Using What’s Around You: Sustainability & Creativity


4 years & up




Climate Justice



Various, see each book.

Summary: It’s common knowledge that we’re building a homestead, and personally very invested in personal sustainability. Here, I’ve compiled a handful of my most recent favorite books that focus on foraging, sustainability, and artistic projects with recycled materials.

276 Edible Wild Plants of the United States & Canada

By Caleb Warnock; Published by Familius

If you, like me, wander around the woods going “hmm…can I eat that?” while softly fondling unfamiliar leaves and peering at plant stems, this book is for you. Did ya’ll have a “Pioneer Phase” as children? Where you wanted to learn how to eat from the forest and grow your own food? Perhaps churn butter? Corrie in 1998 would have flipped her lid to receive this book, and probably set about ripping out all the plants in her vicinity. Corrie in 2021 continues to do this today, and I don’t think I’ve outgrown my desire for self-sufficiency in nature. In fact, it’s just grown…much like these cattails and berry bushes are about to grow so I can eat them.

This book contains large color photos of all sorts of berries, roots, greens, and other bits of plants that are edible for humans. There is a lot of scientific plant information and names as well, making this an excellent foraging manual for anyone interested in using what’s around your community and neighborhood. I’m thrilled that this is specific to where I live in North America, and I can’t wait to learn so much more than I do now and be able to identify edible plants while traveling.

The Backyard Homesteader: How to Save Water, Keep Bees, Eat from Your Garden, and Live a More Sustainable Life

By Alison Candlin; Published by Gibbs-Smith

So this book is EXACTLY the type of book I’ve been itching to find since Lee and I set out building our homestead last fall. I’ve always been extremely interested in nature and self-sufficiency, but am definitely still a beginner. Also, who doesn’t want to have their own beehive?? A lot of people, I image. But I am certainly not one of them.

Alison Candlin has organized her book (aka my new favorite thing) into helpful sections including gardening, livestock, and foraging. There is even a small section about fungi! If you want to know tons more about all things fungi, see Fungarium below!

Alison has given newbie homesteaders like me valuable information that will help me be more successful in the beginning years. I’m particularly excited about the beekeeping information, and the helpful garden plot planning will assist me greatly in setting up my own garden for next year. All in all, this book is required reading for all you hippies out there (like me) that want to disappear into the forest and live your best life.

Eco Craft Book: Don’t Throw it Away, Recreate & Play

By Laura Minter & Tia Williams; Published by GMC Books

My mom is the craftiest lady I know, but even she would be impressed with the way that creators Laura Minter and Tia Williams have turned recycled objects into fun projects for kids.

We’ve all made the caterpillar out of a strip of egg carton, or a tissue paper butterfly with marker-dyed wings. But have you tie-dyed an old shirt with turmeric and turned it into a shoulder bag? What about a coin purse with an old pocket? There are also ways to make compostable seedling planters and tips on throwing and eco-friendly party. The photographs are bright, plentiful, and helpfully show the different stages of the activity. This is a great guide for entertaining a group of Girl Scouts, a playgroup, or any crafty kid!

The only thing I don’t like about this book is the inclusion of a dreamcatcher craft, which is a sacred object to many Indigenous tribal nations. I believe it is appropriative to be creating them out of recycled objects, especially with no affiliation with Native Peoples.


By Katie Scott & Ester Gaya; Published by Candlewick Books

When I’m hiking in the woods and see another human shuffling around tree trunks with a shallow basket and picking tasty mushrooms, I’m envious. I want to glean all of their knowledge and befriend all foragers. However, approaching a stranger in the woods isn’t the best way to make new friends…However I do have a tattoo of a veiled lady mushroom so that could be an icebreaker?

This book is the newest addition to the Welcome to the Museum series. You might remember when we shared Anatomicum towards the end of 2020, and I didn’t think I could love another book in the series more than that one but here we are. I’m hooked on scientific illustrations, and Fungarium provides all that I could ask for and more. Any of these fungal illustration collections I would be happy to hang on my wall. There is an extensive index in the back, and topics are grouped together to help give extremely comprehensive information to the reader. Mycology is an extensive science, and there are sections about edible mushrooms and mushrooms that are used in medicine.

These books were all kindly sent by the publishers. Opinions and decisions to review are my own!

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