The Independent's journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. Why trust us?

10 best plastic-free books to help you lead a greener life

If you want to reduce your single-use consumption, one of these tomes can help you

Stacey Smith
Thursday 21 April 2022 10:00 BST
<p>By 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish, so act now</p>

By 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish, so act now

With life being back to business as usual, let’s not lose sight of the climate crisis. Our planet needs healing, and it’s time to put our best foot forward and make some individual changes.

The plight of single-use plastics first came to our attention in a major way, when David Attenborough’s ground-breaking Blue Planet II showed us just how much damage we were inflicting onto our wildlife. And while we’ll never be able to unsee that poor hawksbill turtle getting caught up in a plastic sack, hopefully, that shocking scene can encourage positive change.

At the same time, there was this disturbing stat that there will be more plastic in the sea by 2050 than fish. While that is almost unfathomable, thankfully there is plenty we can do to ensure this doesn’t come to fruition.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a selection of books that aim to educate and inspire plastic-free living in all areas of our lives.

Whether you’re looking for tips and tricks to make your own cleaning products, want to reduce how much waste you’re putting out into the world, or you’d like to learn more about the innovating products brands are developing, we’ve found a title for you to get stuck into.

Read more:

By demystifying eco-terms and offering real-life solutions, we hope you’ll feel better armed with the tools you need, to be the change you want to see.

The best plastic-free books for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – ‘Is It Really Green?: Everyday eco dilemmas answered’, Georgina Wilson-Powell, published by Dorling Kindersley Ltd: £12.99, Waterstones.com
  • Best for making small changes – ‘How to Save the World For Free’, Natalie Fee, published by Laurence King Publishing: £12.99, Waterstones.com
  • Best for feeling hopeful – ‘Who Cares Wins: Reasons For Optimism in Our Changing World’, Lily Cole, published by Penguin Books Ltd: £11, Guardianbookshop.com
  • Best for reducing waste – ‘No More Rubbish Excuses: How to reduce your waste and why you must do it now’, Martin Dorey, published by Ebury Publishing: £8.09, Hive.co.uk
  • Best for green cleaning – ‘Clean Green Tips and Recipes for a Naturally Clean, More Sustainable Home’, Jen Chillingsworth, published by Quadrille Publishing Ltd: £7.79, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for learning to reuse and reduce – ‘Waste Not Everyday: 365 ways to reduce, reuse and reconnect’, Erin Rhoads, published by Hardie Grant Books: £8.50, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for a plastic free wardrobe – ‘Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary Act’, Orsola de Castro, published by Penguin Books Ltd: £8.99, Waterstones.com
  • Best for getting rid of unnecessary plastics – ‘Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (And You) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again’, Lucy Siegle, published by Orion: £8.99, Watersones.co.uk
  • Best how to go plastic free book – ‘How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time’, Will McCallum, published by Penguin Life: £4.79, Wob.com
  • Best for living a more minimalistic life – ‘Save the World: There Is No Planet B: Things You Can Do Right Now to Save Our Planet’, Louise Bradford, published by Summersdale: £5.99, Amazon.co.uk

‘Is It Really Green?: Everyday eco dilemmas answered’, Georgina Wilson-Powell, published by Dorling Kindersley Ltd

Best: Overall

With so much greenwashing presented to us these days, (the “green sheen” brands and companies put out to make them look greener than they actually are), it can be tricky to know what’s really green these days. This new title aims to demystify some of the everyday eco speak, so you can make informed choices. For example, can you breathe easy about getting that flight if you “off-set” the carbon? Is non-dairy milk, really better for the planet? And are paper bags more environmentally friendly than plastic? Even the book itself has been made sustainably, printed in black and white, on recycled paper locally, in order to reduce air miles.

Continue reading...

Loading...

‘How to Save the World For Free’, Natalie Fee, published by Laurence King Publishing

Best: For making small changes

Even for the most ardent environmentalist, saving the world can feel pretty daunting. In this book, Natalie Fee breaks down her suggestions for positive change, into more manageable chunks. Relating to all areas of your life, she explains how the small actions you make while getting dressed, exercising, or even having sex, can help to save the world. Whether that’s ditching the single-use plastic bottles or switching to a menstrual cup, all of the suggestions are completely free, or if they require a small initial outlay (like buying a reusable razor for example), they should save you money in the long run.

Continue reading...

Loading...

‘Who Cares Wins: Reasons For Optimism in Our Changing World’, Lily Cole, published by Penguin Books Ltd

Best: Feeling hopeful

Written by model turned entrepreneur Lily Cole, (who famously ditched fashion for a first at Cambridge), this tomb of a book looks at how people are responding to our changing world. Although not completely dedicated to plastic-free living, it looks at the wider issue of plastic use and some of the innovative companies and individuals leading the way for change. With so many amazing people coming up with amazing solutions, we really were left feeling optimistic and that all was not doomed.

