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Best Books About Sustainable Living Summer 2021

Posted by Elizabeth Burton on

Best Books About Sustainable Living Summer 2021

Best Books About Sustainable Living Summer 2021

In a June 2020 article for Forbes, John Cumbers explained why 85% of Americans are thinking about sustainability and the environment as much as or more than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic began. The reasons behind this shift are fairly self-explanatory. Interest in sustainability and conscious consumerism was already climbing before the pandemic. However, during the pandemic and resultant lockdowns, Americans witnessed the environmental benefits of limiting fuel use. They noted everything from improving air quality to minimizing noise and light pollution. Cumbers writes that “sustainability has moved from a fringe preference into a core imperative across American life” since the pandemic began last year. Referencing a recent study conducted by Genomatica, Cumbers notes that “56% of Americans want both the government and brands to prioritize sustainability." This is true even "while facing other issues.” As companies become more transparent about their supply chains and more educational resources become available, it is “easier for consumers to make choices that better align with their personal values.” The Living Deep marketplace aims to do just that -- providing education posts and sustainable products to our consumers. Quoting Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling, Cumbers writes that “‘it’s not always obvious for people to know what to do about climate change...but increasingly people are able to make choices every day about the products they use.’” Learning about climate change, conscious consumerism, zero waste initiatives and more is possible due to an increasing number of educational resources on the market. In 2020 alone, dozens of books about sustainable living and green living emerged. If you plan to make a few eco friendly changes in your life, follow below for the best books about sustainable living in 2021. 

Ten of the Best Books About Sustainable Living for Summer 2021

#1 Wild by Design: Strategies for Creating Life-Enhancing Landscapes by Margie Ruddick

Best Books About Living Sustainably in 2021 this year

About the Author

Philadelphia-based landscape architect Margie Ruddick wrote Wild by Design and released it for publication in 2016. Island Press describes Ruddick as “one of sustainable landscape design’s most innovative practitioners.” She recently received the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in Landscape Architecture. In 2013, Dwell Magazine’s Diana Budds interviewed Ruddick and asked about the inspirations behind her work. At the time, Ruddick told Budds that she “loves designers who have a deep connection to place... who follow their art in a rigorous and inventive way that defies categorization.” Today, Ruddick frequently consults on and conducts rewilding projects intended to bring nature back to cities. In her interview with Budds, Ruddick noted that “‘wild’ landscapes...are not only good for wildlife habitat and the health of the planet, but for our souls as well.’” They are incredibly “‘important ecologically, in terms of providing habitat, reducing water runoff, and sequestering carbon, among other benefits.’” They are also important “because landscapes, where life is palpable, help people feel connected to something larger than themselves.” Ruddick believes that this is “‘essential for us and the planet.’”

Summary

In Wild by Design, Ruddick encourages designers like her to think outside the box. She suggests they abandon traditional cookie-cutter landscape design in favor of both innovative and historical techniques. Ruddick notes in her book that sustainability guidelines are often limiting when interpreted literally. Instead, Wild by Design “challenges the entrenched belief that natural processes cannot complement high-level landscape design.” Her flexible strategies -- guided by the principles of “Reinvention, Restoration, Conservation, Regeneration, and Expression” -- have led to the creation of “beautiful healthy landscapes” that thrive even in urban environments. 

Critical Reviews

"Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout with color photography, Wild By Design: Strategies for Creating Life-Enhancing Landscapes ... should be on the personal reading lists of every aspiring and practicing landscape designer." 

Midwest Book Review

"Wild by Design will redefine the way you think about landscapes, particularly the interaction between human activity and the natural world. What sets this book apart is the primacy Margie Ruddick gives aesthetics, beauty, and creativity in making sustainable landscapes, folding conventional green practices into a design context, and into the social and cultural elements always at play in creating or enhancing a sense of place. She offers equal parts inspiration, information, and instruction, complemented by stunning photographs."

