Lifestyle

Eco-Age Reads Sustainability Book of the Month

By Jil Carrara
09.01.18

Discover all of our recommended books for active citizens, as featured in our Book Club - Eco-Age Reads:
 

Welcome to our book club, Eco-Age Reads - designed to be a helpful and inspiring resource for everyone wanting a space to learn more about sustainability, environmental issues, human and social rights, feminism and more! 

Each month we will feature a different book that we will discuss together on Instagram in an exciting exchange of knowledge and opinions.

To stay updated with our monthly reads, follow us on Instagram and sign up to our newsletter.

NOVEMBER READ: From What Is to What If by Rob Hopkins

The founder of the international Transition Towns movement, Rob Hopkins, asks why true creative, positive thinking is in decline, asserts that it’s more important now than ever, and suggests ways our communities can revive and reclaim it. The book documents Rob's optimism and belief that things can change, and cultures can change, rapidly, dramatically, and unexpectedly—for the better. This hopeful book is a refreshing break from our eco-anxieties.

OCTOBER READ: GLOBAL PLANET AUTHORITY - HOW WE'RE ABOUT TO SAVE THE BIOSPHERE

In his first book, Global Planet Authority: How We're About To Save The Biosphere, Angus Forbes puts forward his compelling case for global taxation and regulation to protect the planet, a case supported by statistics, figures and facts. With a passion for progressive governance and expertise in environmental degradation, Forbes' advocates for a global governance structure that can more effectively fight climate change than governing systems and how this could provide more impactful and immediate solutions.

SEPTEMBER READ: THE SIXTH EXTINCTION, AN UNNATURAL HISTORY

American journalist and author Elizabeth Kolbert won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015 for The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Five mass extinctions have taken place in the last half a billion years, and scientists are currently monitoring the sixth, anticipated to be the most devasting extinction event to take place since the dinosaurs were wiped out. Kolbert compels the reader to rethink what it means to be human in this work which draws on the research of various disciplines including marine biology, botany and geologists. 

AUGUST READ: WHY WOMEN WILL SAVE THE PLANET

This month’s Eco-Age Reads book is Why Women Will Save The Planet - a collaboration between C40 Cities and Friends of the Earth. These collected essays are authored by key figures in the environmental and feminist movements such as Caroline Lucas MP and Baroness Lola Young, and academics including Professors Diane Elson and Maria Mies. Focusing on a range of subjects - education, climate refugees and economics, to name a few - the essays collectively demonstrate the crucial role of women’s empowerment in the context of climate action.  

JULY READ: WILD DRESS - CLOTHING AND THE NATURAL WORLD

This week I attended the launch of Kate Fletcher’s latest book, Wild Dress, held on the fittingly scenic Word on the Water Book Barge, floating on Regents Canal in the heart of London amongst a juxtaposition of greenery and the built environment.

Kate’s latest book explores relationships between garments and human embeddedness in nature. Going beyond the idea that nature is a means to human ends, Wild Dress documents how we wear clothes in ways that add weight to and awareness of the natural world.

On writing the book, Fletcher said “Most of the time fashion places humans at the top of a hierarchy and nature at the bottom. Nature remains unseen, misunderstood, subjugated. I wanted to change this. So I set out to write in a new way about fashion and sustainability —  from direct, sensory experience — and from the experience of life and living to present a different relationship between what we wear and the natural world.”

This book is not fashion or sustainability as we know them – it is a thoughtful exploration and reflection of the true nature of clothing and how it connects us to the world around us. 

There were so many wonderful parts to this book, but a resounding message was that ‘our actual, natural selves are ever present in what we wear. We can dress up all we like, but clothes reveal us as natural beings. They unearth our animal bodies, our self-willed breath, our responsibilities to the world. The question that then follows is what this means for how we dress; what will we do about it.’

Musings on the idea that we have obediently accepted certain fibres and articles of clothing as the items of preference for life’s pursuits also prompted further reflection on the ideas we have for what is right, what is practical, and what affect it actually has on our interaction with our surroundings and the value we can find in these interactions. 

‘As garments go, there are few pieces less natural than a polyester fleece pullover. Nor are there many pieces that act to distance the world outside more than those made from filaments of hydrocarbon with their high resistance to micro-organisms, poor heat isolation and low water absorbency… A polyester base layer or a fleece jacket is drawn over the head consciously enough – of course it is, it is a strong, lightweight, durable garment – but the irony, does it register? Do we do it with a sardonic smile? The things we are wearing to arrive in nature do not, cannot, let nature in. We keep her at arm’s length, or more literally sleeve’s length, with hydrophobic fibres, an impervious fabric membrane and garments so durable they will outlive us all. Maybe this is the point of these pieces and I’ve just been slow to realise it. They’re all about control and separation: when you seek out elemental nature, make sure to shield yourself from the elements; do some forest bathing, but only when the rain can’t get in.’

A combination of humorous musings and deep reflections, this book makes you stop and think, and really pay attention to the interrelated relationships we have with both nature and clothing.

‘In order to grow an understanding of the world, I had to notice more, to be drawn in, sucked in, in order to be opened out, to be able to see. The life of our clothes is a story of integrated relationships. To try to understand a garment apart from its background is to risk the collapse of both. To be what they are, they require each other.’

