Seeing is believing. I love documentaries for being my eyes when I cannot travel; seeing far-off parts of our world on video to understanding a bit more about the problems we face globally is powerful. Try hosting a movie night with friends so you have people around to discuss what you saw in the film afterwards!

Looking to dive in deeper? Here are some of the books that I have read that have been influential in shaping my views over the years. If you are part of a book club, try picking one of these to read and discuss with your group!

  • Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste – also check out her blog Zero Waste Home for regular inspiration. I think Bea is an example of someone who has taken full control of her eco-legacy in a way that few people can claim to have done. She inspired me years ago to try eliminating plastic from my life one room at a time.
  • Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash This book is now quite a few years old, but it is a favorite nevertheless. It covers things like the history of garbage (like how New York City had pigs roaming the streets at one point to eat garbage and how Los Angeles burned its trash, wreaking havoc on the air quality of the valley), how we handle garbage in the United States today, the garbage business and how lucrative it is, and what other countries are doing. It was thought provoking and a really interesting read.
  • Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion After you finish reading this, you may find yourself looking for better clothing options. Sadly, my favorite brand for 100% wool clothing, Ibex, is going out of business so I’ll need to work on some new recommendations for readers on companies who make plastic-free clothing.
  • Toxin Toxout: Getting Harmful Chemicals Out of Our Bodies and Our WorldThis book looks at a wide range of chemicals that make their way into our bodies through the personal care products we buy to the foods we consume to even the car we drive. It was an entertaining read as the authors are the guinea pigs and use themselves as test subjects for their experiments.
  • Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things I have not yet read this book personally, but friends of mine have. It’s by the same author as Toxin Toxout and one of the things that they cover in this book is why to get rid off all of your Teflon products due to the nasty chemicals they off-gas when they get too hot, something that can easily happen if you aren’t careful.
  • The World Without Us This book looks at what would happen if humans disappeared from the planet tomorrow; how long would it take for the New York Subway to flood? What would happen to all of the nuclear reactors we’ve built? Of the things that humans have created, how long would it take for them to disappear? It also looks at the strain that we’ve put on the planet and offers some possible solutions for the future.
  • The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own A simple way to leave less behind you is to consume less in the first place; however, there are many unexpected benefits of simplifying your life and reducing what you own. This book covers one man’s story of downsizing his life, while being married with children, and the positive impact it had on their whole family.

Your library is your best friend in reducing your footprint; however, sometimes people like to own copies so they can easily pass them onto others when they are done. If that is you, try buying these used on Amazon or better yet, at your local used bookstore if you have access to one since you won’t waste shipping materials getting it to you. If you already own a tablet, consider trying eBooks. I personally was against eBooks until my husband and I left on a multi-month trip through Asia; there was no easy way to get English-language books in many places and we relied on the Libby app that enabled us to check out eBooks from the library and send them to our Kindle. The good thing about a Kindle is that Amazon does have a recycling program that makes it easy to recycle the Kindle once its life is over; they cover the cost of shipping and recycling for you, so all you have to do is ship it to the center via UPS.