Our interactions with the environment aren’t exclusive to the occasional national park visit or family beach day. Our interactions begin from the moment we wake up and brush our teeth to the moment we shut our eyes. Our lives and this planet are intimately interwoven.
While it probably feels overwhelming to think about the weight of climate change and its impact on our environment, it’s important to use that feeling of helplessness and heartbreak as motivation to fight for change.
We’ve gathered some of the best books out there providing inspiration, knowledge, and practical advice on how to be good stewards of this breathtaking planet we call home.
P.S. We’ve linked Amazon for convenience and accessibility, but we’re also linking to our favorite Amazon alternatives: Bookshop and Libro.fm, which are both great ways to support small, independent bookstores when you buy physical books and audiobooks.
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The Best Books About the Environment To Help You Learn More & Take Action
“The Climate Book: The Facts and the Solutions” by Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg — one of the most well-known activists today — was only 15 years old when she protested outside the Swedish parliament in 2018. Her efforts to pressure political leaders to meet carbon emissions targets inspired other youth activists around the world to create similar protests in their communities.
In Greta Thunberg’s “The Climate Book: The Facts and The Solutions” she lays out an informative and accessible guide to understanding the climate crisis and the potential solutions. This book is an essential resource for anyone looking to understand and take action on the climate crisis.
“Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World” by Katharine Hayhoe
Called “one of the nation’s most effective communicators on climate change” by The New York Times, Katharine Hayhoe has spent her career navigating all sides of the conversation on our changing planet. She challenges readers to move beyond the politics and polarization that tend to divide us and encourages us to embrace the common values that unite us: justice and compassion.
Hayhoe’s book offers a compelling argument for why we must act now, and how we can do so with a renewed sense of hope and purpose. Through hard data, personal stories, and her own faith-based perspective, Hayhoe demonstrates that by understanding and engaging with each other, we can work together to create a sustainable future.
“The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health” by Annie Leonard
Annie Leonard, environmental activist, Time magazine’s 100 environmental heroes, and creator of the 2007 viral video “The Story of Stuff,” spent nearly 25 years traveling the world investigating environmental health issues and ecological sustainability.
Drawing on her extensive experience in the field of environmental science, Leonard makes a case for a more sustainable and equitable future by exploring the full cycle of our stuff — from extraction to production, distribution, consumption, and disposal — and ways we can transition into a more sustainable lifestyle.
“Healing Grounds: Climate, Justice, and the Deep Roots of Regenerative Farming” by Liz Carlisle
A powerful movement is happening in farming today — farmers are reconnecting with their roots to fight climate change. In “Healing Grounds” Liz Carlisle examines the potential of regenerative farming to address climate change, environmental justice, and food insecurity. Carlisle details how regenerative agriculture methods — which focus on soil health and organic farming practices — can boost biodiversity, reduce carbon emissions, and increase access to fresh, healthy food.
By highlighting the value of traditional knowledge, the need for systemic change, and the power of collaboration, Carlisle’s work emphasizes the importance of regenerative farming in creating a more just and sustainable food system.
“When The Rivers Run Dry: Water — The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century” by Fred Pearce
“When The Rivers Run Dry: Water — The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century” by Fred Pearce explores the global water crisis and the challenges we face in meeting the growing demand for fresh water. The book provides an in-depth look at the causes of the crisis and examines the impact of these factors on both developed and developing countries.
Pearce also explores solutions to the crisis — including water conservation, desalination, and the use of new technologies — as a way we can work towards a sustainable and equitable future for every human, animal, and living organism on this planet.
“The Hidden Life of Trees” by Tim Flannery
In “The Hidden Life of Trees,” acclaimed Australian scientist and author Tim Flannery explores the complex and fascinating world of trees and their vital role in the ecosystem. He examines the way trees communicate and cooperate with one another, and how they are integral to the health of the planet — including their role in regulating the Earth’s climate.
Flannery also highlights the cultural and historical significance of trees and the importance of protecting and preserving them for future generations. Through his research, he presents a new understanding of the natural world and how it functions, as well as encourages readers to appreciate the complexity and beauty of the trees around us.
“The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times” by Douglas Abrams and Jane Goodall
Globally celebrated primatologist and conservationist, Jane Goodall, teamed up with Douglas Abrams, bestselling co-author (with Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama) of “The Book of Joy,” to explore the most sought-after and least understood aspects of human nature: hope.
The book is a collection of stories, quotes, and reflections from Jane Goodall and other notable figures on a range of topics, like the environment, social justice, and personal growth. It serves as a reminder that we all have the power to make a difference, no matter how small, and that hope and determination can help us achieve our goals.
“How To Save Our Planet: The Facts” by Mark Maslin
Professor Mark Maslin, a leading climate change expert, provides an evidence-based approach to understanding the current state of the planet and the actions that need to be taken to ensure a sustainable future.
Covering a wide range of topics — including climate change, deforestation, plastic pollution, and the loss of biodiversity — Professor Maslin has created a helpful tool to help others better understand the science behind the environmental challenges we face — and a hopeful path forward.