Walter Hood, Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, UC Berkeley

Reader Reviews

“5.0 out of 5 stars. This book is for gardeners of all levels and for non-gardeners interested in how 'wild' or native plants are being used in newly designed or reclaimed areas. Margie Ruddick writes well, uses lovely pictures and plans, and we see her projects through her eyes. The book is interesting, informative and educational and can be enjoyed by many.”

Verified Purchase on Amazon, 27 August 2016

Words from the Author

“I hope this book will give readers an idea of how they might try to bridge the two realms that were traditionally held distant: the hyper-orderly and aestheticized world of designers, and the sometimes mucky but exquisitely beautiful world of ecologists. This book is an encouragement for people to devise their own paths in making change to the environment.” 

Margie Ruddick, Wild by Design, Preface, Page XV

#2 The Well-Gardened Mind: Rediscovering Nature in the Modern World by Sue Stuart-Smith

Best Books About Living Sustainably in 2021 this year

About the Author

A press release for Sue Stuart-Smith’s presentation at the New York Botanical Garden describes her as a “distinguished psychiatrist and avid gardener [who] believes our minds and our gardens interact in ways that can sustain our innermost selves.” According to the bio on her website, Sue Stuart-Smith originally studied literature at Cambridge. After this, she became a doctor and began working for the National Health Service. During this stage of her career, she became the lead clinician for psychotherapy at Hertfordshire. Stuart-Smith now teaches in London at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and serves as a psychotherapy consultant. 

Sue-Stuart is inspired by the healing power of nature. She chronicles this in personal anecdotes from her own life and those of her ancestors in The Well-Gardened Mind. Her love of gardening has been compounded, however, by her relationship with husband and famous garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith. Throughout their thirty years of marriage, the Stuart-Smiths “have created the wonderful Barn Garden in Hertfordshire,” which was featured in a short film about the author and her book. Her book The Well-Gardened Mind was listed as one of the thirty-seven best books of 2020 by The Times and was also named gardening book of the year by The Sunday Times.

Summary

Sue Stuart-Smith’s The Well-Gardened Mind leads readers on a journey throughout Smith’s own life, the lives of her ancestors, the lives of famous poets and the lives of her patients. Referencing studies in neuroscience and psychology, Stuart-Smith underscores the many connections between mental health and engagement with nature. As the book jacket describes, Sue Stuart-Smith “provides a new perspective on gardening…[exploring] the many ways in which gardening can help transform people’s lives.” Stuart-Smith supports her arguments with both settled science and recent research, enveloping the entire text in insight, compassion and scholarship.

Critical Comments

“Fascinating in its content, lyrical, moving and elegantly written, The Well-Gardened Mind explores and celebrates the very real connection we humans feel with plants, and by extension, our gardens.”

― Rachel de Thame, presenter for the BBC’s Gardeners’ World

“This is a life-affirming study of the special pleasures of tending your garden and growing things, from planting the seed and watching it grow each day (‘seeds have tomorrow ready-built into them’), to cropping home-grown vegetables and cooking delicious meals with them.”

― Non fiction writer PD Smith in “The Well Gardened Mind by Sue Stuart-Smith review – unwinding with nature” for The Guardian

Reader Reviews

“5.0 out of 5 stars. A book to nurture patience in this time of plague. This book is a treasure. It deserves a slow and thoughtful reading, which serves to prepare you or remind you of the slow-time meditative nature of garden work. Highly recommend.”

Janey Bennett, Verified Purchase on Amazon

Author Comments

“I see gardening as a reiteration. I do a bit, then nature does her bit, then I respond to that, and so on, not unlike a conversation. It isn’t whispers or shouts or talk of any kind, but in this back-and-forth there is a delayed and sustained dialogue.” 

