bookshelf with plants

10 Sustainability Books to Change How You Think About the World

Jane Marsh - January 16, 2024

We are reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn affiliate commission.

Sustainability is among the most critical issues facing people and the planet today. From climate change to biodiversity loss to pollution and excessive resource consumption, the world must uncover ways to support current livelihoods without compromising the needs of future generations. Sustainability books deliver vital information, fresh ideas, and solutions to these challenges.

The following 10 books are written by field experts with extensive experience and knowledge of sustainable living and stewardship. Covering wide-ranging topics, they aim to challenge and change your views of the Earth and inspire you to take action.

1. “Give a Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet.” by Ashlee Piper

Nearly 80% of Americans believe recycling is extremely important — yet they often point to the lack of recycling services and programs as a top barrier. Others need education on proper recycling rules and practices. 

“Give a Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet.” by Ashlee Piper is just the book you need to learn about recycling whenever possible, plus a few other sustainable lifestyle tips. Marrying solid waste-free information with a non-judgmental, humorous tone, Piper teaches people how to adopt greener living from the kitchen to the bedroom closet. 

2. “Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit” by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Lyanda Lynn Haupt fosters a deeper connection with the natural world in “Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit.” 

Learn how nature impacts our bodies, minds, and spirits and how we return those effects to the Earth. Haupt’s beautiful prose will alter your sense of belonging and teach you to rethink your relationship with the wilderness. 

3. “Green Giants: How Smart Companies Turn Sustainability into Billion-Dollar Businesses” by E. Freya Williams

According to a recent report by the Economist, 65% of consumers believe brands and governments hold equal responsibility for driving environmental change. Some big-name brands have already led the charge.

E. Freya Williams highlights nine well-known businesses — such as Chipotle, Unilever, and Toyota — in “Green Giants: How Smart Companies Turn Sustainability into Billion-Dollar Businesses,” underscoring how sustainability and profitability can go hand in hand. 

Collectively, these companies account for $60 billion in revenue. Meanwhile, the book delivers the latest research, interviews, examples, and blueprints for other brands to follow suit.

4. “101 Ways to Go Zero Waste” by Kathryn Kellogg

Adopting a greener lifestyle can feel overwhelming if you are unsure of what you’re doing. Fortunately, there are sustainability books to help you get started, such as Kathryn Kellogg’s “101 Ways to Go Zero Waste.”

Kellogg offers helpful tips, recipes, and advice to consume goods sustainably and make better, eco-conscious decisions. For instance, you’ll learn which clothing materials are “green” and how to reduce your carbon footprint while traveling.

Kellogg removes uncertainty around green living and produces a realistic guide for reducing your carbon footprint.

5. “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative” by Florence Williams

Many studies have demonstrated nature’s positive effects on mental and physical health, including reduced anxiety and depression, improved cognition, lower blood pressure and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. 

In “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative,” Florence Williams highlights ground-breaking research about nature’s impact on people’s minds, moods, health, and creative tendencies. More importantly, Williams shares how nature can improve our lives and encourage innovation.

6. “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis” by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac

Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac don’t mince words in “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis.” Instead, they deliver a cautionary tale of what will happen amid a changing climate if we fail to meet the climate targets in the Paris Agreement.

The authors share two scenarios — one which depicts life on Earth by 2050 if the world falls short of reaching its emissions goals. The other draws a picture of a sustainable future with net-zero emissions. Most importantly, it provides options for people, businesses, and governments to mitigate climate change disasters. 

7. “The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability” by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

William McDonough and Michael Braungart — authors of “Cradle to Cradle” — follow up with “The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability.” After a decade of applying the cradle-to-cradle approach to business, government, and individual stewardship, McDonough and Braungart challenge the world to improve resources as they reuse them. 

“The Upcycle” is one of those sustainability books that truly change your perspective of humans on Earth. Readers will come to understand the importance of altering our behaviors while simultaneously protecting the planet from ourselves. 

8. “There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years” by Mike Berners-Lee

When it comes to sustainability, the question is always where to begin. Must everyone eat plant-based diets, and how can we travel with zero emissions? Living more sustainably can be incredibly overwhelming — after all, how much of a difference can one person make?

Mike Berners-Lee suggests a practical and possible solution in “There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years.” The updated version of the book covers more relevant topics, too — including pandemics, environmental protests, carbon targets, green investing, and wildfires. Of course, the book also explains what you can do amid increasing ecological crises.

9. “Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm” by Isabella Tree

“Wilding” is a beautiful memoir by Isabella Tree — a story of nature’s resilience when left to rewild on its own. After Tree’s West Sussex farm faltered, she and her husband let nature take over the 3,500 acres of land.

The results were astonishing — in less than a decade, the farm transformed into a high-functioning ecosystem teeming with life, including rare species.

“Wilding” won the Richard Jeffries Society and White Horse Book Shop Literary Prize. It continues to be one of the most popular and hope-filled sustainability books today.

10. “A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future” by Sir David Attenborough

A list of sustainability books is incomplete without the incredible Sir David Attenborough. In “A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future,” Attenborough delivers a breathtaking account of how the Earth has changed throughout his 93 years of life and his hopes for a better tomorrow.

The renowned natural historian warns we have one chance left to restore the world and create a home for everyone — we only need the will to take action.

Read These Sustainability Books and Make a Difference

Books are a wealth of information. Concerning sustainability, expert insights and calls to action can change the world for the better. Read sustainability books to learn how you can make a difference for the planet.

Share on

Like what you read? Join other readers!

Get the latest updates on our planet by subscribing to the newsletter!

About the author

Jane Marsh

Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.