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11 Inspiring Books on Minimalism (& Sustainable Living)

People are looking to change their lives in a meaningful way, this year more than ever.

Whether that’s to curb overspending on items we’ve been tempted into, to declutter a home to make for a living or office space that enhances our lives or to reduce our carbon footprint and household waste.

books on minimalism

With this movement, there’s been a wave of books on minimalism, as well as Instagram accounts, blogs, and TV shows trying to help us streamline our lives and embrace a more responsible and sustainable lifestyle.

A minimalist apartment decorated solely with natural wood and luscious plants is becoming mainstream, and this is undoubtedly a reaction to our busy, cluttered, and intensely capitalist lifestyles.

Bulk buy stores and reusables are becoming much easier to come by and incorporate into our lives with major supermarkets now embracing a simpler shopping experience.

Creating Your Minimalist Lifestyle – Best Books on Minimalism

Picking the right books to sink into is tough with so many around, though, so here are some recommendations of books on minimalism and sustainable living that we’ve personally enjoyed and learned so much from.

1) Minimal: How to Simplify Your Life and Live Sustainably by Madeline Olivia 

simplify your life - books on minimalism

This is a perfect start to both topics and we were particularly attracted to Minimal because of how many topics it broached – from decluttering to minimising your time on social media and removing toxic people from your life.

These are things we hadn’t associated with minimalism but very much encourage a clear headspace and cleaner life.

The author even discusses travelling and how to be concerned about the environment while we explore, which is often on the mind of any responsible digital nomad.

Later, the book starts to focus on actionable and practical ways to minimise your carbon footprint while living a cleaner life in general such as recipes for making your own cosmetics and household cleaning products to meal planning.

The author is friendly and non-judgemental, always knowing that minimalism will look different depending on the reader. If we could recommend one book on this list for readers new to the topic, it would be this one.

2) goodbye, things: on minimalist living by Fumio Sasaki

goodbye things minimalist living

This collection of short essays made quite a stir upon release, selling over 150,000 copies, and is perfectly laid out to pick up and put down again.

Going from a life of excessive spending and self-abuse, Fumio Sasaki decided to part with all of his possessions, except for some very basic things needed for day to day living.

He also highlights some famous Japanese minimalists who live an even sparser life than himself.

While Fumio Sasak’s approach is a little extreme in some areas, every single lesson he shares in goodbye, things is actionable such as his tips on taking pictures of things you’d like to remember.

Overall, I would approach this as a philosophical read since there really are some words of wisdom to be taken away here, which you can adapt into your ways of thinking as well as your day-to-day behaviour.

We were really taken with the idea that many of us take on unnecessary extra rooms (and cost) simply for our stuff to use. We spend more money on buying or renting bigger homes, not to put extra people in but simply to fit in more stuff, which also costs more money.

If you struggle with overspending, in particular, then goodbye, things might be exactly the read you need to tackle why you consistently buy things and whether there’s another approach. Truly one of the best books on minimalism out there.

solis portable wifi

Read More: 12 Inspiring Books like Atomic Habits

3) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo

The book that sparked a new wave of minimalists, a Netflix show, and even a series of books and manga.

magic of tidying up marie kondo

It’s incredible to see the achievements that Marie Kondo has made with her empire of products but that doesn’t make the philosophy behind her work any less important for the budding minimalist.

Kondo is referenced in Fumio Sasaki’s book above and you can tell he’s highly inspired by her philosophy of items ‘sparking joy’ or not – an easy way of identifying things that are genuinely important to us.

Apart from encouraging us to part with things that are simply taking up space in our lives. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying showcases Marie Kondo’s approach to storage and decluttering is ideal for those of us who are challenged in this area.

The concept underpinning her work and advice is respect – respect for ourselves, our items, and the space around us. While the empire she has built is at times unsettling (no one needs a $50 storage basket), Kondo’s core philosophy is still more than sound, and genuinely helpful.

Her stunning konmari website also offers fantastic tips from folding furoshiki to getting started with origami.

Read More: 7 Books for a Positive Money Mindset

4) A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumo

monks guide to clean house minimalism sustainability

A different approach; this book on minimalism, written by a Japanese monk, focuses on self-care and cleanliness as a way to quiet the mind and form new healthy habits. ‘

Things become rubbish when they are treated as rubbish’ is a small insight into the many philosophical teachings of the book, and simple ideas( like cleaning first thing in the morning and taking care of and repairing your belongings) become a way of life just like a monk’s daily ritual.

While we wouldn’t say A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind directly teaches minimalism in the way most others do, it inevitably encourages a life of simple pleasures and a rejection of the wasteful and cyclical capitalist life that many of us are currently trapped in.

Aside from desiring a clean life, I’d highly recommend this book if you struggle with a busy mind and want a wave of calm in book form.

Read More: 10 Minimalist Backpacking Tips

5) Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport 


A different approach to minimalism but one, I think, most of us can benefit from.

Described as the ‘Marie Kondo of mobile phones’, this book tries to tackle our addiction to checking our mobile phones and foster a lifestyle where we are more present in the moment and not relying on those small highs that social media, in particular, has us hooked to.

More than just minimising our time with our phone, Digital Minimalism also teaches us to rediscover the activities that give us real joy outside of the online world while also being fully aware that in many respects being online does enhance our lives.

