Is Eating Bananas Ethical & Sustainable? Here Are the Facts
Impactful Ninja is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Hey fellow impactful ninja ? You may have noticed that Impactful Ninja is all about providing helpful information to make a positive impact on the world and society. And that we love to link back to where we found all the information for each of our posts. Most of these links are informational-based for you to check out their primary sources with one click. But some of these links are so-called "affiliate links" to products that we recommend. First and foremost, because we believe that they add value to you. For example, when we wrote a post about the environmental impact of long showers, we came across an EPA recommendation to use WaterSense showerheads. So we linked to where you can find them. Or, for many of our posts, we also link to our favorite books on that topic so that you can get a much more holistic overview than one single blog post could provide. And when there is an affiliate program for these products, we sign up for it. For example, as Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases. First, and most importantly, we still only recommend products that we believe add value for you. When you buy something through one of our affiliate links, we may earn a small commission - but at no additional costs to you. And when you buy something through a link that is not an affiliate link, we won’t receive any commission but we’ll still be happy to have helped you. When we find products that we believe add value to you and the seller has an affiliate program, we sign up for it. When you buy something through one of our affiliate links, we may earn a small commission (at no extra costs to you). And at this point in time, all money is reinvested in sharing the most helpful content with you. This includes all operating costs for running this site and the content creation itself. You may have noticed by the way Impactful Ninja is operated that money is not the driving factor behind it. It is a passion project of mine and I love to share helpful information with you to make a positive impact on the world and society. However, it's a project in that I invest a lot of time and also quite some money. Eventually, my dream is to one day turn this passion project into my full-time job and provide even more helpful information. But that's still a long time to go. Stay impactful,
Why do we add these product links?
What do these affiliate links mean for you?
What do these affiliate links mean for us?
What does this mean for me personally?
Hey fellow impactful ninja ?
You may have noticed that Impactful Ninja is all about providing helpful information to make a positive impact on the world and society. And that we love to link back to where we found all the information for each of our posts.
Most of these links are informational-based for you to check out their primary sources with one click.
But some of these links are so-called "affiliate links" to products that we recommend.
First and foremost, because we believe that they add value to you. For example, when we wrote a post about the environmental impact of long showers, we came across an EPA recommendation to use WaterSense showerheads. So we linked to where you can find them. Or, for many of our posts, we also link to our favorite books on that topic so that you can get a much more holistic overview than one single blog post could provide.
And when there is an affiliate program for these products, we sign up for it. For example, as Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases.
First, and most importantly, we still only recommend products that we believe add value for you.
When you buy something through one of our affiliate links, we may earn a small commission - but at no additional costs to you.
And when you buy something through a link that is not an affiliate link, we won’t receive any commission but we’ll still be happy to have helped you.
When we find products that we believe add value to you and the seller has an affiliate program, we sign up for it.
When you buy something through one of our affiliate links, we may earn a small commission (at no extra costs to you).
And at this point in time, all money is reinvested in sharing the most helpful content with you. This includes all operating costs for running this site and the content creation itself.
You may have noticed by the way Impactful Ninja is operated that money is not the driving factor behind it. It is a passion project of mine and I love to share helpful information with you to make a positive impact on the world and society. However, it's a project in that I invest a lot of time and also quite some money.
Eventually, my dream is to one day turn this passion project into my full-time job and provide even more helpful information. But that's still a long time to go.
Bananas are a very popular fruit, with over 100 billion consumed every year, especially considering their wide culinary uses, from banana bread to milkshakes. They also have some notable health benefits. They’re high in fiber, protein, and potassium. However, there can also be some extremely unethical and unsustainable components to banana production. So we had to ask: Is eating bananas ethical and sustainable?
Eating bananas is extremely unethical. There have been reports of child labor in Ecuador, as well as reports of extreme health concerns and low wages within the banana industry. However, there aren’t reports of this in the—small—US banana industry.
Eating bananas is fairly unsustainable. They use a significant amount of pesticides, grow in monocultures, and contribute to landfills through plastic and organic waste. However, they require minimal irrigation and have economical land usage.
In this article, we will assess both the ethical and sustainability practices of the banana industry. Through these two lenses, you will be able to gain in-depth knowledge of the overall impacts of the bananas that you eat!
