Green Tips: Summer Reading

Green Tips | June 21, 2019

Summer is finally here, which means longer days, warmer weather, and more free time to get out and explore with your friends and family. This summer, don’t forget to pack the essentials: sunscreen, swimsuits, and of course, a good book. Consider bringing along some of our favorite sustainability-focused books:

The Overstory by Richard Powers: Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize, Richard Powers’ novel, The Overstory, is a sweeping homage to the natural world that brings to life the intricate interconnections within our natural world. The novel follows nine characters whose intimate relationships with trees unite them in a stand for environmentalism. Powers is somewhat of a 21st century Thoreau, writing The Overstory from a cabin set deep in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains after doing meticulous research in national parks throughout the country. His stunning ode to our environment is perfect for any lover of nature and literature looking for a relaxing read to carry them through the summer.

The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf: In this illuminating biography, Andrea Wulf documents scientist Alexander von Humboldt’s extraordinary life (1769-1859) in an argument for a new and redefined understanding of nature. Wulf resurrects von Humboldt from near historical obscurity, bringing attention to his revolutionary ideas about climate change and environmentalism. Through his life, Wulf makes the case that a full understanding of nature includes, if not requires, a deep love for the environment. The Invention of Nature is a very readable, highly interesting book that will give you a new perspective on the natural environment around us – a perfect backdrop to summer explorations and outings.

The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard started with a 2007 20 minute educational, animated video about the impact of our production and consumption habits. The book, released in 2010, titled The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities and Our Health -And a Vision for Change provides meticulously researched information about how our over-consumption habits are impacting climate change and communities across the globe. From t-shirts to laptops to diamond rings, this book tells the story of how our stuff comes to be and makes the case for why we need to change our habits and our systems that support them.

Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold is one of the most classic books about the importance of connecting and observing nature. Published in 1949, this non-fiction book describes the land and environment of Leopold’s home property in Sauk County, Wisconsin. Now known as one of the great thinkers on environmentalism and environmental philosophy, this book is a collection of essays that describe Leopold’s idea of the “land ethic,” or a way of living as stewards, or in harmony with the land they inhabit. Still a classic!

Waste by Tristram Stuart: In his book, Waste, Tristram Stuart gives readers a massive reality check on the global consequences of food waste, demonstrating how we need to think differently about our food in order to avoid environmental calamity. Waste is extremely thought-provoking and shows how seemingly minor habits in our everyday life can be changed to drastically reduce the effects of climate change, world hunger, and the abuse of our finite natural resources. Though Waste presents some hard truths, it is necessary reading in order to become more responsible and conscientious consumers and global citizens. Check out Stuart’s Ted Talk here.

Tips for buying books:

  1. Buy used: If you’re a more traditional reader who prefers physical books over their electronic counterparts, consider visiting your local used book store or thrift shop this summer instead of buying new. Not only will you be doing your part to recycle and reduce waste, but you will save quite a bit of money in the process.
  2. Pass it on: Instead of retiring it to the bookshelf or throwing it away, share your favorite stories with others by donating your book to a used books store, thrift shop, library, or passing it along to a fellow book lover. In addition, check out to exchange used books with people all around the world!
  3. Of course, the best place to get access to books in an eco-friendly manner is to pay a visit to your local library. Librarians can help you find the perfect book for your summer reading, all for free! Just make sure to return it on time!
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