25 Ted Talks about Sustainability You Need to Watch Right Now

One of the ways I get inspired is by reading. The second best way is by watching Ted Talks. Today you get a list of 25 of my favourite Ted Talks about sustainability.

1. Lessons on Leaving the World Better than We Found It, Sophie Howes

The link between well-being and sustainability, taking the example of Wales and their policies, taken by Sophie Howes herself, as the world's only “future generations commissioner”, a new kind of government official tasked with advocating for the interests of generations to come and holding public institutions accountable for delivering long-term change

2. Why climate change is a threat to human rights, Mary Robinson

How Climate Change affects the global south more than we realise. In this talk, Mary Robinson talks us through the realities of the obstacles faced by the Global South, even as the West tries to switch to more sustainable practices. As the lifestyle, the future, and the development of many countries are threatened, climate change is today, more than ever, about human rights and erasing inequalities.

3. Climate justice can't happen without racial justice, David Lammy

Another powerful talk showing the link between Climate Justice and Racial Justice. As Black communities and other minorities are those suffering the most from climate change, but contributing the least, the question of fighting for Black Lives can not be isolated from the need for climate action.

4. How to shift your mindset and choose your future, Tom Rivett Carnac

Have you heard of Stubborn Optimism? As Tom Rivett-Carnac puts it: “Stubborn optimism can fill our lives with meaning and purpose.” And it also happens to be the only way for us to do something about the current climate crisis.

5. The inside story of the Paris Agreement, Christina Figueres

The story of the Paris Agreement told by Christina Figueres, recognised leader on global climate change is worth every second of your time. You might find it interesting that even she thought it would be impossible. But her approach on tackling the issue is so interesting, I recommend you watch it. And get inspired for the next time you have to accomplish an “impossible” task.

6. What does it mean to be a global citizen, Hugh Evans

The case for global citizenship being the solution for global issues. In this talk, Hugh Evans explains why fights against extreme poverty, climate change, gender inequality and other global issues, rely on global citizenships. These issues require from us that we demand global solutions from our leaders.

7. A small country with big ideas to get rid of fossil fuels, Monica Araya

An inspiring look at Costa Rica and their progress when it comes to sustainable energy, shows how developing countries can lead the world to a happier, healthier, and more sustainable way of living.

8. How to turn climate anxiety into action, Renée Lertzman

This is one of the most inspiring Ted Talks about sustainability I’ve ever, probably because it talks of compassion. Eco-anxiety is real, but psychologist Renée Lertzman helps us channel it to avoid paralysis, and make us pore proactive. A key element in her approach: compassion.

9. This country isn’t just carbon neutral, it’s carbon negative, 

I had never heard of Bhutan before, but I was inspired to know how this small country managed to balance economic growth, social development, environmental sustainability and cultural preservation. Knowing that the country puts GNH (Growth National Happiness) first, over GDP, might probably be the answer!

10. How to grow a forest in your backyard, Shubhendu Sharma

When Shubhendu Sharma explains the process of making a forest, it al becomes so realistic a feasible for the average people like you and me. Even describing the complex mechanisms of biodiversity, he makes it sound so simple – I mean, it’s basically nature doing its job, right – that I found myself planning how I’d do exactly that: grow a mini-jungle at home!

11. The business benefits of doing good, Wendy Woods

In this talk, Wendy Woods, Strategy Consultant, explains how companies’ bottom lines are benefitting from doing good. Introducing the concept of TSI (Total Societal Impact) Wendy Woods convincingly exposes how incorporating social and environmental considerations can be a profitable strategy. 

12. Where do your online returns go? , Aparna Mehta

In this talk, Aparna tells the very relatable story of herself buying fashion online in multiple sizes and colours and then returning them after having made her choice. But that was until she realised most of these items would end up in landfills. As she offers a viable and innovative solution to this issue, she gives us hope that we actually have the power to change the growing environmental nightmare of the fashion industry. As a fashion stylist, this Ted Talk about sustainability and sustainable fashion truly resonates with me; and I hope it'll resonate with you too!

13. How ugly, unloved food can change the world, Dana Cowin

Changing the world by reducing food waste: that’s what Dana Cowin invites us to do exactly that. And to be honest, it seems much more manageable than we think, when we approach it through the lease of embracing ugly food. Taking the examples of an unnaturally round and red tomato, Dana easily convinces us that ugly food are the future. And they’re not just a trend, but they are actually better!

