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13 Hot Books from Sustainability Thought Leaders

Continuing with our series of "hot lists" (check out our lists of hot products and business model innovations) this third installment previews 13 hot books whose authors will speak at Sustainable Brands ’13 next month. As with the previous two lists, we had trouble isolating only 13 highlights from the sea of world-class thought leadership active in the Sustainable Brands community. While we do feel we simply have to share these 13 recently released must-reads, we’re also adding a bonus list of 10 other slightly older, but still absolutely indispensable, sustainability books whose authors will also be with us at SB’13 in June. Have a look and take notes:

  1. The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability — Designing for Abundance, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, is the long-awaited sequel to Cradle to Cradle, arguably one of the few most influential sustainability books of all time. The Upcycle promises to be at least as impactful and comes fresh off the printing press!
  2. Plowing with Pigs and Other Creative, Low-Budget Homesteading Solutions, by Oscar H. Will and Karen Will, offers practical tips on achieving a high degree of self-sufficiency, homesteader style, through smart use of ‘sweat equity’ and other often underestimated resources.
  3. Business Is Beautiful: The Hard Art of Standing Apart, by Jean-Baptiste Danet, Nick Liddell, Lynne Dobney, and Dorothy MacKenzie, examines unique and deeply inspiring cases of business success proving (yet again) the corporate world can be a force for beauty, human greatness and value much more encompassing than what can be captured by the mere measure of profit.
  4. Shopping for Good, by Dara O'Rourke, summarizes a debate on the idea that better-informed shoppers would make ethical decisions about the way they shop, helping to create a more just and environmentally friendly global economy. Eight esteemed experts dissect O'Rourke’s views.
  5. Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future, by Jonah Sachs, has turned into an instant must-have classic on storytelling, a tool vital to the success of any corporate communications campaign in an era of information overload and instant content gratification. 
  6. Share or Die: Voices of the Get Lost Generation in the Age of Crisis, by Malcolm Harris and Neal Gorenflo, is a well-researched and inspiring guide into what is quickly becoming well-known as the global sharing economy — a set of new visions for exchanging economic value while reducing the amount and negative impacts of material possessions.
  7. The New Sustainability Advantage: Seven Business Case Benefits of a Triple Bottom Line, by Bob Willard, shows how sustainability strategies can increase revenue, reduce costs, avoid impending risks and enhance brand value, resulting in profit improvements of 51-81% within three to five years for a typical company.
  8. The Way Out: Kick-Starting Capitalism To Save Our Economic Ass, by Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen, argues, in a clear and unapologetic voice, that the only way to rebuild the global economy, cities and job markets while assuring peaceful national security is to do precisely what you would do if you were scared to death about climate change.
  9. We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media To Build a Better World, by Simon Mainwaring, is a powerful account of everything brands have to gain from an always-on and always-authentic social media presence.
  10. Latinnovating: Green American Jobs and the Latinos Creating Them, by Graciela Tiscareno-Sato, delights with its stories of Latino entrepreneurs innovating for sustainability and changing both their own lives and the world for the better, all while building a helpful image of green-mindedness for Latino communities across the country.
  11. Beautiful and Abundant, by Bryan Welch, examines the gap in vision for the future many of us experience and witness in fellow citizens, business leaders and policy makers. To build a beautiful and abundant future, Welch argues powerfully, we have to imagine it boldly, together, first. This book is a compelling sustainability Renaissance attitude guide that will serve you well in times of uncertainty, rapid change and messy, chaotic transitions.
  12. The HIP Investor: Make Bigger Profits by Building a Better World, by Paul Herman, is a lucid and data-heavy analysis of ways smart investors can inform themselves about, and benefit from, re-routing their funds towards companies returning human impact AND profit. Herman is uniquely equipped to translate complex sustainability thought leadership into a language the finance world understands.
  13. You Unstuck: Mastering the New Rules of Risk-Taking at Work and in Life, by Libby Gill, discusses the (surprising) difference between True Hope and False Hope, and formulates wise lessons in getting unstuck in one’s career, finances, health and relationships. As a renowned executive coach, Gil offers timely tips on employee engagement and organizational change.

Bonus list:

  1. The Day After Tomorrow: Images of Our Earth in Crisis, by J Henry Fair, James Hansen, Allen Hershkowitz, Jack Hitt, Roger Hodge, Frances Mayes, John Rockwell and Tensie Whelan.
  2. Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto, by Adam Werbach.
  3. The Sustainability Champion's Guidebook: How To Transform Your Company, by Bob Willard.
  4. The Truth About Green Business, by Gil Friend.
  5. Revolution in a Bottle: How TerraCycle Is Redefining Green Business, by Tom Szaky.
  6. Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy To Innovate, Create Value and Build Competitive Advantage, by Daniel Esty and Andrew Winston.
  7. Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins.
  8. Just Good Business: The Strategic Guide to Aligning Corporate Responsibility and Brand, by Kellie McElhaney.
  9. Igniting Inspiration: A Persuasion Manual for Visionaries, by John Marshall Roberts.
  10. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts, so please let us know what you think in the comments section below. 


Dimitar is the Director of Content Development at Sustainable Brands. He joined the team after earning a Master’s degree in Management Science & Engineering – focused on sustainable business – from Stanford University. Before Stanford, Dimitar worked in international development… [Read more about Dimitar Vlahov]