Eco-Actions for Book Lovers!

To mark Independent Bookshop Week here are some books from EcoBabble’s recommended reading list for anyone interested in eco-issues, nature and solutions to the climate and ecological crises. Buying books from independent bookshops supports local businesses and means more money goes to authors than if you use one of the big retailers. Who doesn’t love browsing for books in a real-life bookshop?

How Bad Are Bananas? The carbon footprint of everything by Mike Berners-Lee

First published in 2009 and updated in 2020 to include new technological developments, How Bad Are Bananas? helps you to understand the climate impact of everyday activities and purchases. Mike Berners-Lee has calculated the carbon footprints of loads of things such as a pint of beer, having a child and even The World Cup. He writes in a light-hearted, easy to understand style, offering useful comparisons and providing perspective on the impact of our actions. This isn’t necessarily a book to sit down and read cover to cover (I’m only about half way through) but it can be used like a reference book, to dip in and out of.

No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg

A collection of Greta Thunberg’s speeches at various events such as climate rallies, the UN, and the World Economic Forum, this book is at the same time inspiring and terrifying. The first thing that struck me is how powerful and well written Greta’s speeches are, especially for a school girl for whom English is not her first language. The second thing that I noticed is that Greta often repeats parts of previous speeches; I don’t know if this is deliberate on her part or not, but the effect when you read her speeches back-to-back is that you really sense and share Greta’s frustration and anger at global leaders’ lack of action on climate change. A must read!

The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac

This book begins by painting two pictures for the reader: the first is that of 2050 in the world we are creating (spoiler alert – think dystopian nightmare); the second is a vision of the world we must create. I have to confess, I read the chapter titled The World We Are Creating and I felt horrified and desperately sad. It is not easy reading at all. But the book goes on to insist that the future doesn’t have to be that way, we can choose to change. Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac offer us techniques to change our mindsets and ten actions we should take. We must be, they insist, stubborn optimists.

Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (And You) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again by Lucy Siegle

A well-researched but easy to read book about the huge issue of plastic. The scale of the problem can be overwhelming, but this book provides loads of practical steps we can all take to be part of the solution. If you’re sick of single-use plastic and want to take meaningful action, this book is a must-read, especially if you’re taking part in Plastic Free July!

The Secret Network of Nature by Peter Wohlleben

A really fascinating book all about the complex ways everything in nature is connected, the delicate balance that sustains the natural world and how humans are destroying this equilibrium. There are a lot of scientific facts but they are presented in an accessible way. The book is divided up into chapters on all kinds of topics, from how wolves can alter the course of a river to how earthworms control wild boar numbers. The author spent years as a forester in Germany and has extensive knowledge of trees and how they interact and communicate with other trees. He also wrote The Hidden Life of Trees, which is on Caroline’s reading list as it sounds like a must-read for anyone interested in woods, forests and planting trees!

The Way Home by Mark Boyle

We were inspired to read The Way Home after watching Ben Fogle’s stay with the author in his Channel 5 series New Lives in the Wild. Caroline read Mark Boyle’s earlier book, The Moneyless Man a few years ago, and Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Ghandi more recently. Both of these are recommended reads if you’re interested in his journey from an angry vegan eco-activist to where he is now (eating road-kill and catching pike, which he sees as being lower-impact than eating imported vegan food like soya, chickpeas or nuts). The Way Home is a collection of short pieces, written in almost a diary style, describing the author’s day-to-day life living without technology in rural Ireland. He has no modern conveniences such as a TV, computer, mobile phone or shower and even got rid of the polytunnel that was there when he bought the land, as it was made from plastic. He has clearly given great thought to all his actions and their impact on the environment. He could be seen as having taken things to the extreme, but he makes very persuasive arguments for his lifestyle and we can all learn something from his experiences.

In writing this, we’ve realised how many books we’ve read, and how many are still in our must-read pile! So, we will be sharing more of our book reviews in the future.

As it was Independent Bookshop Week last week, please support your local indie bookshop or use Hive or, which both support indie bookshops with each purchase. And remember to avoid buying books from the likes of Amazon, AbeBooks, Audible and Book Depository – we agree with Ethical Consumer Magazine’s advice that consumers should be “wary of the wider implications before being seduced by the company’s cheap prices”. For more information on the environmental impact of books, checkout this Guide to Booksellers.

If you’ve read any good books related to living an eco-friendly life, please share them with us!

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