30+ Awesome Zero Waste Books you must read.
Updated: May 31
Sometimes reading blog posts just won’t do and you need something more solid to read. In blogpost often only the surface is covered of a topic while a book has so many more pages to cover the same topic so you get much more inept information. Here you can find a list with 30+ zero waste must-read books to just curl up on the couch with on a rainy day.
Where to shop for books
The best place to shop for books is your local library. However, if you are from a small town, like me, the choices your local library has to offer are sometimes limited. If I am lucky I can find one or two books about sustainability and that’s it. So, what are my other options? I try to find books I want to read in secondhand shops. Either in physical shops or online. Now, in my city, there are no more secondhand bookstores but we have 2 secondhand stores with a decent collection of books that I always browse through whenever I am visiting. Try to do something similar when you are browsing for a new book and if there are no secondhand options, I have linked all books I share here.
Beginner Friendly Books
This is a great book for beginners in the zero waste world. Ashlee has collected all the information you need to get started without judgment. Each however small decision we make in our daily lives impacts the world around us in one way or another. This book will guide you along the way to make sure are your life micro- (and some macro-) decisions will help our lovely planet.
The author of this book lived a year-long zero waste lifestyle and reported all about her experiences in this book. Her ideas range from super basic to pretty extreme, which makes it a great book for both the beginner and the more advanced zero wasters. It is broken down into 3 categories: Easy, Moderate, and Advanced so you can take this lifestyle as far as you are comfortable without any guilt and take the next step when you are ready.
While it looks like a zero waste ‘how-to’ book, it’s also very detailed and informative as the author has a background in environmental engineering. This book has almost 150 actions steps as well as, recipes, tips, explanations, how-tos, and more. A helpful guide for new zero wasters.
Take on decluttering and minimalism with a lens toward sustainability! This is a great read for zero wasters who are also into a bit on minimalism.
Small is Beautiful is almost vintage as it was originally published in 1973. It stood the test of time and gets more relevant each year. This book is a great read for everyone interested in the economics of development, environment, natural resources, and community.
This is another great beginner's book as it covers simple DIYs and zero waste hacks you can apply right away into your daily life. This way a sustainable lifestyle feels less daunting and you will be able to take the next step more freely.
If you feel like taking the next step into your journey, this book is for you. It covers great advanced tips but some are not suitable for the ones among us on a tighter budget. Still, if you can get your hands on a secondhand copy, it has great resources that are worth checking out.
Zero Waste Food Books
Just eating locally produced isn’t enough to completely change how we eat as it often gives us a false promise for the future of food. This book is written by a chef and gives us new insights on food and how the food that we consume will heal the land while also tasting good.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
The author, Robin, is a botanist (like me!) who asks questions about what nature has to offer with the tools of science. It is more a nature-inspired book than a book about food. Nevertheless, it emphasizes how nature gives us gifts (freely given to us by the natural world) we must take care of.
Are you looking for some extra help to reduce the waste in your kitchen? Then this book is for you. Topics that are included in this book: How to store food to keep it fresh longer, recipes with food scraps, how to reduce food waste, scientific facts to back up how to preserve food, and a list of food and how long it will last (safely) before you have to throw it away.
As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock by Dina Gilio-Whitaker
Most of us have never had to struggle with food or water security. This is not the case everywhere around the world. This book walks through the history of struggles for food and water security of Indigenous women. This is a great read if you would like to know more about the protection of sacred sites and culture as a whole and how environmentalism affects different cultures differently.
Are you serious about eating only locally produced food? This book covers all problems behind the food system that is currently in place. It gives you an alternative route to create an even more eco-friendly life through the foods we consume.
This book is all about our over-consumption and its effects on the planet. Annie takes you by the hand and shows you step-by-step the production process of items so you can really understand all of the factors that come into play with the creation of the items we take home with us every day.
Nowadays, products are designed to last you a year, maybe two, and then it falls apart and you need to buy them again. This book talks about the decline in the quality of products we use and how marketers are pushing us to buy again and again. Learn how to fight this system of products designed to fail.
