The Climate Optimist’s Guide to Sustainable Living

Author Aakash Ranison does not shy away from calling a spade a spade while talking about climate action. But he also provides solutions, while simplifying environment and sustainability concepts, showing how change can happen at all levels, including at the individual level

I'm a Climate Optimist

Aakash Ranison begins his book I’m a Climate Optimist: An easy guide to lead a sustainable life with his own introduction, and that sets the tone for the book. “My story is not unique—because my story is your story,” he writes.

Ranison speaks about contemporary issues in the handling of climate change, ranging from profit-centric capitalism to data gaps, greenwashing, fast fashion, food, e-waste, etc. But he also conveys his belief in the silver lining around the dark clouds. “I am an optimist, and I have seen the world change many times over without crumbling under the pressure of what is to come,” he writes. This change, as he says elsewhere, occurs at many levels. And change, big or small, begins with just one person making a choice, he points out in the book. Ranison leaves the readers with a pertinent question: “What is it that you truly care about?”

I’m a Climate Optimist brings along 45 prominent businesses and personalities who are leading the country in many ways, pledging to make India more sustainable and helping it achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The book focuses on action, not just on information, Ranison emphasises. “At the end of each chapter, there is a resource section where along with books, documentaries, ted talks, and digital content creators, I have featured hundreds of Indian homegrown brands which are developing possibilities of a sustainable life,” he tells Outlook Business.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

Climate optimism doesn’t deny the reality that we face every day, but it is a way of thinking that takes in the good and the bad and allows us to understand how we can change so that there is more good to focus on. This is because optimists do not retreat to safety at the slightest hint of danger—they can take the negatives with the positives, and focus on building constructively towards a better and brighter reality. I do not ask you to pretend that the world is all roses and sunshine, but rather would like you to remember the beauty of sunshine, and the sweet smell of roses, and that protecting their beauty is not a matter of drastic action, but slow and sustained effort towards preserving all that is beautiful in the world. Our voices and choices are our greatest weapons in the battle against climate change, but even greater still is the virtue of hope.

The Inspiration

Ranison visited Ladakh for the first time in 2015 on a Snow Leopard Conservation Project with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). “Though the beauty of the landscape amazed me, I could not come to terms with the plastic littered around and it unconsciously sparked a desire to protect what I love—nature,” he recalls.

Over the years, he realised that one of the biggest issues with climate change was the way in which it was communicated. “Either it is in a very technical language or it is just focused on ‘plastic waste’, while the reality is very different,” he avers.

He decided to focus on communicating about climate change and sustainability to people in simplified language. Thus was born the concept of a book that covers all the major industries which are involved in an Indian consumer’s daily consumption, he says.

There were many a lesson to be learnt through the journey of the book., Ranison says. However, two of them have made a significant impact on him. “First, I got to understand the human brain better and learnt how to communicate better to get my point through. Second was experiencing the meditative side of writing,” he adds.

Walking the Talk

The book is printed in vegetable ink on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which works towards responsible management

of forests. Ranison has also pledged his entire earnings from the book towards a green charity to offset its carbon footprint.

Meanwhile, he has already started working on his next book which is for children and young adults, parallel to exploring a storyline for a full-length documentary.