Blueland’s Eco-Friendly Summer Reading List

Round table with stack of books on the side

Summer is a great time to crack a book (or an e-reader), mainly because you can do it in so many cool places. You can read on the beach, by the pool, in a park, atop a mountain, while riding a camel,  in the car on the way to great aunt Kiki’s house, or even on the couch with a cup of tea. And since no summer is complete without a go-to reading spot, no summer is complete without some go-to reading material. So we’ve taken the time to round up some of our favorite books on a range of different topics, to help take your summer reading to the next level! 

Plastic-Free Living

1.     Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

“Beth Terry didn’t think an individual could have much impact on the environment. But while laid up after surgery, she read an article about the staggering amount of plastic polluting the oceans and decided then and there to kick her plastic habit. Now she wants to teach you how you can too, and In her quirky and humorous style known to the readers of her popular blog: My Plastic-Free Life.”

2.     Zero Waste Home

“The inspirational story of Bea Johnson (the “Priestess of Waste-Free Living”) and how she transformed her family’s life for the better by reducing their waste to an astonishing one liter per year. It’s a practical, step-by-step guide that gives readers tools and tips to diminish their footprint and simplify their lives.”

3.     How To Give Up Plastic

“In this book, Will McCallum, head of oceans at Greenpeace UK, frames the current state of global plastic pollution and the environmental consequences of our throwaway, single-use culture. Part history, part guide, How to Give Up Plastic helps us understand our plastics addiction while giving us practical, ambitious steps to correct it.”

The Aquatic Environment

4.     Rising

“In Rising, Elizabeth Rush takes readers to the physical and cultural edges of the country, from the marginalized and forgotten citizens of places like Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, to the glass castles of Facebook and Google in Silicon Valley. As high tide and massive storms become the new normal, those at the coasts, especially those with lower incomes, will be most at risk of flooding and all that comes with it.”

5.     Where The Water Goes

“The Colorado River provides water for nearly 40 million people, but with climate change and booming populations, this river’s tap is close to running dry. David Owen takes us on a journey down this prized waterway, from the snowmelt atop the Rocky Mountains to the dried-up deserts of Mexico, and what we need to do to save it.”

6.     The Death And  Life Of The Great Lakes

“Since their settlement in the 1800s, the Great Lakes have undergone a destructive transformation by pollution and invasive species, the latter a byproduct of various engineering feats throughout the 20th century. Dan Egan traces the roots and progress of these environmental challenges, as well as the hazardous social, economic and political problems they’ve caused. What’s at stake is the largest body of fresh water in the world, a precious environmental resource home to diverse ecosystems and depended upon by hundreds of thousands.”

Animal Conservation

  7.     Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story

“Daphne Sheldrick, whose family arrived in Africa from Scotland in the 1820s, is the first person ever to have successfully hand-reared newborn elephants. Her deep empathy and understanding, her years of observing Kenya’s rich variety of wildlife, and her pioneering work have served as guidelines for wildlife conservation efforts everywhere.”

8.     Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are?

“People have long assumed that complex thought and emotion were exclusive to humanity. Primatologist and ethologist Frans de Waal challenges this assumption, outlining the evolution of human understanding of animal cognition and exploring case studies of animal problem solving, tool use and social structures. This book is a source of provocative research findings, a history and critique of the field and a personal narrative of de Waal’s own career evolution. The result drives readers to reevaluate what it means to be intelligent while deepening their appreciation for the unique and diverse talents across the animal kingdom.”

9.     Never Cry Wolf

“Hordes of bloodthirsty wolves are slaughtering the arctic caribou, and the government’s Wildlife Service assigns naturalist Farley Mowat to investigate. Mowat has dropped alone onto the frozen tundra, where he begins his mission to live among the howling wolf packs and study their ways. Contact with his quarry comes quickly, and Mowat discovers not a den of marauding killers but a courageous family of skillful providers and devoted protectors of their young. As Mowat comes closer to the wolf world, he comes to fear with them the onslaught of bounty hunters and government exterminators out to erase the noble wolf community from the Arctic. Never Cry Wolf is one of the brilliant narratives on the myth and magic of wild wolves and man’s true place among the creatures of nature.”

