The best books on sustainability, according to sustainability thought-leaders

Are you looking for a thought-provoking, inspirational or insightful book to help you learn more about sustainable living and get to the heart of the climate crisis? You’ve come to the right place.

With so many new self-help and ‘how to live sustainably’ books lining the shelves, it feels impossible to decide which ones are truly worth your time and money. 

So, we asked the thought-leaders, pioneers and entrepreneurs in the sustainable space for their recommendations – because there’s nothing like a trusty recommendation, especially when it comes from the experts…

Books on sustainability: Lifestyle

1. No More Rubbish Excuses by Martin Dorey

No More Rubbish Excuses by Martin Dorey | books on sustainability
Why you should read it: 

No More Rubbish Excuses presents core ideas that anyone (everyone) should pick up as new, better habits. It starts small, but it all counts.”

Sally Ellis-Rudd, Helen Browning’s Organic
What it’s about:

Litter on our streets, plastics in our seas, overflowing landfill, fatbergs… Do you know where your rubbish ends up?

We are all responsible for the waste we make and we can make simple changes to live more planet-friendly lives. 

Expert environmental campaigner Martin Dorey looks at what we recycle, what we bin, what we take to the tip – plastics, food, clothing, electricals and furniture – where it goes and what it really does to our planet.

Martin offers simple, impactful ways – #2minutesolutions – to cut down your waste and why they make a big difference.

You can help save the planet. It only takes 2 minutes.

Where you can buy it:


Recommended by Sally Ellis-Rudd, the Ecommerce Manager at Helen Browning’s Organic. Helen Browning’s farming philosophy is to grow the best quality crops and animals while making space for nature, and their produce is all the better for it.

2. The World We Made by Jonathan Porritt

The World We Made by Jonathan Porritt | books on sustainability
Why you should read it: 

The World We Made is fairly unique in being a book about sustainability that isn’t depressing. It sets out an optimistic view of the future, one in which humans have managed to live in harmony with nature and each other.”

Gilly Ridley Whittle, CEO and Founder of Peachaus
What it’s about: 

Our planet’s environmental future is usually described in terms of doom and despair. But now, for the first time, The World We Made presents a credible, positive vision of our planet that is green, fair, connected and collaborative.

Part history, part personal memoir, The World We Made reveals how it is possible to reach a genuinely sustainable world by 2050; describing the key events, technological breakthroughs and lifestyle revolutions that will transform our planet.

Where you can buy it:

From £5.54 (used) or £26.39 (new),

Recommended by Gilly Ridley Whittle is the CEO and Founder of Peachaus, an ethical and sustainable women’s lifestyle brand that sells everyday leisurewear, sleepwear and underwear.

3. Almanac by Lia Leendertz

Almanac by Lia Leendertz | books on sustainability
Why you should read it: 

“It’s a seasonal guide to each month with old folk songs, traditions, gardening tips and recipes. I love reading it and keeps me in tune with natures’ shifts. There’s a new edition every year and I always get it.”

Eily O Connell, owner of Eily O Connell
What it’s about:

The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2023 gives you the tools and inspiration you need to celebrate, mark and appreciate each month of the year in your own particular way. Divided into the 12 months, a set of tables each month gives it the feel and weight of a traditional almanac, providing practical information that gives access to the outdoors and the seasons, perfect for expeditions, meteor-spotting nights and beach holidays. There are also features on each month’s unique nature, with this instalment following the swirling micro world of the garden pond through the year.

You will find yourself referring to The Almanac all year long, revisiting it again and again, and looking forward to the next edition as the year draws to a close.

This year’s edition is illustrated by artist Whooli Chen.

Where you can buy it:


Recommended by Eily O Connell, the owner, director and goldsmith of a sustainably focused jewellery brand, Eily O Connell. Eily’s stunning nature-inspired designs are made from high-quality, ethical and well-sourced materials. 

4. The Reindeer Chronicles by Judith Schwartz

The Reindeer Chronicles by Judith Schwartz | books on sustainable living
Why you should read it: 

The Reindeer Chronicles shares the success stories of ecological restoration around the world. It is the perfect antidote to the (innately) bleak climate journalism most of us are reading.”

Ed Ayton, Abel & Cole
What it’s about:

From China to Belgium to the Middle East, Award-winning science journalist Judith D. Schwartz tells the inspiring stories of eco-restorers and their noble quest to revitalise some of the earth’s most damaged places.

Schwartz explores regenerative solutions across a range of landscapes: deserts, grasslands, tropics, tundra, Mediterranean. She also highlights various human landscapes, the legacy of colonialism and industrial agriculture, and the endurance of indigenous knowledge.

