Recent Books   


Agyeman, Julian. Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice. New York: New York University Press, 2005.

At the convergence of the environmental justice paradigm (EJP) and the sustainability movement is a new interest in just sustainability (JS), according to Agyeman (urban and environmental policy and planning, Tufts Univ.). This new, more egalitarian concept unites the necessarily more reactive EJP (“brown”) movement with the proactive sustainability (“green”) idea. Sustainability, the current embodiment of the traditional conservation vision of stewardship of Earth’s resources and wilderness preservation, has earned something of a reputation for elitism by ignoring urban environments. EJP, growing out of the environmental racism movement, previously sought to right environmental harms at the grassroots level on a case-by-case basis. Since both EJP and sustainability have at their core a concern for bettering the environment and creating more livable communities, combining forces and downplaying ideological differences in order to jointly influence public policy and planning by adopting a common framework for action can advance both agendas. Covering both theory and practice, environmental organizations are indexed according to their commitment to justice and/or sustainability principles as set forth in their mission statements. Examples illustrating broad issue categories of successful projects that exemplify JS enhance the discussion. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels. General Readers; Lower-division Undergraduates; Upper-division Undergraduates; Graduate Students; Researchers/Faculty; Two-year Technical Program Students; Professionals/Practitioners. Reviewed by S. E. Wiegand. Appeared in: Syndetics Solutions, Inc.


Brown, Bill. Things. Chicago:University Of Chicago Press, 2004.

This book is an invitation to think about why children chew pencils why we talk to our cars, our refrigerators, our computers rosary beads and worry beads Cuban cigars why we no longer wear hats that we can tip to one another and why we don’t seem to long to what has been described as bourgeois longing. It is an invitation to think about the fetishism of daily life in different times and in different cultures. It is an invitation to rethink several topics of critical inquiry–camp, collage, primitivism, consumer culture, museum culture, the aesthetic object, still life, “things as they are,” Renaissance wonders, “the thing itself”–within the rubric of “things,” not in an effort to foreclose the question of what sort of things these seem to be, but rather to suggest new questions about how objects produce subjects, about the phenomenology of the material everyday, about the secret life of things. Based on an award-winning special issue of the journal Critical Inquiry, Things features eighteen thought-evoking essays by contributors including Bill Brown, Matthew L. Jones, Bruno Latour, W. J. T. Mitchell, Jessica Riskin, Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Peter Schwenger, Charity Scribner, and Alan Trachtenberg.”  


Daly, Herman E. Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996.

Daly brings together a collection of papers updating his work in steady state economics, which, as he points out, is an important element in the pursuit of sustainable development. Following an introduction in which he strives to clarify the popular notion of sustainable development, Daly sets out in part 1 a basis for an environmental macroeconomics, concentrated in identification of an optimal scale for the economy within the ecosystem. Parts 2 and 3 develop operational principles for sustainable development and discuss improving GNP as a measure of welfare. In part 4, Daly analyzes the connections between population growth and sustainable development through case studies on the Ecuadoran Amazon and northeast Brazil. Part 5 concentrates on the implications of international trade and globalization to sustainability. The author also devotes a section to Frederick Soddy and Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s contributions to economics. Daly concludes with an examination of the religious basis for sustainable development. This important update of the work of one of the pioneers of sustainable economics should be on the reading list of economists and policy makers. General readers; upper-division undergraduate through professional collections. Appeared in: Syndetics Solutions, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc. 


Geiser, Ken. Materials Matter: Toward a Sustainable Materials Policy. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001.

An argument that the safest and least costly point at which to avoid environmental damage is when materials are first designed and selected for use in industrial production. Appeared in: Syndetics Solutions, Inc. 


McDonough, William. Cradle to Cradle : Remaking the Way We Make Things. New York: North Point Press, 2002.

