6 Books to Jumpstart Your Sustainability Journey
Updated: Sep 28
Written by: Dorothy Rathmell
For many, quarantine has served as an opportune time to start new hobbies from baking to yoga to finally challenging yourself to read more. With so much time on your hands and so many pressing issues out there to read up on, there is no time like the present to start your journey to a more sustainable lifestyle. We’ve compiled a list of amazing reads, both old and new, for anyone looking to learn more about taking environmental action and why sustainability is so important.
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
The novel, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson was released in 1962, and according to some, ushered in the concept of environmentalism and conservation to the mainstream public. Carson wrote Silent Spring in response to the use of pesticides and their impact on the environment, specifically looking at the chemical compound, Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane also known as DDT. The novel served as an exposé showing how the use of pesticides such as DDT severely harms the environment and biodiversity of an ecosystem. Silent Spring kickstarted environmentalism in the American media and even led to a national ban on DDT and a revision of the United State’s pesticide policy. Despite being written over 50 years ago, Silent Spring remains relevant today and still reflects how agriculture and food production impacts its surrounding environment.
(For Kids) Hoot by Carl Hiassen
If you’re looking for summer reading for kids, check out Hoot by Carl Hiassen. The book takes a lighthearted but attention grabbing approach to environmentalism among youth and depicts how anyone can make an impact on the environment. The story takes place in Florida and follows several young characters as they work to raise awareness for environmental destruction and actively protect endangered species. The story serves as a good introduction to environmental activism for young kids, and if they enjoy Hoot, Hiassen has several other novels surrounding environmentalism and conservation that are geared towards young kids.
Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist by Kate Raworth
One of the most important and overlooked components of environmentalism is economics and the corporate business model. Kate Raworth illustrates the importance of economics in society, politics, and conservation. While environmentalism or wildlife protection are not at the forefront of this book, it is imperative to understand the United States economic policy in order for real change to be both implemented and effective. Raworth discusses economics and economic policy in a manner that can be understood by anyone, even if you know nothing at all about economics or how it correlates with the environment.
The Overstory by Richard Powers
A work of environmental fiction, The Overstory tells the story of nine individuals whose lives are all impacted in some form by the trees and forests around them. Characters spanning the globe all become interconnected through their personal relationships and experiences with the local forests. The novel depicts a story of loss, the complexity of human nature, and the importance of our personal relationship with the environment.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein
This novel by Naomi Klein depicts the need for action in regard to economic policy and climate change. Economics is vitally important to repairing the ecosystem. Klein produces viable and economically feasible solutions to environmental degradation, climate change, and environmental injustice that not only benefit the global ecosystem but also grow the economy. Klein argues that now is the time to act in regard to climate change and the way to do that is by gearing the economy to greener, more sustainable, job creating solutions.
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben
Okay, this one may seem a little out there, but stick with me. Wohlleben writes about the social dynamics and networks that trees share with one another; yes, according to Wohlleben, trees have social lives. It may seem ridiculous, but the claim is backed up by valid research that shows how trees communicate and work to share resources amongst themselves depending on the nutritional needs of other trees in their communities. Besides the social networks of trees, Wohlleben also discusses the importance of nature and our human connection to the outside world, and this book is definitely worth a read if you want to learn something new!
Finding the time to read is a struggle for everyone, but well worth it when you carve out a moment to learn about an unfamiliar topic. Even if you find the time to delve into only one of these works, you’ll walk away with an entirely different perspective on the world we live in and how to best protect it. Living more sustainably is a process and adjustment, but the more knowledge you have, the easier it will be!