Low-Cost Living

New books on sustainability and the environment

Self-sufficiency and mindful purchasing highlight our choices for this month. Also featured is A Life Less Throwaway, a title focused on ‘mindful curation’ — encouraging you to carefully choose the items you bring into your life and celebrating what lasts.

Syndetics book coverRetroSuburbia: The downshifter’s guide to a resilient future [paperback]
“This 500 page manual shows how Australians can downshift and retrofit their homes, gardens, communities and, above all, themselves to be more self-organised, sustainable and resilient into an uncertain future. It promises a challenging but exciting mix of satisfying work, a more meaningful way of living and hope for the next generation.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMeet the Frugalwoods : achieving financial independence through simple living / Elizabeth Willard Thames.
“In 2014, Liz Thames and her husband, Nate, were conventional young urban professionals working nine-to-five jobs. But the rat race had worn them down, and they dreamed of becoming modern-day homesteaders in rural Vermont. Determined to retire as early as possible in order to start living each day–as opposed to wishing time away working for the weekends–they enacted a plan to save as much money as they could. In less than three years, Liz and Nate reached their goal. Today they are financially independent and living out their dream with their young daughters on a sixty-six acre homestead in the woods of Vermont.” (adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverDangerous years : climate change, the long emergency, and the way forward / David W. Orr.
“A leading environmental thinker takes a hard look at the obstacles and possibilities on the long road to sustainability. This gripping, deeply thoughtful book considers future of civilization in the light of what we know about climate change and related threats. David Orr, an award-winning, internationally recognized leader in the field of sustainability and environmental education, pulls no punches: even with the Paris Agreement of 2015, Earth systems will not reach a new equilibrium for centuries. The transition, he writes, is beginning from the bottom up in communities and neighborhoods.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRaising and keeping dairy goats : a practical guide / Katie Normet.
“A city kid, Katie Normet’s fascination for large animals led her to study animal sciences at university. Today, she and her family run river’s Edge Goat Dairy where Katie oversees a herd of some 75 goats that produce more than 50,000 liters of milk a year. Much of this milk is transformed into delicious yogurt, cheese, soaps and moisturizing creams, which Normet sells at local markets. Raising and Keeping Dairy Goats is Normet’s account of the daily challenges and rewards of life as a goat farmer. She explores all the big-picture issues in goat husbandry, including purchasing, housing, feeding, breeding, kidding, milking, and diseases. There are also chapters on cheese making and soap making with tips and recipes.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSelf-sufficiency handbook : your complete guide to a self-sufficient home, garden, and kitchen / Alan and Gill Bridgewater.
“Worried about ever-rising fuel bills and longing for the day when you can be off-grid and independent? Anxious about the quality of the food you eat and planning to go organic? Yearning to get back to the way it was but don’t know where to start? This book will show you how to achieve the eco-friendly good life. The authors cover the ecological gamut from geothermal heating to crop rotation to soap making. They answer important questions like how much land is really needed to be self-sufficient, whether or not to depend entirely on natural forms of energy, and which farm animals will best meet your needs.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA life less throwaway : the lost art of buying for life / Tara Button.
“Now more than ever, we live in a society where we covet new and shiny things. Not only has consumption risen dramatically over the last 60 years, but we are damaging the environment at the same time. That is why buying quality and why Tara Button’s Buy Me Once brand has such popular appeal. Tara Button has become a champion of a lifestyle called ‘mindful curation’ – a way of living in which we carefully choose each object in our lives, making sure we have the best, most classic, most pleasing and longest lasting – kettles, desks, pots & pans, scissors, coats and dresses, instead of surrounding ourselves with throwaway stuff and appliances with built-in obsolescence. Tara advocates a life that celebrates what lasts, what is classic and what really suits a person.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGrow something different to eat / Matthew Biggs.
“Discover more than 50 out-of-the-ordinary edibles, from cucamelons to strawberry popcorn, in this seed-to-plate guide that inspires you to cultivate amazing new fruit and vegetable crops. Whether you’re a beginner and determined to make the most of limited space with a truly unique and heirloom harvest, or a seasoned grower looking to spice up your cooking with gourmet flavors, the step-by-step instructions give you the confidence to grow some unusually tasty crops…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChange here now : permaculture solutions for personal and community transformation / Adam Brock ; with illustrations by Holly White.
“Drawing from ecology, sociology, community economics, social justice, and indigenous practices the world over, Adam Brock presents proven solutions for building resilient and empowered communities. This book provides strategies for organizers, activists, nonprofit directors, social entrepreneurs, or anyone looking for meaning in a chaotic world.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFood Is the Solution : What to Eat to Save the World–80+ Recipes for a Greener Planet and a Healthier You
“What we eat will determine what kind of world we live in and what kind of world we live on — and Matthew Prescott proves that meat-heavy diets are destroying the planet. Imagine a world in which we are all healthier. Imagine a world where the air is clean, forests dense, water pure, and animal life healthy. That world is a happier world, a better world — and the delectable plant-based foods Prescott shows us how to prepare in Food Is the Solution will help us create it.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLow-cost living / John Harrison.
“You really don’t need a lot of money to enjoy the good life. This book offers practical ways to save money and energy and make better uses of your resources. When economic conditions are tough, we all need to watch our spending. John Harrison’s simple, tried and tested methods will help you to enjoy a better standard of living while saving money and helping the environment. Discover the benefits of growing your own fruit and vegetables, raising chickens, making butter, cheese and bread, and brewing your own beer. Save energy, save on your bills. Harvest food for free and avoid waste. Play the supermarkets at their own game and get the best deals. See how to recycle, re-use, make do and mend. Find out if solar power is right for you and whether wind power makes domestic sense.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClimate-Wise Landscaping : Practical Actions for a Sustainable Future
“Based on decades of experience, this book is packed with simple, practical steps anyone can take to beautify any landscape or garden, while helping protect the planet and the species that call it home. Topics include: Working actively to shrink our carbon footprint through mindful landscaping and gardening. Creating cleaner air and water. Increasing physical comfort during hotter seasons. Supporting birds, butterflies, pollinators, and other wildlife.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHealthy home healthy family : is where you live, affecting your health? : an essential guide for every home / Nicole Bijlsma.
“In the past 30 years, new cancer diagnoses have almost tripled, hospital admissions for life-threatening allergic reactions have increased fourfold, breast cancer has doubled, male sperm count has halved, the age of puberty is declining, dementia has become synonymous with old age, and learning and behavioural disorders in children have skyrocketed. Could these conditions be linked to our homes? YES! Healthy Home Healthy Family is a beautifully designed full colour, hard copy book that explores how industry keeps toxic products in the marketplace, and why the exposure standards for chemicals and electromagnetic fields are not adequate to protect your family.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPractical beekeeping in New Zealand / Andrew Matheson and Murray Reid.
Practical Beekeeping in New Zealand appeals to those interested in apiculture and deciding whether to keep bees, while horticulturalists and farmers find it of particular interest for crop pollination. Given New Zealand’s reputation in world beekeeping the book has also been keenly sought after by beekeepers overseas. Four editions of the book have been published since 1984, including comprehensive updates to include the latest information and developments, particularly on new approaches to beekeeping now the parasitic varroa mite has become established in New Zealand and changed the face of beekeeping forever.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)