Recent books on sustainability and the environment

Thinking globally and acting locally. These titles cover topics as big as: who’s going to steer the ship on global policy around our environment? There are perspectives from scientists, activists, and politicians as they tackle the big questions while others give inspiration about what you can do in your own home to have a positive impact. Will the issues we face as a planet be solved from the top or the bottom? Or both?

Syndetics book coverPositive energy homes : creating passive houses for better living / Robin Brimblecombe and Kara Rosemeier.
“Positive energy homes enable people to live healthy and comfortable lives with energy left over to share. Creating a house you love that produces surplus energy is surprisingly easy with a thorough understanding of how buildings work and careful attention to detail in construction. Positive Energy Homes provides home owners, architects, and builders with an understanding of the principles and technical details of building these houses. The Passive House standard, with its well-proven track record, forms the basis for creating positive energy homes.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHot, hungry planet : the fight to stop a global food crisis in the face of climate change / Lisa Palmer.
“Journalist Lisa Palmer has traveled the world for years documenting the cutting-edge innovations of people and organizations on the front lines of fighting the food gap. Hot, Hungry Planet focuses on three key concepts that support food security and resilience in a changing world: social, educational, and agricultural advances; land use and technical actions by farmers; and policy nudges that have the greatest potential for reducing adverse environmental impacts of agriculture while providing more food.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe food forest handbook : design and manage a home-scale perennial polyculture garden / by Darrell Frey & Michelle Czolba.
“A food forest is a productive landscape developed around a mix of trees and perennials. Rooted in permaculture principles, this integrated approach to gardening incorporates a variety of plants such as fruit and nut trees, shrubs, vines, and perennial herbs and vegetables… The Food Forest Handbook is a practical manual for the design and management of a home-scale perennial polyculture garden.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe seasons alter : how to save our planet in six acts / Philip Kitcher and Evelyn Fox Keller.
“Philip Kitcher and Evelyn Fox Keller tackle some of the thorniest questions facing mankind today: Is climate change real? Is climate change as urgent as the “scientists” make it out to be? How much of our current way of life should we sacrifice to help out a generation that won’t even be born for another hundred years? Who would pay for the enormous costs of making the planet “green?” What sort of global political arrangement would be needed for serious action?…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClimate of hope : how cities, businesses, and citizens can save the planet / Michael Bloomberg, Carl Pope.
“From Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former head of the Sierra Club Carl Pope comes a manifesto on how the benefits of taking action on climate change are concrete, immediate, and immense… In Climate of Hope, Bloomberg and Pope offer an optimistic look at the challenge of climate change, the solutions they believe hold the greatest promise, and the practical steps that are necessary to achieve them. Writing from their own experiences, and sharing their own stories from government, business, and advocacy, Bloomberg and Pope provide a road map for tackling the most complicated challenge the world has ever faced.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClient Earth / Martin Goodman and James Thornton ; with a foreword by Brian Eno.
“Who will stop the planet from committing ecological suicide? …Whoever, environmental laws need to be enforceable and enforced. Step forward a fresh breed of passionately purposeful environmental lawyers. They provide new rules to legislatures, see that they are enforced, and keep us informed. They tackle big business to ensure money flows into cultural change, because money is the grammar of business just as science is the grammar of nature. At the head of this new legal army stands James Thornton, who takes governments to court, and wins. And his client is the Earth.” –Publisher’s description, adapted. (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe energy wise workplace : practical and cost-effective ideas for a sustainable and green workplace / Jeff Dondero.
“Although many people desire to do their part and play a role in the conservation of energy and resources at their workplace most think that it is harder to conserve at work due to circumstances beyond their control, and aren’t aware of how, which or in what ways they can contribute to change… The Energy Wise Workplace provides practical suggestions and innovative ways for increasing the environmental and technological aspects of an efficient office, as well as improving productivity and work environment to keep employees happy and healthy and at the same time saving money.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGreywater, green landscape : how to install simple water-saving irrigation systems in your yard / Laura Allen.
“Keep your lawn and garden lush without wasting resources by capturing and recycling the greywater that drains from your sink, shower, and washing machine. This accessible and detailed guide walks you through each step of planning for and installing a variety of greywater systems, including laundry-to-landscape and branched drain gravity-fed systems. After identifying greywater sources in your home and estimating flow rate, you’ll learn to pinpoint where to redirect the wastewater for the greatest benefit. No matter which system you decide to build, you’ll have the information to construct it yourself or move forward with confidence to hire a professional.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverConfessions of a recovering environmentalist / Paul Kingsnorth.
“Paul Kingsnorth was once an activist, an ardent environmentalist. He fought against rampant development and the depredations of a corporate world that seemed hell-bent on ignoring a looming climate crisis in its relentless pursuit of profit. But as the environmental movement began to focus on ‘sustainability’ rather than the defence of wild places for their own sake and as global conditions worsened, he grew disenchanted with the movement that he once embraced. Provocative and urgent, iconoclastic and fearless, this ultimately hopeful book poses hard questions about how we have lived and should live.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNo dig organic home & garden : grow, cook, use & store your harvest / Charles Dowding & Stephanie Hafferty.
“No dig organic gardening saves time and work. It requires an annual dressing of compost to help accelerate the improvement in soil structure and leads to higher fertility and less weeds. No dig experts Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty, explain how to set up a no dig garden, including how to: * Make compost and enrich soil * Learn skills you need to sow and grow annual and perennial veg * Harvest and prepare food year round * Make natural cosmetics, cleaning products, and garden preparations.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Recent books on sustainability and the environment