― Sue Stuart-Smith, The Well-Gardened Mind, “Beginnings,” Page 10

#3 Animal Vegetable Miracle A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

Best Books About Living Sustainably in 2021 this year

About the Author

Well-known in the United States as a poet and novelist, Barbara Kingsolver has often written about social justice. She also often writes about the relationships humans have with the environment. Her novels have landed on The New York Times bestseller list numerous times and won many awards. Kingsolver received a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN Faulkner Award in addition to winning the 2010 UK Orange Prize for Fiction and the 2011 Dayton Literary peace Prize’s Richard C Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. Kingsolver wrote her famed book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life way back in 2007, though it remains popular today. According to her Harper Collins bio, Barbara Kingsolver’s most important work of “narrative nonfiction is the enormously influential bestseller Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” Kingsolver currently lives in Appalachia with her children and her husband -- Steven L. Hopp -- who is a biologist and environmental studies professor. 

Summary

In the article “My Year of Vegetables,” writer Corby Kummer reviewed Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life for The New York Times. Kummer describes the book as “an engaging amalgam of memoir, environmental reporting and how-to book.” In her book, Kingsolver chronicles a year of living with her family on a small farm in Virginia, where they homestead together. Corby Kummer recommends the book for “the apprentice activist” as it picks up “where Kingsolver’s friend and mentor Joan Dye Gussow left off with ‘This Organic Life’” in 2001. This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader extolled the virtues of eating local, seasonal foods. 

Kingsolver’s program makes the homesteading life seem easy. At the end of her journey, she calculates that her family spent under fifty cents per meal per person. While this affordable approach to whole foods is certainly attractive, Kummer identifies Kingsolver’s joy and adventurousness as the best part. Kummer concludes that her willingness to share, “along with a dirt-under-the-fingernails appreciation of the food...is the heart of the book.”

Critical Comments

“Charming, zestful, funny and poetic…a serious book about important problems.” 

The Washington Post Book Reviews

“A profound, graceful, and literary work. . . Timeless. . . . It can change who you are.” 

― Rick Bass, The Boston Globe Book Reviews

Reader Comments

“You have to read this book. Not just because it conveys an important message about the sustainability and environmental impact of our foodways. Not just because its "Year in Provence"-style charm makes Appalachia sound as alluring as the French or Italian countryside (no euros required). But mostly because this is beautiful, tightly-strung writing about food and what it means to nourish ourselves. If you've read a certain amount of writing on food you know, sweet and delicious though it may be, that it can get cloying. A quick flip through Barbara's chapter on turkey butchering will cure you.”

― 5.0 / 5.0 stars, Elizabeth on Goodreads

Author Comments

“Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles....If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.”

― Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

#4 Simply Sustainable Beauty: 30 Recipes to Create Your New Head to Toe Zero-Waste Beauty Routine by Emily Woodger Smith

Best Books About Living Sustainably in 2021 this year

Summary

Over the last few years, blogger and environmental scientist Emilie Woodger Smith has assembled a collection of sustainable beauty recipes. This collection will be published as Simply Sustainable Beauty: 30 Recipes to Create Your New Head to Toe Zero-Waste Beauty Routine in August. According to her website, Smith has “a degree in environmental science and 7 years experience in the recycling & waste industry.” Those who have read the book so far have described it as ideal for beginners ready to dip their toes into the world of handmade, all natural beauty products. Those waiting on her book can try a few of Smith’s recipes by perusing her website here. They can also try out one of her DIY beauty starter kits. While the book has not yet enjoyed a full release, advanced copies were provided to several readers. Find their reviews below.

Reader Reviews 

“Simply Sustainable Beauty is an easy-to-follow recipe book to make your own beauty products using easily affordable ingredients. Each of the recipes in this book has very similar and consistent ingredients making it easy to invest in cozy wise. The book starts off with ingredients and equipment needed to make the recipes in it. The book is then divided into Bath, body and hair sections. I received a digital ARC so I've screen shot a few recipes to try out over the summer which I'm really excited about doing!”

Natalie on Goodreads

“I was so pleased to get a copy of this as It has been a. real pleasure to read through this book. The recipes are easy to follow and the range of products well thought through. Most importantly I have not just read about how to make my own products I have made some and they were so good I will continue to make them. So a real eye-opener to sustainable beauty products that inspires the reader to create their own and enjoy the process whilst also limiting their carbon footprint!”

