‘How bad are bananas?’

‘How bad are bananas?‘ – by Mike Berners-Lee – – new edition – updated and expanded – 2020 Profile Books.

“I suspect as you are reading this review, you would like to do the right thing for the climate or at least wanted to be armed with the facts so you know how to really reduce your carbon footprint, then this is definitely the book for you.

Firstly, this book is about understanding “the carbon footprint of everything”, so it is not about saving the rain forests or stopping using plastic or increasing biodiversity or reducing waste or being vegan, unless the numbers prove that by doing these things they will reduce your carbon footprint. So by reading the book you will learn that stopping using plastics or even reducing your waste or even increasing biodiversity are not necessary, but stopping burning the rain forests and becoming vegan will definitely reduce your carbon footprint. Obviously, there are other good reasons why you would want to stop using plastics, reduce waste and increase biodiversity. These were some of the areas that climate deniers have tried to use to change the conversation and distract from the existential threat to the planet of ever increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

What’s it all about, the approach is to lay all the facts in front of you about the amount of carbon dioxide that is generated by everyday actions whether it is eating a banana or crashing a car, allowing you to understand how to make better decisions to really cut your carbon footprint.

Bananas are in fact good, as they have a high nutritional value and as they grow in the sun have low inputs, efficient transport by ship means that one banana has only 80g of embedded CO2. Other things are more complicated, 1Kg of UK local tomatoes in July generate around 400g, whereas in March local UK vine tomatoes would generate nearly 50Kg – make sure in March your tomatoes are Spanish which will only have generated around 3Kg. In general, reinforcing the buy the food that is grown locally and in season is best (a helpful chart is included).

Coming back to plastics and waste, single use plastic are very light don’t use much energy to produce, so generate relatively low amounts of carbon dioxide – standard supermarket plastic carrier bag generate 10g, a bag for life 50g, but a single use recycled paper bag generates 12g and a white fancy bag 80g.  Even the cheapest plastic bag normally gets used more than once, whereas many paper bags only get a single use as they get wet or are torn.  To save carbon dioxide by using a ceramic mug over single use polystyrene cups, means you need to use the cup 100s of times and not wash it every time you use it, otherwise you will be saving waste but generating more carbon dioxide.

One thing I particularly like about this book is that it puts things into perspective, so while all the little ways we can reduce our carbon footprint add up, the big decisions have a huge effect.  Flying London to Hong Kong generates at least 3.4 tonnes in economy, a new Land Rover Discovery 35 tonnes (3.5 times the UK average person’s yearly carbon footprint),  hectare of deforestation 80 tonnes, space tourism flight 330 tonnes (~100 x UK footprint).

The new edition of the book published in September 2020 now contains 20 pages of advice on “What we can do”, it puts things into perspective, showing how you can address your own carbon footprint, but also what you can do to lobby the government to play their part as well.  Combined with the detailed information on carbon footprints of everythings the new additions really help to allow everyone to work towards net zero.

I would recommend reading it and keeping it for reference, but don’t take my word – Bill Bryson was happy to add his recommendation “I can’t remember the last time I read a book that was more fascinating and useful and enjoyable”.

There is also a very simple personal carbon calculator from Mike –  – which helps you to see where changes in your carbon footprint could have the biggest effect.”

Simon Gibbon

Successful Build Back Better event

Over 40 people, of all ages, attended the Build Back Better event in Stokesley Town Hall, run by the Climate Action Stokesley and Villages group on Saturday 19th September. Lots of ideas of action that can be taken by individuals were shared around the themes of Energy, Environment, Food, Transport and Waste.

If you weren’t able to visit the event, due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, we will be adding ideas to the website over the next month.

There is still an opportunity to sign the group’s letter to the group’s local MP, Rishi Sunak, online. The letter along with the list of signatories will be sent during a national week of action for a green and fair recovery between the 5th and 11th October.

One of the attendees, Jack Turton, from the Stokesley School Green Group said, 

“As young people, going through school, we are continually working to improve our future. However, I think it is also important for us, as well as older generations, to strive to improve the future of our planet and the environment we live in. I think now, as society is having to adapt and change anyway, is the ideal time to think about what we can to to improve the future and build back better.” 

Food survey

Please complete our survey to help us build up a picture of dietary habits and wishes regarding plant-based food.