Creatures are featured in this month’s blog! Especially Chickens and Bees… And a beautiful book of tiny shelters ends our selection.

Image from Amazon.comBackyard chickens : how to keep happy hens / Dave Ingham.
“A henkeeping companion to the bestselling Backyard Bees, covering everything you need to know about keeping chickens even in urban areas.” (Syndetics summary)
” Keeping a few hens was once only for rural dwellers with big yards – or inner-city hippies. Now it’s mainstream and an attractive proposition wherever you live. Fluffy little recycling units that eat weeds, bugs and scraps and turn them into organic eggs – what’s not to love? Chickens are great backyard pets for young and old – they’re a natural extension for everyone with a vegie patch, and for those who like eggs but are concerned about the welfare of commercial hens.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverGood soil : manure, compost and nourishment for your garden / Tina RĂ¥man, Ewa-Marie Rundquist, Justine Lagache.
“Maximise your garden, whatever you grow in it, with some Swedish expertise. Plants need nutrients to grow, flower and bear fruit, nutrients that can be found in offal, the sea, fire, rocks, rubbish and, of course, dung heaps. Tina Raman digs into every aspect of nurturing your soil, from chemistry and biology to history and philosophy, giving you practical advice, generous tips and above all masses of inspiration” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverMy zero-waste kitchen : easy ways to eat waste free / writer and editor, Ruth O’Rourke-Jones.
“Looking to live sustainably without overhauling your life? My Zero-Waste Kitchen shows you how to put the three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle – into practice in the kitchen. Discover the secrets of sustainability, including shopping wisely, which foods you can freeze, and how to turn your scraps into delicious dishes and snacks such as falafel, pesto, and even melt-in-the-mouth cake. Handy tips and tricks will help you live sustainably without making huge changes, and guide you to a sustainable kitchen, with advice on kitchen equipment, food storage, growing herbs, and meal-planning tips.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGardening with chickens : plans and plants for you and your hens / Lisa Steele.
“Welcome to a world where chickens and gardens coexist! Join Lisa Steele, chicken-keeper extraordinaire and founder of Fresh Eggs Daily, on a unique journey through the garden. Start by planning your garden and learning strategies and tips for keeping your plants safe while they grow. Plant with purpose, choosing from a dozen plans for theme gardens such as Orange Egg Yolks or Nesting Box Herbs. Or choose a design that’s filled with edibles – sharing the bounty with your family and your feathered friends. Then comes the fun part: enjoy the harvest, even let the chickens graze!” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWelcome to the farm : how-to wisdom from the Elliott homestead / Shaye Elliott.
“Whether you want to dabble in the homesteading movement or immerse yourself completely in the do-it-yourself, back-to-basics lifestyle, Welcome to the Farm is a comprehensive, fully illustrated guide to growing the very best food right in your own backyard. Shaye Elliott takes readers on a journey that teaches them how to harvest baskets full of organic produce, milk a dairy cow (and make butter), plant a homestead orchard, can jams and jellies, and even raise chickens and bees.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe bee keeper’s field guide : a pocket guide to the health and care of bees / David Cramp.
“This guide is designed for beekeepers to carry with them and use in the apiary and out in the field. It is a diagnostic tool and an aide memoire for the hobbyist and for the professional beekeeper, who may know what to do but will at times need the information close to hand.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverDIY solar projects : small projects to whole-home systems : tap into the sun / Eric Smith and Philip Schmidt with Troy Wanek.
“Put the sun to work in your home with the new, expanded edition of the popular 2011 title DIY Solar Projects. Like the original, this edition offers small-scale, achievable solar projects that homeowners can build and install themselves. From cooking in solar ovens to mounting solar panels on your roof, this book teaches how to take advantage of solar energy.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe urban farmer / Justin Calverley & CERES (Center for Environmental Research and Strategies).
“Producing our own fruit, vegetables, herbs, eggs and honey is perfectly possible in a suburban space, and this practical guide will help urban dwellers develop a more sustainable existence. With a deep knowledge of permaculture and organic gardening, horticultural expert Justin Calverley shows you how to establish a diverse urban farm, whether in your own backyard, a courtyard or even a balcony…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverShallow-pit garden composting : the easy, no-smell, no-turning way to create organic compost for your garden / Caleb Warnock.
“With shallow pit composting, the compost doesn’t need to be turned, never smells and is ready in half the time of barrels or kits. Shallow-pit composting works with Mother Nature, letting her do the work.”—cover page 4.

