How Bad are Bananas? Book review

Rachel McLean's picture

Happy New Year!

Over my holiday break I read the book 'How Bad are Bananas? The carbon footprint of everything' by Mike Berners-Lee. If this year you are wanting to learn more about our impact on the environment, and perhaps try to reduce your own impact, this book is an accessible place to start!

Much like we have an instinct for the monetary cost of items (e.g. we know that eating dinner in a restaurant is much cheaper than buying a car), 'How Bad are Bananas?' talks about developing your 'Carbon Instinct'. The book covers a range of items and events from a pint of tap water or a text message (less than 10g CO2), to a new car, the Football World Cup and cryptocurrencies (millions of tonnes of CO2); explaining where the carbon footprint comes from and how it may change, e.g. the carbon footprint of a pint of tap water triples if you pour it down the sink!

An exert from the book that resonated with me was

"By going on the low carbon journey personally, we learn first-hand about the global issues. The things that hold us back personally (cutting our flights, for instance, or changing our diet) have parallels at national and international levels. The negotiations with family and friends teach us the difficulty of international climate talks. We shouldn't expect it to be easy to make sustainable choices - and we don't have to beat ourselves up for not being perfect. We should be curious about our failings." (Page 195).

While some of our individual actions may seem insignificant at times, anything we do that cuts carbon makes it easier for others to do the same, and as SLT’s we understand how valuable behaviour modelling can be. Something as small as bringing a reusable coffee cup to work may spark interest and conversations that translate into bigger and more systemic changes, whether this be encouraging others to take up a sustainability challenge (e.g. cycling to work or reducing their food waste), to conducting an education session at your next team meeting on why climate change should be of concern to SLTs (as discussed in this article). ‘How Bad are Bananas’ is a useful tool that may help you generate further ideas for promoting change in your team, workplace and service.


Berners-Lee, Mike. How Bad are Bananas? The carbon footprint of everything. United Kingdom: Profile Books Ltd, 2020.

Sherratt, S. (2021), What are the implications of climate change for speech and language therapists? International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 56:215-227.


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