The food sub-group has held several meetings recently to look at how to increase the availability of sustainable food. Caroline and Noemi are part of the food sub-group and their goal is it to convince local restaurants and cafés to have (creative) plant-based dishes on their menus. In order to do so they are asking for your help.

“One of the reasons for this is the environmental aspect since plant-based food has been found to have a much lower CO2 impact than meat or dairy products but it’s also about giving vegans the same opportunity as meat eaters to enjoy a good meal out and to socialise. Many restaurants here in the area have either no vegan dishes at all or often just a choice of one. It would be nice to see more balanced menus which are appealing to all their guests, no matter what dietary preferences they have. This would be particularly beneficial for couples or families where one party is a meat eater and the other a vegan.

We were therefore wondering how many people would be happy to order a vegan meal every now and then if it was available and interesting enough. If we have some numbers, we could communicate them to the local businesses which would be a good selling point.

We’re not trying to convert meat eaters into plant eaters, we’re primarily looking for more variety.”

Build Back Better event

Stokesley Town Hall, Saturday 19th September, from 10am to 2pm.

We need you! We need everyone! If you’ve ever felt like you could be doing more to help safeguard your children’s future look no further!

The Climate Action Stokesley and Villages group would like your help in showing our MP Rishi Sunak that a lot of people are asking that the Government take the opportunity to build back better following the Covid-19 pandemic to address the climate and ecological emergency. Now, more than ever, we need to think how we live.

The group will be collecting signatures for a joint letter to Rishi Sunak MP in Stokesley Town Hall on Saturday 19th September, between 10am and 2pm.

We will also be sharing the group’s vision, and actions to realise that vision, for a net-zero carbon area by 2030. Come and share your thoughts on your vision for 2030 and find out more about actions that can be taken including information on new Government grants for insulation and renewable heating; plans to improve the biodiversity of local verges; ideas for moving towards eating more sustainable food; work on the Endeavour Way active travel route between Great Ayton and Stokesley; and how to reduce waste.

If you haven’t been able to make the group’s online meetings, hopefully you can drop in and have a chat.

Build back better letter to MP

We would like your help in showing our MP Rishi Sunak that a lot of people are asking that the Government take the opportunity to build back better following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, more than ever, we need to think how we live. Please sign our online letter to Rishi Sunak, if you live in the Stokesley and Villages area, to show that you want the country to build back better from the Covid-19 pandemic and in so doing address the climate and ecological emergency.

Please can you share the letter with friends, family and colleagues.

We will be sending the letter and the list of signatories to Rishi Sunak MP on Thursday 8th October, along with lots of other groups around the country, as part of the Build Back Better campaign.

Keep well and look after yourselves, each other and the planet.


On behalf of the Climate Action Stokesley and Villages Steering Group

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Climate action meeting 18th August

We will be having an online meeting on Tuesday 18th August. We thought we would have a short meeting in August from 8:00 – 9:00 pm, with the steering group meeting from 7:30 – 8:00 pm. This will give the different sub-groups, that have been ‘meeting’ through a variety of formats, a chance to hear what progress has been made with the move from visioning to action planning.

If you would like to join the online meeting, and are not already on our mailing list, please contact us for details.

Endeavour Way update July 2020

Last week the Government launched its new Cycling and Walking Plan for England along with a range of measures to encourage walking and cycling. There isn’t a better time to push for routes needed to help decarbonise transport.

In order to move forward with the plans for the Endeavour Way, a new sub-group of the Stokesley and Community Partnership has been set up. The group is called the Public and Active Transport – Stokesley and Villages (PAT) group and in the long term it will have a wider remit than the Endeavour Way.

The group has submitted a response to North Yorkshire County Council’s call for Councillors and walking/cycling groups to prioritise routes for funding through the Emergency Active Travel fund. Unfortunately, this fund is not appropriate for the Endeavour Way route due to the size of the pot of money and when it needs to be spent. However, the group look forward to having a conversation with North Yorkshire County Council about working together to be ready to access appropriate funding when it becomes available.

North Yorkshire County Council has asked people to add routes they would like developed to their online map using a simple form. Please can you add the Endeavour Way route to show the level of support there is for the route and any other routes you would like to see be developed. 

Group update 6th July

Our latest group update including a request for you to join in the Build Back Better campaign and urge you to ask your friends and neighbours as well in order to show our MP that a lot of his constituents are asking for a green recovery plan from the coronavirus pandemic.  

If you would like to sign up to receive group updates, then please complete our mailing list form.

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