10.  In The Shadow Of A Man

“World-renowned primatologist, conservationist, and humanitarian Dr. Jane Goodall recounts her life among the wild chimpanzees of Gombe in one of the most enthralling stories of animal behavior ever written. Read the story of  how she came to know the chimps as individuals and began to understand their complicated social hierarchy and extraordinary behaviors that forever changed our understanding of the profound connection between humans and chimpanzees.”

The Climate Crisis

11.  Merchants Of Doubt

“In “Merchants of Doubt,” Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway draw a direct line between the tobacco industry’s initial response to secondhand smoke and our contemporary way of thinking about science, specifically global warming. The book chronicles how a few industry-backed scientists led a coordinated campaign to cast doubt on science: Cherry-picking facts, misrepresenting views and celebrating unregulated capitalism as inherently American. It’s a common theme in our history and one that is still playing out today: Thanks to a few very powerful people, facts have been misconstrued and the public misguided in favor of unregulated, corporate-friendly ventures. Meanwhile, global warming has accelerated and so, too, has our own doubt about it.”

12.  Storming The Wall

“It’s time to open our eyes to the economic and political implications of climate change. In “Storming the Wall,” Todd Miller tells the story of climate change refugees that have been forced from their homes and paints a larger picture of how wealthy countries like the United States are putting up walls, militarizing borders and bloating detention centers to restrict those seeking refuge and maintain the status quo of the haves and have nots.”

13.  Don’t Even Think About It

“Why is our response to climate change so woeful? George Marshall explores how we make choices to act or ignore. And when it comes to climate change, it’s usually the latter. Climate change is a “wicked problem,” Marshall writes, a complicated challenge with no clear enemy and no silver-bullet solution. To tackle this problem and mobilize action, “Don’t Even Think About It” argues we need science, but just as importantly, we need emotional, compelling narratives.”

14.   Green Washed: Why We Can’t Buy Our Way To A Green Planet

“In six chapters on consumer products and three on energy alternatives, Pierre-Louis documents the environmental damage caused by supposedly green products. Organic food is often grown by malnourished farmworkers. Biodiesel comes from tree farms that accelerate biodiversity loss. It takes a whopping 400 gallons of water to produce the fabric for one natural cotton T-shirt. Green Washed’s greatest strength is its clear and concise presentation of such data. Pierre-Louis hasn’t just done her research, she has organized and presented it very well, making a convincing case that green shopping cannot save the planet: that alone makes it a valuable resource for green activists.”

History of Environmentalism

15.  This Radical Land

“When most still believed the natural world was a limitless resource for the taking, early environmentalists saw an ideal in which humans could coexist with the natural world, rather than exploiting it. Through a series of essays, Daegan Miller highlights efforts to bring together ideas of environmental justice, conservation, and sustainable development at a time in history when American progress was viewed through the lens of unhindered extraction and expansion. This journey into the earliest beginnings of environmentalism is a reminder that radical, innovative ideas have always been a part of the effort to live in harmony with our planet.”

16.  Losing Earth: A Recent History

Losing Earth explores the environmental decade that never was: 1979–89, when we knew all we needed to know about global warming to stop it. Tracing the political and scientific history of the climate crisis, Nathaniel Rich reports how the public, with scientific backing, lined up to tackle climate change — until a coordinated campaign by lobbyists, corporations and politicians cast doubt on the whole thing. We all know what happened next. To understand how we got to where we are, we must look to the shortcomings of our past.”

17.  Silent Spring

“Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which in 1962 exposed the hazards of the pesticide DDT, eloquently questioned humanity’s faith in technological progress and helped set the stage for the environmental movement. First serialized in The New Yorker in June 1962, the book alarmed readers across America and, not surprisingly, brought a howl of indignation from the chemical industry. As one of the first national climate activists, Rachel Carson laid the foundation for a movement that may come to define several generations.”

18.  Let My People Go Surfing: The Education Of A Reluctant Businessman

“Yvon Chouinard–legendary climber, businessman, environmentalist, and founder of Patagonia, Inc.–shares the persistence and courage that have gone into being head of one of the most respected and environmentally responsible companies on earth.”

The Clean Essentials

The perfect way to start cutting out single-use plastic from your home