A manifesto for a radically different philosophy and practice of manufacture and environmentalism “Reduce, reuse, recycle” urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. As William McDonough and Michael Braungart argue in their provocative, visionary book, however, this approach perpetuates a one-way, “cradle to grave” manufacturing model that dates to the Industrial Revolution and casts off as much as 90 percent of the materials it uses as waste, much of it toxic. Why not challenge the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world, they ask. In fact, why not take nature itself as our model? A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we do not consider its abundance wasteful but safe, beautiful, and highly effective; hence, “waste equals food” is the first principle the book sets forth. Products might be designed so that, after their useful life, they provide nourishment for something new-either as “biological nutrients” that safely re-enter the environment or as “technical nutrients” that circulate within closed-loop industrial cycles, without being “downcycled” into low-grade uses (as most “recyclables” now are). Elaborating their principles from experience (re)designing everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, the authors make an exciting and viable case for change. Appeared in: Syndetics Solutions, Inc.


Shiva, Vandana. Earth democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2005.

As a critique of capitalism, this book is very acute, especially on issues that affect areas of the author’s homeland, India. Read, for example, why many people in India say, “When you drink Coke, you drink the blood of the people.” In parts of India where water was often scarce even before Coca-Cola’s plants were built, the company’s demand for water has been draining some parts of India dry. The book also contains some very inspiring rhetoric, but as a prescription of a coherent political and economic future for the Earth, it is less successful. Shiva (Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, New Delhi) rambles and often engages in vague and rhetorically excessive language that does little but characterize what the author’s vision of the future is not: it certainly has nothing to do with globalization or the practices of large corporations. The emphasis on solutions based in women’s wisdom is much appreciated and well argued. Occasionally, however, the book is historically witless, especially when Shiva uses sources far from home. The book begins with words said to be from Chief Seattle (actually “Sea’th’l”) that actually were created out of whole cloth about 1970. Appeared in: Syndetics Solutions, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.


Strasser, Susan. Waste and Want : A Social History of Trash. New York: Metropolitan Books, 1999.

An unprecedented history of that most commonplace act of everyday life — throwing things away — and how it has transformed American society. Written by a historian widely praised for “retrieving what history discards: the taken-for-granted minutiae of the everyday life of ordinary people” (The New Yorker). Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.


Weinberg, Adam S. Urban Recycling and the Search for Sustainable Community Development. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.

Weinberg, Pellow, and Schnaiberg’s important book ostensibly concerns urban recycling, but it actually treats the paradox of sustainable community development in the age of global capitalism. The book is built on four well-written studies chronicling the history of different types of recycling over the last 20 years in Chicago–the subject of many of the groundbreaking studies of 20th-century urban life. Municipal government and progressive community groups initiated recycling in pursuit of the “3 Es”: economic vitality, environmental protection, and social equity. The authors describe how the “treadmill of production” and the inadvertent effects of progressive reforms transformed economic opportunity from recovery of waste commodities and local benefit to contracting with large corporations to transport and operate centralized capital-intensive recovery facilities within an international economy of recycled resources. This paradoxical tale of pragmatic success followed by unfulfilled promises for workers, communities, local governments, and the environment concludes that securing the “3 Es” requires careful planning and greater attention to social, power, economic, and ideological issues. This book has important implications for social, community, and environmental advocates, and for students of contemporary urban life. Academic collections. Appeared in: Syndetics Solutions, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.




Burkhard, Benjamin, Müller, Felix. Indicating human-environmental system properties: Case study northern Fenno-Scandinavian reindeer herding. Ecological Indicators (2008). vol. 8, no. 6, pp. 828-840.

ABSTRACT: According to the contemporary ecosystem approach, integrated management of natural resources recognizes that humans, with their cultural diversity, are an integral component of many ecosystems. Therefore, the linkages of human actions with their environment have to be assessed in an integrative manner. Appropriate models and indicators, data and information for human and environmental systems are needed as well as suitable linkages. 


