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.
Updated: Jul 7
There are so many little changes you can make in your house to help the environment or atleast mitigate your negative impact on it. You might also be on a mission to go sustainable, eco-friendy and become a carer for the planet. Therefore, another great place to do this is in your kitchen. I have collated a list of some of the top alternatives you can make that will help you with this. Many of these focus on reducing waste, which often contributes to the ever growing mountain of rubbish. Well to help you go zero waste and to your greener future I have collated my top 10 changes that you can make in your kitchen to help you achieve this goal and live a more sustainable, green and eco-friendly life:
You might have seen these in some beautiful picturesque Instagram photos. Well there is a reason for this, as they do look great and can work brilliantly at helping you reduce your waste. These eco-friendly glass jars can come in a range of sizes and can be filled with a ton of different items but once you have them you can stop contributing to our growing waste from the often unnecessary packaging. You can do this by buying at your local eco-store where you can fill your new reusable container. They often have a high initial cost but can be used for many, many years. I always advise glass jars, as glass is easily recycable and it means you do not contribute to plastic waste. Here are some suggestions of what you can use them for:
Dried fruits and mushrooms
Corn (for popcorn)
Herbs and spices
Another zero waste item to add to your eco home is dish soap. If you are keen at getting rid of your plastic waste and to stop contributing to those pesky micro plastics, soap bars are the way forward. Luckily, there are plenty of companies producing these for all sorts of uses including dish soaps. I appreciate that some people find bars sometimes doesn’t quite cut it, so I believe it is worth mentioning you can always get a reusable bottle and refill it up at a local eco-store.
I have used these for years and think they work better than a normal sponge to clean your dishes. Natural loofahs, luffas, Egyptian cucumber or even its botanical name Luffa aegyptiaca, whatever name you use are part of a plant in the cucumber family. These are completely natural and can even be grown in your own home. You can pick them up at most places now, including your local eco-store and easily online. They do not need to be used to just clean your dishes, you can put them elsewhere to clean the house, in the bath, basically anything you may need to scrub.
I understand some people do not like to use a loofah sponge or might find it is not strong enough for the hard baked in food. Therefore, you need something a little stiffer to help scrub your plates, trays, dishes, pots and pans clean. Well luckily there are a number of options you can chose from. Many zero waste companies produce natural, plastic free and biodegradable scrubber, which often use wood handles and often using natural fibres (often from the coconut or the sisal plant).
I picked up a couple of these a while ago, one I use for a home fertiliser spray for my plants and another for cleaning. There is not much to say but many companies offer a glass spray bottle, which you can then use with an ever growing number of cleaning solutions. A quick search online and you can find some great eco-friendly recipes you can mix yourself to create a perfect solutions that can help you make your kitchen sparkle. Alternatively, I have seen small pods that you can chuck into the spray bottle and fill up with water to creat a cleanign solution. Take some time, experiment and see what solution works for you and you can stop buying these often environmentally harmful chemicals and its copious amounts of plastic waste.
I use these all the time and they continue to be very useful. Whenever I have some food left over or some items I want to preserve I put them in a bowl and put one of these useful silicone lids on top. They come in a wide range of sizes, allowing them to be used for all sorts. This stops you using difficult to, incredibly frustrating, flimsy cling film to seal in your leftovers.
Similar to silicone lids you can get reusable bags, which again are often made from silicone. These reusable bags again help you reduce your waste by stopping you use plastic sandwich bags, Clingfilm or other harmful products. So pick up a reusable sandwich bags, just remember that you don’t have to use them just for sandwiches but can be for snack and I have even seen liquids that have been stored in them. You can also get them that can go in your freezer to store your left overs for longer.
A popular choice among the eco-conscious, bees wax wraps have been around for a long time and found their way into most supermarkets. These wraps are made from organic cotton infused with food-grade beeswax and organic jojoba oil and tree resin, which also can have antibacterial properties. Again these can be used similar to Clingfilm to wrap your sandwiches, rolls, cover bowls, wrap cut vegetables and more. I would say I find the larger ones the most useful, so try to get the biggest ones you can get. Again another great reusable alternative.
