I am continuing my new found hobby of reading but now focusing on climate emergency books. Everything from what is happening to our planet, those that are fighting for it, as well as how we can help it and what to be aware of. There are many books on the subject and it is certainly a growing trend, which is great. I will be honest these books are a mixture of frightening and sad news but also incredibly and helpful information on how we can make the world a better place, also giving us the motivation to continue the fight for our planet. These are some of the top Climate Emergency and eco books that I have read and which have changed my thinking and improved my life and sustainable goals:
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
by Michael Braungart and William McDonough
I love this book. I have always thought of sustainability much like natural life as a circular affair. I always thought that to be truly sustainable products should not have a negative impact throughout their life, including at the end of it. This book is somewhat of a manifesto detailing how we can achieve the cradle to cradle design model into every product. It goes through the process of how the author has been involved with a number of companies to create a cradle to cradle product that is not harmful. It highlights the author's view on the design process, noting how we need to get away from this “less bad” mindset and to rethink to never create the harm in the first place. Although it noted the great work some companies have done implementing circular economy it also highlights the blatant corruption and disregard some companies have for our health and the planet, all for profit. Linking to how companies have greenwashed us by misleading in their advertising or missing critical information that would show their product is not as green as they make out. I have done my own study on circular economy (cradle-to-cradle) at university and agreed with many of the points made in this book and the need to change all our mindsets for our future. One incredible fact in the book is how ants have a greater biomass than humans yet do not harm the planet like we humans do, meeting the cradle to cradle lifestyle, meaning it is possible for us. If you are passionate about changing the world you need to look at nature and creating a future with it. This book will certainly help you with this. I genuinely believe this book should be mandatory in schools. This way the next generation will question and rethink to make the world a better place, which is a must for our planet to continue. It is also a must read for anyone producing a product, starting a business or wants to make conscious decisions in their daily life.
On Time and Water
By Andri Snaer Magnason
This was an incredibly interesting book to read. It made me think of so many things including the time we have and the impact that we have as individuals on our planet and our friends and family over many years on this planet. The author goes into many aspects of this, as well as how we perceive things in society. This book made me question how we should change our perceptions to take them more seriously, specifically talking about climate change, which is often disregarded. It also goes into great depth of the author's family life, making me think of the adventure you can have and the importance of capturing them and sharing them with loved ones. In the book he does an interesting calculations, which notes your connection with your great grandparents right to your great grandchildren is approximately 262 years, which is a tremendous amount of time. It makes you question the values we have in this world and what it means if they are gone. The book also helps to capture my like minded wonder and breathtaking encounters with natural world into words. Yet also reminding me of how our mindset in a few years has changed from a caring one to value what we use and ensure it is used again to a carefree wasteful one. That we need to revert back in time from the current wasteful lifestyle we have made to the one of the past where we made things last. Perhaps to a modern future where we can do even better? The author does a great job by describing these unique natural areas in his homeland Iceland then hitting the reader with hard hitting climate emergency facts, raising awareness to what can only be described as our impending doom. It is clear there is a tremendous amount of frustration that presently there are no words to capture our current climate issues and warning of the future, that all the current ones fall of deaf ears. The book details this emergency and lack of interest, action or understanding coming down to communication, the desensitisation of billions preventing it. Linking the confusion in history for not having the words to describe acts, preventing people to understand it, even when it benefited them. It is a thoroughly thought provoking and awakening book. There is a clear need for drastic change to save the world, as the situation is worse than we thought. The author's information on glaciers are a huge part of this and the effect they have on millions and how they are part of our life but also rapidly declining, melting away is a great demonstration of the future that is to come for the rest of the planet. He details his journeys and experiences on this earth and with the incredible people he has met. It shows the scary truth of what could be our impending doom, an absolute stark warning of our future and noting how at the moment our impact is shocking, saddening, self-inflicted and our dire need to change that. A great book to make you question yourself and what we are doing to our planet.