Here’s How We Assessed the Ethics & Sustainability of Bananas
The Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems (SAFA) is one of the ways we measure the externalities of our actions, like the consumption of bananas. It is a holistic assessment based on the potential impact of food and agriculture operations on the environment and people. Those impacts are changes in our environment that can have adverse effects on the air, land, water, fish, and wildlife or the inhabitants of the ecosystem.
“Ethical: The discipline concerned with what is morally good and bad and morally right and wrong”Encyclopedia Britannica
Ethics and sustainability are closely interconnected concepts that share a common objective: the well-being and preservation of our planet, including all its life and future generations.
“Sustainable: The ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level | Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance”Oxford Dictionary
Basically, all goods and services you buy—including bananas—leave an impact on people, animals, and our environment. And when it comes to food in general—and bananas in specific—the following are key factors for their ethics and sustainability:
- Social and economic conditions: The ethics of food crucially depends on the social and economic conditions of the farmers who grow them. Especially on fair labor practices, including fair wages and safe working conditions.
- Seasonality: Eating seasonally is a lever of sustainability. The two key reasons are that seasonal food is more likely grown in their “natural growing season” without using greenhouses, and also more likely to be grown locally.
- Land requirements: Large parts of the world that were once covered by forests and wildlands are now used for agriculture. 10 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually and 50% of the world’s habitable land is now used for agriculture. This loss of natural habitat has been the main driver for reducing the world’s biodiversity.
- Water footprint: 70% of global freshwater is now used for agricultural purposes. By assessing the water footprint of a particular food, we can determine how our limited freshwater resources are being consumed and polluted.
- Pesticide and fertilizer usage: Pesticides and fertilizers provide a range of agricultural benefits. However, numerous studies link pesticides and fertilizers to serious effects on human health, along with disruptions to vital ecosystems and the spread of aquatic dead zones.
- Carbon footprint: The carbon footprint is one of the ways we measure the effects of our human-induced global climate change. Today, food production accounts for over a quarter (26%) of global greenhouse gas emissions.
- Waste generation: Food and its packaging account for almost 45% of the materials landfilled in the US alone. And packaging sent to landfills, especially when made from plastics, does not degrade quickly or, in some cases, at all.
To understand the overall environmental impact of bananas, we must assess each of their key factors. This Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems (SAFA) is a tool developed for assessing the impact of food and agriculture operations on the environment and people. And this tool helps us to evaluate whether eating bananas is ethical & sustainable.
Here’s How Ethical & Sustainable Eating Bananas Is
The overall ethics & sustainability of bananas is extremely bad. The most prominent factors are their child labor reports in Ecuador, significant packaging and food waste, high pesticide use, and harmful monoculture farming practices.
There are many things that bananas have going for them in terms of sustainability. For example, they have very economic land yields, quick growth times, and require minimal irrigation. However, there are still many unsustainable and unethical practices in their production.
|Key Assessment Factors
|Ethics & Sustainability
|Social and economic conditions of bananas
|Bananas’ social and economic conditions are very bad. This is mainly because of reports of child labor, unsafe working conditions, and low pay.
|Seasonality of bananas
|Bananas need to be imported all year round. Because their seasonality does not vary, bananas are fairly unsustainably throughout the year.
|Land requirements for bananas
|Bananas’ land requirements are minimal. Banana plants take up little space per fruit, sequester carbon effectively, and grow very fast. Though, they are still fairly unsustainable because of their use of monoculture farming methods. Furthermore, high demand for bananas has caused significant deforestation, particularly in Costa Rica.
|Water footprint of bananas
|Bananas have a water footprint of about 50–75 inches of water per year. They require minimal irrigation, but need a significant amount of water to clean up their high pesticide residues. These pesticides can also seep into natural water sources, potentially harming local wildlife.
|Agrochemical usage for bananas
|Bananas’ use of pesticides and fertilizers is fairly unsustainable. This is because they use a higher-than-average amount of pesticides and nitrogen fertilizers during the growth process compared to other fruits.
|Carbon footprint of bananas
|Bananas have a moderate carbon footprint of 0.21 kg (0.48 lb) of CO2e per pound of bananas. The main factors that contribute to these emissions are transportation fuel, pesticides usage, and plastic waste. They have a relatively high carbon footprint compared to many other fruits.
|Waste generation of bananas
|The waste generation of bananas is significant. They produce a large amount of organic waste and plastic waste. Both of these types of waste mainly go to landfills, meaning they are very unsustainable.