“A Terrible Thing To Waste: Environmental Racism and its Assault on the American Mind” by Harriet A. Washington
Author Harriet A. Washington examines the intersection of environmental issues and racial inequality in the United States. The book delves into the historical (and ongoing) practices of environmental racism, in which communities of color are disproportionately affected (such as environmental hazards and pollution).
She carefully breaks down how these practices have led to significant health disparities and examines the resistance movements that have emerged in response to them.
“Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have” by Tatiana Schlossberg
Tatiana Schlossberg explores the hidden environmental impacts of everyday consumer choices, including the systems and supply chains that go into producing the products we use (ahem, we’re looking at you, fast fashion).
Schlossberg also provides practical tips on making more sustainable and responsible choices in our daily lives, encouraging readers to consider the long-term impacts of our consumption habits.
“Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape” by Lauret E. Savoy
Lauret E. Savoy, an award-winning author and professor of environmental studies, draws on her experiences as a Black American to explore the often-overlooked stories of those who have shaped and been shaped by our environment.
Savoy explores the complexities of the American landscape and how it has been shaped by people of color. The book powerfully explores how the landscape can be used as a tool for healing, reconciliation, and restoration.
“All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis” edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson
“All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis,” edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson, is a collection of essays by powerhouse women leading the charge on climate action.
The essays focus on the intersection of climate change, justice, and culture, while also exploring the power of storytelling, art, and activism. Through a mix of personal stories, hard science, and practical guidance, the book provides an urgent call to action and offers hope for building resilient communities.
“The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet” by Kristin Ohlson
Journalist and bestselling author Kristin Ohlson gives us an in-depth look into the power of soil and how it can be harnessed to save the planet. Exploring its complex biology and chemistry and the role it plays in mitigating climate change, she delves into how soil is more than meets the eye.
The book examines a variety of approaches to soil and profiles the helpers around the world who are pioneering innovative methods of restoring soil to its natural state.
“The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet” by Leah Thomas
Leah Thomas is an intersectional environmental educator, writer, and creative whose passion for the relationship between social justice and environmentalism led her to launch the Intersectional Environmentalist. (Check out our interview with Leah as part of our collaborative Intersectional Environmentalist Edition of the Goodnewspaper!)
In her debut book, Leah outlines the need for environmental activists to be aware of the connections (aka the intersections) between environmentalism, racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and other forms of oppression. Consider this book your introduction and call to action to create sustainable, systemic change within your community.
“Give a Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet.” by Ashlee Piper
Y’all, it’s time to give a shit — about our health, footprint, and planet. If you’re all about putting good intentions into action, Ashlee Piper’s “Give a Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet.” is a guide to doing just that. Piper provides an easy-to-follow path to live an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle — and all the amazing benefits that come from it.
Piper also provides resources to help readers become more educated on the impact of their choices and the importance of reducing their carbon footprint, along with a variety of recipes and activities that can help reduce waste and promote sustainability.
“Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming” by Paul Hawken
Paul Hawken — environmentalist, entrepreneur, author, and activist — has dedicated his life to environmental sustainability. “Drawdown” is his comprehensive plan to reverse the effects of global warming, which include 100 of the most substantive solutions to reverse global warming — based on meticulous research by leading scientists and policymakers around the world.
The book also provides an in-depth analysis of each solution’s economic and social benefits, as well as the challenges and obstacles that must be overcome to implement them. “Drawdown” is a valuable resource for concrete, actionable solutions to address global warming.
“The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” by Elizabeth Kolbert
Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” explores the current mass extinction of species, as well as its causes — and potential solutions. Kolbert details the catastrophic effects of human activity on the environment and how this has contributed to species extinction.
Kolbert weaves together insights from various fields of study, along with accounts of lost species and the history of extinction, to create a comprehensive and impactful overview of the ongoing sixth extinction caused by human activity. Through her work, she challenges us to reexamine what it means to be human and highlights the lasting impact this extinction will have on our environment.
“A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis” by Vanessa Nakate
Vanessa Nakate, a young Black environmental activist, was catapulted into the world stage after she was cropped out of a group photo with five white climate activists — including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg — at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
After the Associated Press published the now infamous cropped photo, Nakate tweeted: “You didn’t just erase a photo, you erased a continent, but I am stronger than ever.” Her response created a larger, very important international conversation on erasure and diversity within the environmental movement and space.
She shares her personal fight to bring an African perspective to the global climate crisis and calls for the inclusion of African voices in the fight against the climate crisis, emphasizing the need to recognize the unique challenges and experiences of African countries.
“As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock” by Dina Gilio-Whitaker
“As Long as Grass Grows” centers itself around Indigenous activists and their resistance to environmental injustice. Author Dina Gilio-Whitaker argues that Indigenous people have been at the forefront of environmental movements for centuries and that their perspectives and traditional ecological knowledge should be central to any efforts to address environmental issues.
