Sustainability Committee’s Favorite “Green” Books
In honor of Climate Week NYC 2023, we collected some of our Sustainability Committee members’ favorite “green” books. These Penguin Random House titles cover a range of topics and ages, from celebrating the beauty of Earth to an explainer on how recycling actually works.
Check out these curated, sustainability-related picks for your next read:
THE CONSCIOUS CLOSET by Elizabeth L. Cline (Plume)
THE CONSCIOUS CLOSET is not just a style guide. It is a call to action to transform one of the most polluting industries on earth—fashion—into a force for good. Readers will learn where our clothes are made and how they’re made, before connecting to a global and impassioned community of stylish fashion revolutionaries. In THE CONSCIOUS CLOSET, Elizabeth shows us how we can start to truly love and understand our clothes again—without sacrificing the environment, our morals, or our style in the process.
WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE? written by Gail Herman and Who HQ, illustrated by John Hinderliter (Penguin Workshop)
The earth is definitely getting warmer. There’s no argument about that, but who or what is the cause? And why has climate change become a political issue? Are humans at fault? Is this just a natural development? While the vast majority of scientists who study the environment agree that humans play a large part in climate change, there is a counterargument. Author Gail Herman presents both sides of the debate in this fact-based, fair-minded, and well-researched book that looks at the subject from many perspectives, including scientific, social, and political.
HERE WE ARE by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel Books)
Oliver Jeffers, arguably the most influential creator of picture books today, offers a rare personal look inside his own hopes and wishes for his child–and in doing so gifts children and parents everywhere with a gently sweet and humorous missive about our world and those who call it home. Insightfully sweet, with a gentle humor and poignancy, here is Oliver Jeffers’ user’s guide to life on Earth. He created it specially for his son, yet with a universality that embraces all children and their parents. Be it a complex view of our planet’s terrain (bumpy, sharp, wet), a deep look at our place in space (it’s big), or a guide to all of humanity (don’t be fooled, we are all people), Oliver’s signature wit and humor combine with a value system of kindness and tolerance to create a must-have book for parents.
THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND written by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (Rocky Pond Books)
Then fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba’s Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone’s crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library . . . and figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Persevering against the odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps, and thus became the local hero who harnessed the wind. Lyrically told and gloriously illustrated, this story will inspire many as it shows how – even in the worst of times – a great idea and a lot of hard work can still rock the world.
CAN I RECYCLE THIS? written by Jennie Romer and illustrated by Christie Young (Penguin Books)
Since the dawn of the recycling system, men and women the world over have stood by their bins, holding an everyday object, wondering, “can I recycle this?” This simple question reaches into our concern for the environment, the care we take to keep our homes and our communities clean, and how we interact with our local government. Recycling rules seem to differ in every municipality, with exceptions and caveats at every turn, leaving the average American scratching her head at the simple act of throwing something away. Taking readers on a quick but informative tour of how recycling actually works (setting aside the propaganda we were all taught as kids), Can I Recycle This gives straightforward answers to whether dozens of common household objects can or cannot be recycled, as well as the information you need to make that decision for anything else you encounter.
Also check out this visual, easy-to-use guide that is written in Spanish and outlines zero waste tips for leading a sustainable lifestyle: Zero waste para salvar el mundo: Guía ilustrada para una vida sostenible (written by Aly Vispo).
FASHIONOPOLIS by Dana Thomas (Penguin Books)
What should I wear? It’s one of the fundamental questions we ask ourselves every day. More than ever, we are told it should be something new. Today, the clothing industry churns out 80 billion garments a year and employs every sixth person on Earth. Historically, the apparel trade has exploited labor, the environment, and intellectual property—and in the last three decades, with the simultaneous unfurling of fast fashion, globalization, and the tech revolution, those abuses have multiplied exponentially, primarily out of view. We are in dire need of an entirely new human-scale model. Bestselling journalist Dana Thomas has traveled the globe to discover the visionary designers and companies who are propelling the industry toward that more positive future by reclaiming traditional craft and launching cutting-edge sustainable technologies to produce better fashion.
TO DYE FOR by Alden Wicker (Putnam)
In To Dye For, Wicker reveals how clothing manufacturers have successfully swept consumers’ concerns under the rug for more than 150 years, and why synthetic fashion and dyes made from fossil fuels are so deeply intertwined with the rise of autoimmune disease, infertility, asthma, eczema, and more. In fact, there’s little to no regulation of the clothes and textiles we wear each day—from uniforms to fast fashion, outdoor gear, and even the face masks that have become ubiquitous in recent years. Wicker explains how we got here, what the stakes are, and what all of us can do in the fight for a safe and healthy wardrobe for all.