Curl up with a good book this lockdown holiday. Here are some of our favourite fiction and non-fiction books that explore environmental issues and sustainability, from fast fashion and circularity, to pandemics and food production.
2020 has put most of us through the wringer.
We kicked off with devastating wildfires in Australia and later more fires in California; rainstorms and hurricanes across the world led to deadly floods in many countries including Indonesia, Rwanda, Afghanistan and India; a swarm of locusts across Kenya and Uganda (linked to climate change by the UN) caused food shortages; and the deadly Coronavirus pandemic which has so far resulted in almost 2 million deaths globally, as well as lockdowns and social restrictions across much of the world.
It's been a s#*t show, really. But, it’s also been a year of much reflection and reassessment of our values, our lifestyle and what needs to change in society as we move forward.
The pandemic has brought to light a lot of things that need to be fixed, from economic disparity and access to healthcare, the food production system, the way we travel, our excessive consumption and waste, to the ongoing environmental destruction and the role we play in contributing to it.
Whether you're trying to ease your dependence on animal products, wanting to become an activist for climate change, or just want to be a more conscious consumer, these books will give you plenty of food for thought and inspiration for your New Year's resolutions.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate
Bestselling author Naomi Klein exposes the myths that are clouding the climate change debate, and the inconvenient truth about capitalism’s role in the climate crisis. This Changes Everything proposes a transformation of our failed economic system to build something radically better.
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate
In The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben (who has been called the world's most famous forester) makes the case that the forest is a social network. He draws on ground-breaking scientific discoveries, and first hand observations, to describe how trees communicate and live. You will never look at a tree the same way again.
We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast
Change starts on our dinner plate, argues Jonathan Safran Foer. We have, he reveals, turned our planet into a farm for growing animal products, and the consequences are catastrophic. We Are the Weather is a fact filled and eye opening investigation into how our food habits impact climate change.
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming
If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. Throw in food shortages, refugee emergencies, climate wars and economic devastation. The Uninhabitable Earth is a terrifying but necessary read on what the future may hold. It isn't pretty.
Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life
Environmental journalist George Monbiot makes a case for nature with Feral by taking readers on an enchanting journey around the world to explore ecosystems that have been "rewilded", freed from human intervention and allowed—in some cases for the first time in millennia—to resume their natural ecological processes.
Cradle to Cradle
Cradle to Cradle is a radical ecological manifesto proposing a new vision for modern industry with circularity. Instead of our current wasteful and polluting methods of manufacturing, we could be taking nature as a model for making things. Braungart and McDonough argue that with the right redesign, objects that have come to the end of their useful lives should provide the basis for something new.
Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat
Farmageddon is a fascinating and terrifying investigative journey behind the closed doors of the runaway meat industry across the world — from the UK, Europe and the USA, to China, Argentina, Peru and Mexico. It is both a wake-up call to change our current food production and eating practices and an attempt to find a way to a better farming future.
Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, Richard Powers' The Overstory is a moving tale of five strangers mission to prevent a natural catastrophe. This epic and elegiac work of environmental fiction conjures the wonder and beauty of nature, and humanity's uncomfortable, complicated and often tragic relationship with it. If you love trees this is for you.
To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World
An exposé on the fashion industry written by the Observer's 'Ethical Living' columnist, examining the inhumane and environmentally devastating story behind the clothes we so casually buy and wear. To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? offers a very plausible vision of how green could really be the new black.
Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes
Fashionopolis is the definitive book on the cost of fast fashion, and a blueprint for how we get to a more sustainable future. Thomas unveils the problems with the fashion industry, form sweatshops, environmental pollution and waste (2.1 billion tonnes of clothing is thrown away annually!!), and shows us how to get dressed consciously.
Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020, Jenny Offill's Weather is a darkly funny and unconventionally narrated tale whose protagonist navigates climate anxiety and life's many trials set against the turbulent political backdrop of the 2016 elections.
How to Survive a Pandemic
How to Survive a Pandemic is a vital and timely text on the viruses that cause pandemics and how to face them, by the New York Times bestselling author of How Not to Die. As the world grapples with the devastating impact of COVID-19, Dr Greger reveals not only what we can do to protect ourselves during a pandemic, but also what human society must rectify to reduce the likelihood of even worse catastrophes in the future. Greger warns, the worst is yet to come, and it will likely stem from factory farms. This book is a must read!