Cultivating high-quality leisure time is such an important take-away from this book and if you feel that your leisure time is being in any way minimised by overreliance on your phone then this book is for you.

Getting Started With Sustainable Living – Best Books on Sustainability

Sustainable living and zero waste lifestyles can be intimidating at first glance, but these books show how easy it is to make small changes in our lives that will not only save the environment but also our wallets.

We’d be wrong to start this list without mentioning the pioneer Bea Johnson who wrote the book Zero Waste Home and focuses on ‘five R’s – refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot’ as a way of life. Many of the following books frequently reference her work.

6) An Almost Zero Waste Life: Learning How to Embrace Less to Live More by Megean Weldon

zero waste life

It’s tempting to buy this book for the cover and design alone; it really is a beautiful book. Zero Waste Life has a similar style to Madeline Olivia’s book in that you’re offered recipes for food, household products, cosmetics, even items for your children like crayons.

She goes into depth about bulk buying and how all of these small changes can save you a lot of money.

This book is slightly more US-focused, while Madeline’s is more UK focused but, overall, we found them to be perfect partners for each other.

We have found ourselves dipping back into this one more often after reading it, to quickly make something.

The layout makes it easier to find the page you need, being as colourful and well laid-out as this book is.

6) The Sustainable(ish) Guide to Green Parenting: Guilt-Free Eco-Ideas for Raising Your Kids by Jen Gale

This new and encouraging book, by the author of The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide, is aimed at parents looking to bring sustainability into everyday life as a parent while being very aware of how overwhelming simply being a parent can sometimes be.

sustainable living families

Family-friendly in every sense, these easy-to-implement strategies and tips will help your family grow as part of an eco-friendly household.

7) Six Weeks to Zero Waste by Kate Arnell

zero waste book

This is easily the most friendly zero waste book of the bunch, Kate reminds readers that ‘zero’ is something that we should always work towards but it’s a target and one that’s almost impossible to attain in today’s society.

Arnell understands that where you live and your personal circumstances will vastly impact what you can achieve and instead offers easy changes spread across six weeks that you can slowly incorporate into your life.

She most closely references Bea Johnson’s philosophy using them as a framing device for her book and adding her own additional advice and experiences.

Six Weeks to Zero Waste includes some recipes, cosmetic, cleaning, and pet product homemade substitutes but these sections are smaller than some of the other books.

Something we really enjoyed were the pages of resources at the back, rather than her inspirations these are helpful websites to learn more and websites that will help you on your journey from zero waste stores, ethical travel options, charities that you can support, and more.

8) Resourceful Living: Revamp Your Home with Key Pieces, Vintage Finds and Creative Repurposing by Lisa Dawson

resourceful living minimalism

Focusing on fast fashion and rampant consumerism, this refreshing book by blogger and writer of Lisa Dawson Styling, is focused on our homes and creating a gorgeous space around us in a sustainable way. Namely, by shopping vintage, upcycling and repurposing, and multi-purposing furniture.

Tips for thrifting and decorating your home abound, resourceful living is a wonderful one for anyone looking to remake their space in an affordable and sustainable way.

9) Live Green by Jen Chillingsworth

live green

This bright and colourful book is more coffee table-sized than the others and full of vibrant full-colour drawings that are a pleasure to flick through.

We would say this is a gentler approach to minimalism and zero waste (especially compared to goodbye, things above who argues nothing is too sentimental to be thrown away).

It highlights many of the things you might be doing already such as taking your own bag to the supermarket, walking to places where it’s possible, and shopping vintage.

It’s nice to be reminded that these are still steps to a more sustainable lifestyle. A lovely thing about Live Green is the focus on the home, rather than decluttering or making your own products.

Chillingsworth also talks about how to decorate your home sustainably, how to plant your garden to help bees (and even make a bee house), how to plant hedges and trees, and how to scent your home naturally.

This really is a charming book that you’ll dip into again and again.

10) Urban Forager by Wross Lawrence & Marco Kesseler

urban forager

This one is a little different and is perfect if you spend time taking long walks and have been tempted by the idea of foraging.

The plants and herbs featured in Urban Forager include things like wild garlic and honeysuckle, and what really drew us in were the gorgeous recipes included alongside each plant and recipe. Everything from curry made from dandelion leaves to cocktails made from various common flowers.

We really have found plenty of these plants growing out on the streets and in parks, so it genuinely is for the urban dweller, exactly as the authors promise.

For a light introduction to foraging without the heavy books that currently exist on this topic, we would highly recommend The Urban Forager.

11) Silo: The Zero Waste Blueprint by Douglas Mcmaster

zero easte blueprint

A wonderful follow-up to The Urban Forager, this book is written by the founder of SILO, the first zero food-waste restaurant based in London.

The restaurant achieves this by working directly with farmers, using zero-waste packaging, and having a clean menu where leftovers can be composted.

The Zero Waste Blueprint combines practical tips, philosophy, inspiration from renowned chefs, and real-world research and statistics to teach us about food production, clean farming, and deindustrializing our food supply chain.

Whether you’re interested in learning more on the topic or simply want tips on how to incorporate a zero-waste philosophy into your own kitchen, this book is set to become a classic.

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