Daisy on Goodreads

Author Comments

“It can seem pretty intimidating to live sustainably and seem like you have to do all or nothing. But it only takes a few simple changes to have a big effect on the environmental impact you create.”

― Emilie Woodger Smith, About Simply Sustainable Living

#5 Design for an Empathic World by Sim Van Der Ryn

Best Books About Living Sustainably in 2021 this year

About the Author

Design for an Empathic World was written by American architect and educator Sim Van Der Ryn and published in 2013 by Island Press. According to his biography as Professor Emeritus of Architecture at UC Berkeley, Sim Van Der Ryn “has been integrating ecological principles into the built environment for more than 40 years.” Having spent much of his career in California, Van Der Ryn served as a UC Berkeley professor of architecture for thirty-five years. He also served as “California’s State Architect for Governor Jerry Brown in the late 1970s.” It was during this period of his career that Van Der Ryn designed “the State’s first energy efficient and climate-responsive building.”

During his career, Van Der Ryn has been the recipient of a number of awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship for Humanities. He was also nominated for the National Book Award for Current Interest. He has written several books in addition to Design for an Empathic World. These include Design for Life: The Architecture of Sim Van der Ryn, The Toilet Papers and Sustainable Communities.

Summary

According to Living Deep, Sim Van der Ryn “shares his thoughts and experience about the design of our world today” in Design for an Empathic World. In his book, famed architect Sim Van der Ryn advocates for “‘empathic design,’ in which a designer not only works in concert with nature, but with an understanding of and empathy for the end user and for oneself.” Through this text, Sim Van der Ryn hopes to “inspire change and foster the collaboration and thoughtfulness necessary to achieve a more empathic future.” The book features a series of watercolors painted by Van der Ryn himself.

Reader Reviews

“I found this book to be thoughtful, educational and inspiring...The author weaves his history (including substantial credentials) and personality with the history of the environmental and urban greening movement, exploring how important it is today, both for society and culture as a whole and for us as individuals. I support these ideas already, so it didn't change my mind, but it did deepen my understanding as well as reveal facets of the movement, both past and present, that I didn't know. (I bookmarked a LOT.) The book is aesthetically well presented and contains lovely artwork by the author himself. Overall a thoughtful presentation and an important one.”

“I really enjoyed this book. It's written in a very conversational style, which makes it a pleasure to read casually. It takes seriously the question of how to use design, planning, and architecture in service of justice and reads as a friendly call to action.”

Julia Barnard, 5/5 Stars on Goodreads

“As a retired carpenter, I enjoyed the author’s principles and view of ecological design built into the environment. It is so reassuring to see and read about green building movements of our present time. It is very insightful to read of the sustainable design practices that are becoming more predominant.”

Joe, 5/5 Stars on Goodreads

Critical Reviews

"Not everybody willing to change their inner self will have the same path as Sim Van der Ryn, but by sharing his story he's given them something enjoyable to read (and look at, with his watercolors that are sprinkled throughout the book) while they search for their own paths."

A Daily Dose of Architecture

Author Comments

“I hope that this book will inspire collaboration within and across disciplines -- that it will help to foster the collaboration and thoughtfulness necessary to achieve a more empathic future.” 