The Reindeer Chronicles demonstrates how solutions to seemingly intractable problems can come from the unlikeliest of places, and how the restoration of local water, carbon, nutrient, and energy cycles can play a dramatic role in stabilizing the global climate. Ultimately, it reveals how much is in our hands if we can find a way to work together and follow nature’s lead.

Where you can buy it:


Recommended by Ed Ayton, the Sustainability & Communications Officer for organic food delivery company Abel & Cole. Everything Abel & Cole sell matches its sustainable, local and seasonal ethos.

Books on sustainability: Fashion

5. Consumed by Aja Barber

Consumed by Aja Barber
Why you should read it:

“This book is all about the injustice, inequality, and racism that has come out of the textile industry. It will give both a historical side of how this all came to be, but also the psychological side that we need to overcome now. It is a very interesting read that will hopefully both teach and inspire you.”

Noor Veenhoven, Project Cece
What it’s about:

Aja Barber wants change.

In the ‘learning’ first half of the book, she will expose you to the endemic injustices in our consumer industries and the uncomfortable history of the textile industry; one which brokered slavery, racism and today’s wealth inequality. And how these oppressive systems have bled into the fashion industry and its lack of diversity and equality. She will also reveal how we spend our money and whose pockets it goes into and whose it doesn’t (clue: the people who do the actual work) and will tell her story of how she came to learn the truth.

In the second ‘unlearning’ half of the book, she will help you to understand the uncomfortable truth behind why you consume the way you do. She asks you to confront the sense of lack you have, the feeling that you are never quite enough and the reasons why you fill the aching void with consumption rather than compassion. And she makes you challenge this power disparity, and take back ownership of it. The less you buy into the consumer culture the more power you have.

Where you can buy it:


Recommended by Noor Veenhoven, one of the three all-female founders of Project Cece. It’s the largest online marketplace for stylish and ethical clothing in Europe, featuring 100 brands – and growing.

6. How To Break Up With Fast Fashion by Lauren Bravo

How To Break Up With Fast Fashion by Lauren Bravo | books on sustainable fashion
Why you should read it: 

“Sustainability can often feel out of reach, but Lauren approaches it with warmth, humour and practicality. A must-read for anyone just starting out on their sustainable journey.”

Hannah Rochell, Teemill
What it’s about:

You probably know the statistics: global clothing production has roughly doubled in just 15 years, and every year an estimated 300,000 tonnes of used clothing ends up in UK landfill.

Fast fashion is the ultimate toxic relationship. It’s bad news for the planet, our brains and our bank balances. We can’t go on like this; our shopping habits need an overhaul.

Journalist Lauren Bravo loves clothes more than anything, but she’s called time on her affair with fast fashion in search of a slower, saner way of dressing. In this book, she’ll help you do the same.

How To Break Up With Fast Fashion will help you to change your mindset, fall back in love with your wardrobe and embrace more sustainable ways of shopping – from the clothes swap to the charity shop. Full of refreshing honesty and realistic advice, Lauren will inspire you to repair, recycle and give your unloved items a new lease of life without sacrificing your style.

Because fashion belongs to everyone, but no outfit should cost us the earth.

Where you can buy it:


Recommended by Hannah Rochell, the Content Lead at Rapanui, a sustainable, circular adventurewear clothing brand.

8. Regenerative Fashion by Safia Minney

Regenerative Fashion by Safia Minney | books on sustainable fashion
Why you should read it:

“It offers a really holistic approach to creating the kind of fashion industry we so desperately need.”

Susanna Wen, Birdsong
What it’s about:

Regenerative Fashion presents a roadmap for new ways of doing fashion. To keep our planet safe, we must cut production and end our dependency on fossil fuels. We must also create dignified livelihoods for the millions of people working in the industry. By using natural resources, paying factory workers and farmers a living wage and scaling up craft production, we can not only rebuild soils, ecosystems and biodiversity, but also support decarbonisation, regenerate communities and ensure a just transition for all.

Part guide and part manifesto, this book shares stories of our interconnectedness with the natural world and each other, divided into sections on Nature & Materials; People, Livelihoods & Crafts; and New Economy & Leadership. Fully illustrated throughout, it features interviews from best-practice designers and businesses around the world, as well as thought pieces from leading campaigners within the industry.

Where you can buy it:


Recommended by Susanna Wen, the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of cult feminist fashion brand Birdsong. Birdsong’s mantra is one we couldn’t be more on board with: ‘Dress in Protest.’ This means no sweatshops, no Photoshop.

