How Bad Are Bananas? by Mike Berners-Lee | Eco-Reads Volume.8

Flatlay of the book with a pair of bananas bottom left and a plant top left. On a checked background.

How bad are bananas? A question on everyone’s lips I’m sure. All jokes aside, I recently finished ‘How Bad are Bananas?’ by Mike Berners-Lee and boy is it a head-scratcher. As the title suggests, this eighth version of my ‘eco-reads‘ series looks scientifically at the carbon intensity of our everyday items. From a plastic bag to flying abroad to, you’ve guessed it, buying and eating a banana.

The way in which the author did it was via scientifically rough estimations. And, although sometimes a little difficult to follow, made for a fascinating read. The book was originally written circa 2010, so some of the references are a little outdated. But, this does take away from the message he is trying to get across.

Each chapter examines closely how carbon-intensive everyday items and ‘things are. It does make you consider your everyday habits. An example, Asparagus; this is a very carbon-intensive vegetable due to it primarily being grown in far-flung countries such as Peru. In comparison, Apples are low carbon if grown in your own garden. But, a little more carbon-intensive if they are shipped to the supermarket in cooling fridges.

On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘How Bad are Bananas – The Carbon Footprint of Everything’. It was scientifically interesting without tipping over into dull. One thing I will add though is its differences to sustainability in terms of waste. As he points out plastic bags are low in terms of carbon output but incredibly bad for the environment. He quite clearly does state this as being a contradiction, so it, of course, isn’t a win-win on both sides.

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