Need something to do while riding the bus or subway to work? Public transit is great for the environment and can also be great for you if you put that time to good use. There are plenty of books you could read on the train to educate you about eco-friendly living. To help you avoid the headache of sorting through them all, we’ve compiled a list that spans multiple genres and categories including consumption, local living, design and even novels. Take a look and see how you could be spending your next commute.
Waste & Consumption
Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash by Elizabeth Royte
Science writer Elizabeth Royte takes readers on a tour examining where our trash goes. She talks with recyclers, people who live near dumps, scientists and industry experts to explain what happens to waste and to remind us of the implications of consumption.
Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too by Beth Terry
Beth Terry, author of the popular blog My Plastic-Free Life, provides a practical guide to reducing the amount of plastic in your life. Through personal anecdotes, statistics and tips, Terry’s story will help you be happier and healthier without plastic.
Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living by Doug Fine
This memoir tells the story of Doug Fine’s yearlong adventure in making a newly-bought New Mexico ranch sustainable after deciding he wanted to try to reduce his carbon footprint. Fine learns to raise his own food, use solar power and run his car on restaurant grease, and reveals the difficulties and rewards of living locally.
Food & Gardening
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
Novelist and essayist Barbara Kingsolver takes on a challenge in this book: for one year, she and her family will only eat food raised in their neighborhood or that they grow themselves. During that year her family gardens, stores food and buys from local farms, and in doing so shows readers an alternative to eating industrial food. If you’re looking for more storytelling with environmental themes, also check out Kingsolver’s novels like Animal Dreams and Flight Behavior.
In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan
This book by Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma (which is about the industrial food system and is also worth a read), advises readers to do the following: “Don’t eat anything that your great-great grandmother would not recognize as food.” He suggests a return to more traditional diets of real foods, rather than processed ones, and offers both research and advice about making thoughtful food choices.
Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman
In “Food Matters,” food writer Mark Bittman uses science to show the carbon footprint of our food. He also explains the differences between terms like local, sustainable and organic and helps readers make food choices that fit their lifestyles while also benefiting the planet. If you like this book and would like to see some recipes, you can also check out The Food Matters Cook Book or How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
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