17. There Is No Planet B: A Handbook For The Make Or Break Years

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Author: Mike Berners-Lee
Coverage: Sustainable Environment
Year Published: 2019

The world is currently struggling with a list of never-ending issues— from hunger, climate change and biodiversity to pesticides, antibiotics and plastics, you name it, and we’re under attack from it all. But what needs to be dealt with first? What is the most pressing global warming matter for now? What are the aftereffects of our actions? Do we all have to become vegetarians? Will we still be able to fly in a low-carbon world? Is overpopulation the primary factor?

Yes, that’s a whole lot of concerning questions, and thankfully, Mike Berners-Lee has all the answers. The author has run the numbers and mapped out a strategy that is both workable and enjoyable. In There is No Planet B, he has laid out his strategy in an easy-going and exciting manner, which you’ll love to read as it’s packed with startling information and insights.

18. A Life On Our Planet: My Witness Statement And A Vision For The Future

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Author: David Attenborough
Coverage: Sustainable Environment
Year Published: 2020

A Life On Our Planet is a memoir of legendary personality David Attenborough, where he shares his experience as a first-hand witness to the enormous environmental decline of our planet. Attenborough contemplates the fact of how we allowed things to get this worse, and reminds everyone of the necessary interconnectedness of the natural and human world. However, even after witnessing the loss of our planet’s wild places and biodiversity, the author is hopeful that the human race can still change the current course. To convey this message to the masses and inspire them to take action, A Life On Our Planet was filmed in a Netflix documentary with the same title.

19. Let My People Go Surfing: The Education Of A Reluctant Businessman

Author: Yvon Chouinard
Coverage: Sustainable Environment & Business
Year Published: 2005

Let My People Go Surfing is an inspiring business memoir of the legendary businessman and environmentalist Yvon Chouinard, the founder of one of the world’s most environmentally responsible companies. The book is a perfect example of how a company like Patagonia can grow into a successful billion-dollar business by being accountable for its actions and putting purpose over profit. But apart from just summarising the organization’s history, it explores the relationship between companies and their stakeholders with the environment, illustrating how business leaders can change the world through sustainable leadership! A must-read book for fans of Patagonia, entrepreneurs and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

20. How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint Of Everything

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Author: Mike Berners-Lee
Coverage: Sustainable Technology
Year Published: 2010

How Bad Are Bananas? takes you to the minuscule level of your environmental footprint based on the lifestyle decisions you make today. Whether it’s a text message, a war somewhere, a rose for Valentine’s Day or having a child, this book gives all the carbon answers we need along with plenty of revelations. Mike Berners-Lee helps us pick our own battles by walking us through hundreds of items calculating our carbon footprint over almost anything we do, buy or think about.

And what’s shocking is you might come across things you thought are associated with green living but actually are not. Undeniably, one of the most unique sustainability books is especially for hardcore data-lovers to reduce their footprint.

Why Read Sustainability Books?

Deepen Your Understanding

Reading well-researched books on sustainability can help you deepen your understanding of the various environmental issues. From climate change to biodiversity loss, species extinction to increased levels of greenhouse gas emissions, they walk you through every alarming topic. By understanding the complexity of these issues, you can develop a more nuanced perspective on the existing environmental challenges and opportunities to fix them.

Inspire Positive Action

Sustainability books are packed with insights and solutions to inspire positive action. Whether it’s reducing your carbon footprint, starting a compost bin, or advocating for policy change, these books can provide practical guidance and motivation for making a positive difference in the world.

Learn from Experts

Writing sustainability books are the work of experts in their fields. From scientists to economists to activists and geologists, they are witnesses to valuable information in their niche. By reading such books, you can learn from the wisdom and experience of these experts and apply their insights to your own life and work.

Explore New Perspectives

Sustainability books can also help you explore new perspectives and ways of thinking about environmental issues. By reading diverse voices and opinions, you can broaden your understanding of sustainability and expand your horizons.

To Wrap it Up…

Reading sustainability books is an amazing way to deepen your environmental consciousness and inspire positive action towards a more sustainable future. Whether you’re interested in practical advice for sustainable living, inspiring stories of environmental activism, or a deeper understanding of the science and policy behind climate change, there’s a book out there for everyone. So why not pick one up and start turning the pages towards a greener, more sustainable world? Happy Reading!

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