Ford, Jesse. The Relevance of Indigenous Knowledge to Contemporary Sustainability. Corvallis, OR: Dept. Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University. Thursday, September 18, 2008. <

Abstract: The subject of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is currently attracting interest from many quarters, including biologists and philosophers as well as the more traditional mix of anthropologists and other social scientists. Given rapid contemporary rates of change, as well as the novel species and environments being created by six billion humans, what is the relevance of TEK for today’s world? Why would a working ecologist be interested in this area, and are there implications for practitioners in other fields related to contemporary resource analysis and management?  


Maynard, N.G.,  Yurchak, B.,  Turi, J.M.,  Mathiesen, S.  Harnessing Technologies for Sustainable Reindeer Husbandry in the Arctic. The ACIA International Scientific Symposium on Climate Change in the Arctic. 2004.

ABSTRACT: To accelerate the development of sustainable reindeer husbandry under the lead of indigenous reindeer herders it is critical to empower reindeer herders with the best available technologies and to promote a new kind of science where traditional knowledge is fully integrated into the scientific management of the natural environment in the Arctic. This is particularly true given the dramatic environmental, climatic, economic, social and industrial changes, which have taken place across the Arctic in recent years, all of which have had serious impacts on the reindeer herding communities of the North. The Anar Declaration, adopted by the 2 super(nd) World Reindeer Herders’ Congress (WRHC), in Inari, Finland, June 2001 drew guidelines for the development of a sustainable reindeer husbandry based on reindeer peoples’ values and goals. The declaration calls for the reindeer herding peoples to be given the possibilities to develop and influence the management of the reindeer industry and its natural environment because of their knowledge and traditional practices. At the same time, Arctic scientists from many institutions and governments are carrying out increasingly highly technical reindeer related research activities. It is important that the technologies and results of these activities be more commonly co-produced with the reindeer herder community and/or made more readily available to the reindeer peoples for comparison with traditional knowledge for improved herd management and for decreasing their vulnerabilities to the dramatic environmental, climatic and sociological changes taking place in the Arctic. This paper describes very preliminary results from “Reindeer Mapper”, a project in which reindeer herders and scientists are joining together utilizing technologies to create a system for collecting and sharing knowledge in the Russian Arctic. “Reindeer Mapper” is creating an information management and knowledge sharing system, which will help make technologies more readily available to the herder community for observing, data collection and analysis, monitoring, sharing, communications, and dissemination of information – to be integrated with traditional, local knowledge. The paper describes some of the technologies which comprise the system including an intranet system to enable the team members to work together and share information electronically, remote sensing data for monitoring environmental parameters important to reindeer husbandry (e.g. SAR, Landsat), acquisition of ground-based measurements, and the GIS-based information management and knowledge sharing system.



Recent Events


International Conference on Sustainable Manufacturing

Jointly sponsored by the Rochester Institute of Technology, the US Department of Commerce and the OECD
23-24 September 2008
Rochester Institute of Technology
One Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, NY, USA




Be Sustainable

Be Sustainable is a blog and podcast site that discusses sustainability issues faced in our everyday lives. On the page are interviews with experts and sustainability groups. It is not as authoritative and academic as a journal would be. The page is written as a conversational narrative, with the author reflecting on his everyday experiences with sustainability issues, and discussions on things individuals could by themselves to be more sustainable.



This is a blog about science and technology research and products that promote sustainability. The material written to be understandable to non-scientists and is updated frequently. The authors have also posted articles on technology and the environment on the website. The authors are fervent and unapologetic technologic utopianists.



The Lazy Enviromentalist

This blog by Josh Dorfman is meant targeted to regular consumers who are concerned about the environment but do not want to make big sacrifices in their lives. The blog offers information about environmentally sustainable products, services, and innovations. The site takes a consumerist perspective and at times reads like an advertisement.


Urban Agriculture Notes


Urban Agriculture is a directory of links for urban agriculture information. It’s sister site City Farmer News features the newest urban agriculture stories and links. These sites are intended urbanites interested in growing city gardens, green roofs, composting, urban beekeeping, and other related activities. The site was founded by City Farmer, a non-profit organization located in Vancouver and is hosted by Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture.




