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House & Home Sustainable Living

How Bad Are Bananas?

The Carbon Footprint of Everything

by (author) Mike Berners-Lee

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Feb 2011
Sustainable Living, Environmental Science
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2011
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2011
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


A smart, practical, and accessible guide to measuring (and reducing) our carbon footprint, from internationally recognized expert, Mike Berners-Lee.

Part green-lifestyle guide, part popular science, How Bad Are Bananas? is the first book to provide the information we need to make carbon-savvy purchases and informed lifestyle choices and to build carbon considerations into our everyday thinking.

The book puts our decisions into perspective with entries for the big things (the World Cup, volcanic eruptions, the Iraq war, and other instances of globalization) as well as the small (email, ironing, a glass of beer). And it covers the range from birth (the carbon footprint of having a child) to death (the carbon impact of cremation).

Packed full of surprises—a plastic bag has the smallest footprint of any item listed, while a block of cheese—even from your local farmers market—is bad news; the book continuously informs, delights, and engages the reader. Solidly researched and referenced, the easily digestible figures, statistics, charts, and graphs (including a section on the carbon footprint of various foods) will encourage discussion and help people to make up their own minds about their consumer choices.

About the author

Mike Berners-Lee is a leading carbon consultant and author of How Bad are Bananas?, one of the bestselling green books of recent years.

Mike Berners-Lee's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Both greenies and non-greenies will take something away from this scrupulously footnoted book. —Green Living

Berners-Lee excels at concisely contextualizing the deluge of data about toilet paper, red roses, kids, swimming pools, or space shuttles . . . if you're serious about picking the right battles for reducing your consumption, then How Bad Are Bananas certainly puts the right footprint forward. —Good Magazine

This informative book provides a workable way to think about how the elements of modern society and individual decisions contribute toward the insidious increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels . . . Recommended. —Choice, Current Reviews For Academic Libraries

Filled with wildly fascinating facts, there is no question that this book is not only informative and highly relevant but also entertaining . . . Berners-Lee is a clever and creative thinker. He's also refreshingly honest about the challenges involved in quantifying our carbon impact . . . Thanks to his endless research and engaging presentations, we can more easily step on the path toward carbon footprint awareness. —Helene Meurer, Alive magazine

Mike Berners-Lee's aim is to give people a 'carbon instinct,' a sense of the carbon consequences of their decisions. —Toronto Star

This compendium of the specific costs to the climate (in carbon emissions) of our everyday behaviours deftly blends intelligence with entertainment, perhaps creating a unique genre: a page-turner for the climate conscious . . . Refreshingly, [How Bad Are Bananas] shows how difficult it is to accurately track carbon usage while providing ways to realistically analyze day-to-day actions and make responsible and effective decisions for the most climate-friendly results. —Publishers Weekly

I can't remember the last time I read a book that was more fascinating and useful and enjoyable. —Bill Bryson

A quirky guide to the carbon impact of nearly everything . . . The author pays special attention to food and to some unusual suspects like a web search, a necklace, and doing the dishes . . . It's an entertaining and enlightening read, full of surprising information. —Finding Solutions

Mike Berners-Lee knows more about carbon footprints than anyone else in the U.K. Enjoyable, fun to read and scientifically robust. A triumph of popular science writing. —Chris Goodall