How Bad Are Bananas? Book Summary By Mike Berners-Lee

*This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn an affiliate commission without it ever affecting the price you pay.

Mike Berner-Lee's How Bad are Bananas? is a must-read book for anyone looking to reduce their carbon footprint and live a more sustainable life.

The book provides an A-to-Z guide of easy ways to reduce your daily impact on the environment, including what kind of groceries you buy, how you clean your clothes, and even how you transport yourself around.

This book offers invaluable insight into living a greener life and can help readers identify areas where they can make positive changes in their everyday habits.

With simple step-by-step instructions, accessible language and lots of examples, How Bad are Bananas? will introduce you to the basics of reducing your own carbon footprint so that you can make an informed decision about what’s best for the environment and our planet.

How Bad Are Bananas

Book Name: How Bad Are Bananas? (The Carbon Footprint of Everything)

Author(s): Mike Berners-Lee

Rating: 4.2/5

Reading Time: 26 Minutes

Categories: Nature & the Environment

Author Bio

Mike Berners-Lee is an expert on the topic of energy consumption and climate change.

He serves as professor at Lancaster University and is a well-known contributor to The Guardian newspaper.

He's also the founder and director of Small World Consulting, which specializes in measuring carbon footprints for services and products across the globe.

Furthermore, he penned "The Burning Question: We Can't Burn Half the World's Oil, Coal and Gas.

So How Do We Quit?" back in 2013--further cementing him as a leading figure in environmentalism.

Discover The Biggest Culprits For Creating Harmful Emissions And How To Reduce Your Own Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint

In How Bad Are Bananas? you’ll learn all the life hacks that can shrink your carbon footprint overnight!

It takes a look into how our daily habits and routines, from shopping to cooking and washing up, have an impact on our environment.

It also reveals which modes of transport are more environmentally friendly, which foods leave the biggest carbon footprint, and what beverages are doing the most harm.

The book provides practical solutions to reducing your footprint without requiring a drastic lifestyle change.

You’ll be surprised by how many small modifications of your routine can add up to make a big difference for the environment.

Pick up this book today and start shrinking your carbon footprint – it’s easier than you think!

A Closer Look At Berners-Lee’S 10-Tonne Lifestyle: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint By One Third

The phrase ‘carbon footprint’ has become a buzzword in recent years, as it is used to denote the amount of carbon dioxide (CO₂) emitted during any process.

However, it stands to reason that there are other harmful emissions involved in producing a carbon footprint, such as methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N₂O).

These gases have been proven to be twenty-five and three hundred times more damaging than CO₂ respectively.

Additionally, refrigerant gases can be several thousand times more potent as greenhouse gases than CO₂.

When taking into account all of these factors, scientists use the measure known as carbon dioxide equivalent or CO₂e to calculate an accurate reading of all the major air pollutants being released into the atmosphere.

The average size of a person’s carbon footprint varies from country to country, but typically increases in developed nations.

For example, Malawi has an average of 0.1 metric tons of CO₂e per year for each person’s footprint, compared to 15 metric tons for the United Kingdom and 28 metric tons for North America.

Globally speaking, 49 billion metric tons were emitted in 2007 alone.

The Growing Impact Of Technology On The Environment: How We Can Use It More Responsibly

It’s easy to forget that even small technology habits can add up to create a significant footprint.

But it’s true!

Text messages and emails might be low impact on their own, but if everyone does them often enough, the global carbon footprint would quickly surge.

Take texts for instance.

A single text message takes up only 0.014 g of CO₂e, but when you consider that around 2.5 trillion texts are sent every year, this amounts to around 32 thousand metric tons of CO₂e – a number that may seem small, but adds up quickly when multiplied by millions of people.

On the other hand, an average two-minute phone call leads to about 47 kilograms CO₂e per year due to the energy required at switchboards and base stations.

As for emails? While each individual email isn’t bad – 4 grams CO₂e – using your computer to email per day adds 135 kilograms in a year – which is over 1 percent of our 10-tonne lifestyle goal!

Even something like purchasing an iMac contributes significantly to the global carbon footprint – with its manufacture adding 720 kg CO₂e thanks largely due to energy required in making microprocessors while using it at home accounts for 63g CO₂e per hour!