This is a real eye-opener on the progress of technology over time, and how we underestimated its impact on the environment. This author not only takes you on a journey back to how many pollution and waste issues arose but also guides us to how to be better consumers and run our businesses with the environment in mind.
This is a great book if you are looking for alternatives to more sustainable alternatives to what you are usually buying. However, I want to point out that purchasing less and using what you have to the fullest is always better compared to spending money on products you already own.
This book is a nice introduction to a sustainable wardrobe. It's a great read when the world of sustainable fashion is new to you and seems incredibly overwhelming and undoable. Wear No Evil takes a close look at the fashion industry and asks the question: How can we inherently do good while looking good?
Eco-Friendly is a word that gets our attention often and marketers know this. Products are designed to look eco-friendly but when you take a closer look, this is not always the case. This book teaches us what to look out for and how we can buy better to take the right steps towards sustainability.
Books about the communities
The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear by Rev Dr. William J. Barber II
This book is a little more political than what I usually go for. However, it is a quick read about the fact that sustainability is much more than just how it affects our climate.
Do you need some help with how you can make changes in your own community? This book covers all topics light-heartedly from lowering your waste to stopping being dependent on oil while helping your local community. This book is full of inspiration to help you, help the people around you take the next steps.
Have you ever wondered why we just feel the need to keep growing? This book might just help you with that question. It helps you with ideas on how and why to create an economy that takes sustainability into consideration while also being social justice without growing just to be growing.
Why are all the important decisions about climate change made by people who fly their private jets regularly? This book covers where the ones with money and power fight for equality and justice in any way they can without affecting their spot on top of the social pecking order.
Growing Smarter: Achieving Livable Communities, Environmental Justice, and Regional Equity (Urban and Industrial Environments) by Robert D. Bullard
Does the community you grew up in affect how you perceive environmental justice or social equity? Yes, it does, but maybe not in the way you think. This book gives you an insight in altering a neighborhood can affect our environment.
Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility by Dorceta Taylor
If you are using whether residential segregation and zoning have an effect on our environment, this book will help you out. It uses clear, real-world examples in US cities like Oklahoma City and New Orleans, shows you what is really going on.
A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington
People of color - particularly Afro-Americans - are more prone to be affected by infectious diseases, pollution, and industrial waste. All of these effects on the environment lead to harm not only of the body but also harms our brain. This book is an interesting look at how racism is the premise of IQ and just how the system is set up for Afro-Americans to fail.
When we first take a peek into a zero waste lifestyle, it is easy to get overwhelmed and helpless with everything you see around you. This book covers stories of how others are dealing with this problem in their communities and how they dealt with this in their own ways. This book is full of practical advice for engaging communities like yours.
All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K Wilkinson
This book is a collection of papers focussing on youth and women who are most affected by the effects of the climate crisis. By asking the right questions to the right people, they proved valuable solutions and insights giving the possibility of a bright future.
With this book, you won’t have to guess anymore what the carbon footprint is of a certain item. This book covers all. Some numbers may be outdated as it is not a recent book but it gives you a great start in estimating your own carbon footprint.
Climate deniers are real (amazingly enough) and while we know that often can be by any actual logic or fact, occasionally you might run into one who is more open to a normal discussion. It is filled with facts that will cover any climate denier's argument; whether or not they believe you are out of your hand but at least you gave them some food for thought.
For most of us, climate change seems like an unsolvable puzzle. This book is more solution-based and is much more positive about what you can do to deal with climate change. Takes notes while reading this as I am just filled to the brim with solutions that affect both individuals as well as global solutions for climate change.
There is no denying that climate change is real. We have sufficient scientific data that is affecting us all. But this book covers even more like how capitalism affects the world we live in today can that we should change our mindset regarding all the stuff we (want to) buy.
Sustainability in Business
This book is not for everyone but as a small business owner, I loved it. Using large companies as examples, the author demonstrates how each might use sustainable principles to reach new heights through new integrated business strategies.
In the end, living a more sustainable lifestyle is not about reading about how to do it, it is about actually doing it. Therefore, I hope this list gives you some inspiration on what to read next and you will find what action steps you need to take to take your zero waste journey to the next level.