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Best Books on How to be Sustainable

Updated on June 20, 2013

Books You Need for Green Living

In all my emergency preparedness and sustainable living research, I made a huge mistake. That mistake was doing the research online and using bookmarks and favorites to keep track of information I may want to reference in the future. But what if there was no internet? What if I was just hit by Hurricane Sandy and, little did I know, wasn't to have power or internet access for two weeks. So I started working on a survival library. This won't help me if I get taken out by a tornado, but if I don't, it just might be a lifesaver for me or someone else.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills - Sustainable Living Year Round

What's in this book? Everything! True to title, it covers all the basics, even if you are just beginning. If I had to pick only one book, this would be my choice. It may not go into detail on each topic, but it sure gives you an overview and basic information on everything.

Some excellent topics include:

Land, from buying land to making improvements on land you already own. Would a root cellar be nice? More insulation in the walls? Maybe you'd like to know how to build and repair furniture, or make an addition to your current home. I got a ton of ideas for improvements on my existing home, plus a good checklist for things I would look for if I were buying something.

Energy generation: water, solar, wind, and wood. If that sounds too complicated for you, big pictures and step by step instructions are there to guide you along. Things are explained so simply a child could understand.

Basic farming advice, including information about laying hens, gardening, and preserving and canning home grown food to give you the ability to provide vegetables and fruit year round. In addition to food, plants can be grown for crafts like basket weaving, making natural dyes, or for use as toilet paper.

This book will put you on the path to greater self-sufficiency, and it makes it sound easy. Overall, this is my #1 pick for anyone wanting to transition to a sustainable lifestyle and also learn some survival skills.

Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition
Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition

Unbelievably, this was the first book I got. I actually have the original edition, not this newly revised third edition, but I'll recommend the newest version to everyone. I found it at a second hand shop, not priced. The totally awesome chick said it was mine for fifty cents. Score for me!


Edible Forest Gardens Two Volume Set - Forest Gardening Makes Everything Useful and Low Maintenence

You will literally never need another landscaping book again, you will never need to ask a professional or Google, because the guys who wrote this book did all that work for you. This book covers so much, you won't be able to absorb it all but will need to keep these books around for reference.

Topics covered include:

Manipulating water flow. Too much water, too little water, no problem, there is a solution here. Manipulate the ground, capture rainwater, store it and redirect it.

Wild animals and bugs. There are long chapters on dealing with animals and pests. Solve these problems by planting something to attract the predator of the pest you wish to eliminate, so you don't have to kill it yourself with expensive traps or poisons. For large animals, suggestions include actually planting something the particular animal would like, therefore they will be attracted to the that piece of your landscaping and leave the rest of it alone.

Wild edibles and where to grow them. Maps clearly show you what will grow where, what it likes to grow around (companion planting), and how much space you need to have to host that plant. Uses for each plant are also included.

Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)

The second book I picked up because I found it while trying to plan landscaping. I was totally intrigued by the title and thought: is it really possible that I could landscape my yard, and everything in it would be edible, or useful in some way, as well as low maintenance?


The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Handbook paired with a Physician's Desk Reference - Beyond Basic Medical Care

These books are best paired together. The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Handbook gives you the information you need to know about medical treatment in an emergency situation, natural disaster, or a sustainable living situation. Not only does it provide detailed instructions about how to handle minor emergencies and illnesses, it also provides medical care advice. This would be an excellent reference for someone who found themselves thrust into a situation when they had little or no training or medical knowledge.

In addition, it also covers skill sets needed if one is designated as the medical provider for their family or group, what skills that person should have, and how they should handle each situation that might come up, right down to organizing records and gathering pertinent health information from potential patients. By reading this, you will learn your strong points as well as your weak points.

The attainment and storage of medicine and medical supplies is also covered in depth. Excellent resources are provided both in the book, and in it's index. I literally found everything I needed just in this one book. It is well worth the price I paid.

The Physicians Desk Reference pairs perfectly with the Doom and Bloom handbook as it contains every drug known to man, possible side effects, uses, and interactions. While you may be turned off at the high price, there is an easy go-around. Simply buy a book that is a year or two old. A few months ago, I was able to purchase last year's PDR for just $4.00. While it is true there may be a few drugs currently on the market that won't be in my book, the chances are slim that one of those drugs would be the one I was trying reference.

The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Handbook: Keep your Loved Ones Healthy in Every Disaster, from Wildfires to a Complete Societal Collapse
The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Handbook: Keep your Loved Ones Healthy in Every Disaster, from Wildfires to a Complete Societal Collapse

This was the third book I was able to purchase. The price is definitely worth it, and it has a list of resources you can use to brush up or learn new skills, some of which are free!

Physicians' Desk Reference 2013 (Gift box)
Physicians' Desk Reference 2013 (Gift box)

My fourth purchase. Remember, you can always be last year's edition at a much lower price if money is an issue.


Name a book I missed, so I can add it.

Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    JoshK47 4 years ago

    I have an Army Survival Guide that would likely prove invaluable in the case of a zombie outbreak!

  • SassyGie profile image

    SassyGie 4 years ago

    I expected more zombie zapping machines.. but then again, I don't think they exist. Lol :D

  • Iftikhar-Hussain profile image

    Iftikhar-Hussain 4 years ago

    Interesting lens .. I like it :)