14. The global food waste problem, Tristram Stuart

 This talk, as you guessed it, is all about the food waste problem, its scale, and the potential solutions we already have to it. Looking at food waste as something that is totally avoidable without changing much of what we’re already doing, gives a glimpse of hope: we have everything we need, and all the knowledge we need to make a difference and stop wasting food. Tristram Stuart’s talk is not only inspiring, it’s also very realistic and relatable.

15. The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it, Katharine Hayhoe

This approach to climate change and talking to climate deniers is so inspiring and enlightening. Katharine Hayhoe explains how talking about scientific facts is very unlikely to work, and how to instead, connect with people through shared values. By talking about climate change through the lense of shared values and viable solutions, the positive is coming much faster than we can imagine, and that’s the way to go.

16. The disarming case to act right now about climate change, Greta Thunberg

This now viral talk from Greta Thunberg, one of the most influential climate change activist of our times, is slightly dated, but is still very powerful. In this Ted Talk about sustainability, Greta explains how climate action and climate change truly is a “black and white” situation. 

17. A world without waste, Kate E. Brandt

Nature is the perfect model when it comes to using itself to regenerate itself. That’s the model Kate E. Brandt uses in this plea for the development of a viable circular economy, especially in the hi-tech world she sees everyday, as Google’s head of sustainability.

18. A 13-year-old’s plan for removing plastic from the oceans, Haaziq Kazi

Yep, you’ve read that right, Haaziq is only 13 years old and in his talk, he’s introduced to me the concept of “plastic debt”. After giving a few staking facts on plastic pollution, the 13-year-old then shares his plan and his invention, to revolutionise the way we deal with plastic in the oceans, and clean it up for good!

19. Why you should be a climate activist, Luisa Neubauer

This talk is a plea for everyone to begin to take action. After a way-to-short geography class on climat change, and a brutal awakening about politics, fossil fuels and big companies, Luisa Neubauer explains and shares the story of how her generation is starting a climate revolution. Not by choice, but because there is no other way.

20. Why you should shop at your local farmers market, Mohammad Modarres

As local agriculture is struggling to survive, it is time for the food industry to change. And we have the power to do that. In this talk, Mohammad Modarres shares his insight, encouraging us to shop from our farmers market, and reshape the economy and the environment; which is crucial in the fight against climate change.

21. Grow your own clothes, Suzanne Lee

Have you ever heard of Kombucha-based material? Me neither, until I watched this talk from Suzanne Lee, fashion designer exploring materials. There are many materials nowadays that simply fascinate me, but this talk is so unique, I just had to recommend it.

22. Fashion has a pollution problem – can biology fix it; Natsai Audrey Chieza

As fossil fuel has now become the number own thing we rely on, Natsai Audrey Chieza explains how this dependence, and the denial of it, are deadly. This talk is a plea to move away from fossil fuel, by developing materials that are not petroleum-based.

23. 3 creative ways to fix fashion’s waste problem, Amit Kalra

When looking at the fashion industry, it’s difficult to even fathom of much waste comes out of it. And even though some of us are into thrifting and sustainable fashion, it is still not enough, for the second most polluting industry on the planet. That’s the starting point of Amit Kara, in this inspiring and very insightful talk. He offers three ways for the industry to move forward better and stronger. And I’m here for it!

 24. Why I protest for climate justice, Jane Fonda

This has to be one of my absolute favourite Ted Talks about sustainability from this list, as it talks about putting ourselves on the line for what matters. In this video recording, actor and activist Jane Fonda talks climate change, civil disobedience, Fire Drill Fridays, and building an army. Watch it! You’ll love it!

25. To eliminate waste, we need to rediscover thrift, Andrew Dent

The key point in this talk is quite simple: there is no place called “away”; and “throwing away” means “sending to landfills”. This a simple starting point, but it means so much! According to Andrew Dent, the only way around the landfill crisis is thrifting – using and reusing existing materials, and building new with this goal in mind.

That is it for my list of the best Ted Talks about sustainability. But I'm always open to discovering more, and I'll keep updating this post as I find more and more of them. Which one of these Ted Talks about sustainability inspired you most?

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