These are the overall summaries, but there is a lot more to the story. In the next few sections, we will dive deeper into each stage to illustrate to you all the important aspects of bananas’ ethics & sustainability.
How Ethical & Sustainable Are the Social and Economic Conditions for Bananas
Bananas’ social and economic conditions are very bad. This is mainly because of reports of child labor, unsafe working conditions, and low pay.
Everything we consume was made or harvested by somebody. In past centuries, this was often someone who lived in your community and who you might have even known personally. But through the rise of globalized distribution systems, we have become increasingly alienated from the people who make our food. This leaves a lot of room for exploitation and abuse, both of which are rampant in the food industry. Here, we will look at how the banana industry fares in relation to these ethical questions.
How ethical & sustainable are the social and economic conditions of growing bananas?
- Are farmers paid fair wages to grow bananas: The Guatemalan banana industry—where the US gets most of their bananas—is one of the most notorious fruit industries in the world. Guatemalan banana workers make extremely low wages with little to no unions to protect them. Furthermore, those looking to establish unions have been reportedly kidnapped, murdered, and even tortured. This means that the banana industry in Guatemala is, for the most part, very unethical.
- How safe are the working conditions to grow bananas: Especially among non-unionized Guatemalan banana workers, the conditions can be very bad. Some of these poor conditions include long working hours, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, and Covid-19 violations. These are very bad conditions, meaning the banana industry is very unethical.
- Are there reports of child or forced labor to grow bananas: There have been numerous reports of child labor within the banana industry, especially in Ecuador, Belize, and Brazil. Bananas that come from these countries have a high likelihood of being picked using child labor.
- What is the wider economic impact on the communities that grow bananas: Much of the employment in the Central American banana industry is unstable. This is partially due to seasonal economies, meaning that many workers cannot make ends meet year-round. In this sense, the economic impact can be very bad because there is a lack of stability.
In short, the banana industry’s use of child labor, as well as poor working conditions and low pay mean they are one of the most unethical fruits out there.
How Ethical & Sustainable Are the Seasonality for Bananas
Bananas need to be imported all year round. Because their seasonality does not vary, bananas are fairly unsustainably throughout the year.
Every fruit has a natural season in which they grow, usually lasting a couple of months, which can range depending on the region. However, international demand for every kind of fruit is year-round. This demand is often met by importing fruits from tropical places which can grow year-round, or by growing them in greenhouses. Both of these methods use more resources and are thus less sustainable than conventional farming. Here, we will look at how the banana industry accommodates year-round demand.
How ethical & sustainable is it to grow bananas in-season vs out-of-season?
- When is the natural season for growing and harvesting bananas: Bananas are available year-round and so they don’t have different levels of sustainability throughout the year. However, they are not typically grown in the US, which means that most bananas will be imported from Guatemala. Therefore, no matter the time of year you buy your bananas, they will be fairly unsustainable.
In short, bananas are fairly unsustainable year-round, since they need to be imported all the time.
How Ethical & Sustainable Are the Land Requirements for Bananas
Bananas’ land requirements are minimal. Banana plants take up little space per fruit, sequester carbon effectively, and grow very fast. Though, they are still fairly unsustainable because of their use of monoculture farming methods. Furthermore, high demand for bananas has caused significant deforestation, particularly in Costa Rica.
The growth stage has a major impact on fruits’ sustainability. The amount of land used, especially in relation to its expansion, the method with which they are grown, and their effect on surrounding land and wildlife are all important factors. In this section, we will look at the ways in which bananas’ land usage affects their sustainability.
How ethical & sustainable are the land requirements for growing bananas?
- What is the land usage of bananas: Banana farms can yield very high quantities, up to 100 tons per hectare. This is one of the highest yields amongst fruits. For example, watermelons only yield around 2–3 tons per hectare. This means that each banana has a lower square foot requirement than other fruits. However, due to the extreme demand for bananas, they actually still cause significant deforestation, especially in the Costa Rican rainforest, to construct farms.
- Where and how are bananas grown: Bananas grow on banana bushes. These bushes have natural carbon sequestration properties. This means that some of their carbon emissions are offset by their ability to store carbon in the ground. US-consumed bananas are mainly grown in Guatemala, which has a mountainous geography. Unfortunately, however, bananas are also grown in monoculture formations. Monocultures lack biodiversity and thus are bad for wildlife and soil microbes.
