It’s not easy making your lifestyle more sustainable. We don’t always know all the options or how to get started on the things we’ve heard about. Fortunately, information is fairly easy to come by, so you can take steps as you’re ready for them.
Here are some books that may help you to live more sustainably. You may be able to find some titles through your library, but if you’re going to refer to them regularly, buying your own copy either on Kindle or as a real book is worth it.
1. Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre
If you have a quarter acre available, you can grow an amazing amount of food for your family. This book says you may get up to 85% of your family’s needs off that space, and earn money while doing so. All in all, it sounds like a good deal, and a fair bit of work. It covers intensive gardening practices plus a bit about keeping backyard chickens.
Some reviewers on Amazon feel this book doesn’t go into enough depth on the various topics it covers, but others appreciate the simplicity of the descriptions and say it goes into plenty of detail.
2. Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces
So you don’t have a lot of space to grow a garden. That’s not as much of a problem as you might think. This book will help you grow a garden even if you don’t have much of a backyard or even none at all.
3. Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners
If you’re going to be serious about your garden, you need to learn how to save seeds from year to year. This book covers the seed saving techniques for 160 vegetables, as well as pollination techniques and starting vegetables from seed.
4. Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition
If you want to live sustainably, you need to pick up a variety of traditional skills that most of us no longer know. This book has plenty of photos to illustrate the skills you may want to learn. Most of us won’t use all of the skills, but if you’re serious about your sustainable lifestyle you’ll probably find some skills you’ll be happy to pick up.
5. Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space
Whether your garden space is limited or you just want to make the most of it, vertical gardening can help you grow far more produce in less space by focusing on plants that climb, and low growing plants that are good companions for them. It also covers a lot of basic gardening techniques, which you may not need if you’ve been gardening already.
6. Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables
Canning isn’t the only way to preserve your harvest when you have a garden. A traditional root cellar can help you preserve many fruits and vegetables without putting them in the refrigerator, freezing them or canning them.
This book will help you choose the produce which will store best. It will also help you figure out how to make your root cellar or substitute another cool, dry space in your home if you don’t have the space for a traditional root cellar.
7. Encyclopedia of Country Living, 10th Edition
If you want a thorough reference for country living, this is the book. It covers topics such as alternative energy, candle making, primitive living, raising earthworms, food preservation, seed saving, beekeeping… the list goes on.
The problem some people have is with the sheer volume of information. It doesn’t always get into the details that everyone needs. It’s an encyclopedia, not a book to sit and read, and not everyone finds the format usable.
8. Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch — Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods
So you aren’t quite sure which foods you should make versus buy. It’s a common problem, and this book addresses it quite nicely. It’s mostly recipes, but also covers raising livestock and whether particular foods are worth the trouble of making them. Worth it isn’t just cost either; it’s the nutritional values that may be even more important in the long run than the upfront cost and time spent.
9. Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter
Not everyone wants a McMansion these days. Many people are recognizing that smaller homes are a great way to live more sustainably, as they really limit how much stuff you can own. This book provides examples of many tiny homes and gives tips on how you can plan your own.
10. Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World
If you’re into things like making your own laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, canning and so forth, or if you want to get into those things, this book is for you. It will help you learn to make all kinds of products at home, even if you live in an apartment.
11. The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
If you’re serious about growing your own food, greenhouses are one of those things you may get interested in. Being able to grow your own produce regardless of the weather outside is a wonderful thing, and this book will help you do so, and you don’t even have to buy a prebuilt greenhouse, as the book includes instructions to build your own. You’ll also learn which vegetables will do best in unheated greenhouses.
12. DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner: 25 Ways to Build a Self-Reliant Lifestyle
If you’re trying to go gradually more self sufficient, this book will help you with the steps required to get off the grid, including backup systems. Some of the ideas will require more advanced skills than others, but there will be something for most skill levels.
I think I would add to that list the book “The Natural Kitchen: Your Guide to the Sustainable Food Revolution” by Deborah Eden Tull. I found her book to be immensely helpful in incorporating many sustainable practices in my kitchen, such as using glass instead of plastic storage containers, planning my garden and striving for zero-waste in the kitchen. Thanks for the excellent suggestions.
Great book list there is also a book I enjoyed called the square foot gardener I would recommend.
@nothern Ontario Mom – I recommend doing away with plastic where possible odd thing is a lot of this stuff is common sense but consumerism has had a few generations move away from things that last decades. Nice to see people starting to go back to not only solid and reliable but often a lot more artistic and beautiful in design than a lot of the modern stuff.
Square Foot Gardening is a good book. We have it on the shelf. Now we need a yard that can be done that way, rather than a yard in a rented home that we can only do a little with.
I have to agree that it would be nice to have more beautiful things rather than cheap or disposable. I have some beautiful glass dishes which once belonged to my great aunt. Wonderful things to have. Not that all my handmedown kitchen stuff is beautiful as such. I also own my grandmother’s old cast iron skillet. It’s not pretty, but it’ll outlast many modern skillets.