34 Sustainability Quotes For Nature Lovers

A philosopher narrating some of his favorite sustainability quotes.

It’s important to remember that you aren’t alone – countless individuals who support sustainability are working hard everyday to make the world a little bit better.

Many came before them as well, and the future will certainly be filled with conservationists who care about our planet.

Sometimes, a few simple quotes about going green are needed if you’re feeling down about humanity.

So here’s a list of sustainability quotes, in no particular order, that represent some important voices of modern day and historical environmentalism.

Enjoy these digestible, bite-sized bits of sustainable wisdom.

34 Sustainability Quotes

Recycling quotes, eco quotes, zero waste quotes – you’ll find all sorts of messages here sourced from interviews, documentaries, books, and more.


“I realized that plastic had become such a part of my life that it had become invisible to me. I just did not see it until it was pointed out to me, and I was told it was causing specific problems. And then when I started looking for it, I saw it everywhere. I saw it between my toes when I was on the beach. I saw it in the seaweed. I saw it floating between my legs while I was surfing. ”

— Craig Leeson, director of A Plastic Ocean, a film exploring the consequences of plastic on ocean ecosystems, big issues alongside overfishing and whaling.


“Only we humans make waste that nature can’t digest.”

— Charles J Moore, oceanographer and captain whose work brought attention to the Great Pacific garbage patch.


“I know of no restorative of heart, body, and soul more effective against hopelessness than the restoration of the Earth.”

— Barry Lopez, nature author and biologist known for his extensive work in the Arctic wilderness.


“The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

— Jane Goodall, legendary primatologist and environmental organization founder known for her pioneering work in chimpanzee animal culture.

Jane Goodall speaking at a conference in 2018.
Image by Európa Pont via Flickr


“In nature, nothing exists alone.”

— Rachel Carson, marine biologist and author of Silent Spring, a book documenting the environmental dangers of pesticides which helped spur the environmentalist movement.


“For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.”

— Jacques-Yves Cousteau, oceanographer known for inventing the first scuba suit and some of the earliest underwater documentaries showing coral bleaching.


“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

— John Muir, American zoologist and deforestation activist whose work led the way to the creation of National Parks in the US.

A trailhead sign at the Little Lakes Valley Trail in Inyo National Forest, USA.


“The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”

— Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States and supporter of the sustainable agriculture movement in favor of replacing monoculture farming.


“…you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”

— Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Genevan philosopher who lived during the Age Of Enlightenment.


“Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching- even when doing the wrong thing is legal.”

— Aldo Leopold, American conservationist known for his work in wildlife management and his fight against biodiversity loss.


“There must be a better way to make the things we want, a way that doesn’t spoil the sky, or the rain or the land.”

— Paul McCartney, English bass guitarist and member of the Beatles.


“How long can men thrive between walls of brick, walking on asphalt pavements, breathing the fumes of coal and oil, growing, working, dying, with hardly a thought of wind, and sky, and fields of grain, seeing only machine-made beauty, the mineral-like quality of life?”

— Charles Lindbergh, explorer and Pulitzer Prize-winning environmentalist author known for his work protecting certain endangered species and important forest ecosystems of indigenous communities.


“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

— Howard Zinn, American writer who wrote numerous books in support of the civil-rights and anti-war movements.


“Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good action; try to use ordinary situations.”

— Jean Paul Richter, a German author known for his humorous and wildly imaginative novels.


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

— Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist and writer known for her work during various social movements of the 1960s.


“When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.”

— Native American saying, from an unknown origin within a collection of nations and tribes who’s traditional ecological knowledge is quickly vanishing.

A Native American man performing a traditional tribal dance.


“Forests and meat animals compete for the same land. The prodigious appetite of the affluent nations for meat means that agribusiness can pay more than those who want to preserve or restore the forest. We are, quite literally, gambling with the future of our planet – for the sake of hamburgers.”

— Peter Singer, author of the book Animal Liberation, an important book to read if you’re figuring out how to go vegan or interested in why meat is bad for the environment.


“If civilization has risen from the Stone Age, it can rise again from the Wastepaper Age.”

— Jacques Barzun, author known for his historical, American cultural retrospectives.


“Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.”

— Carl Sagan, astronomer and astrobiologist known for his work regarding extraterrestrial life and environmental activism.


“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

— J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and life-long environmentalist.


“Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us.”

— Henrik Tikkanen, Finland-Swedish author known for his post-war writings in the 20th century.


“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”

— Mahatma Gandhi, Indian civil-rights leader whose views align with modern day sustainable philosophies.


“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.”

— Ansel Adams, American environmentalist celebrated for his black and white nature-landscape photography.

A portrait of Ansel Adams, a famous nature photographer.


“Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites.”

— William Ruckelshaus, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) first administrator who led the charge against banning the ecotoxic insecticide DDT.


“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

— Robert Swan, founder of the Antarctic conservation company 2041, and the first person to visit both the North and South Poles.


“Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us.”

— Henrik Tikkanen, Finland-Swedish author known for his post-war writings in the 20th century.


“He that plants trees loves others besides himself.”

— Thomas Fuller, an English historian who lived during the 17th century.


“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”

— Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day.


“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”

— Henry David Thoreau, American naturalist and author of Walden, a book recounting a few years of simple living in the wilderness of 19th century Massachusetts, USA.


“We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do.”

— Barbara Ward, British author of Spaceship Earth and early supporter of sustainable development within emerging nations.


“We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyones arguing over where they’re going to sit.”

— David Suzuki, science broadcaster and environmental activist known for his work in climate change mitigation through the David Suzuki Foundation.


“The strongest governments on earth cannot clean up pollution by themselves. They must rely on each ordinary person, like you and me, on our choices, and on our will.”

— Chai Jing, Chinese journalist and environmental activist.


“It is one world. And it’s in our care. For the first time in the history of humanity, for the first time in 500 million years, one species has the future in the palm of its hands. I just hope he realizes that that is the case.”

— David Attenborough, natural historian and biologist known for his roles in some of the most impactful nature documentaries ever created such as his Life and Planet Earth series, and his fight against the illegal wildlife trade.

A street art mural of David Attenborough in Dublin, Ireland.
Image by William M. via Flickr


“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, designed or removed from production.”

— Pete Seeger, an American environmental activist and folk artist who supported a variety of environmental and social causes throughout his lifetime.

Final thoughts

If you’ve enjoyed this collection of quotes on sustainability, feel free to check back in the future for updates to this ever-expanding list!

Now is the time for humanity to share and nurture a global sustainable message that reaches everyone, not just the most fortunate of us.

Do you have any favorite sustainable quotes you think should make the list?

We love hearing from you.

Feel like contributing or have a question? Comment below.