No One is Too Small to Make a Difference
By Greta Thunberg
This book is a collection of speeches from probably the most influential and prominent climate activists there is. The passion Greta instils in her speeches and this book is certainly influential, making me want to fight for this planet. What she puts into her speeches are simple, to the point and unquestionable, I cannot see how someone can actually listen to what she has said and without fooling themselves say she is wrong. Reading her speeches was incredibly interesting and the rationality she uses is definitive. She often states not to listen to her and to listen to actual scientists, all she points out is that she has listened to them and is rightly concerned, so why aren't our politicians, corporations and the majority also concerned. She blatantly calls out those who try to ridicule her and further pushes them to just listen to the data and act on that, not her. Her passion and knowledge is clear to anyone who reads this book, her speeches are thought out, crucial and well put together and deserves to be listened too.
She heroically calls out politicians and these organisations and rightly labels them as villains if they choose to do nothing. I noted she repeats a lot of the same points in her speeches but this makes sense, as nothing is changing. One of these is her continual references to the ipcc's report and our depleting Co2 budget, yet noting we are not doing anything to improve it. To emphasise this the report states if there is a '67 percent chance of staying below a 1.5°C global temperature rise the world had 420 gigatonnes of Co2 left to emit back on 1 January 2018' she also states 'how we are already down to below 360 gigatonnes left, so we are not in a good position. She constantly references the people (us) have had enough and are fighting for our planet, where our politicians and wealthy businesses have let us down. As she often states "We are the change and change is coming". The title really says it all, the fact that a school girl from Sweden has become a leader for climate injustice and the rebellion she started is known throughout the world is impactful and inspirational. Who knows the impact you could make?
Go Toxic Free: Easy and Sustainable Ways to Reduce Chemical Pollution
By Anna Turns
This book is actually frightening. There is so much to learn about the toxins that exist practically everywhere. This book highlights all the contamination and waste we produce and how we can begin to avoid and reduce it from our lives. The author has done a wide range of research and points out clear forms of pollutants for example from planes and the issues living close to them. Due to this I am certainly not going to buy a house near one and ideally away from any flight path. It also highlights how the harmful pollutants we use today quickly seep into the surrounding environment and wildlife. The book does not just point out the scary facts of toxins and pollutants but also how we can avoid it with great advice and tips to live sustainably and toxic free. It also encourages us to ask questions, too many companies do not disclose their full impact but we must push for this information, so we can make decisions based on them. This is emphasised as the toxic have an effect on our lives, on our families and we have a right to understand what we are taking on when we choose to use a product or live a certain way. Although I found this book frightening I also enjoyed the read, as the author clearly wants to make the future a better place and does this by educating us to be aware of the toxins in the world but also to encourage us to petition these companies to make our world toxic free.
101 Ways to Go Zero Waste
By Kathryn Kellogg
In a future where we care for the planet and combat climate change, destruction of natural landscapes and the decline of wildlife we need to find a way to stop creating waste. Waste ends in landfill, pollutes our natural habitats and kills wildlife. It is also due to the fact that so much waste cannot be reused or recycled due to what it is made from is the reason why it can be so harmful to you (the book above ‘Go Toxic Free’ goes into this in more depth). The book helps detail the process of redefining the way we think from creating waste with as the name aptly applies a ton of great advice to help you achieve going zero waste. The book itself helps detail this process, as well as the author's personal story in this, while understanding what being zero waste realistically means for most people. She is open about the fact that due to the current systems most of us live in, it is essentially impossible to go fully zero waste and that is okay, as long as you make an effort towards it. The book is very informative and full of ideas and ways you can go zero waste in a variety of areas. From in your house (bathroom, kitchen, etc.), going out (takeaway, bring your own), seasonal (Gifts, decorations) to general motivation and thoughts on zero waste. If you are looking for practical ways to help our planet it is a must pick up.
Reading is a great way to learn and improve yourself, so I will always encourage people to read as much as they can. I also believe our planet is pretty awesome and also vital to our survival. Therefore, learning about it is important and we need to understand what is happening to it (often through climate change) and what we can do to protect it. Above are a few of the books I have read over the last year that meet my learning goals. All are quite different from helping you achieve a eco-friendly lifestyle (Cradle-to-Cradle, Go Toxic Free & 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste) to highlighting the real climate issues (On Time and Water) and finally to highlight the pressing urgency of the climate crisis and to motivate you to do something about it (No One is Too Small to Make a Difference). All should be on your reading list if you are eco-conscious and sustainable minded.