The book is a call to action for non-Indigenous people to learn from Indigenous struggles and to support Indigenous-led environmental movements.
“Losing Earth: A Recent History” by Nathaniel Rich
Nathaniel Rich’s “Losing Earth: A Recent History” chronicles the decades-long efforts to address climate change, beginning in the late 1970s. The book paints a vivid picture of the people, events, and forces that shaped the climate crisis and the missed opportunities on the way to a solution.
He offers a hopeful blueprint for how humanity can still make a difference, emphasizing that there is still time to act and avoid the most devastating consequences of climate change.
“Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer
In “Braiding Sweetgrass,” Robin Wall Kimmerer — mother, scientist, member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and botanist — interweaves three seemingly distinct, but intersectional narratives: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and botany.
Through stories, observations, and teachings, Kimmerer models how these three different lenses can be used to deepen and celebrate our relationships with our resilient planet.
“Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer
Part memoir and part investigative report, “Eating Animals” is an examination of vegetarianism, farming, and the food we eat every day that inspired the documentary of the same name. Bestselling author Jonathan Safran Foer examines the consequences of animal agriculture on the environment, public health, and animal welfare.
Through personal stories, interviews, and research, Foer reveals factory farming’s devastating impact on the planet, its reliance on antibiotics, and the inhumane treatment of animals. This is an interesting read for anyone curious about the agriculture industry and its effects on the environment.
“Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest” by Suzanne Simard
Suzanne Simard — a leading researcher in forest ecology — explores the complex and interconnected forest ecosystem. Through experiments, Simard shows us how trees form networks to share resources and support one another, as well as how this relationship is essential for the health and survival of the forest as a whole.
Simard’s research proves how trees rely on each other for survival and how, in turn, the health of the forest depends on the health of the trees. The book provides an inspiring and revelatory look at the natural world and the importance of preserving it for future generations.
“Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change, and Consumerism” by Aja Barber
Aja Barber, a renowned writer and stylist, examines the interconnectedness of colonialism, climate change, and consumerism. “Consumed” is a call to action for consumers everywhere to look at how and why we buy what we buy, how it’s created, who it benefits, and how we can solve the problems created by a wasteful system.
Barber also dissects the current climate crisis and its direct connection to capitalism — which was built on the exploitation of marginalized people and precious resources. Ultimately, Barber aims to teach readers how to become citizens, not consumers.
“Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet” by George Monbiot
We’ve plowed, fenced, and grazed beautifully vibrant areas of the planet, felling forests, killing wildlife, and poisoning rivers and oceans to feed ourselves. Yet, millions still go hungry.
“Regenesis” reimagines a future for food and humanity. Author George Monbiot draws on promising advances in soil ecology and reveals how our changing understanding of the environment could open doors for the agriculture industry to grow more food with less farming.
“Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm” by Isabella Tree
When Isabella Tree and her husband were forced to accept that their land in West Sussex — farmed for centuries — was economically unsustainable, they decided to step back and let nature take over.
Despite Tree and her husband facing considerable opposition, their journey to bring nature back to the depleted 3,500 acres of land soon brought extraordinary change. Through this inspiring story, Tree reveals the incredible power of rewilding and how it can be used to restore the health of both nature and humans alike.
“Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes Through Indigenous Science” by Jessica Hernandez, Ph.D.
“Fresh Banana Leaves” by Jessica Hernandez, Ph.D. studies the ways Indigenous knowledge and practices have been (and continue to be) used to restore and protect the environment. Focusing on the traditional ecological knowledge of the Kuna people of Panama and how it can be used to preserve the natural resources of their homeland, Hernandez’s research provides an in-depth look at the way this community has traditionally used plants, animals, and natural resources — and how this knowledge can be applied to modern conservation efforts.
The author also explores how Indigenous science can be used to promote sustainable development and social justice, and the importance of recognizing and respecting Indigenous wisdom.
“Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land” by Leah Penniman
“Farming While Black” is the first comprehensive how-to guide for aspiring African-heritage growers to reclaim their dignity as agriculturists and for all farmers to understand the distinct, technical contributions of African-heritage people to sustainable agriculture.
Author Leah Penniman draws on her own experience as a Black farmer and provides readers with a holistic approach to sustainable farming that includes her core principles: healing, justice, and sovereignty. The book also provides advice on topics such as land access, seed sovereignty, and marketing for small farmers — we love to see that!
“Plant Coach: The Beginner’s Guide to Caring for Plants and the Planet” by Nick Cutsumpas
Urban gardener, “plantrepreneur,” and star of Netflix’s “Instant Dream Home,” Nick Cutsumpas combines sustainability, science, and philosophy to coach new plant owners on how to find the right houseplants for their space and help them thrive. Plant parents, this one’s for you!
Cutsumpas reframes what it means to be a plant parent by viewing the home as an ecosystem, introducing unconventional and sustainable plant tactics that go beyond the basic requirements of water and sunlight. At the same time, he inspires readers to care for the planet, using houseplants as a stepping stone toward sustainability and environmental action.