Book Review: The Sustainability Revolution

Review by Mathew Roberts, Editor-in-Chief

I first stumbled across this particular set of books in the library. With covers that popped and a relevance to my deepest personal interest, I decided to use my ID card for the first time at Alden. Thankfully, these books were in my crossing that day because Alden’s weekly rotating display theme  matched my one great passion: sustainability.

Something within me may have been sparked when I took to the register those five deeply-rooted pieces literature that day. Their claims recognize the idea that sustainability has more than one definition. It was an idea I have since come to realize for myself. “Social responsibility”, “sustainable agriculture”, “alternative energy”, “activism”, and “revolution” aren’t phrases that are commonly represented as one entity.

In one book I checked-out that day, “The Sustainability Revolution”, I believe the author is trying to convey the idea that these definitions are simultaneously in motion working for a main cause: sustainability. This ideal resource breaks down the potential of the revolution being good for the economy, poverty, and equality, yet even more inspiring the benefit revolution brings to both the Earth’s wellbeing and all of us. This book captures the heart of the revolution through a variety of lenses. Revolution is the key term here. Keep this book close, because the information is endless and it inspires organized activism.



The Sustainability Revolution portrait of a paradigm shift

By: Andres R. Edwards – foreword by David W. Orr

The clever discussion of sustainable action is one that has uninvitingly invaded the realm of political and economic power structure. Talks of climate change and global warming have begun to beg the minds of youth and disturbed citizens. We face a close chase to the tipping point in our species’ survival. Those who are informed writes David Orr, “know about the perils ahead, including rapid climate destabilization, species extinction, pollution, terrorism and ecological unraveling in its many forms.” However, there is hope. Many have failed to recognize the grassroots efforts that are quietly developing a transition for the future. To the small 10-acre sustainable agricultural apprentice program in Northern Indiana to the international upheaving of the movement, we are all a part of the solution to a more sustainable lifestyle. With a rather progressive nature, Andres R. Edwards gives us readers the ideal pocketbook for sustainability. More than anything, I got a true sense of the birth of sustainability. Edwards swings through the dynamic of social movements and the historical context of past issues through the challenge we face today. To be a part of the solution is to recognize moral standing for the environment and the natural ecosystems of the Earth. The book calls for the development of an environmental ethic or a reflection of all actions. To develop this ethic Edwards explains the core of contemporary sustainability or the Three E’s: Ecology/environment, Economy/employment, Equity/equality. It is this principle of sustainability that is gained through “EEE” development.

The hidden E in this book is a key for only those ready for an evolution of their individual lifestyle.  I can promise that reading this book promotes Education, the infamous hidden E. Upon finishing reading of course, the next step in the revolution starts in your community. That is why the fourth E is so important — you must become an educator. Chapter 2: Sustainability and Community is the start of exploring these dimensions of the Three E’s. You will go through examples of local, regional, national, and international principles developed such as the the principles of sustainable development in Minnesota. I recommend any reader to look into what you can do at the local level and how you can integrate your efforts to a centralized idea i.e. sustainability.

As you travel in hopes of solving the issues within the business world , Chapter 3: Sustainability and Commerce, proposes taking a precautionary principle through green taxes, environmental assessment strategies, and avoiding the “business as usual” status quo, Andres Edwards does not give up on keeping a hold of your hope. These tiny revolutions are sprouting up all over the world. The big problem, that he later explains, is keeping a close eye on natural resources. Again, he offers you the hopeful solution by sharing the works of the Forest Stewardship Council and the Marine Stewardship Council, but then I started to question what I can do with these stories?

His beautiful portrayal on the concept of ecological design sparked a new mindset in which I spiritually connected to the book because it allowed me to understand that we can live with the environment in more ways than imagined on the traditional scale. It is here where he digs deep into policy, more specifically to eco-friendly design and how humans construct the world. Let it be known that we have created an unsustainable, artificial environment for ourselves the past few decades. One way to combat this problem, Edwards notes, is to understand the biosphere. Chapter 6: Sustainability and the Biosphere, touches on the spiritual journey that is the sustainability revolution. The natural laws of biomimicry, humans’ responsibility for preserving the environment, and our energy sources (food and power) are few reasons to believe in the revolutions’ spiritual potential.

Edwards ends us with a future pathway made of seven common themes:

  1. Stewardship
  2. Respect for limits
  3. Interdependence
  4. Economic restructuring
  5. Fair distribution
  6. Intergenerational perspective
  7. Nature as a model and a teacher

Although the mainstream press overlooks many of the creative solutions to ecological, economic, and social problems… success stories abound! Edwards highlight our global predicament as being those people that have created a lifestyle that stretches the limits of ecosystems and social cohesion. This revolution makes a point that our change must go beyond just being ‘green.’ As individuals, Edward’s book gives us resources (at the back of the book) to find a vision and act on it. We are given stories of hope not covered by the mass media enterprise, but if we can block out the noise to eventually bring together our efforts we can let the sustainability principles guide our decisions.



If he’s not lost in a good book or a good vegetarian meal, then Mat enjoys writing to save the Earth. He will be graduating from Ohio University with a B.S. of Journalism and an environmental studies certificate in May…

Want to learn more? Check him out in our Staff Bios page!