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Best Books & Documentaries To Keep Earth Day Going Year-Round

Covering everything from the biggest problems to the smallest solutions.

A rear-view shot of an unrecognisable female backpacker hiking in an expansive wooded area.

Earth Day should be every day, but it’s still always good to seize the day when it comes. It also presents us with the chance to find new books and documentaries to increase your knowledge and awareness of the world you live in, and how you can work to make it better. Here are 13 books and documentaries that might change the way you look at the earth and sustainability.


Not Too Late: Changing the Climate Story From Despair to Possibility Edited by Rebecca Solnit and Thelma Young Lutunatabua

This book is for everyone feeling like the problem is too big for them to make a difference, “for anyone who is despondent, defeatist, or unsure about climate change and seeking answers.” This collection of essays shows that “the future will be decided by whether we act in the present—and we must act to counter institutional inertia, fossil fuel interests, and political obduracy.”

The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Make Small Changes That Make a Big Difference by Jen Gale

If you want to get into the nitty-gritty details of how to incorporate sustainable(ish) living into your daily life, this is the book for you. This book is meant to provide “practical, down to earth ideas to slot into your daily life,” without overwhelming you with the scale.

The Everlasting Meal Cookbook: Leftovers A – Z by Tamar Adler

The Everlasting Meal Cookbook: Leftovers A - Z by Tamar Adler

Want to learn how to cut down on food waste in your kitchen? This is the cookbook for you. Whether it’s stale donuts, citrus peels, or the end of a piece of cheese, she has solutions and recipes for you.

Melville’s Mistake: Essays in Defense of the Natural World by Michael J. Bean

Melville’s Mistake: Essays in Defense of the Natural World By Michael J. Bean

As “the dean of wildlife law,” Michael J. Bean has been credited with creating the branch of law dedicated to protecting wildlife. As such, over the past forty years, he has written many essays on the subject, many of which have been collected in this book of essays. Through this book, you can learn more about the changes seen over the decades and how far we’ve come, as well as how far we have yet to go.

Rewild Yourself: 23 Spellbinding Ways to Make Nature More Visible by Simon Barnes

Get in touch with your wild side. Rewild Yourself breaks down different methods of bringing the natural world into your life and reminding yourself that you are a living thing that’s part of an ecosystem.

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake

I know a lot of people are still disturbed by the fungi creatures from The Last of Us, but if you can stomach learning more about this unique class of lifeform, you might learn how fungi, rather than ending the world, may be part of the key to saving it.

Before the Streetlights Come On: Black America’s Urgent Call for Climate Solutions by Heather McTeer Toney

Cover of Before the Streetlights Come On: Black America’s Urgent Call for Climate Solutions By Heather McTeer Toney

This book is about environmental racism and how black Americans will more harshly feel the effects of the climate crisis due to decades of planning that prioritized white public health. That’s why it’s so important to highlight black and brown voices during these discussions, Toney argues. If we don’t listen to those most affected/at risk, we’re bound to repeat the same mistakes.

Black Earth Wisdom: Soulful Conversations with Black Environmentalists, edited by Leah Penniman

Similar to the previous book, Black Earth Wisdom focuses on Black Environmentalists, whose voices are often ignored by the larger movement, despite having a lot of experience, knowledge, and wisdom to share.



This unique documentary was actually a live event streamed on July 14th. It explores issues of river and waterway pollution, where it comes from, and why more isn’t being done to stop it. You can watch the edited version here on YouTube.

The Earthshot Prize

The Earthshot Prize takes direct action by “identifying evidence-based solutions to the world’s biggest environmental problems” and giving one million pounds to five different projects every year to help them continue their work.

The Territory

We see the Amazon as a wild place, but it’s also home to many indigenous communities, many of which are both neglected by the larger conversation of conservation and attacked by deforestation by farmers and encroaching settlers. The Territory gives us a look from Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people’s point of view.

ReDress the Future

Fast fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Thankfully, activists are working every day. This series not only dissects the consumer-driven culture of fashion that has led to this industry’s large environmental footprint, but also shines a light on the people working to change the industry.

The New Green Rush

National Geographic just released an episode about legal marijuana on YouTube for 4/20. Obviously, it’s more focused on the legal and economic implications of the changing industry, but it’s still a worthwhile watch. Especially considering the larger implications of the issues of federal government vs state government and how effectively they can regulate or police issues.

What’s your favorite sustainability book/documentary? Feel free to share in comments below!

(featured image: SolStock/Getty Images)

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Kimberly Terasaki is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. Dhe has been writing articles for them since 2018, going on 5 years of working with this amazing team. Her interests include Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Horror, intersectional feminism, and fanfiction; some are interests she has held for decades, while others are more recent hobbies. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan.