Green Reads: Environmental Books To Take On Your Next Holiday

By Rosanna Campbell-Gray

Green Giants: How Smart Companies Turn Sustainability Into Billion-Dollar Businesses

Going green may well be the greatest entrepreneurial opportunity of the century. In fact, the age-old myth that becoming a billion-dollar business comes simply from maximising profits and increasing shareholder value is proving to be dated.

So what’s the business case for sustainability? This is what author Freya Williams spent eight years researching. Delving into the strategy behind some of the world’s most successful companies that have sustainability and social responsibility at their core.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

“The current extinction has its own novel cause: not an asteroid or a massive volcanic eruption but “one weedy species.” A brilliant exploration of human beings’ relationship with the environment, Elizabeth Kolbert takes her readers on a journey from Panama to the Great Barrier Reef in an effort to shed light on what biologists around the world believe to be a Sixth Extinction caused by human beings.

Kolbert pieces together the knowledge of scientists, conservationists and historians in order to explain how small changes can have a detrimental impact on our ecosystems.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate

Released in 2014, Naomi Klein’s fourth book is just as relevant now as it was seven years ago. Klein addresses the complicated relationship between capitalism and climate change, arguing that our political and economic systems will need to undergo radical change if we are to keep global warming under 2ºC and ensure human survival.

As Klein puts it, “our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.”

To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?

Can you really be an ethical fashionista? Journalist and author Lucy Siegle presents her exposé of the apparel industry, a billion dollar business contaminated with human rights abuses and environmental disaster. To Die For explores the devastating impacts of fashion overconsumption whilst questioning the role that clothes play in propping up our economy and society. When did the world become so obsessed with fast fashion and big-name labels? And when did we lose all facets of individualism and personal style?

According to Siegle, if we want to go green, we need to start by knowing who, how, where your clothes come from.

How To Avoid a Climate Disaster

Bill Gates gets down to business in his new book published earlier this year. How To Avoid a Climate Disaster explores topics that go beyond electric cars and solar panels, instead laying out a plan for the future and the steps which must be followed in order to avoid a global crisis.

Gates provides a concise explanation of the energy sector and the need for electrification, the role of renewables and the issues of intermittency. The book is peppered with facts, evidence, graphs yet it is successful in unwrapping complex issues in a straight-forward, Gates-style way.

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

In 2020, UK-based fashion retailer Pretty Little Thing was seen to be selling dresses for 8p (approximately 10 cents). Only a handful of big brands actually disclose how much their workers are paid, the conditions in which they work and the impact that their suppliers and producers have on the environment.

In 2012, Elizabeth Cline, consumer culture and fast-fashion expert set out to uncover the true nature of the industry. Cheap clothes have changed the way we live and dress but do we really know what impact they have on our society, our environment, and even our economy?

There’s Something In The Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous & Black Communities

Written by Canadian social scientist Ingrid Waldron, ‘There’s Something in the Water’ explores settler colonialism and environmental racism in Canada and Nova Scotia. Why are landfills placed next to poorer communities? Who has the power to give out permits for hazardous treatment plants? Whose lives are these decisions affecting?

Indigenous and Black communities have repeatedly fallen victim to environmental hazards and lack of access to legal protection when it comes to fighting for their land, homes and health. This book allows readers to reflect on important issues which remain to be addressed.

Rosanna Campbell-Gray

Rosanna Campbell-Gray is a sustainability consultant for Talia Collective. She is currently completing a Masters in Sustainability & Energy Management at Bocconi University in Milan.