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Eco-Library Essentials: 10 Must-Read Sustainability Books

The world of sustainability can sometimes seem like a daunting place. Endless news articles about climate doom and social injustices fill our newsfeeds, and knowing what you can do as an individual can feel overwhelming. In this article, I’m sharing my top 10 favorite books that focus on topics around sustainability for eco-curious readers who want to learn more about living more sustainably.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are Amazon affiliate links. If you use one of my links to make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps to fund this website. However, in the interest of sustainability, I recommend borrowing the books from your local library, purchasing them second-hand or from a local independent bookstore where possible.

The Carbon Footprint of Everything

Image of the book cover for the book called "The Carbon Footprint of Everything" by Mike Berners-Lee

The Carbon Footprint of Everything by Mike Berners-Lee is like a dictionary for the carbon footprints of the things we use in our everyday lives.

This book is an updated version of his original book “How Bad Are Bananas?”, with updated figures and research.

The book does a fantastic job of breaking down the carbon footprint and other areas of impact from our everyday items and giving tips for more sustainable consumption.

If you’re only going to read one book on sustainability, read this one.

Let My People Go Surfing

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman is written by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of the outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, known for its environmental campaigns and activism.

The book is a combination of memoir and business philosophy, offering readers a glimpse into the unique corporate culture of Patagonia. Chouinard shares his personal journey, from his early days as a rock climber to the creation and growth of the Patagonia brand. The book emphasizes the importance of environmental sustainability and social responsibility in business, detailing how Patagonia has integrated these values into its operations. Chouinard advocates for a business approach that prioritizes environmental ethics, employee well-being, and a commitment to producing high-quality, durable products. “Let My People Go Surfing” is not only a reflection on the success of Patagonia but also a guide for entrepreneurs and business leaders interested in aligning their companies with principles of environmental and social responsibility.

Photos of the sustainability book "Let my people go surfing" by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard

The Day The World Stops Shopping

The book cover for "the day the world stops shopping" by J.B. Mackinnon

The Day The World Stops Shopping by J.B. Mackinnon explores what the future might look like if we changed the way we consume.

The book challenges the notion that continuous growth and GDP correlate with progress and well-being.

Looking at historical examples from past recessions, the Great Depression, and the pandemic, the book uses research, interviews, and personal anecdotes to paint a picture of a future where we consume less.

Braiding Sweetgrass

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer interweaves storytelling, traditional science and indigenous knowledge, to give us gratitude for the world around us.

In the book, she shows how other living beings―asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass―offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices.


Citizens: Why the Key to Fixing Everything is All of Us by Jon Alexander & Ariane Conrad explores the possibilities that can emerge from treating people as individuals rather than consumers, and calling them to action to work together for a shared vision of a better future.

The book is an inspiring exploration of how engaging with others has the ability to shape communities and environments. He stresses that while individual actions are important, they are nothing compared to what can happen when individuals come together to work towards a shared goal.

All We Can Save

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage and Solutions for the Climate Crisis is an anthology of stories, essays, poems and art from women who are campaigning for climate and social justice issues around the world.

The book is an inspiring call to action, whether that’s becoming an activist or simply registering to vote.

Donut Economics

Donut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist by Kate Raworth attempts to answer questions on how we can not just survive but thrive in an economy that isn’t focused on continuous growth.

This book is great for anyone interested in not just the environmental aspects of sustainability but also the social and economic challenges too.

The Intersectional Environmentalist

The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression To Protect People & Planet by Leah Thomas examines the inextricable link between environmentalism, racism, and privilege, and promotes awareness of the fundamental truth that we cannot save the planet without uplifting the voices of its people — especially those most often unheard.

The Sixth Extinction

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert takes us on a journey around the world, and into the history of our planet in this Pulitzer Prize winning book.

The book explains how our planet has seen five mass extinctions over the last half-billion years, and how we are very likely in the midst of a sixth, with scientists predicting it to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

The Climate Book

The Climate Book: The Facts and the Solutions created by activist Greta Thunberg is your go-to encyclopedia of facts, stories and solutions to the climate crisis.

In The Climate Book, Greta Thunberg has gathered the wisdom of over one hundred experts—geophysicists, oceanographers and meteorologists; engineers, economists and mathematicians; historians, philosophers and Indigenous leaders—to equip us all with the knowledge we need to combat climate disaster. Throughout, illuminating and often shocking grayscale charts, graphs, diagrams, photographs, and illustrations underscore their research and their arguments. Alongside them, she shares her own stories of demonstrating and uncovering greenwashing around the world, revealing how much we have been kept in the dark. This is one of our biggest challenges, she shows, but also our greatest source of hope. Once we are given the full picture, how can we not act? And if a schoolchild’s strike could ignite a global protest, what could we do collectively if we tried?

We are alive at the most decisive time in the history of humanity. Together, we can do the seemingly impossible. But it has to be us, and it has to be now.

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