7 READS THAT WILL BOOST YOUR SUSTAINABILITY IQ
It’s happened to the best of us. You’re at a dinner, or an event, and everyone starts talking about a topic you don’t really know enough about, like the latest digital surveillance technology in China* or the most recent episode of The Bachelor. You wish you could contribute to the conversation, but you don’t, because you’d risk giving away that you haven’t been keeping up with the chit chat around the water cooler.
In our industry, global technological developments and celebrity dating shows do make up a certain percentage of our daily dialogs, but another percentage is made up of the one thing we’re surrounded by each day: sustainability. And whilst the word in itself has often been cause for definitional disagreements, our daily involvement in the industry means we are somehow expected to be experts, fully understanding what it means to be sustainable.
If you’re looking for some good reads to get your sustainability IQ on track for successful dinner party discussions, look no further: we’ve compiled a list of our+ top 7 favourites for you (in no particular order):
1. The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, And Our Health—And A Vision for Change | Annie Leonard
This book shows up on ‘top books on sustainability’ lists again and again, and for good reason. Delving deep into why it’s cheaper for us to replace than repair and laying bare how our obsession with stuff is trashing the planet, our communities and our health, this book is one that will open your eyes and challenge your daily habits. Luckily, the author also gives practical tips on swimming against the consumerist stream and shows that there is hope for us yet despite our insatiable desire to consume.
2. Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change | George Marshall
This one’s title really grabbed our attention. Most people recognise that climate change is real, yet many people do absolutely nothing to stop it. What is it about our brain that allows us to know something as true but act as if it were not? This book is about assumptions, values and prejudices, and teaches readers to understand what motivates people to act. Are you up for the challenge?
3. Plastic Purge: How to Use Less Plastic, Eat Better, Keep Toxins Out of Your Body, and Help Save the Sea Turtles | Michael SanClements
We’re surrounded by plastic, but do we really understand the impacts that it’s having on our world and our bodies? This book provides easy to follow advice on how to minimise your use of plastic, showing us that plastics can be good, bad or ugly and that the benefits of reducing it in your life go far beyond cutting down on household waste.
4. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action | Simon Sinek
OK, so this one is not specifically about sustainability, but we do think it’s a great eye opener into how the passion and values that lie at the core of your business can help inspire change in others. Simon Sinek’s book shows that the leaders who have had the greatest influence in the world all think, act and communicate in the same way – a way that is totally different to the way those around them operate. If you haven’t seen this author’s TED talk on this same topic, it’s well worth a watch.
5. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things | Michael Braungart & William McDonough
This book, whilst a little older (pub. 2002) is often recognised as a foundational text on the topic of sustainability. Amazon calls it ‘a manifesto for a radically different philosophy and practice of manufacture and environmentalism,’ and it’s safe to say that this book challenges readers to think about the way in which the world operates, including whether the well-known mantra of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ actually does more harm than good
6. The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us | Diane Ackerman
Keen to understand the real impacts that humanity has had on the planet? This book may be for you. Diane Ackerman is the author of two dozen highly-acclaimed works of poetry and nonfiction, including ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ and this winner of the National Outdoor Book Award and the PEN New England Henry David Thoreau Prize combines her gift for prose with her knowledge of science to explore our human capacity for both destruction and invention as we shape the future of planet Earth.
7. EcoBeauty: Scrubs, Rubs, Masks, Rinses, and Bath Bombs for You and Your Friends | Lauren Cox and Janice Cox
What can we say? There are only so many deep and intellectual books on sustainability one can read (or write about in a day). If you’re looking for easy ways to change up your home beauty routines to save money and help the environment, this book is packed full of ideas. Looking for gift inspiration for Christmas? This book will teach you how to make some easy lotions and potions that will look great in an upcycled glass jar tied with a ribbon, or make a great present for that one relative that seems to always be looking for a new hobby.
With summer just around the corner for us here in Australia, and Christmas only three months away (we know, it’s crazy), we hope that the above books have given you some inspiration for your hammock, beach towel, Christmas stocking or bedside table. If you read any of them, let us know – we’d love to hear what you think! Oh, and good luck for that next dinner party conversation.
*You want to google it now, don’t you?
+By our favourites, we mean the internet’s favourites.