Going on walks and hikes is a great way to get out, be amongst nature and wildlife and it is shown to have numerous health benefits. It is essentially universally recognised that spending time in nature can help with anxiety, stress, boost your endorphins levels and dopamine production, making you happier. Also, walking is an activity, which is obviously healthy for you. I also believe there is so much to learn in the wilderness, there is so much to interact with and find out just outside your front door. I have also developed a passion for nature and wildlife and enjoy challenging myself to name the wildlife and plants I discover and I want to encourage others to get out and experience nature too. This I hope will lead more people to have a greater appreciation for our planet and to do more to protect it. Therefore, I will always encourage you to go out on walks and see beautiful scenes. Here are my top 5 Scottish Highland walks that I have discovered so far:
This is a great day out for all your family. The short 30-50 minute walk is located behind the House of Bruar, which is an upscale department store that sells classic tweed, outdoor wear, gifts, cashmere and has a food hall. You can spend a nice amount of time there and then go on the walk in your own time. Just behind the House of Bruar are the Falls of Bruar and a great walk to start this list. To me this is a stunning and gorgeous walk up a deep gorge seeing the numerous cascades of the falls. It is a relatively easy walk, though a little steep but one I believe most could do. The journey takes you up the well trodden path in a loop, over stone bridges following the waterfall and numerous plunge pools. You cannot really get lost on the walk as it is a single track that follows the waterfall through the gorge and back down to the House of Bruar. It is one I always recommend to any of my friends and family who will drive past it.
You start the walk at Logie Steadings Visitor Centre, which at the time of writing this has a cafe, whiskey shop, book shop, art gallery, craft stores and more. From there you can make your way to the river walk, which has a map at the beginning and is clearly sign posted (you can also use google). The path takes you along the Findhorn River, where if in the right season you can see salmon swimming upstream. The walk is easy to follow but fairly narrow and a bit rocky. I enjoyed this walk as it is full of trees covered in moss, rocks surrounding the wide river and numerous amounts of wildlife. The walk leads you to Randolph’s Leap where you can see the rocks on either side of the river come close together forming a small waterfall. I imagine it gained its name due to the fact the rocks are close together it was a popular location to leap across the Findhorn River. It was such a nice walk that even when it began to pour it down we were not fazed by the great walk we had just had. I would highly recommend this walk, as it immerses you in nature and wildlife.
Loch an Eilein
This was one of the first walks I went on and one of the longest on the list. I believe there are multiple routes to Loch an Eilein, so I am sure you can take a route that suits you. We started the walk at Rothiemurchus in The Barn and headed east out of the estate then followed a track through the Rothiemurchus Forest that leads to Loch An Eilein. Along the way you come across the stunning Lochan Mor and a number of wildlife and plants. Either side of the path is littered with Bilberries and pines immersing you into the scottish forest. On this walk I was also fortunate enough to see a Scottish Common Lizard, so keep your eyes peeled. It took us to Loch An Eilein where there were a number of ducks, a small shop (bring cash) and the iIsland castle ruins. You can loop around and head back through the pines and bilberries to Rothiemerchus.
Fairy Glen Falls
This walk is a little further north than the other walks, just above Inverness where you can take the short stroll to see the Fairy Glen Falls. The falls are pretty but certainly not of any great stature but the walk is a beautiful one. The walk starts in the little village of Rosemarkie following the stream in the woods to the falls before returning the same way. It is a short walk but one where you go through what feels like an ancient woods bustling with wildlife. The walk itself is on a fairly rocky and rooty path, so make sure you are mobile enough to handle this. There is a little pond on the journey to take a break and at the end you come across the pretty little falls.
