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By Christina B.

Although Earth Day is past (April 22), we have a chance to live sustainably and treat our planet with respect every day of the year. These books share inspirational stories and recommend a variety of ways to get started! 

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul 

Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use, but what happens when one is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags on the roadside. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred. The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads, spreading disease and killing livestock. Until one day, Isatou Ceesay found a way to recycle the bags. This motivational true story shows how one person’s actions really can make a difference in our world.

Maya’s Blanket/La Manta de Maya by Monica Brown 

Little Maya has a special blanket that Grandma stitched with her own two hands. As Maya grows, her blanket becomes worn and frayed, so with Grandma’s help, Maya makes it into a dress. Over time the dress is made into a skirt, a shawl, a scarf, a hair ribbon, and finally, a bookmark. Each item has special, magical, meaning for Maya; it animates her adventures, protects her, or helps her in some way. Inspired by a Yiddish folk song, this bilingual picture book puts a Latin spin on the story and brings to life a celebration of creativity, recycling, and familial love.

23 Ways to Be an Eco Hero: A Step-by-step Guide to Creative Ways You Can Save the World by Isabel Thomas

Packed full of step-by-step projects for crafty kids eager to reuse, recycle, and do their bit for the environment, this is the perfect book for budding conservationists! With a mix of simple and challenging projects, readers can create new objects from scrap materials, make their homes more eco-friendly, and turn even the smallest outdoor space into a wildlife haven. Along the way, readers will learn the science behind each project and the wider importance of caring for the environment.

Can I Recycle This?: A Guide to Better Recycling and How to Reduce Single-Use Plastics by Jennie Romer

Since the dawn of the recycling system, people the world over have stood by their bins, holding an everyday object, wondering, can I recycle this? This simple question touches our concern for the environment, the care we take to keep our homes and our communities clean, and how we interact with our local government. Recycling rules seem to differ in every municipality, with exceptions and caveats at every turn, leaving the average American scratching her head at the simple act of throwing something away. Taking readers on a quick but informative tour of how recycling actually works, Can I Recycle This gives straightforward answers to whether dozens of common household objects can or cannot be recycled, as well as the information you need to make that decision for anything else you encounter.

Wear, Repair, Repurpose: A Maker’s Guide to Mending and Upcycling Clothes by Lily Fulop 

For beginner and experienced makers, this guide to mending and upcycling is your colorful companion to ditching fast fashion and extending the lifecycle of all your favorite clothes. The vibrant, step-by-step illustrations make mending easier than ever, demystifying techniques and displaying unique ways to show off your personality. And when your mending possibilities run out, she has simple yet striking solutions to repurpose fabric, including braided rugs, crocheted pillows, and more. 

Building with Secondhand Stuff: How to Reclaim, Repurpose, Re-use, and Upcycle Salvaged & Leftover Materials by Chris Peterson

From thrift stores, your basement, and estate sales, you can salvage what you need to upcycle all kinds of cool things. You can build tables, install vintage hardwood floors and salvaged windows, mason reclaimed stone walls, and do much more using inexpensive, high-quality, reconditioned materials. Includes new projects such as a pallet chair, pallet table, chalkboard message door, door-backed island, and a reclaimed window greenhouse.

Sustainable Minimalism: Embrace Zero Waste, Build Sustainability Habits That Last, and Become a Minimalist without Sacrificing the Planet by Stephanie Marie Seferian 

A guide to eco-minimalism with a plan that is realistic. Manufacturing “stuff” exploits Earth’s precious (and finite) resources, to say nothing of the harsh reality of where it all goes. Our discarded possessions ultimately head to landfills and contribute to environmental pollution. Empower yourself to incrementally incorporate the tenets of sustainable minimalism into your home and life. 

Regrow Your Veggies: Growing Vegetables from Roots, Cuttings & Scraps by Melissa Raupach

An insightful guide that provides effective propagation techniques to recycle and regrow more than 20 popular vegetables, herbs, and fruits right at home! Learn how to have a source of fresh and healthy vegetables close by—from onions and sweet potatoes to pineapples and mangoes. Reduce waste, save money, and learn how to prevent and solve issues with pesky pests and pathogens. Get the most out of your favorite foods and start producing your own produce the easy way!

Repair Revolution: How Fixers are Transforming our Throwaway Culture by John Wackman & Elizabeth Knight

Our throwaway lifestyle continually adds to overflowing landfills, but there is a better way. With the rise of Repair Cafes, Fixit Clinics, and other volunteer-run organizations, consumers can learn to repair their beloved but broken items for free. Repair Revolution explores the philosophy and wisdom of repairing, as well as the Right to Repair movement. “Fixperts” share their favorite online repair resources, as well as tips and step-by-step instructions for how to make your own repairs. Ultimately, Repair Revolution is about more than fixing material objects: in an age of over-consumption and planned obsolescence, do-it-yourself repair is a way of caring for our lives, our communities, and our planet.

Christina B.

Christina B.


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