Going plastic free will greatly benefit the planet as well as your life. It is also great to find an eco-friendly alternative to an every day product like your dustpan and bush. Unfortunately, your dustpan and brush will often not last more than a few year but when typically being made out of plastic will be a scar on the earth for hundred of years. This is not to mention the microplastic a plastic duspan and brush will also cause and spread around your house. Therefore, I went on the mission to find a plastic free set, although it was hard I did find one (link below). I have now swapped to this wood handle with natural bristles and metal dustpan in a step toward my eco-friendly life.
Any Other containers:
It does not have to be glass but any bottle, container, you have, perhaps left over from your last food shop. They can then be used for anything you want such as pet food, cereal, soaps, essentially anything glass containers can be used for. This is obviously a lot cheaper and over time you can grow a collection and pick out the best containers for you and for what you want to pick up. As long as you reuse them and refill them up at your eco store and not contribute to the growing waste, you are doing your bit for the environment.
Bonus - Think Natural!:
When buying anything new always think of its entire life. Where did it come from and where will it go when you are finished with it. Pick items that are from renewable resources and that when disposed of will go back to the earth and not contribue to needless waste. On top of this is think abot the logevity of the item, always aim for anything you buy to last as long as it can. A great example that encompasses all this is the humble wooden chopping board, a much greater choice over these horrendous plastic ones you can get now.
There are tons of changes you can make throughout your house and I will be sure to make some other blog posts to detail them. However, here are my top eco kitchen swaps you can make to get you started. Although these are my recommendation, don’t let them stop you getting any other items that helps reduce your waste, the energy you use or any negative impact on the environment. There are many more things you can consider but if we can continue to move towards an environmentally friendly future by making little changes over time the world will be a better place for it.
Updated: Jul 18
Sustainability, ethics, eco-friendliness and being green is the future. It must be for the sake our planet, the wildlife and the human race as a whole. Yet unfortunately we aren’t all eco-friendly individuals or nearly as good as we can be. Yet as a community we are growing. On this blog I explore everything green from the environment to products that stop the harmful waste and help mitigate our daily negative impact on earth. Recently, I have thought about what are the barrier to going green, what is stoppping us as a planet (or at least in my country) from fully adopting a ‘green’ life. Therefore, I have pulled together what I consider to be the big barriers to going ‘Green’. Although this list could easily be very long trying to highlight all the issues with us going eco-conscious I have tried to highlight the mains ones I believe have the greatest impact. Here are my top reasons that prevent the majority adopting a green, sustainable and eco-friendly future.
Unfortunately, anything new will have a higher cost, this is mainly because it is new to the market, so might not have an instant ‘demand’ for the product. This often means they are produced in smaller quantities, which again will not be as efficient, increasing their costs. ‘Green’ products are also of a higher quality and use raw materials that are generally more expensive. They also have better ethics and have a lower negative environmental impact, which is why I believe we need to expect and accept a higher cost. To make products right, without harming the planet, paying its workers and supply chain fairly and for innovation for future green products it will cost more. Unfortunately, for years we have been buying products without knowing fully where they are from and this includes from sweat factories, child labour and more horrendous abuse of workers and the environment, we cannot have this wilful ignorance going forward into a ‘green’ future. To summarise ‘green’ products tend to cost more because they use raw materials that are usually more expensive, produced in smaller quantities, often of better quality and can have a small premium to ensure it is ethical, less harmful to the planet and even potentially having a positive benefit. Unfortunately, this can all greatly increase the price.
What can we do?
Where you can keep buying 'green'. The more that we do they will be mass produced making them cheaper. It will also lead to new technologies and innovation that are green and cheaper. Take it slow but over time you can obtain a collection of jars and bottles to use at your local zero waste store. Further to this, although many ‘green’ products have a higher cost they are often built to last and is reusable, which can make them cheaper in the long run. Finally, we also need to understand ‘green’ will cost more. To pay people fairly, have the additional measures so they do not harm the environment and to be made of a higher quality and to last this will always be the case. Perhaps think it as not paying more but paying fair.
Lack of Time
Another big impact is our lack of time. Unfortunately, when I grew up we are not taught what to look out for, how we harm our planet or much about sustainability and being ‘green’. Although, I believe this is changing now there are still millions who do not know where to begin or what is actually ‘green’. However, I understand that many of us do not have time to research and get educated on these subjects. It takes a lot of time to learn what it means to be ‘green’, what products or way of life is truly ‘green’ or to find the eco alternatives to fit into our life. As well as all the actions we need to do to negate the negative or increase the positive impacts on our planet. This all takes a tremendous amount of time, which I understand not everyone has.
What can we do?
Start slow, it is not a race. Any step, no matter how small toward a ‘greener’ world is great. So spending any time to achieve this is beneficial. Over time you can grow your knowledge and implement systems that make a change and help our planet. Just keep trying.
I know this is a bit of a self-promotion but follow on your socials or go to the blogs of eco, ethical and environmental bloggers. They spend a lot of time looking for ‘green’ products, summarising what to look out for and how you can help our planet, so by following them you can slowly learn more and make changes.
Greenwashing is when companies make unsubstantiated claims to deceive consumer into believing their products are environmentally friendly when in fact they are hiding the negative impacts of their products from our sights. Unfortunately, people and companies lie or misdirect and this is done a lot with ‘green’ products. A product or service that is ‘green’ is more likely to sell, as it is what most people want. Therefore, if companies can make you believe that their products are green it is better for them. Most companies stick phrases like eco, environmental and the like onto their products without there being any true basis for it. At the moment these terms are not protect, so can be used by anyone without justification. Therefore, we need to remain vigilant to look out for unfounded claims or hidden negative parts of a product or service before we purchase them. If you want to know more on this, please read my article on greenwashing ‘Greenwashing: An Evil Mask!’
What can we do?
Get Educated! Learn to look out for how companies greenwash and what real sustainable, eco-friendly products are, so you can make an educated decision. This will take time to learn but once you have learnt the principles they can be applied everywhere. When making a purchase ask more, ask about the product, ask what makes it green, is it truly recyclable or meets the cradle-to-cradle principles. Once you have learnt what harms the planet and its inhabitants you can make choices to not contribute to that. Do not just take the word of a company but look at the companies actions and the impact of its products and service and together we can beat greenwashing.
In the large societies we are living in today and with the controlling systems our governments have forced us into we are incredibly dependant on the infrastructure they put in place. This includes a wide variety of things including transport, energy, food, packaging and the very way we live our lives in our countries. The reason this can be a problem is because unfortunately the solutions to these issues are not always ‘green’ and can even be harmful to the planet. For example so much food comes in plastic, which is practically unavoidable if you want to live some what of a normal life. Also, the energy systems in place that we are reliant on for our survival might be reliant on oil and gas, which I do not have to explain how this impacts our planet. We are part of the system and the system forms our lives, so this can often control how ‘green’ our lives can be.
What can we do?
To solve this problem, we need to go to the source. This is the government and large corporation that produce our daily products and control so much of our lives. We must put pressure on them and demand they do better. You can do this in a variety of ways such as emailing them, signing petitions, protesting and joining groups that fight for our planet (peacfully of course). I always think we should try to start at work, this might not be easy but push for little changes there and over time the improvements will mount up everywhere. Keep making changes and demanding them and eventually we will have a 'green' way of life.
At the moment I believe there are a number of barriers that are preventing a ‘green’ future being fully adopted. Above are some of the largest barriers that need to be solved for the sake of our future. I wanted to raise these points, so we can better understand them, begin to discuss them and to help us reach a solution. To me I believe the biggest barrier to most is the cost, even if you want to be the perfect ‘green’ individual it can be almost impossible making you bankrupt. However, I do believe it is slowly getting better and more affordable. I also believe if more of us keep pushing and keep trying to be ‘green’ it will become the new norm and easier for all. I would be interested to know what you think is preventing a greener future and what we can do about it?