How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything


Published:

Mike Berners-Lee
How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything
Greystone Books, Berkeley, CA. 2011

"Paper or plastic?" Of course the correct answer is "neither." But on the (hopefully rare) occasions you find yourself without your personal shopping bag, what is the best response for the eco-conscious consumer? Organic food is always better, or is it?

In How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything, climate-change expert Berners-Lee unpacks the wide-spread confusion around the carbon footprint of food purchasing and nearly one hundred other items. His mission is to create a sense of "carbon awareness," so for every lifestyle choice you make you will have at least a reasonable guesstimate of the carbon impact of that decision and where the impact comes from.

Just what is a carbon footprint anyway? It breaks down like this; carbon is all the different global warming greenhouse gases (global warming meaning human-caused climate change) and footprint is the total impact something has. So the carbon imprint is the full impact an activity, lifestyle, company or country has on the planet.

What's the carbon impact of a cup of tea? A roll of toilet paper? A text message? The World Cup? Engaging and solidly researched, How Bad Are Bananas considers everything from birth to death (literally, the carbon impact of both having a child and being cremated are included). It makes three basic assumptions: climate change is a big deal; it's caused by humans; and we can do something about it. While Earth's seven billion people combined obviously make an enormous footprint, understanding where carbon impact comes from can help you cut your carbon portion by a decent amount.

You need to pick your battles though, and keep things in perspective. If you're stressing over choosing to dry your hands with an electric-hand dryer or to use a paper towel, but doing it from an airport restroom before you board a trans-Atlantic flight, you might just be distracting yourself from exactly how much carbon is at stake with your transportation choices.

Similarly, if you're making the great low-carbon activity choice of cycling one mile to work, but pumping that bike by fueling your body with food that has been flown by air from across the globe, you're carbon impact goes way up. (Carbon impact-wise, you'd be better off driving a Hummer!) Two people cycling a mile on cheeseburger power have about the same footprint as commuting together in an efficient car.

So it really is all about choices, and knowing the total impact of those choices. For food choices, consider things such as farming method, transportation, packaging, refrigeration and one of the worst offenders, food waste. So how bad are bananas? Actually, they're pretty good. The only bad banana is the one you let rot. (p.s. Paper or plastic? Pick plastic.)

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August 29, 2016

During the dark, wee hours of the morning Venus conjuncts Mercury. Dreams are sweet. An old love may be on your mind, or could possibly get in touch. Insomniacs might feel inspired to try their hand at poetry. By dawn the Moon is comfortably ensconced…
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August 2016

August 28 - September 4, 2016 Indigenous cultures offer us a compelling vision of the “third chapter” of human life, where integrity, purpose, and intention cohere in a passionate...

Cost: $1295

Where:
Putney, VT  05346


Sponsor: Circles of Air and Stone
Telephone: 802-387-6624
Contact Name: Sparrow Hart
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Experience yoga surrounded by the serenity of nature and connect with your own inner sanctuary. This class is for all levels, age 16 and older. Laura Searles, 200-Hour Certified Yoga...

Cost: $17 ($15 Mass Audubon members)

Where:
Mass Audubon's Broad Meadow Brook
414 Massasoit Rd.
Worcester, MA  01604
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Please join us for Sunday Service at 10:30AM. The 2016 Summer Series is "Steps for Ascension." Each week, we will explore the steps to living in a fifth dimensional...

Cost: Free

Where:
Unity Radiant Light
155 Douglas Avenue
Providence, CT  02908
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Sponsor: Unity Radiant Light
Telephone: 401-486-2708
Contact Name: Cherie Ruffo, Spiritual Leader
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Start your week on a positive note! Each Monday, we will come together to discuss meditation techniques followed by the opportunity to put those techniques into practice with a goal of developing a...

Cost: $10

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
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Telephone: 508-230-3680
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Weekly Laughing Meditation with Rachel Dealmeida Add some laughter to your life! This is 1 of 4 group meditations held each week at Anastasia's Health Happenings in Amesbury. Rachel is...

Cost: $20 (pay at the door)

Where:
Anastasia's Health Happenings
110 Haverhill Rd.
Bldg. C, Suite 342
Amesbury, MA  01913
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Telephone: 978-621-8435
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Join us to begin the day as the wise of ancient China have for centuries, stretching, breathing, increasing Qi (chi) (energy), unblocking and balancing Qi. The optimum time to practice, in ancient...

Cost: Suggested donation: $8-15

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Open Spirit, Sue Dickerman Hall
39 Edwards Street
Framingham, MA  01701
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“Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” — Albert Einstein Ultimately, everything is energy. This demonstration is for...

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White's of Westport
Presidential Room
66 State Road
Westport, MA  02790
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Telephone: 800-288-4850
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Ongoing Hatha yoga classes are held on Wednesdays at the East Smithfield Neighborhood Center from 5:30 - 6:45 p.m. Drop In - $12.00 Tokens may be purchased for 6, 12 or 20 classes. 

Cost: $12

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East Smithfield Neighborhood Center
7 Esmond Street
Providence, RI  02917
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Please join us for meditation, discussion, and refreshments. Newcomers and experienced meditators both welcome. Instruction provided.

Cost: Free, $10 suggested donation

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Advaita Meditation Center
28 Worcester Lane
Waltham, MA
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Join singer-songwriter Linda Marks and her six piece band (Doug Hammer on piano, Dave Landoni on bass, Dave Birkin on saxophone and flute, Geoff Wadsworth on saxophone, Miki Matsuki on drums and...

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Scullers Jazz Club
400 Soldiers Field Rd
Allston, MA  02134
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Telephone: 617-562-4148
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Join us to begin the day as the wise of ancient China have for centuries, stretching, breathing, increasing Qi (chi) (energy), unblocking and balancing Qi. The optimum time to practice, in ancient...

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Open Spirit, Sue Dickerman Hall
39 Edwards Street
Framingham, MA  01701
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Sponsor: Open Spirit
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Foot reflexology intro sessions: 10 minutes for $10 First Thursday of each month 10am-1pm & 4pm-6pm by appointment only. Please call to schedule (603) 557-5163 or email...

Cost: $10 for 10 minutes

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Sole Tranquility
116 South River Rd Located Inside Palliativity Medical Group
Bedford, NH  03110
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Join me for weekly mediumship readings, Akashic Record readings, psychic readings every Thursday starting June 23rd from 11:00am - 4:00pm. Visit website www.debmcbride.net or call 774-266-6199.

Cost: $120 hr or $60 for 30 min

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Sage Inn and Lounge
336 Commercial Street
Provincetown, MA  02657
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