Goal: Expand and build upon current knowledge of sustainable living and the climate crisis. Action: Read these 12 sustainability books.
Has anyone else learned a whole lot about everything – like all subjects – on social media? I am so shocked at how much I’ve learned about pressing issues on my phone apps. Sometimes it seems like it is certainly more than schools ever taught. However, I am still all about taking the time to learn on my own in the traditional sense. It is great to learn from those who take the time to share pertinent in formation on the internet. But, I believe it is still important to pick p a good book.
12 Sustainability Books You Should Read NOW
I have researched books for a few weeks now. Firstly, I wanted to make a list that was attainable, so I settled on one book per month in a year’s time. Secondly, the list needed to be written by diverse authors. As a result, these books will provide diverse perspectives. The list below are the sustainability books that I’ve chosen to learn from on my journey. This is definitely not an exhaustive list, but it is a start! I’m excited to dive into these books. Likewise, I think they will be insightful for others to read. Will you join me?
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Disclosure: Old World New is a participant in the Amazon services LLC associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to amazon.com and affiliated sites.
1) Soul of A Citizen
I found this book on a free book cart at my local farmers market and was intrigued by reviews saying that it is a great read for environmental activists. While I choose not to participate in events that require gathering with a large amount of people (marches, protests) for my own personal safety and comfort level reasons, I want to grow to be a better activist in a way in which I feel safe. I am excited to read this book first and hope that it enlightens me to help me be a better environmentalist.
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2) The Green Collar Economy
I was very intentional in choosing black and indigenous authors to include on this list. The Green Collar Economy is written author and activist Van Jones, the creator of non-profit Green for All and former President Obama’s Special Advisor Green Jobs. In short, it addresses and offers solutions for two of the major issues we face as a society: protecting the environment and the economy.
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3) Silent Spring
Leading up to the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April, I wanted to read a classic in environmental literature. Silent Spring sparked a revolutionary movement when it informed the public about the dangers of pesticides. This book helped to effect change to laws that protected our natural resources – land, water, and air.
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4) As Long as Grass Grows
Indigenous, African, and people of African descent are the original environmentalists, but it wasn’t because of a fancy movement. It was their way of life. Capitalism and racism put an end to how black and indigenous people had cared for the earth for hundreds of years. Subsequently, the results disproportionately impact us in negative ways with the harmful effects of climate change impacting black and brown communities. As Long as Grass Grows is written by Indigenous author Dina Gilio-Whitaker and it explores the fight for environmental justice through an indigenous lens.
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5) Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
I first read this book while studying sustainability in college. I honestly don’t recall much of what I learned from it, so I’m excited to read it again as an older adult. Cradle to Cradle explores ways to make things better so that our products contribute to a circular economy instead of becoming trash as soon as their one use is done.
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6) Rooted in Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage
Environmental historian Dianne D. Glave reminds us of the love African-Americans used to have for the land before it became a source of fear due to racism and hate crimes against black people. She encourages us to get back to nature and shares her knowledge of the history of African American’s beautiful relationship with the environment. I’m very excited to read this one!
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7) To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?
This book reveals the horrible sides of the fashion industry while sharing ways to make it better. The solution-oriented outlook gives me hope that we, people from all over the world, will truly one day be able to live exciting lives while making the care of the planet a top priority.
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8) To Love the Wind & the Rain: African Americans and Environmental History
To Love the Wind & the Rain explores the history of the relationship between African Americans and the environment. In particular, it focuses on “African Americans in the rural environment, African Americans in the urban and suburban environments, and African Americans and the notion of environmental justice.” Subjects such as slavery, gardening, religion, outdoor recreation, women, politics, and more have been rigorously researched and are covered in this book.
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9) Killing Sustainability
The research supporting the book Killing Sustainability is 3.5 decades of advising Fortune 500 companies by its author, Lawrence M. Heim. The Amazon description says it best – “Killing Sustainability is the blunt truth about why many executives hesitate to invest in sustainability, social responsibility and investor-oriented environmental/social/governance (ESG) programs, how sustainability/CSR professionals create credibility problems in their organizations and how to use behavioral economics and credible financial valuation methods to overcome these barriers.”
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10) Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability (Food, Health, and Environment)
“Bringing together insights from studies of environmental justice, sustainable agriculture, critical race theory, and food studies, Cultivating Food Justice highlights the ways race and class inequalities permeate the food system, from production to distribution to consumption. The studies offered in the book explore a range of important issues, including agricultural and land use policies that systematically disadvantage Native American, African American, Latino/a, and Asian American farmers and farmworkers; access problems in both urban and rural areas; efforts to create sustainable local food systems in low-income communities of color; and future directions for the food justice movement. These diverse accounts of the relationships among food, environmentalism, justice, race, and identity will help guide efforts to achieve a just and sustainable agriculture.”
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11) Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape
Author Lauret Savoy uses her gift with words to tell stories of how our ancestors have beautiful histories with the land, despite the pain and stories that history tell us the most. She is an educator and Earth historian descended from African-American, European, and Indigenous bloodlines. Trace tells those anguished stories, as well as the lesser known stories of our true connection the land.
12) Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence.
I wanted to finish the year with a more personal read. Planetwalker is the story of John Francis, and African-American man who, in the 1970s chose to lead a silent environmental protest. Through walking across the American landscape, he learned about the environment beyond the polluted one he was used to. He shares his personal experiences and what he learned from the land and the people he encounter in this personal environmental story.
What environmental books do you recommend for me and the Old World New community? Comment the title and author in the comments below!
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Originally Published December 30, 2019
Updated February 28, 2021