- Charlotte Turner, Head of Sustainable Fashion and Textiles at Eco-Age

Want to find out more about Kate and her work? You can read her interview with Lucy Siegle, Eco-Age contributing editor, about the goals of the Union for Concerned Researchers in Fashion (which Kate co-founded), here. 

JUNE READ: THE HONEYBEE HAS FIVE HEART OPENINGS

This month's book is A Honeybee Has Five Openings by Helen Jukes. The book is an insightful and personal account into Helen’s first year as a beekeeper, exploring the honeybee's way of living, their social bonds, and their vulnerability in light of new threats they are facing, as well as their relation to humanity. A must read for everyone that's as fascinated by bees as we are!

MAY READ: THE WAY WE EAT NOW

This month's Eco-Age Reads book is The Way We Eat Now by Bee WilsonDo we think enough about the food we eat, how ingredients might have altered over time, or the potential climate cost of national appetites? Award-winning author Bee Wilson explores cultural development in the realm of food. 

APRIL READ: The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future by David Wallace-Wells

The book portrays what our future could look like after climate change (and let us give away a spoiler: it does not look good for us!) whilst also talking through realistic and possible solutions to help fight it. 

Get the book here

MARCH READ: Slay In Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené

Slay In Your Lane is an inspirational resource and guide for the next generation of black female leaders. From education to work to dating, this book celebrates the strides black women have already made and provides practical advice for whose who want to be in charge of their own futures. 

Get the book here

 

FEBRUARY READ: I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Got Shot by The Taliban

This autobiographical book by Nobel peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai tells her story of growing up in Pakistan and getting shot by the Taliban as she fought for he right to go to school as a girl.

JANUARY READ: Dress [with] Sense - The Practical Guide to a Conscious Closet by Redress

Dress [with] sense is the perfect book if you are looking to curate a more ethical wardobe. Filled with insights into the lifecycle of our clothes as well as the environmental impact of garments the book aims to give helpful advice, recipes, tips and tricks on how to buy, wear, care and dispose of you clothes in the best possible way. The authors also interview the likes of Amber Valletta and Lauren Singer to find out their secrets to a conscious wardrobe. 

Get the book here. 

"DRESS [with] SENSE is the perfect beginners guide to mindful consumption and caring for your clothes. It takes you through the fashion life cycle and offers simple steps for dressing more responsibly, with people and planet in mind. I love the cute and colourful illustrations throughout the book, engaging readers of all ages on how to have a conscious closet." - Zara Williams, Sustainability Consultant

DECEMBER READ: Rise & Resist by Clare Press

Clare Press, Sustainability Editor-at-Large of Vogue Australia and Wardrobe Crisis podcast presenter recently launched her second book ‘Rise & Resist: How To Change the World’ - a guide to new activism for environmental and social justice. In its pages Clare meets global change-makers from different fields to understand the power of revolutions with the aim to inspire individuals to make a difference.

Want to join us in reading this months read? Get the book here

NOVEMBER READ: Feminists Don't Wear Pink and other lies by Scarlett Curtis

Feminists Don't Wear Pink by Scarlett Curtis is a collection of essays by 52 incredible women – from teenage activists to Hollywood actresses - on what feminism means to them. Tackling the contradictions and complications around the f-word, this inspiring book aims to give very diverse women the space to explain how they actually feel and tell their stories. 
 

A must read for anyone who feels intimidated and overwhelmed by the feminist movement and doesn’t know where to start! This book is an inclusive collection of beautiful stories, ideas and tools that give an insight in to what feminism means for so many different women around the world and from all different walks of life. As someone who has always considered herself a feminist but not felt I had done enough to vocalise that, I found the diverse representation of women and their actions helped me to understand how important it is to contribute to gender equality in any way I can. This book left me feeling inspired and confident that we can all take positive steps, no matter how great or small, to implement change around the world.  - Charlie Lally, Team PA

Get the book here

 

OCTOBER READ: A Harvest Of Thorns by Corban Addison

'A Harvest of Thorns' is a novel about a fictional Bangladesh-based garment factory burning to the ground, taking the lives of hundreds of garment workers. When a photo of a teenage girl lying in the dirt goes viral, with her mouth covered by a garment bearing the label of a major American retailer, a disgraced journalist starts investigating the case looking for justice. The novel plays out in three parallel stories - from the perspective of a teenage garment-worker who survived the fire; the journalist looking for redemption; and the executives of the American retailer. A poignant read about the implications of fast fashion and their supply chains. 

Get the book here

SEPTEMBER READ: Turning The Tide on Plastic by Lucy Siegle

More than 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans each year and it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by weight. How do we stop the world from drowning in plastic, a material of our own creation? This is the question author Lucy Siegle aims to answer with her new book 'Turning The Tide on Plastic'. Many of us assume that waste management is taken care of by government and brands directly, but research and high-profile campaigns have shown the need for consumer-led action. This book provides extensive research into the plastic pandemic, as well as tools to help you make signficant change in moving away from plastic consumption.

Get the book here 

Read the Book Club discussion here 

Eco-Age Reads Sustainability Book of the Month