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Nine thought-provoking books for people interested in the environment

Must-read books that will inspire, entertain and inform


Here at the Energy Efficiency Business Support Service, we have been swapping suggestions and titles of our favourite ‘green’ books. There has been quite a selection. Here are nine of our top reads.

1. How Bad Are Bananas? By Mike Berners-Lee 

This book has been very popular with our team and has prompted a lot of conversations. The author, brother of Tim who is credited with inventing the World Wide Web, looks at the carbon footprint of ‘everything’. That may be a slight exaggeration, but it does reveal some interesting facts about emissions associated with food, travel, IT equipment and so much more. 

It’s probably not a book you want to read start to finish, but dip into as the mood takes you. It is fascinating, and Berners-Lee makes it fun as well as informative. You will be able to impress your friends with some of the facts.

2. Feral by George Monbiot

One of our advisors, Lachlan Kirk, suggested this title. He said it was the book that had made the biggest impact on him, although he wasn’t sure it was one hundred per cent a green book. But it was one of two Monbiot titles mentioned, so he is clearly a popular writer with our team.

Lachlan says:

“It really made me reconsider how we view the landscape around us and the really long-term impacts we have on it over generations and also our own connection to nature as a species and the concept and importance of rewilding.”

The book includes a vision of the future where lions and elephants roam the Scottish Highlands. A real thought-provoking read.

3. Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning by George Monbiot

This is the second book by journalist and environmentalist Monbiot. Global warming is a huge topic and in Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning Monbiot provides some practical solutions to some of the commonly cited sustainability conundrums.

The service's manager John Murray says: 

“My favourite is the idea of using trains to just haul goods and putting people on buses – but intercity buses would only run down the motorways and wouldn’t be brought into the centre of each city. Local buses could run from motorway hubs.

With no lorries on the roads, there would be less damage and the whole transport system would run more smoothly.”

It’s a book packed with ideas to inspire as well as talking about the reality of the situation we are facing. Could it be accused of being alarmist? Have a read and tell us what you think.

4. A New Green History of the World by Clive Ponting 

If you like history, you are going to love this title. It goes right back to the great civilisations and discusses how, throughout history, different societies have made use of Earth’s resources and the implications of their actions.

This is a favourite book of our Tom Flatman, who says: 

“I liked this book as it gave a history and global perspective of the impact humans have had on the environment. There are examples of how humans exploited resources from Easter Island hundreds of years ago, to the Roman Empire and the Industrial Revolution – and how it led to disaster. It’s a bit bleak, but it shows the impacts and makes you think what needs to be done in today’s world."

 

5. Why Women Will Save The Planet by Friends of the Earth and C40 Cities 

This is a collection of essays written by environmentalists and feminist groups, about how to empower women leaders to create a sustainable future. It is a fascinating read with many ideas, all coming together to show how important women are in creating a bright new world.

Advisor Paige Bailey says: 

“I was initially drawn to it because it combines my two passions of women empowerment and the environment – but it basically encapsulates how, if we empower women, we can achieve environmental sustainability.”

It’s another great book where you can just dip in and read a couple of essays without having to read from start to finish.

6. On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal by Naomi Klein 

Klein has written a number of books that make you sit up and listen and this one is no different as it discusses the urgency of the climate crisis.

She is a great theorist and tells it how it is. She certainly doesn’t tiptoe around the issues.

You may not agree with everything she has to say in this collection of essays, but there is no denying you will be challenged.

7. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson 

Silent Spring was published almost 60 years ago but is still a relevant read as Carson discusses the environmental issues surrounding the use of pesticides. At the time of its publication, it caused a bit of a stir, especially within the American chemicals industry.

But it actually led to a change in the US pesticide policy and is credited with leading to the setting up of the American Environmental Protection Agency.

Carson died two years after the book came out and wasn’t able to witness the full events that followed in its wake. A truly significant publication.

8. My Green Day: 10 Things I Can Do Today by Melanie Walsh 

‘Green’ books don’t have to be just for adults. In fact, there are a growing number of titles aimed at younger readers, including this one.

Advisor and dad of two, Ryan Felber, says: 

"This is a book we bought for my three-year-old. It is a nice, simple book with lovely illustrations and contains 10 green things that can be done daily.

 

“There is info about composting, which has really helped him make use of the food bin, as well as info on food waste and my favourite a page about reducing the amount of time under the shower.

 

“We feel that the younger generation play an important role in the future of our planet and reduction in carbon emissions. If good habits are taught early, they are likely to stick around.”

9. What a Waste: Rubbish, Recycling and Protecting our Planet by Jess French 

Ryan has a second recommendation for the younger members of the family with this educational read.

He says: 

“The book contains lots of useful information and facts. It even has a whole page dedicated to having an energy efficient home and also one all about renewable energy. I would recommend both books and they have really helped us as parents convey the importance of being green.”

 

We hope you enjoy these recommendations. And before you and friends run out to buy your copies, you might want to set up a book-sharing club, that’s what we’ve done in our office. Helping us save some money and a few trees into the bargain. Win-win.

Your recommendations

What about you? Do you have any books you’d like to recommend? Tweet us @energy_zws using #greenbooks. We’d love to hear your suggestions.

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