Dawn Danby

Dawn explores the intersection of design, sustainability and business. Which is a fancy way of saying that she wants the things we make to benefit both people and the world.

An industrial designer by training, she’s a boundary-spanner and synthesist who has acted as a cross-disciplinary designer, strategist, art director, project manager, producer and artist.

Dawn holds a design degree from the Rhode Island School of Design (2000), and an MBA in Sustainable Business from the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (2007). She apprenticed in green building and policy with the Fisk-Vittori team at CMPBS, and in furniture design with Macek Furniture. She often collaborates with international artist Noel Harding on Windsor, Ontario’s Green Corridor initiative, where she helped teach an interdisciplinary course at the University of Windsor. She designed a $3.5M tree-covered, wind-powered pedestrian bridge on the US-Canada border, has developed closed-loop manufacturing strategies for a leading outdoor footwear manufacturer, and helped establish a public art master plan for a major american airport.

Dawn has been a WorldChanging contributor since just after it began, connected by luck, geography and circumstance during the early Viridian heyday. She’s a co-author of WorldChanging: A User’s Guide to the 21st Century, and has spoken at TEDGlobal 2005: Ideas big enough to change the world (Oxford UK), Doors of Perception (Delhi), Subtle Technologies (Toronto), and ICFF (NYC). A Canadian liaison for the o2 Global Sustainable Design Network (Toronto/Ontario), she also occasionally maintains her sustainable/design/portal as a resource site for product designers.

Other hats: secret identity as a medical illustrator for numerous books and journals, specializing in women’s health; former and future art-maker and singer.

A Torontonian living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dawn works on sustainable design strategy and marvels at the sunlight. Aylanto, her design consultancy, is named for the the ailanthus altissima, best of the urban ruderal species. Invasive, heatseeking, alley-dwelling and concrete-devouring, they delight in inhabiting and remediating a broken landscape.

Biography was copied from World Changing, Monday, September 15, 2008.



Local Projects



Green Corridor

The Green Corridor is a green redevelopment of the international bridge corridor linking Canada and the United States. The corridor, which starts at Windsor, will involve local communities in transforming a mainly concrete environment to a green landscape. The initiative is interdisciplinary and a multi-institutional collaboration, with a team of environmentalists, science and engineering researchers, artists, politicians, city planners, educators, and community residents. Projects include the Nature Bridge, green roof elevations, an ecohouse, river turbines, environmental monitoring. Education and informing the public about environmental and scientific research are major objectives of the project.


Toronto waterfront redevelopment project

The core objectives for the renewal of the waterfront are; 1) removing barriers so that the waterfront functions as a part of the city, 2) building a network of parks and public spaces, 3) promotion of a cleaned up and green environment, and 4) creating diverse new communities. The overall goal is to create a dynamic and sustainable waterfront community.


University of Toronto Sustainability Office

The Office was established by the University’s Environmental Protection Advisory Committee in 2004 with support from across the University. The scope of the Office falls within the University’s Environmental Protection Policy and covers all three campuses. The Office exists to reduce the environmental impact of operations on campus by bridging sustainability research and institutional practices. Through the Office, students, staff, and faculty are engaged in contributing towards a sustainable campus.

The short term mission of the Office is to substantially reduce the consumption of energy and other resources at the University of Toronto. Over the medium term, the Office will develop and employ policies and programs to increase energy conservation, green space and reduce waste in all the decisions, practices and procedures of the university. Finally, in the long term, the Office aims to create a culture of sustainability at the University of Toronto, which will be reflected in its functions and operations, resulting in tangible environmental, economic and social benefits.



