Love reading, but worried about the environmental impact of your ever-growing home library?

Don’t worry.

There are plenty of ways to make your reading habits more eco-friendly!

In fact, there are even ways you can tweak your habits to have a positive impact on the environment.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

And just how can you do that?

Well this post is EXACTLY what you needed!

It will point out some of the easiest changes you can make without compromising your favourite parts of cosying up with a good book.

You’ll also find a nice variety of book recommendations to give you a head start in turning your bookshelves green!

Let’s dive in.

Read more: The Best Green Apps for: #1 Avoiding Food Waste

Tip #1: Educate yourself

Educating yourself is always a good move.

Doing so on the immense environmental pressures facing our world is an even better one.

Indeed, it’s one of the best steps you can take in the fight for a greener planet.

You’re going to be reading anyway, right?

So, why not use some of that time to learn more about climate change, pollution, and how to live more sustainably on a daily basis?

A great place to start is Kathryn Kellogg’s 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the news surrounding environmental degradation, and just as easy to feel like there’s nothing you can do about it.

Kellogg tackles this issue head-on.

By compiling a definitive guide of everyday actions that have a positive impact on our planet.

educating yourself could mean getting a degree or learning from books on sustainability

Books on Sustainability come in different shapes & sizes

But that’s just the start since:

  1. You don’t need to read it cover-to-cover or implement every zero-waste switch at once.
  2. And you can dip in and out at your own pace and figure out the practices that will work best for your lifestyle. 

If you’re looking for something a little more scientific and larger-scale, try How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.

Here, Bill Gates puts forward a decade’s worth of climate research.

He seeks to explain how we got to where we are now.

And what we need to do, as a society, is to slow climate change before it’s too late. 

It is denser in tone, but an absolute MUST if you wish to comprehensively understand what we are facing.

So get out there (online or in-person) and get some books on sustainability!

Tip #2: Invest in more ebooks and audiobooks

“Eco-friendly book” might strike you as a bit of an oxymoron…

How can printing more paper be good for the environment?

That’s where ebooks and audiobooks come in!

For one, not only do these options make reading on the go much easier.

But they also help reduce the 640,000 tons of books that are thrown away each year.

If you don’t already own an e-reader, consider reading on your phone or tablet to skip the high-energy (and expensive) acquisition of a separate device.

Stress-Free Sustainability by Adam Hammes (narrated by Tom McElroy) offers a simple framework to cut through all the confusion surrounding environmental living.

Beginning to see the benefits?

Its a no-brainer to incorporate audiobooks like this into your daily routine.

Perhaps via your (hopefully public-transport!) commute or while you’re cooking dinner is a great way to switch to more eco-conscious reading habits.

Tip #3: Don’t buy new books 

Don’t fancy converting to e-readers or audiobooks?

Well, there are plenty of other ways to cut down on the number of new books you’re buying!

Shopping second-hand is SO easy nowadays.

If there’s a particular book you’re eyeing, you’ll inevitably be able to find a used copy online.

Alternatively, if you don’t usually have a specific book in mind or if you favour authors with extensive catalogues, like Stephen King or James Patterson, then second-hand shopping in IRL bookstores could become a favourite hobby!

And you can be sure as someone who likes to minimise their waste searching for books on sustainability is a true inception moment.

Read more: Going Green means what exactly? How to overcome 5 obstacles?

(Besides the eco-friendliness of it all, there’s just something magical about buying used books; you can imagine their past lives with other owners, especially if they contain enigmatic inscriptions.)

you can thrift books on sustainability instead of buying them anew!
Thrifting a book or two is perfectly acceptable

Borrow that book!

Borrowing books is another great option.

With public library usage on the decline, they need all the support they can get, plus you’d be boosting your community resources.

You could also gather up a group of friends and organize a book swap, or join a local Facebook group for trading books on sustainability

There are more book-borrowing options out there than you might think!

And if you feel like incorporating this habit into other areas of your life, Lauren Bravo’s How To Break Up With Fast Fashion is full of tips for curating a more sustainable wardrobe.

In this book on sustainability, Bravo reveals how to change your mindset on this everyday issue without sacrificing style, comfort, or cost.

And she does it in an accessible, not at all patronizing way.

Tip #4: Diversify your reading list

As the lasting impacts of climate change become ever more apparent, it’s also increasingly apparent that those in economically impoverished areas are disproportionately affected.

Yet there is an inconsistency.

Most research or voices still tend to come predominantly from those who will be least directly affected – namely white-dominated areas with people of affluent backgrounds.

Studies prove that climate justice is not only an environmental but also a racial justice issue and that, globally, women are already feeling the effects more.

Hence, diversifying your reading list is crucial.

Crucial to establishing a comprehensive understanding of climate change and its impact around the world.

There are so many incredible and diverse books in this vein, but here’s a particularly gripping one to start you off:

There’s Something In The Water by Ingrid R. G. Waldron.

This book on sustainability unpacks the impact of environmental racism on Canada’s BIPOC communities.

Waldron explores the theory of settler colonialism in order to bring attention to this critically underrepresented issue, shining a light on some of the country’s grassroots resistance organizations.

Making this not only an educational read but an inspiring one for us all

Tip #5: Expand beyond nonfiction

Knowledge is power goes the saying.

But when it comes to environmental awareness, knowledge really is power. And even if nonfiction really isn’t your thing, there’s much to be gleaned from novels and even short stories.

Fiction, after all, reflects essential truths.

By finding people you relate to, even fictional ones, you can put yourself in a better position to contextualize their issues.

In your own life and in our world.

fiction books on sustainability can offer a lateral way of finding green solutions

Memory of Water is Emmi Itäranta’s award-winning debut novel about a post-climate-change future.

Water has become a scarce commodity — and seventeen-year-old Noria has more access to it than most.

While not explicitly concerned with geopolitics or the science behind climate change, Itäranta’s emotive writing is sure to leave an impression on you.

But equally, in the way you use water, helping you not to take water and everything it provides for granted.

Takeawaysbooks on sustainability are a must

Being instructed to change every aspect of your life if you care about the planet isn’t likely to win many people over.

But recommending inspiring books on sustainability is a strong approach.

And explaining why you’ve switched to an e-reader is an even stronger, non-confrontational way to engage people in a conversation.

If any of the tips or books on sustainability in this post appealed to you, be sure to pass them on to other people!

Sharing really is caring when it comes to making progress, fighting climate change, and building a more sustainable world.

Are we missing any titles? What are your top reads?

Drop a comment with them below.


  • Savannah Cordova is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world's best editors, designers, and marketers. She’s passionate about self-publishing and sustainability and hopes to help as many authors (and readers) as possible in her quest to combine both!

Savannah Cordova

Savannah Cordova is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world's best editors, designers, and marketers. She’s passionate about self-publishing and sustainability and hopes to help as many authors (and readers) as possible in her quest to combine both!


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