For a Crash Course in Sustainable Business, What Are the “Must Read” Books?

The sustainable economy is perhaps the fastest growing, fastest changing segment of the overall economy.  It’s hard to keep up with all the new books, movies, and websites that cover sustainable food, clean tech, renewable energy, alternative transportation, Socially Responsible Investing, ecotourism, green building, holistic education, and all the other facets of the sustainable economy–even for those of us who live and breathe this stuff.

But what about those people who are new to the field, and feel completely overwhelmed by it all?  They’re not ready for a green MBA from Presidio or Dominican, but they are curious, interested, and part of that broader populace we need to reach that has open minds and are terrific potential converts to sustainable businesspeople and consumers….if only they could get, well, a crash-course in sustainable business. 

I recently met a couple of English travelers who had started seeing sustainability pop up in their neighborhood newspaper with a recurrence they couldn’t ignore.  When they found out this is what I do for a living, they unleashed a throng of questions that proved their curiosity, interest, and, most importantly, genuine desire to learn about the world of green business.  I  suggested a handful of books that I happen to like, and that influenced my green business education.  But it occurred to me that I’ve never looked for a ‘Best Sustainable Business Book List’, to see what books have influenced other green businesspeople.  When I googled it, I found a handful on Amazon’s Listmania feature, but each represented only one person’s opinion.  I’ve got my personal list, too, but it also represents, well, one person’s opinion.

So I propose that we generate a list, similar to Bill Roth’s recent article on 3P soliciting nominations on the Top Ten Sustainable CEO’s, of the “Must Read” sustainable business books, and by vote, create what the 3p community thinks is the Top Ten Sustainable Business books that every aspiring green businessperson needs to read.

To nominate a book or a couple of books, leave a comment below with the name of the book(s) and the author(s), if possible, and why you think your choice(s) is/are “Must Read.”  Next week, I will compile all the responses into a followup article with the best reader comments highlighted, and solicit votes from the 3p community.  From this, I hope we can create a list that will help educate a whole new swath of sustainable entrepreneurs, businesspeople, and eco-savvy consumers.

Update: The results are tallied below. We’ll follow up soon with some analysis and a wrap up post.

[poll id=”5″]

Scott Cooney is Co-Founder of Green Business Village, a sustainable business incubator.

Scott Cooney, Principal of and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill, November 2008), is also a serial ecopreneur who has started and grown several green businesses and consulted several other green startups. He co-founded the ReDirect Guide, a green business directory, in Salt Lake City, UT. He greened his home in Salt Lake City, including xeriscaping, an organic orchard, extra natural fiber insulation, a 1.8kW solar PV array, on-demand hot water, energy star appliances, and natural paints. He is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, ultimate frisbee player, and surfer, and currently lives in the sunny Mission district of San Francisco. Scott is working on his second book, a look at microeconomics in the green sector.In June 2010, Scott launched, a sustainability consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions to common business problems by leveraging the power of the triple bottom line. Focused exclusively on small business, GBO's mission is to facilitate the creation and success of small, green businesses.