Sim Van der Ryn, Design for an Empathic World, P. 13

#6 The Lady Farmer Guide to Slow Living: Cultivating Sustainable Simplicity Close to Home by Mary E Kingsley

Best Books About Living Sustainably in 2021 this year

About the Author

According to her bio on Bookshop.org, Mary E Kingsley was born in Appalachia in Kingsport, Tennessee. The bio notes that “writing, a sense of place, and the desire to share experience have always been important parts” of Kingsley’s work. Each of these “play critical roles as she continues to weave her personal narrative.” Kingsley and her husband currently live on a farm in Maryland, where they have embraced the homesteading lifestyle. In 2016, Kingsley “teamed up with daughter Emma in 2016 to create Lady Farmer, a sustainable apparel and lifestyle brand, which has been growing a community of conscious creators in an exciting new paradigm of intentional, sustainable living.” Her handbook The Lady Farmer Guide to Slow Living was released in March of 2020 just as the US went into lockdown. Kingsley is also the author of novels Angel and All the Pieces

Summary

According to the book’s description on Amazon, The Lady Farmer Guide to Slow Living: Cultivating Sustainable Simplicity Close to Home explores “the damage done by our fast-food, fast-fashion, fast-everything culture.” However, it does not serve solely as a condemnation of these sins. Instead, it tries to offer "simple ways each of us can help to heal that damage.” As mentioned above, Kingsley and her husband live on a farm in Maryland, but her book provides tips and tricks that can easily be implemented “in city and suburb, helping all of us feel more connected and less out of step with our environment.” Kingsley’s guide includes “stories, tips, recipes, resources, ideas, and questions to get you thinking about your own relationship to the planet, what you eat, what you wear, where you live, and how you live.” The book also “contains three weeks of daily thought exercises to lead you in the process.”

Critical Comments

"...The warmth and passion of the writer is apparent in both the snippets of historical context as well as the easy-to-follow instructions for a slower, more natural lifestyle. From a simple recipe for mayonnaise to hand drawn herbs and their healing properties to sourdough starters and baking soda as the miracle cleanser, this book provides new-to-the-slow-life practitioners oodles of first steps." 

Julie Bogart, Author & Creator of Brave Writer

"A thoughtful handbook for anyone who is drawn to a slower, more meaningful existence. From practical recipes to thoughtful inspiration, this book will gently guide you to more conscious choices in all areas of your life." 

Jill Winger, The Prairie Homestead

Reader Reviews

“An amazing guidebook to build a more sustainable lifestyle. The book ends with a 21-day slow living challenge which helps to take the learnings from the book and make them more tangible to exercise sustainable practices. The step by step recipes makes intimidating recipes like Sourdough Bread more approachable. Mary E. Kingsley is a wonderful storyteller and the book is a pleasure from page 1 to 150.”

― George R., Verified Purchase on Amazon

“A fantastic guide for transitioning to a slow living lifestyle! I enjoyed this book very much! It touches on all the main points for slow living. I really enjoyed the chapters on food and fashion. It's laid out in easy to understand chapters so you don't feel overwhelmed with all the information. (and there is a lot!) This little book holds so much knowledge. I would highly recommend this for those looking to transition to a slow living lifestyle.

― Melissa Makarewicz, Verified Purchase on Amazon

#7 Building a Better World in Your Backyard: Instead of Being by Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop

Best Books About Living Sustainably in 2021 this year

About the Authors

Building a Better World in Your Backyard: Instead of Being Angry at Bad Guys was written by filmmaker, author, engineer and permaculturist Paul Wheaton. According to Wheaton’s bio on his website, the author “began his journey toward permaculture innovation in 1995.” It was around this time that Wheaton created the computer program Bananacom and received his Advanced Master Gardener certificate. A few years later, Wheaton “started writing articles about permaculture techniques.” Since then, Wheaton has led a number of courses and completed several film series about permaculture. Building a Better World in Your Backyard: Instead of Being Angry at Bad Guys was co-written by Canadian developer Shawn Klassen-Koop. Klassen-Koop was recently interviewed for an episode of The Permaculture Podcast, during which he described his experience working on the book. Listen to the entire recording here

Summary

According to the summary on Amazon, this beautifully illustrated book offers “dozens of solutions." It also presents "their impacts on carbon footprint, petroleum footprint, toxic footprint, and other environmental issues.” In her article “Book Review: ‘Building a Better World in Your Backyard’ by Paul Wheaton & Shawn Klassen-Koop” for Mother Earth News, Rosemary Hansen offers her thoughts on the permaculture guidebook. Rosemary Hansen writes that the purpose of Building a Better World is to “help the average person transform the world." They can do this "one truly ecological act at a time.”

