A Sustainable Roundup - The Best Books and Documentaries about Sustainability

woman holding a book outside

By Stephanie Rowe @stephs.echo

The planet is heating up, rainforests are being decimated and our oceans are in serious trouble. These tragic truths are a stark reminder of the climate emergency upon us. Climate change is now a part of all of our lives.

The worldwide impending climate doom can certainly feel overwhelming, with news platforms bestowing bad news after more bad news upon us. It can seem difficult to navigate the barrage of information we receive on how we should be living our best sustainable lives.

Fear not, I've rounded up a selection of the best books and documentaries around, to get you up to speed with all things sustainable.

Books to add to your list:

Add these must-reads to your TBR pile and you’ll be well on your way to being a sustainable superstar.

  • Back to Nature: How to Love Life- and Save It by Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin- a lovely read for setting the tone of the state of nature at the moment. Personal stories are shared, alongside conservation positives and new science. The book starts with a stark reflection upon the first national lockdown in the UK and the connection between so many and nature- making it relevant to everyone right now.
  • Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life by George Monibot- A must read for an interesting take on restoring and rewilding our damaged ecosystems.
  • Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat by Philip Lymberry- One of the first books I read when starting out in conservation, this was a huge eye-opener for me. The majority of us know that a plant-based diet has a lot of scientific weighting behind lessening impacts on the planet, but this books gives us an insight into why. Give this a read for a thorough understanding of the factory farming industry before delving into the popular documentaries shown below.
  • Environmental Justice in a Moment of Danger by Julie Sze- delving importantly into the environmental justice movement, activist Julie Sze sets out how the climate emergency is a consequence of long-term policies of racism and exploitation.
  • For the Love of Trees by Vicky Allan and Anna Deacon- This beautiful book illustrates the human connection with trees through powerful personal accounts.


For those quitting fast fashion:

  • Toxification- An Amazon prime watch, this provides great insight into the lives of cotton farmers in the Punjab state of India.
  • The True Cost- A filmmaker travels the world showing those who make the clothes for fast fashion industries.
  • The Minimalists- newly released to Netflix, these filmmakers show how our lives can be improved with less. 

For those considering a plant-based diet:

  • Cowspiracy- available on Netflix, this hard-hitting doc offers up some intel on how factory farming is decimating the planet’s natural resources.
  • The Game Changers- another Netflix watch, this documentary follows top athletes on the quest to optimise a plant-based diet for performance.
  • What the Health- An eye-opening look into the links between diet, disease and the pharmaceutical industry. Available on Netflix.
  • Forks Over Knives- This doc presents cases of those combatting disease with a plant-based diet. 

For those in need to a good cry:

  • Blackfish- A heart breaking documentary telling the story of captive whale, Tilikum.
  • The Cove- A team of activists and filmmakers head to Japan to expose the gruesome capture and slaughter of Dolphins. This film reminds me why I will never give up on doing the right thing for conservation.
  • A life on our planet- no list of conservation documentaries would be complete without the legend that is David Attenborough.

Stephanie Rowe 

Stephanie began her journey into sustainability and conservation about 6 years ago and now works as an ecologist in the UK. She is really passionate about finding new ways to live sustainably, becoming a better guardian of the planet and spreading awareness of environmental injustice. - @stephs.echo


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