8 Inspiring Books about the Environment You’ll Want to Read This Year


One of the goals I’m setting for myself for this year is to read more books about the environment, environmental science, politics, economics, and all that jazz.

But I usually have a problem with these books: I feel sometimes they make me (understandably) sad. And instead of empowering me and motivate me to make a change, they have the opposite effect. They make me feel powerless.

That’s why the first books I have lined up for the new year are all realistic but optimistic. They will convince you of the power you have to change things, and they will help you understand that the decisions you make have the potential to shape the future.

These books talk about a future full of hope and full of life and give you the tools you need to fight the climate crisis – without giving you that corresponding eco-guilt trip.

Oh, btw! Most of these links will bring you to listings on Better World Books. I’ve talked about this amazing company before, but just in case you didn’t know them before, they promote literacy, a circular economy and they’re just an all-round sustainable and socially conscious wonder.

No matter if you’re a book lover or a student, I highly encourage you to make them your go-to place to buy books!

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

Edited by Paul Hawken

This book gives a breakdown of 100 ways to stop and reverse climate change. See this as a blueprint to end with global warming. It gives all the ideas and tools we need to take action, and it takes into account the costs and benefits of each solution.

You’ve probably already heard about some of the solutions the book gives, but others are more unexpected, like educating girls in developing areas (love it!).

This book is for you if…

  • you want a realistic view of our environmental problems with optimistic but doable solutions.
  • you want to learn about environmental issues without suffering from that crippling eco-anxiety we all know so well.

The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success: Overcoming Myths that Hinder Progress 

By Mark Jaccard

Fighting climate change, dealing with dishonest politicians and dirty corporations, and keeping your cool facing climate deniers… *phew* All of that is HARD work.

So let’s forget about all that bad stuff, leave our overwhelm aside, and bring our attention to saving the world.

This book is all about helping you identify the main environmental issues we have to tackle, and how any citizen like you and me can do it.

This book is for you if…

  • you CAN’T WAIT to do your bit for the planet and spread the word about what an amazing eco-warrior you are.
  • you want to feel empowered to fight the climate crisis – and empower others while you’re at it.

2040: A Handbook for the Regeneration

By Damon Gameau

What if we all did our best to change the world? This book envisions exactly how the world will be in 2040 if we all start acting now.

Damon Gameau also directed a documentary called 2040 where he imagines the perfect 2040 scenario where we’ve been able to solve our environmental problems. The book goes a step further and shows practical ways in which we can help reach that perfect future.

It even has recipes that can help fight global warming! Yummm.

This book is for you if…

  • you need to see a fresh and optimistic view of the future.
  • you want some extra motivation to become the change you want to see.
  • you enjoy dystopian books, but you prefer focusing on a positive scenario.

The Future of Fashion: Understanding Sustainability in the Fashion Industry

By Tyler Little

You know this list wouldn’t be complete without a book on sustainable fashion.

There are brilliant books about the problems with the fashion industry, like Overdressed – 10/10 would recommend. But what about happier topics? Like the future of sustainable fashion?

This book takes a look into how we can make a difference by supporting the sustainable fashion movement now, and how fabulously sustainable the fashion industry will look like in the future.

This book is for you if…

  • you have learned about the horrors of fast fashion and are ready to dive fully into the sustainable fashion world.
  • you truly believe with all your heart that fashion shouldn’t cost the planet.
  • you feel like the fashion industry needs to change asap and you want to be a part of that change.

Cradle to Cradle: Rethinking the Way We Make Things 

By Michael Braungart and Willliam McDonough

Waste is a consequence of bad design. Think about it, this is basically the point of zero waste – remember we talked about it in this post?

The authors propose a total change: going from this nasty disposable culture to a circular economy. There is no such thing as ‘throwing away’, right? Everything has to go somewhere.

This is why everything must have its place in a cycle. Just like in nature. Nature uses everything, wastes nothing. So why don’t we follow its example?

And how do we do this? By redesigning the whole industrial system.

This book is for you if…

  • you want to learn more about the idea of circular economy and the origins of zero waste.
  • you’re sick and tired of seeing so much trash and waste everywhere. 
  • you believe in a waste-free future and want to learn how it will be achieved.

The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability –Designing for Abundance

By Michael Braungart and Willliam McDonough

After you finish Cradle to Cradle, its ‘sequel’ The Upcycle is a must. In it, you’ll find examples of how the systems to avoid waste described in the first book have been used in real life by governments and companies.

Something that amazes me is how they see the place of humans in the environment: instead of protecting the environment from humans, why don’t we work to make the environment better thanks to human activity? And how can we do it?

This book is for you if…

  • you devoured Cradle to Cradle and you need more.
  • you want to learn how a sustainable footprint can result in balance and abundance for everyone.
  • you’re looking for an uplifting (yet realistic!) view of how the industry and waste will look like in the future

Eat for the Planet: Saving the World One Bite at a Time

By Nil Zacharias and Gene Stone

Did you know that our diet is one of the biggest contributors to global warming?

This book will not try to convince you to make massive changes in your life. It’s been written to show you the impact the food industry has on the environment, and how the smallest diet changes can make a BIG FAT positive impact on our planet.

There are many many great books about plant-based diets and the environment. But this one is a LIFE CHANGER because it makes it so easy to understand all the facts and figures.

If you want to learn more about how to make the change happen from your kitchen, you can get as well the cookbook from the same authors here.

This book is for you if…

  • you want to know all the science-backed arguments that support plant-based diets as a way to fight climate change – you know, having these facts handy is always great for the next time someone messes with you for being vegan 😉
  • you want to learn about the impact food on the environment – the book comes with awesome infographics for this!
  • you’re reconsidering your diet and you want to learn how much you can do for the planet by rethinking what you eat.

The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us

By Diane Ackerman

Humans are changing the planet. So why not doing for the better?

As Diane Ackerman explains, our changing world and the environmental crisis will not only bring tragedies, but also ‘good surprises’ in the shape of scientific advances.

We have the power to shape the world in the way we want, and it’s up to us deciding the world we want to live in.

This book is for you if…

  • you want to learn truly imaginative and brilliant techniques science is using to adapt to changing times in a sustainable way – like heating a building with the heat produced by commuters at a Stockholm’s train station. Wow.
  • you are hopeful about how technology and science will help us adapt to climate change while contributing to a more sustainable world.

Extra: The Changemaker Attitude

By Jordan Fox

I just couldn’t end this list without including The Changemaker Attitude, aka the epitome of inspiring books on sustainability.

I could tell you a lot about this book, but we’re lucky enough to have an interview with the author herself! So why don’t you let her tell you more about it? Read the interview here.

Do you have any other book recommendations we should read? Leave them in the comments below!

the best books on the environment

What do you think?

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