Wheaton and Klassen-Koop encourage readers to “do things in their everyday life to help the earth” instead of “writing angry letters to politicians” with little recourse or possibility for change. Klassen-Koop and Wheaten “briefly cover how to save money and make passive income.” This chapter of the book underscores its underlying “theme of luxurious living.”

Reader Reviews

“This book is not just another book for permaculture-obsessed garden hipsters, although they will surely love it. Nor is it a comprehensive ‘intro to permaculture’ that goes into zones and food forests, although I do think those things are great. No, although you could call this a permaculture-related book, this book is a bit different. This book is a bridge to help people discover and apply permaculture principles when they otherwise might be too overwhelmed or lost to make any changes. Paul and Shawn provide tons of little things (and some big things) you can do, things that will actually make an impact on your carbon and toxic footprints. They also correct quite a few misconceptions about what the media tells us we should do to be ‘green,’ offering explanations for why those things are either ineffective or even actively harmful.”

Goodreads Reviewer 

“This book contains some great ways you can reduce your environmental footprint without reducing your luxury. They range from the simple ones that even I can do to rather complex ones suitable for folks building a new house. Much of the material comes from the discussions and articles on permies.com, and there are copious links back to that site to allow you to learn more about many topics. It's a quick read, but will give you years of ideas to work on.”

Goodreads Reviewer

Author Comments

“For nearly every global problem there are solutions we can implement in our backyard that save us money and help us live more luxuriant lives.”

― Paul Wheaton, Building a Better World in Your Backyard: Instead of Being Angry at Bad Guys

#8 Plastic Purge: How to Use Less Plastic, Eat Better, Keep Toxins Out of Your Body, and Help Save the Sea Turtles! by Michael SanClements

Best Books About Living Sustainably in 2021 this year

About the Author

According to the bio on his website, Dr. Michael SanClements, PhD currently works as a scientist for the National Ecological Observatory Network. He also works at the University of Colorado Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research as an affiliate professor. Though Plastic Purge is his first full-length book of nonfiction, SanClements’ work as an ecologist has been published in a number of scientific journals as well as in The New York Times and Backpacker Magazine. SanClements has also “presented at dozens of international conferences on the environmental sciences” over the last several years. SanClements’ ecological research has led him across the world “to all seven continents, including two prolonged stints in Antarctica.”

Summary

The Denver Post #1 bestseller Plastic Purge: How to Use Less Plastic, Eat Better, Keep Toxins Out of Your Body, and Help Save the Sea Turtles! was written by ecologist and author Michael SanClements. Cheeky and engaging yet educational and well-researched, Plastic Purge: How to Use Less Plastic, Eat Better, Keep Toxins Out of Your Body, and Help Save the Sea Turtles! explains the effects of plastics on the human body and the environment. According to the book’s description on Amazon, Plastic Purge “provides easy-to-follow advice for how to use less plastic, thereby reaping the benefits such as eating a healthier diet and living with less clutter.” The author’s website notes that SanClements uses “scientifically rigorous sources and a witty engaging tone [to teach] us how to use less plastic, eat better, keep dangerous toxins out of our bodies, and reduce pollution.” Through this book, SanClements hopes to encourage others to make change. He also hopes to leave behind a planet that serves the next generation -- like “his daughter Hadley.”

Critical Comments

“Even as a conscientious consumer, obsessive recycler, and environmental advocate, it wasn't until I read Plastic Purge that I realized how little I knew about the ubiquity and consequences of plastics in my life. Thanks to SanClements' effortlessly casual style, not only did I enjoy reading about the 'good, bad, and ugly' ways that plastics have infiltrated my home, diet, and even my wallet, but I learned how to reduce my plastic footprint. This is the much-needed guide to living with the plastics you need and eliminating the ones that you don’t.” 