With data centers powering the current information age also consuming immense electricity leading a total 130 million metric tons of CO₂ emissions from 2010 alone, it’s down right staggering how everyday items like cell phones and computers can contribute such high levels of emissions when used carelessly.

So next time you reach for your phone or computer remember, although texting or emailing seem small on their own – these little habits do add up considerably and need to be done mindful of the environment practices we should all strive towards.

Recycling Is The Best Option When Using Paper Products To Help Reduce Carbon Footprint


When it comes to the environment, you might think that paper is better than plastic.

However, when looked at from the carbon dioxide emission standpoint, plastic actually ends up being slightly better.

That’s because plastic does not rot and create methane emissions like paper does.

For example, a disposable plastic bag from a supermarket will contribute around 10 grams of CO₂e compared to 12 grams for a recycled paper bag and 80 grams for a more heavily-made retail store bag.

It may seem like a small difference but can add up over time when considering all of the everyday activities where paper or plastic are utilized.

Similarly, letters and catalogs in the mail can make quite an impact too – 200 grams CO₂e for a letter and 1600 grams CO₂e for catalogs – which is even more reason to recycle properly!

Lastly, when considering paperback books, each one adds 1 kilogram of CO₂e, although reading typically replaces other carbon-intensive activities such as driving or shopping so this hasn’t been shown to be as damaging overall.

So while it’s true that plastic isn’t ideal for our environment either (it can linger in the environment for centuries and harm animals), it seems if you must use disposable materials such as bags or mailings it’s better to opt for plastic over paper.

Just remember to recycle!

Flying Leaves The Largest Carbon Footprint: Biking, Driving, And Taking The Train Have Much Smaller Impacts

We all know that cars, specifically gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles, leave a significant carbon footprint.

This impact is even more evident when one considers that the United Kingdom alone uses 50 billion liters of gasoline each year.

But what might come as a surprise to some is that different methods of travel can have varying impacts on the environment.

For instance, if you were to cycle 800 miles from London to Glasgow, Scotland and back powered by cereal and milk it would account for 90 grams CO₂e per mile.

If you took a crowded subway train on the same route it would be 160 grams of CO₂e per passenger.

Meanwhile in an average car with 33 miles per liter you’d end up with 710 grams per mile.

For less fuel-efficient models such as Land Rovers you could be looking at upwards of 2,240 grams CO₂e – about 20% of an average 10-tonne lifestyle.

However, flying takes the crown for highest environmental impact since burning fuel at higher altitudes increases emissions’ harmful impact tenfold – even a short flight between London and Glasgow will lead to a 500 kilograms CO₂e footprint!

For example, a round-trip flight from London to Hong Kong leaves behind 4.6 metric tons worth of emissions – 340,000 plastic shopping bags worth CO2 equivalent!

It’s no wonder why flying has been identified as having the worst carbon footprint among different methods of travel.

The Answer To How Bad Are Bananas: Not That Bad, Comparatively

It’s clear that locally grown produce has a smaller carbon footprint than imported produce.

This is because the shipped items have to use energy for transport, which increases their footprint.

Local apples, for example, have an average CO₂e footprint of 10 grams per apple or 550 grams per kilo.

Bananas, in comparison, also have a small footprint because they don’t require artificial light to grow and also don’t need extra packaging or airfreighting.

For meat, non-ruminant animals such as pigs are more sustainable as they do not create as much methane during digestion.

This means that the carbon footprints for pork products are much lower than those for sheep or cows — about 2kg of CO₂e (uncooked) for 4 ounces of beefsteak vs 1 kg of CO₂e (uncooked) for 4 ounces of pork steak.

So by choosing locally produced fruits and vegetables and non-ruminant meats, you can help lower your carbon impact on the environment!

Drinking Responsibly Can Make A Big Difference To Your Carbon Footprint

Drinking Responsibly

When it comes to your carbon footprint, you might not be aware of just how large an effect the beverages you consume have.

For example, something as simple as tap water has a much smaller carbon footprint than bottled water – with the latter having 1,000 times greater footprint than tap water!

Tea or coffee may not have a large footprint overall – but milk can significantly increase it for products like lattes and cappuccinos since it requires so many high-carbon necessities from a dairy farm.

Surprisingly, your favorite alcoholic beverage may also have a bigger carbon footprint than you think; imported beer could account for 900 grams CO₂e and wine bottles even up to 1040 grams!