This is the longest walk (hike) on this list and is a bit more challenging. It is a fairly easy walk to navigate, as you park the Invereshie and Inshriach National Nature Reserve and take the path east up the munroe. There are a couple of forks, which you need to make sure you go the right way but the walk is fairly straight forward. On the journey you head through a small woods that then opens up to the monroe, which you head up across the mountain. It does get quite steep but once you are at the plateau it is worth it. It took me and my partner about a 6 hour round trip and stuggled a little on the steep section that is just past the half way mark, however we do not have a ton of experience hiking, so I believe most of you could do it (just bring water). At the top you get an amazing view of the rocky cliff and stunning views of Loch Eanaich to the east of the munroe. I recommend you warm up for this one but if you do it you get a great sense of accomplishment and beautiful views of the Cairngorm mountain range.
I have not been in Scotland too long but have managed to go on many walks in the surrounding areas, which I have enjoyed. This list is just a small collection of some of my favourite walks that I would recommend to my friends and family, so I also wanted to recommend them to you. My short time up here has shown me how beautiful Scotland is and it is clearly full of beautiful walks to go on. Most of the walks on this list are relatively easy (apart from Sgòr Gaoith), so most people should be able to do them. Like I said at the start, I want more people to connect with nature to protect it, which I hope these walks help me achieve this. I am always trying to get out and see more, so if you have any walks or hiking suggestions let me know.
Eco-investing is a growing term used to signify someone investing with a conscious thought towards the environment. This type of green investing is fast growing, as with many eco-conscious people who have an interest in sustainability, the environment and hopefully creating a strong financial future through investing. Now, before I go on, to make things clear I am not a financial advisor and not very well versed in the subject of investing at all. Therefore, you should not think of any of this as financial advice. However, I am investing to hopefully make a return, whilst making a conscious effort to not negatively impact the world just to line my own pockets. Always remember you could lose all the money you invest, so you should only do so if you have money to spare and are willing to take that risk. Additionally, if you want advice on your own finances and investment goals I would advise you to speak to a finance advisor. This blog post is to give you an insight to eco-investing, some things you might want to consider when investing and what I am doing to invest sustainably.
What is eco-investing?
Eco-investing, sustainable investing or green investing is a way of investing in companies that provide environmentally friendly products and/or practices. It is also a form of socially responsible investing. Developing a conscious awareness for the environment should reach to all aspects of your life. This should reach to any endeavours you have, including investing. Therefore, looking at investing in companies that help mitigate any negative impact they have or even help the environment is crucial in this goal. Yet, as seen with many of the rich, famous and conglomerates they will do anything to further grow their own wealth with no care for the environment or even society as whole. Eco-investing is a way to potentially grow your wealth but with a conscience, helping our future to be green and sustainable.
Should you invest?
You are likely already investing through your pension plan, where eco-investing can also apply. However, if you are asking if you should invest outside your pension then this is a personal choice you need to make yourself. This is because it depends on your personal circumstance, as well as your goals and ambitions. Investing can be incredibly risky but also rewarding and only you can decide whether it is right for you. I never invest money I don’t have and understand I might lose all the money I have invested but I am also happy to take that risk in the hopes that it will increase. Most of the research I have found shows how if you invest for the long term, you will typically end up in the positive and if you do it for long enough it can drastically increase your wealth. As I have mentioned, you should do some research, be aware of the risks and your opportunity cost and if you believe it is right for you, give it a shot. I also advise if you are not sure or want specific investing advice relevant to you to seek a financial advisor.
Why does investing concern the environment?
Essentially, where you put your money dictates what companies do. This goes for where you store your money, what you buy, as well as where you invest. The more that people buy eco-friendly, sustainable items, products or investments and demand companies to supply them the more eco-friendly versions we will get and it is growing fast. This makes the world a better place. We do not just want our products to be eco-friendly, we want the companies making them to also be green. When you invest your money goes to helping a company grow and develop and continue to provide their product or service. Therefore, your money is going towards that company's impacts, ethics and practices (good and bad). Unfortunately, there are too many companies doing terrible things to nature, society, the environment and our planet just to make money. However, there are also companies that do care and are leading the way for a greener future. This is why you can invest to hopefully make money but also back these great companies.