Aron Ralston, author of the New York Times Bestseller 127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

“Plastic Purge is a witty, thoughtful, and very useful guide for people looking for a way out of our collective addiction to dangerous, polluting and (in many cases) completely unnecessary consumer products. Michael SanClements offers a breezy, fascinating, and insightful look at our buying habits, and how we might change them in ways that will help ourselves and our planet.” ―McKay Jenkins, author of What's Gotten Into Us: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World

Reader Reviews

“This book was incredibly informational, yet amazingly digestible and a bit humorous as well. I would recommend this book to everyone that is looking to gain some insight about how we can be care for our environment and ultimately ourselves. I would even consider reading it again in the future!”

Hope Joyce, Goodreads Reviewer

“I was talking about this book to my students and my colleagues yesterday. I thought SanClements did a wonderful job of covering the topic of plastic- from how it was invented and then became a common household item to which types of plastics to avoid and how plastics can be recycled. I loved the suggestions on how to use less plastic. Great book, and one that I will be purchasing to keep on hand for reference. Highly recommend.”

Danielle DuPuis, Goodreads Reviewer

#9 The Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable and Green Living by Sarah Lozanova

Best Books About Living Sustainably in 2021 this year

About the Author

According to her profile on Earth911.com, Sarah Lozanova “is an environmental journalist and copywriter." Lozanova "has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable.” She also teaches graduate level green business classes at Unity College, supported by her MBA in sustainable management. Her Earth911 bio notes that Lozanova’s “renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations.” Lozanova published Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living in April 2021. Concurrently, Lozanova composes sustainable design and architecture articles for Earth911, focusing on how-to tips for homeowners. Recent articles published by Lozanova include “Are Floating Neighborhoods a Solution for Rising Sea Levels?” and “Nine Tips for Greening a Home Renovation Project.”

Summary

Rachel Jagareski recently reviewed The Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable and Green Living for Foreword Reviews. In her review, Jagareski writes that “The Humane Home suggests many ways to green things up." These apply to all readers, "whether one lives in an urban apartment or on sizeable rural acreage.” Providing readers with a number of options, Lozanova begins by discussing “how to assess one’s existing lifestyle, and change it, to live in a way more attuned to Earth and her finite resources.” As a proponent of remote work, the tiny house movement and communal living, Lozanova encourages each reader to find “the best fit for one’s individual aspirations, budget, and location.” Following this introduction, Lozanova “shifts to subjects of home building and renovation." She also delves into "energy and water use, food, landscaping and gardening, and the polluted status of our indoor air.” 

Similar in scope and language to her articles for Earth911, each of these sections “describes residential projects and changes in habits that seem accessible.” Jagareski writes that The Humane Home is beautifully “accented with colorful illustrations, recipes, quotes, and sidebars of examples of sustainable projects.” These include everything “from installing rain barrels in the Virginia countryside to concocting homemade cleaning products to the story of a Chicago family who fundraises to install solar systems on public school rooftops.” This book is inspirational, enjoyable and accessible for all readers “interested in scaling down their personal carbon footprint, wherever they call home.”

Critical Reviews

"This short, compact book would be useful to anyone building or renovating a home and wanting a general overview of how to do it with minimal impact. It contains seven chapters that cover topics like energy efficiency, water conservation, passive solar heat, building materials, air quality, choosing where to live, and even borrowing money from local credit unions to finance home purchases, as this 'creates a symbiotic relationship between lender, borrower, and the larger community.'"

Treehugger

"This new book, from sustainability consultant and journalist Sarah Lozanova, will get you seriously jazzed to give your abode and daily routine an audit and find simple, satisfying, and affordable ways to optimize your surroundings. It's a pretty, relaxing-to-read little tome, chock-full of easy DIY endeavors. Think: starting an herb garden, making nontoxic cleaning solvents, and embracing hacks to help slash your utility bills. On a more macro level, The Humane Home will subtly reshape how you think of your living space, and re-envision it as an empowering refuge and place of potential."