Syndetics book coverMicro shelters : 59 creative cabins, tiny houses, tree houses, and other small structures / Derek “Deek” Diedricksen.
“If you dream of living in a tiny house, or creating a getaway in the backwoods or your backyard, you’ll love this gorgeous collection of creative and inspiring designs for cabins, forts, studios, and other microshelters.” (Syndetics summary)

Recent books on sustainability and the environment

Two ‘how-to’ books on permaculture begin this post, and we end with a book about the heroes working today to mitigate climate change, to secure a sustainable future for us and for our children.

Syndetics book coverThe permaculture promise : what permaculture is and how it can help us reverse climate change, build a more resilient future on Earth, and revitalize our communities / Jono Neiger ; foreword by Toby Hemenway.
“Permaculture is a design system that offers practical ideas for how humans can simultaneously provide for ourselves and regenerate the natural world. Here are 22 ways that permaculture can help us achieve that goal, brought to life through profiles of people and communities who are already taking the permaculture path. This groundbreaking approach moves beyond sustainability, connecting all the systems of human life, including gardening, housing, transportation, energy, and how we structure our communities.” (Cover)

Syndetics book coverThe permaculture transition manual : a comprehensive guide to resilient living / Ross Mars ; foreword by Rob Hopkins.
“Caught between climate change and a fossil fuel-driven economy that demands ever more growth, the world faces a great transition–by design or disaster–away from fossil fuels to a less energy intensive future. …For the first time, the power of permaculture design has been brought to bear on the great transition problem. In the process, acclaimed permaculture teacher and designer Ross Mars has distilled his considerable knowledge into the ultimate resource for resilient living. The Permaculture Transition Manual is packed with information on permaculture design principles, soil building, nutrient-dense food growing, including top plant and tree selections for all climatic zones…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNatural designs : contemporary organic upcycling : 20 DIY designer projects / Aurelie Drouet.
“…Nature has always been a source of inspiration for designers, and this book offers readers the chance to create furniture and everyday objects with raw materials from mineral to plant. Enjoy a walk in the woods, or beachcomb by sea to unleash your imagination and bring a little nature into your home. From cork hanging lights, a slate desk to a natural wool pouffe and a birch coat stand, discover simple and elegant ideas that you can make yourself. There’s no need to be an experienced handyman to realize these original designs: this book presents 20 creations with step-by-step photos, plans and technical tips.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSeagan eating : the lure of a healthy, sustainable seafood + vegan diet / Amy Cramer and Lisa McComsey.
“In this first-of-its-kind seagan guidebook, you’ll find all the tips and tools you need to jumpstart your healthy, delicious plant-and seafood-based diet- – More than 66 simple, decadent, oil-free seagan and vegan recipes – including three weeks of menus – A buying guide to the healthiest, most sustainable seafood – Must-have kitchen staples, plus recipe hacks to make prep fast and easy – Advice for navigating today’s confusing food trends, like GMOs, organic versus nonorganic, tricky ingredient labels, and ‘superfoods'” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Image from Amazon.comGrown & gathered / by Matt & Lentil.
