The Hidden Connections: Integrating the Biological, Cognitive, and Social Dimensions of Life Into a Science of Sustainability by Fritjof Capra, Doubleday 2002. Capra’s The Hidden Connections tackles a lot from cells and DNA to the complex social and business networks that have a stranglehold on the world today. He shows how current business methods are hurting the environment and ourselves and how we can go about fixing it.
Strangely Like War: The Global Assault on Forests by Derrick Jensen and George Draffan, Chelsea Green 2003. Globalization has often led to deforestation at a massive scale. This book explores this and its connection to other ecological crises.
The Company We Keep: Reinventing Small Business for People, Community, and Place by John Abrams, Chelsea Green 2005. Abrams tackles the formidable topic of how to keep business small and democratic“ and connected to the community around it.
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, North Point Press 2002. Cradle to Cradle advocates environmental sustainability and is sustainable itself, to the point that it is printed on a synthetic paper that doesn’t use trees. The authors propose a new kind of ecological consciousness, dubbed “eco-effectiveness,” which takes into consideration both eco-safety and cost efficiency.
Making Stuff and Doing Things by Kyle Bravo, Microcosm 2005. This book is the ultimate Do-It-Yourself guide, assembled from a multitude of how-to zines. From homebrew to natural remedies to screenprinting in your bathroom. You can use it for one project or to outfit your own eco-village — just have fun with all these myriad “recipes.”
ReadyMade: How to Make (Almost) Everything: A Do-It-Yourself Primer by Shoshana Berger and Grace Hawthorne, Clarkson Potter 2005. A partly serious, partly humorous look at materials we usually discard. The work provides step-by-step instructions on how to transform paper, plastic, metal, wood, concrete and fabric into such unlikely (and undesirable) household items such as a chopstick clock or a colander light sconce.
Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Penguin Press 2006. Michael Pollan suggests that today we are revisiting the age-old question of “What should we eat that won’t kill us?” This time around, the concern is less about berries and mushrooms, but rather the poisons of fast food and the unsustainability of big agriculture, among a host of other dilemmas.
Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage by Heather Rogers, The New Press 2005. Ever wonder what happens to your trash? Heather Rogers follows the life of garbage in New York City, and turns up some pretty rotten stuff. Filled with facts that will frighten, Gone Tomorrow traces the roots of America’s waste-addicted culture and speculates on what it will take to get us off this path.
Diet for a Dead Planet: How the Food Industry Is Killing Us by Christopher C. Cook, The New Press 2006. This absorbing study looks at the dangers of American food production, including exposure of food to food-borne pathogens, pesticides, and much more.
Silent Spring (40th Anniversary Edition) by Rachel Carson, Mariner Books 1962. The outcry that followed Silent Spring’s publication in 1962 forced the government to ban DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement. It is without question one of the landmark books of the twentieth century.