Luckily, there are ways of reducing this impact by switching to locally brewed beer or boxed wine.

So next time you reach for your favorite drink, consider how it might affect your carbon footprint!

Saving Energy At Home By Washing More Efficiently

When it comes to cleaning up and reducing your environmental footprint, you can clean up in more environmentally conscious ways.

For instance, when you leave home don’t forget to switch off the lights and other appliances – this will help to reduce energy waste.

Furthermore, when it comes to laundry; try a cold wash and hang dry the clothes instead of using the clothes dryer.

Cold washing combined with hang-drying will reduce your footprint to just 0.6 kilograms CO₂e compared with 3.3 kilograms for a 60°C wash done in a clothes dryer!

If ironing is unavoidable, try not to iron anything that doesn’t need it – such as socks – as this process can create between 14 and 70 grams CO₂e per shirt depending on how fast and skilled you are at ironing.

When washing dishes, use only the necessary amount of water for efficient cleaning (around 540 grams CO₂e).

If possible consider investing in an energy-efficient dishwasher though because of its high bacteria eliminating capabilities which eventually outweigh extra grams created (770grams CO₂e) .

Bathing also has different levels of environmental footprints based on how full the tub is and how hot the water: bathers should look into efficient options like turning one bathtub full of water into multiple showers or getting a water-efficient aerated showerhead with 3 minutes per shower limitation in order to keep their carbon footprints lower (only 90grams CO₂e!).

Humans Have Had A Much Greater Impact On The Environment Than Natural Disasters

It is true that nature can cause harmful gases and other pollutants to enter the atmosphere.

A perfect example of this are volcanoes, which emit gases such as carbon dioxide (CO₂) over a reliable yearly basis; however, this amount pales in comparison to what humans do to the environment.

Consider black carbon as an example.

This component of soot is generated by incomplete combustion, which includes emissions from coal burning, transport and natural sources like brushfires.

Each year black carbon produces fifteen to thirty percent of global emissions, but around forty-two percent of those come from burning done by people.

Additionally, deforestation emits around nine billion tons of CO₂ annually which makes up seventeen percent of all emissions worldwide.

Considering both natural and human-made sources of emission paints a comprehensive picture: while some gases come from nature, it is far exceeded by human activity and ultimately dwarfed in comparison.

Seven Steps To Reduce Your Diet’s Carbon Footprint And Live A 10-Tonne Lifestyle


It’s becoming increasingly important for us to be more environmentally conscious, and one of the best places to start is by looking not just at our lifestyle, but also at our diet.

After all, it contributes up to 20 percent of our carbon footprint on average!

But how can we reduce that percentage? Well, a good place to start is reducing both meat and dairy consumption.

Even making small cuts in these areas can lead to a reduction in your diet’s carbon footprint by up to 25 percent!

We can also make sure that the food we buy is seasonal and local wherever possible.

This will reduce the need for air-shipping and could take another 10 percent off your diet’s footprint.

Another key step is getting rid of food waste – eliminating this will cut another 25 percent.

There are several ways you can do this such as only buying what you know you’ll eat and being aware of when food may expire.

Eliminating low-yield crop varieties (like cherry tomatoes or baby carrots) and unnecessary packaging from food items like bananas or avocados are other ways we can reduce our food footprints even further – potentially cutting up to 5 percent off their usual weight!

We can help shops by purchasing reduced-price items from the front of their stores, which helps them keep less goods beyond their sell-by date.

Cooking efficiently also helps – using a lid when boiling water, switching off appliances when not in use and using the microwave will shed another 5%.

By following all these steps, you can greatly reduce your personal contribution towards climate change with a potential reduction in your food’s carbon footprint between 60% and 75%!

Wrap Up

At the end of How Bad Are Bananas?, the key takeaway is that simple changes in our daily lives can significantly reduce our carbon footprints.

Even small adjustments like texting instead of calling and taking quicker showers can make a difference.

We don’t have to make every change suggested, but if we recognize ways to be more sustainable it’s important to take action!

This book serves as a reminder that even one change can have an impact, so commit to being more mindful of your daily decisions and their subsequent effects on the environment.

Ultimately, reducing our carbon footprints means creating long-term positive results for both ourselves and for future generations.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.