Continue reading...

Loading...

‘No More Rubbish Excuses: How to reduce your waste and why you must do it now’, Martin Dorey, published by Ebury Publishing

Best: For reducing waste

Following on from his inspiring book No .More. Plastic, based on the viral #2minutebeachclean campaign, Martin Dorey’s latest title gets tough on us, as individuals. Urging us to look at how much rubbish we are personally responsible for, he explains exactly what happens with the content of our bins, whether it’s recycling, the stuff we take to the tip or food waste. Just like the previous title, he offers simple two-minute solutions for us to implement into our everyday lives. 

Continue reading...

Loading...

‘Clean Green Tips and Recipes for a Naturally Clean, More Sustainable Home’, Jen Chillingsworth, published by Quadrille Publishing Ltd

Best: For green cleaning

Cleaning is not the sexiest subject, but this sweet, illustrated book is full of small suggestions to make it greener. It’s peppered with recipes targeted at every room of the house, including the likes of “how to make your own drain cleaner” and the slightly more palatable, “how to make foaming handwash”. The idea is that if we start making our own cleaning products (replacing unpronounceable chemical combinations with natural ingredients such as lemon and bicarbonate of soda) not only will you release fewer toxins into your home (and therefore the water system), but you’ll also cut down on single-use plastics in the process.

Continue reading...

Loading...

‘Waste Not Everyday: 365 ways to reduce, reuse and reconnect’, Erin Rhoads, published by Hardie Grant Books

Best: For learning to reuse and reduce

Although this was written for an Australian audience, much of the advice can be applied here in the UK. The 365 bitesize snippets are easy to digest and take on board, and are helpfully divided into sections such as food, gifting and cleaning so you can dip in and out. Although Erin advocates recycling, she stresses that this should be the very last stage, instead urging us to repair, reduce and rethink before using a product in the first place, with suggestions including making your own Christmas crackers out of loo roll and buying second-hand gifts.

Continue reading...

Loading...

‘Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary Act’, Orsola de Castro, published by Penguin Books Ltd

Best: For a plastic free wardrobe

If you’re a self-confessed fashion addict, your wardrobe might be a good place to start on your journey to plastic-free living. Orsola looks at things like how washing your underwear by hand can reduce the number of microplastics being released, and how plastics in gym wear release toxins which can be absorbed into your body *immediately gets changed out of our leggings*. Again, it’s not all about the plastics, but there’s plenty on how the textile and fashion industry contributes its fair share to plastic pollution, which should help you make more informed choices going forward.

Continue reading...

Loading...

‘Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (And You) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again’, Lucy Siegle, published by Orion

Best: For getting rid of unnecessary plastics

A journalist and presenter of BBC’s The One Show, Lucy Siegle provides plenty of real-life examples of encounters with unnecessary plastic in her life, and how to overcome it. The “daily plastics diary” she encourages everyone to keep really opened our eyes to just how much more we have to do. With plenty of product swaps, helpful links and detailed information on different types of plastics and how they can (and cannot) be recycled, this is a very useful resource.

Continue reading...

Loading...

‘How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time’, Will McCallum, published by Penguin Life

Best: How to go plastic free book

As head of Oceans at Greenpeace UK, Will McCallum has been at the forefront of the anti-plastic battle for many years, regularly meeting with government and big companies to make positive changes. This book provides helpful tips for how to give up plastics in all areas of our lives – from the bathroom to the kitchen and everywhere in between. With shocking stats, alongside interactive lists and exercises for you to fill in, you’ll most certainly have reduced your plastic footprint by the last page.

Continue reading...

Loading...

‘Save the World: There Is No Planet B: Things You Can Do Right Now to Save Our Planet’, Louise Bradford, published by Summersdale

Best: For living a more minimalistic life

“The Plastic Problem”, as Louise Bradford dubs it, is just one chapter in a title that covers all the major issues our planet is currently facing. From water conservation to shopping more ethically, there are practical bullet point suggestions for ultimately living a more minimal life, and limiting your impact on the world as a result. In it, she argues that we can’t wait for big corporations to clean up their acts. Instead, we all have a duty to do our bit to save the planet. If that sounds a little preachy, rest assured the book is clear that any effort is better than none, and that we can only do our best.

Continue reading...

Loading...

The verdict: Books on plastic-free living

Even when you think you’ve incorporated every conceivable plastic-free switch into your life, out comes another book with yet more great advice. With more companies than ever jumping on the eco bandwagon, (without putting their money where their mouth is) we think Georgina Wilson-Powell’s Is It Really Green? is a particularly timely read. Not only will you be able to see through the spiel, but you’ll be left more confident that the everyday choices you make, are the greenest they can be.

Voucher codes

For discounts on audiobooks, try the link below:

Looking for more eco-friendly alternatives to your go-to cleaning products? This brand will do the trick without harming the planet

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in