- Sierra Magazine

Reader Reviews

“5.0 out of 5 stars Simple, actionable steps. Sarah Lozanova delivers an enjoyable, useful introduction to lowering your household and lifestyle's impact on the environment. We took away a dozen simple tips that have already made a difference in our home.

-Mitch Ratcliffe, Verified Purchase on Amazon

“5.0 out of 5 stars Positive and Inspiring! Fun to read for tons of easily-attainable solutions. A lovely little volume to leave out for family and friends to leaf through for inspiration.

-Alison P., Verified Purchase on Amazon

#10 The Zero-Waste Chef: Plant-Forward Recipes and Tips for a Sustainable Kitchen and Planet by Anne-Marie Bonneau

best books about living sustainably 2021

About the Author

San Francisco Bay Area blogger and editor Anne-Marie Bonneau lives in an intentional community with her two kids. In 2011, Bonneau went plastic free after learning about the effects plastic pollution has on human health and that of the environment. Since then, she and her family have worked towards transitioning into a zero waste lifestyle. Bonneau currently blogs under the name “The Zero-Waste Chef,” offering a series of recipes and zero-waste challenges on her site and social pages. 

Summary

Anne-Marie Bonneau’s cookbook The Zero-Waste Chef: Plant-Forward Recipes and Tips for a Sustainable Kitchen and Planet was released in early 2021. The book offers a series of seventy-five vegetarian and vegan recipes, each designed to encourage a more sustainable lifestyle. According to the book’s description on Amazon, The Zero-Waste Chef “gives readers the facts to motivate them to do better, the simple (and usually free) fixes to ease them into wasting less.” Bonneau’s tips are intended to turn her readers “into more sustainable, money-saving cooks.” In her article “The Zero Waste Chef's New Cookbook Will Help You Slash Food and Packaging Waste” for Treehugger, Katherine Martinko describes the book. Martinko writes that “the book starts with an introduction to zero waste living.” Here, Bonneau explains “that the average American generates 4.5 pounds of trash every day." She also notes that sadly, a "mere 9% of plastic gets recycled in the United States.” 

Bonneau follows her introduction with a series of recipes, many of which involve fermentation. Katherine Martinko notes that “this can be a tough switch for some people,” but Bonneau makes it seem easy. Martinko concludes her review by promising that “at no point does Bonneau promise it's easy to go zero waste.” She makes it clear that going zero-waste “requires a total shift in the way one approaches food, diet, and life in the kitchen.” However, Bonneau also makes the zero waste lifestyle feel “approachable, educational, and enormously inspiring.”

Critical Comments

“In The Zero-Waste Chef, Anne-Marie makes cutting back on waste more fun and accessible than ever. Her helpful tips, anecdotes, and delicious recipes will have you clamoring to “cook like a grandma” and reduce your waste in the kitchen, benefiting your health, your wallet, and the planet in the process.”

Jeanine Donofrio, author of Love and Lemons Every Day 

"No matter where you are on your zero-waste journey, this cookbook will inspire you from start to finish. Beautifully written and illustrated, The Zero-Waste Chef is filled with approachable recipes and wisdom for real life in a sustainable kitchen.”

–Aimée Wimbush-Bourque, author of Brown Eggs and Jam Jars

Author Comments

“To reduce my waste, I had to examine every aspect of my life, make decisions more intentionally, slow down, and live more simply."

-Anne-Marie Bonneau, The Zero-Waste Chef: Plant-Forward Recipes and Tips for a Sustainable Kitchen and Planet

Reader Reviews

“This woman is a genius. I have followed the Zero Waste Chef for years now. Her ideas are fascinating and her recipes are delicious. She writes knowledgeably on important subjects subject such as drought and waste yet knows how to inject a little humor here and there. This book is one of my favorites. Although I have been donating most of my books to the local library, this one is a keeper.”

-Ann J, Verified Purchase on Amazon

 


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