Books on sustainability: Food and farming

9. The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan | books on sustainable farming and food
What it’s about:

What shall we have for dinner? Such a simple question has grown to have a very complicated answer. We can eat almost anything nature has to offer, but deciding what we should eat stirs anxiety. Should we choose the organic apple or the conventional? If organic, local or imported? Wild fish or farmed? Low-carb or low-cal? As the American culture of fast food and unlimited choice invades the world, Pollan follows his next meal from land to table, tracing the origin of everything consumed and the implications for ourselves and our planet. His astonishing findings will shock all who care about what they put on their plate.

Where you can buy it:


Why you should read it: 

“The best book on food and what we should be eating I’ve ever read. It maps out how complex an issue the food industry is. It unveils shocking details of industrial farming in the US, but also details of how variable the label “organic” can be, and how organic standards can come under pressure from big business.”

Richard Bayley, Fleet London

Also recommended by Richard Bayley, the founder of Fleet London, a minimalistic menswear brand selling shirts and boxers designed to last and made from sustainably sourced, high-quality materials.

10. The Third Plate by Dan Barber

The Third Plate by Dan Barber
Why you should read it: 

“A book that tackles all the familiar problems associated with good, clean and fair food (as Slow Food put it) but adds on the ever important question of scale, and how to deal with it.”

Caroline Bennett, Sole of Discretion
What it’s about:

Based on ten years of surveying farming communities around the world, top New York chef Dan Barber’s The Third Plate offers a radical new way of thinking about food that will heal the land and taste incredible.

The ‘first plate’ was a classic meal centred on a large cut of meat with few vegetables. On the ‘second plate’, championed by the farm-to-table movement, meat is free-range and vegetables are locally sourced. It’s better-tasting, and better for the planet, but the second plate’s architecture is identical to that of the first. It, too, disrupts ecological balances, causing soil depletion and nutrient loss – it just isn’t a sustainable way to farm or eat.

The ‘third plate’ offers a solution: an integrated system of vegetable, cereal and livestock production that is fully supported – in fact, dictated – by what we choose to cook for dinner. The Third Plate is where good farming and good food intersect.

Where you can buy it:


Recommended by Caroline Bennett, the founder of Sole of Discretion, a fish delivery service that goes above and beyond to make sure of its fish and seafood is sourced sustainably. Caroline is also the owner of the UK’s first Japanese-style conveyor belt sushi-joint Moshi Moshi

Book on sustainability: Culture and social justice

11. The Interest by Michael Taylor

The Interest by Michael Taylor
Why you should read it: 

“It is a scintillating, thoroughly researched and in-depth study of how it actually took 200 years to get change to happen.”

Rachel, founder of Buttress & Snatch
What it’s about:

Discover how the campaign to end slavery divided Britain and was almost thwarted by some of the most powerful and famous figures of the era.

In 1807, Parliament outlawed the slave trade in the British Empire. But for the next 25 years more than 700,000 people remained enslaved, due to the immensely powerful pro-slavery group the ‘West India Interest’.

This ground-breaking history discloses the extent to which the ‘Interest’ were supported by nearly every figure of the British establishment – fighting, not to abolish slavery, but to maintain it for profit. Gripping and unflinching, The Interest is the long-overdue expose of one of Britain’s darkest, most turbulent times.

Where you can buy it:


Recommended by Rachel Kenyon, the owner, designer and creator of independent Hackney-based lingerie brand Buttress & Snatch. Rachel sets the tone of the brand in fiercely promoting diversity and inclusion.

12. The Slow Grind by Georgina Johnson

The Slow Grind by Georgina Johnson | books on sustainability
Why you should read it: 

“It raises awareness of the unhealthy and unsustainable pace of the creative industry.”

Leticia Credidio
What it’s about:

A Creative Anthology and Blueprint for Holistic Change.

The Slow Grind: Finding Our Way Back to Creative Balance is a collection of essays, think pieces and conversations, gathering some of the most formidable voices across the cultural industries.

With insight from biotechnologists, activists and key cultural actors, The Slow Grind is an innovative anthology, representing the growing field of Intersectional Environmentalism. Driven by a commitment to socio-political change, through creative and community-oriented thinking, The Slow Grind positions conversations and writings at the juncture of environmental and social justice. This book explores larger questions that relate to the condition of our world, the makeup of our cultural industries and the future of our communities – human and non-human. This is an invitation. One that hopes to encourage the process of recovery through unlearning.

Where you can buy it:


Recommended by Leticia Credidio, the founder of Leticia Credidio, a luxury sustainable sleepwear and loungewear brand that is heavily inspired by the natural world.

Main image: photo by Blaz Photo on Unsplash

About the author

Francesca Carpani

Francesca Carpani

Francesca Carpani has a First-Class Joint Honours Degree in English and American Studies. Particular areas of interest are socio-political topics including feminism, racism, multiculturalism, immigration, and media representation. She cares strongly about creating a fairer, more sustainable world and is passionate about spreading positivity.


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