Web Magazines


BuildingGreen, LLC


BuildingGreen is a publisher of sustainable “green” design news. Publications are Environmental Building News, the GreenSpec directory of green products, and the BuildingGreen Suite of online tools. It also has the internet feed LIVE that provides news about recent events in the sustainable design industry. There are also a green product directory, case studies, sustainable design courses, and a monthly print newsletter Environmental Building News. This site is aimed at designers, builders, renovators, and the general public. (free access)


DESIGNER/builder: A Journal of The Human Environment


DESIGNER/builder is an independent web and print magazine concerned with social justice in the human built environment. Topics discussed include affordable housing, quality of life, urban planning, ecology, and sustainability. The magazine has a critical social and political treatment of the concepts it explores. (Subscription only)


Institute for Local Self-Reliance


ILSR is focused on preserving local small businesses and communities. The magazine gives local community perspectives on local environmental issues, sustainability, equitable community development, and grassroots movements. (mostly free access)


The Journal of Sustainable Product Design 


JSPD covers economic, environmental, ethical and social issues in product design and developmentfrom a scientific and manufacturing perspective. JSPD is a professional science-geared peer-reviewed journal and is international in scope. The journal is aimed towards large businesses, product designers, and scientists. Asides from articles, the journal also has case studies. (available online at UofT library)




Worldchanging is an online magazine that features articles, projects, and contests about the issues of sustainable manufacturing and design. The magazine is quite diverse and inclusive, but tends towards a social science angle. (free online) 


Worldwatch Institute

The World Watch Institute is a large independent research organization that critically analyzes global issues. World Watch research in sustainability is considered authoritative and is widely cited by governments, businesses, and academics. World Watch has a wide scope, exploring current issues in energy, population, biodiversity, agriculture, climate change, the economy, politics, and sustainability in general. It looks at these issues from a development perspective and is geared towards policy makers, researchers, and general readers. (available online at UofT library)



YES! Magazine

YES! is a general readership magazine concerned with sustainable living and social justice. Its entire scope is much broader and includes other topics such as art, human rights, globalization, and politics. The webpage has many resources and links to sustainable design pages. (free online)




AridLands Newsletter                                                                                                         

No. 42, Fall/Winter 1997, compiled and annotated by Katherine Waser (editor), Office of Arid Lands Studies, The University of Arizona. Annotated directory of resources on urban agriculture.  




Designboost is a design consulting company with focus on sustainable design and how to use it as a competitive business advantage. Designboost has an annual conference, Main Boost, in Malmö Sweden and several Mini boosts around the world. Designboost is also hosts network of theoretical thinkers from around the world. Abstracts of presentation papers can be browsed on the site.   


On the Commons


On the Commons (formerly Tomales Bay Institute) is a network of citizens and organizations that champions the cause of the commons and promotes the commons principles of equitable access, democratic values, transparency and social fairness. On the Commons  explores ideas and actions about the commons, including natural assets such as clean air as well as cultural endowments like the Internet, scientific research and the arts. The organization focuses on issues to do with culture, ecology, technology, economics, politics, human relationships and social systems. On the Commons is involved with organizing, public education, media, public policy and grassroots projects. Projects include addressing climate change, water privatization, income inequality, digital democracy and access, renewable energy, public space, sprawl and community self-reliance. Website resources include blogs, essays, profiles of people and projects, and related news.




The Missoula Institute for Sustainable Transportation is a citizen-based, nonprofit organization in Missoula, Montana. The objectives of the organization are to define and promote principles of sustainable transportation, and seek out and implement optimal designs for public streets and trails to improve transportation options. The site is meant to be educational and provides links to related sites.



The Prince of Wales


This site is the homepage of Prince Charles of England and his family. His personal page give links to many of the charities and programs he sponsors, many of which are related critical making issues such as craft, sustainability, and design. Initiatives of particular interest are The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, The Turquoise Mountain Foundation, Poundbury, The Prince of Wales’s Business & the Environment Programme, Traditional Arts Ltd. The site also has case studies of different initiatives he supports.





Resurgence deals with environmental and social issues ecology, education, spirituality, critical art, environmental economics, sustainability, philosophy, and other topics. The sites rhetoric is pretty idealistic, but it deals with practical issues like how to calculate and reduce carbon footprints. The site also has a classified section for sustainable and environmentally friendly products and services. Most of the articles in the online magazine are free.

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