“In Grown & Gathered, Matt and Lentil Pubrick’s first book, they tell you all that they know about growing, gathering, nurturing and cooking your own food. The first part of the book is Matt and Lentil’s guide to producing your own food. The information, advice and projects can be used whether you have a 3-acre block or a courtyard with planter boxes. The Grow chapter shows you how to grow vegetables and fruit in whatever space you have, using the most earth-friendly practices; Gather explains how to forage for things like mushrooms, native greens and wild fruits; Nurture provides guidance on raising your own animals, from chickens and bees to cows. The second part of the book features over 100 delicious, nourishing and creative wholefood recipes. There’s a host of staples, everything from how to prepare and sprout grains in a traditional way, to making and maintain a sourdough culture, and techniques and recipes for preserving and pickling.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFrugal innovation : how to do better with less / Navi Radjou and Jaideep Prabhu ; [foreword by Paul Polman].
“With an estimated trillion-dollar global market for sustainable products, and with potentially huge cost savings to be gained, frugal innovation is revolutionising business and reshaping management thinking. Based on the authors’ six key principles of frugal innovation, and packed with targeted advice and recommendations for business functions such as R&D, operations, HR and sales, Frugal Innovation is a masterclass in the art of doing more with less.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLiving on one acre or less : how to produce all the fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and eggs your family needs / Sally Morgan.
“You don’t need a huge parcel of land to start your own mini-farm and live more self-sufficiently. With an acre, or even a half-acre, you can juggle a job, family, and still grow fruit and veg and even have some chickens, pigs or sheep. Morgan takes the reader through the basics of a starting your own homestead, including planning and setting up, growing your own fruit and vegetables, keeping chickens, pigs and sheep– all while making use of sustainable and organic principles. This inspirational book is perfect for anyone who aspires to take control of their food supply, or who wants to do more with the land they’ve got.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA beekeeper’s year : setting up and managing backyard hives / Janet Luke.
A Beekeeper’s Year follows the progress of three novice beekeepers with three different types of hive, as they navigate their way through their first year of beekeeping. Follow their journey as they set up and manage their Top Bar, Warr#65533; and Flow hives – from obtaining bees to inspecting their hives, extracting honey and closing down the hive for the winter. A Beekeeper’s Year is an ideal introduction to backyard beekeeping, with everything you need to know about what equipment is required, managing your hives, keeping your bees healthy and pest and disease control. It is packed with stunning yet practical photographs to help you understand these fascinating creatures that are essential to the production of our food.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverProtecting the planet : environmental champions from conservation to climate change / Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger.
“Climate change is often associated with predictions of dire calamities. But in the past, heroic individuals have stepped forward to meet even the most ominous ecological challenges. This book tells an inspirational story–a story both of pioneering environmentalists who raised our collective consciousness regarding nature’s value and heroes of today who are working to secure a sustainable future. The authors begin with the mounting evidence for climate change as seen in rising carbon dioxide levels, higher global temperatures, melting ice sheets, and sea level rise. They conclude with a set of actionable strategies, demonstrating that there are good reasons to hope that we can achieve a sustainable lifestyle, protect our planet as our home, and ensure the future for our children.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Recent books on sustainability and the environment

Our first book this time is in two parts – the Mega City set of problems, and the second part a Garden City set of solutions. This is followed by the Bridget Williams Books published text Three cities, by Rod Oram.

