Book List: Waste and Consumption

Enough Is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources – Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2013)

The authors explain why current economic policies are failing, and how we can make the transition to an economy that works for people and the planet. They lay out a visionary but realistic alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth – an economy where the goal is not more but enough.

Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability – John R. Ehrenfeld and Andrew J. Hoffman (Stanford Business Books, 2013)

The authors discuss how to create a sustainable world, but, unlike virtually all other books about sustainability, this one goes beyond the typical stories that we tell ourselves about repairing the environmental damages of human progress. This book is a clarion call to action – candid and insightful, it leaves readers with cautious hope.

The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture – Mary Pipher (Riverhead Trade, 2013)

The author explores how to conquer our fears about the major environmental issues that confound us and transform them into a positive force in our lives and explains how we can attend to the world around us with calmness, balance, and great love. This book is both profound and practical.

The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World – Paul Gilding (Bloomsbury Press, 2012)

The author offers a stark and unflinching look at the challenge humanity faces, yet also a deeply optimistic message and thinks the crisis represents a rare chance to replace our addiction to growth with an ethic of sustainability.

The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health- and How We Can Make It Better– Annie Leonard (Free Press, 2010; reprint edition, 2011)

The author’s message is: we have too much Stuff and too much of it is toxic. She outlines the five stages of our consumption-driven economy – from extraction through production, distribution, consumption, and disposal – and vividly illuminates its frightening repercussions, then outlines how positive change is possible.

Green Washed: Why We Can’t Buy Our Way to a Green Planet – Kendra Pierre-Louis (Ig Publishing, 2012)

The author examines the major economic sectors – from infrastructure and consumer goods to food and energy and concludes that, though greener alternatives are important, we cannot simply buy our way to sustainability. Rather, if it is the volume of our consumption that matters, can we as a society dependent on constantly consuming ever be content with buying less?

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things – Michael Braungart and William McDonough (North Point Press; 1st edition 2002)

The authors believe that “waste equals food” and explain how products can be designed from the outset so that, after their useful lives, they will provide nourishment for something new – continually circulating as pure and viable materials within a ‘cradle to cradle’ model.

The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance – William McDonough and Michael Braungart (North Point Press, 2013)

Drawing on the lessons gained from ten years of putting the Cradle to Cradle concept into practice, the authors envision the next step in the solution to our ecological crisis. Instead of protecting the planet from human impact, why not redesign our activity to improve the environment? We can have a beneficial footprint. Abundance for all. The goal is within our reach.

The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time – Paul Connett Ph.D (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2013)

The author profiles the most successful zero-waste initiatives around the world, showing activists, planners, and entrepreneurs how to re-envision their community’s waste-handling process – by consuming less, turning organic waste into compost, recycling, demanding non-wasteful product design, and creating jobs – and bringing community members together in the process.

Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash – Edward Humes (Avery, 2012)

Through his extensive investigation of trash – what’s in it; how much we pay for it; how we manage to create so much of it – the author reveals not just what we throw away, but who we are and where our society is headed. Waste is the one environmental and economic harm that ordinary working Americans have the power to change – and prosper in the process.

American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It) ­– Jonathan Bloom (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2011)

The author sheds light on the history, culture, and mindset of food waste while exploring the parallel eco-friendly and sustainable-food movements. As the era of unprecedented prosperity comes to an end, it’s time to reexamine our culture of excess.

Personal consumption:

Choosing Simplicity: Real People Finding Peace and Fulfillment in a Complex World – Linda Breen Pierce (Gallagher Press, 2000)

After a three-year study of over 200 people from 40 states and eight countries, the author presents real-life profiles and guidelines on simplicity. Through these stories, she offers insights and lessons to guide those who want to explore simplicity and to sustain those who have already embarked on this journey.

Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth – Jim Merkel (New Society Publishers, 2003)

The author combines narrative, advocacy, and science to guide those who want to change their lifestyles as a tangible way of transforming our unsustainable culture in the face of looming ecological disaster. He points the way toward a way of living that is equitable among all people, species, and generations.

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