What am I doing?
Well I hope to invest in several ways that of course meet my ethics of being green and environmental, which I will be sure to continue to track and blog on here. However, due to my limited time to properly search individual stocks and shares I wouldn’t know where to begin, at least yet. As I mentioned above, I am thinking of the long term. For me this is 20-30+ years and I understand that one of the easiest ways to do this is with index funds. This should help outperform inflation and can often outperform the top investment banker. Therefore, this is going to be my strategy, to simply invest into index funds, which meet my personal ethics and which I hope creates the foundations of my investment portfolio.
What I needed first was an investment platform that allows you to buy stock, funds and indexes. I have chosen Vanguard, as I have heard it mentioned by many to be a good platform with relatively low fees. Through this, I have then looked for two key phrases, this is Social responsible Investing (SRI’s) and Environmental, Social Governance (ESG’s). This is what I am going to invest in ESG and SRI funds. To be exact I have invested in several funds that track these, one ESG Index fund, one ESG emerging markets index fund and one SRI Stock fund to name a few. I have gone into depth these terms below:
What is ESG?
Now, when thinking of sustainability and looking at a group of stocks or an index that allows your investments to be spread across multiple industries, locations but with ethics you might want to look for ESG funds. ESG stands for Environment, Social, Governance, which are three broad categories that are also linked with “socially responsible investors” (more below). It is a general term used by investors that looks at evaluating corporate behaviour to determine if a company meets social and environmental criterias, better than other typical stocks. ESG is a growing term and is quickly growing interest, especially in the younger generation of investors. Some of the things ESG funds focus on when evaluating a company's sustainability is the following;
Environmentally a number of categories might be reviewed such as the company's carbon footprint, water disposal, climate change policies, energy consumption and recycling efforts, etc.
Socially a company will be reviewed in regards to how it addresses issues with its employees, suppliers and customers etc. This will be looking at compensation, benefits, training, consumer protection, ethical supply chain and safety precautions to list a few.
Governance wise it will look at the ethics of the business, the management and business independence. This will look at the history of the company's legal issues, shareholder voting rights, addressing conflict of interest, and other ethical business practices.
What is SRI?
SRI stands for Socially Responsible Investing and is another term to note ‘green’, ethical and sustainable developments. Like ESGs it looks to create a financial return but also environmental and social good, creating a positive change. This again has a rigorous investment standard to identify those companies that can meet this criteria but still give a competitive return. The goal is about making a positive social impact, so again better than your generic stocks that could drastically harm our planet and in the long run does not benefit society.
I have chosen to passively invest into index funds as they are a collective of stocks/companies that overall reduce your risk by spreading your investment. There are also many to choose from including ones that are ESGs and SRIs. To do this I have used Vanguard as it appears to be a well known investment platform and they offer a number of funds that meet my criteria. I am then going to invest in several of them using pound cost averaging (dollar cost averaging, etc.) This is when you invest regularly (drip feeding) into your investment. I am using this strategy as I do not have a large sum of money and it allows me to slowly build up my portfolio over time. Also, as it is nearly impossible to accurately time the market it allows me to continue to buy across multiple years giving me an average purchasing price. As the market typically heads upwards this will hopefully show a positive that outperforms inflation. My strategy is long term to either boost my pension, allow me to retire early, and possibly even create generational wealth for my family, so we are talking 20-40 years. It is a patience game but one that I believe will work out.
Well, I hope to do some more posts about eco-friendly, sustainable and green finances, so you can make your own decision about what to do with your money. I also intend to continue updating on my financial achievements and goals to hold myself accountable and hopefully prove it can be a viable option to grow your wealth, while caring for the planet. I want to look into more areas of my finances including the banks I use, the pensions I have and potential other investments I might undertake. My goal in all of this is to highlight the potential way to grow your wealth, while not backing companies that destroy the planet. This post is to show one of the ways I have begun investing consciously based on my own research. However, I would love to hear the companies or industries you have backed or believe are worthy of investing taking ethics, sustainability and society into account.