Syndetics book coverGarden city, mega city : rethinking cities for the age of global warming / Patrick Bingham-Hall, WOHA Architects.
“In the age of global warming, the relentless growth of mega cities is destroying our planet, and that concerns all of us… Garden city, mega city illustrates the depressing realities of life in the mega cities, and documents the ill-advised planning decisions that created such blighted environments. But it also proposes a way to escape what currently appears to be an inevitable fate, one of terminal dysfunction. Mega cities have been re-imagined as 21st century garden cities… dense and vertical, yet sociable and sustainable.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThree cities : seeking hope in the Anthropocene / Rod Oram.
“Orthodox is obsolete; conventional is kaput. We thought we knew how we make economics, politics, technology and nature work for us. But increasingly, they are failing to run by the rules and systems we’ve honed over recent decades… Pioneers around the world are seeking new values, systems and technologies. Thus equipped we might achieve the unprecedented, speed, scale and complexity of change we need to meet the immense challenges of the twenty-first century…” (Adapted from publisher)

Syndetics book coverThe ultimate guide to natural farming and sustainable living : permaculture for beginners / written and illustrated by Nicole Faires.
“A beautiful, comprehensive guide to going green and living sustainably. Permaculture is an important but often misunderstood method of growing food and building homes in a manner that works with nature, rather than against it, to create beautiful, healthy, and useful gardens. Blending ecology, organic agriculture, green home design, appropriate technology, and biology can be confusing and overwhelming, but The Ultimate Guide to Natural Farming and Sustainable Living simplifies this vast field for practical application.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe good dirt / Xanthe White.
“Improving soil health for more successful gardening. In The Good Dirt, landscape designer Xanthe White goes beneath the surface to reveal the secrets to successful gardening. As the title suggests, this book is all about the soil we find in our garden and more particularly how we can maximize its growing potential. If you’ve ever wondered why some plants thrive in one location but struggle in your own backyard you’ll be likely to find explanations in the soil below…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe sustainable cookbook.
“Learn to buy, cook & eat sustainably with our collection of environmentally-conscious recipes & tips – discover sustainable storage methods, how to buy in season, minimise your kitchen wastage & make better ethical & organic shopping choices.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverWild things, wild places : adventurous tales of wildlife and conservation on planet Earth / Jane Alexander.
“In Wild Things, Wild Places, Jane Alexander movingly, with a clear eye and a knowing, keen grasp of the issues and on what is being done in conservation and the worlds of science to help the planet’s most endangered species to stay alive and thrive, writes of her steady and fervent immersion into the worlds of wildlife conservation, of her coming to know the scientists throughout the world–to her, the prophets in the wilderness–who are steeped in this work, of her travels with them–and on her own–to the most remote and forbidding areas of the world as they try to save many species, including ourselves.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

beesThe bee friendly garden : easy ways to help the bees and make your garden grow / Doug Purdie.
“A grower’s handbook to attracting bees and other beneficial insects.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMissed information : better information for a wealthier, fairer, and more sustainable world / David Sarokin and Jay Schulkin.
“In Missed Information, David Sarokin and Jay Schulkin explore information — not information technology, but information itself — as a central part of our lives and institutions. They show that providing better information and better access to it improves the quality of our decisions and makes for a more vibrant participatory society. The authors examine the opacity of corporate annual reports, the impenetrability of government secrets, and emerging techniques of “information foraging.” The information imbalance of power can be reconfigured, they argue, with greater and more meaningful transparency from government and corporations.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverScience and the city : the mechanics behind the metropolis / Laurie Winkless.
“…Winkless spends more time on the future in which cities must deal with overpopulation, global warming, and resource exhaustion. Tirelessly curious, she turns up an array of dazzling developments in the works, including driverless cars, pollution-free sources of locally generated energy, and an advanced “Internet of Things” in which every device anticipates personal needs.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)