- How does the banana industry affect the loss of habitable land: Bananas are mainly grown in Guatemala, but many are also grown in South America. Bananas have been named as a significant contributor to rainforest destruction. The Amazon has been home to indigenous peoples for millennia, many of whom have filed lawsuits against agricultural corporations for destruction of their lands. As of 2017, banana farming takes up 5.6 million hectares of land.
- How does the banana industry affect wildlife and biodiversity: Monoculture farming in the banana industry harms wildlife significantly due to biodiversity loss. Deforestation also has a devastating effect on wildlife. For example, Costa Rica holds 5% of the world’s biodiversity. In 1992, the Province of Limon lost 166,460 hectares of forest which displaced numerous species such as monkeys, sloths, and various bird species.
In short, bananas’ land requirements are very unsustainable. They are extremely land efficient, have carbon-sequestering properties, and have a short growth turnaround. However, their monoculture growth practices and the significant expansion of the industry has led to mass rainforest destruction and biodiversity loss.
How Ethical & Sustainable Is the Water Footprint of Bananas
Bananas have a water footprint of about 50–75 inches of water per year. They require minimal irrigation, but need a significant amount of water to clean up their high pesticide residues. These pesticides can also seep into natural water sources, potentially harming local wildlife.
Water usage is one of the most important factors in a fruit’s sustainability. Practices like irrigation use significant resources and can cause pollution, and as such, factors like the amount of water used, where it is sourced, as well as the way they affect the water sources around them, are all important. Here, we will look at these different angles of bananas’ water footprint.
How ethical & sustainable is the water footprint of growing bananas?
- What is the overall water usage of bananas: Bananas require about 50–75 inches of water per year, equivalent to around 52 gallons of water per year. This is on the moderate side of water usage for a fruit, with other fruits such as citrus having significantly higher water usage.
- What is the green water footprint of bananas: The green water footprint is the amount of water from precipitation stored in the soil and used by plants for growth. Most bananas consumed in the US are grown in Guatemala. Guatemala gets around 50 inches of rain per year. This covers the lower end of bananas’ water needs, which are 50–75 inches of rain per year. Thus, natural sources account for the majority of bananas’ water needs, so their green water footprint is fairly high.
- What is the blue water footprint of bananas: The blue water footprint is the amount of water sourced from surface (such as rivers or lakes) or groundwater resources. Bananas may require some additional water outside of the 50 inches of rain per year in Guatemala to cover their 50–75 inch per year requirement. Thus, there may be some additional irrigation required. Irrigation is very unsustainable, due mainly to its high carbon footprint and modification of groundwater balance.
- What is the gray water footprint of bananas: The gray water footprint is the amount of freshwater required to clean up water pollution to meet certain quality standards. Essentially, it’s the amount of water needed to make polluted water clean enough to be safe and healthy for humans and the environment. Bananas use higher than average pesticides. Pesticides pollute the groundwater, meaning excess water is required to clean them up. Because of their heavy pesticide use, bananas have a significantly high gray water footprint.
- How does the banana industry affect freshwater and ocean pollution: Bananas’ high pesticide usage is very detrimental to water sources. Pesticide pollution can easily get into freshwater sources, where it causes a great deal of harm to marine life. For example, spectacled caimans in Costa Rican rivers have been found with traces of 9 pesticides in their blood, 7 of which have been banned for use since 2011. Results of this study showed that caimans close to banana plantations were consistently in much poorer health than those further upstream.
In short, the water footprint of bananas is fairly high. Though they don’t require too much irrigation, they do require a lot of water to clean up their high pesticide pollution. Furthermore, there is evidence that heavy pesticide use is impacting local wildlife populations.
How Ethical & Sustainable Is the Agrochemical Usage for Bananas
Bananas’ use of pesticides and fertilizers is fairly unsustainable. This is because they use a higher-than-average amount of pesticides and nitrogen fertilizers during the growth process compared to other fruits.
Pesticides and fertilizers are agrochemicals that are very unsustainable and damaging to ecosystems. This is because they require resources to create and can easily run off into groundwater and soil systems. Here, we will look at how sustainable bananas’ pesticide and fertilizer rates really are.
How ethical & sustainable is the agrochemical usage of growing bananas?
- What is the pesticide usage of bananas: Bananas use a high amount of pesticides. Pesticides are very unsustainable because they pollute groundwater, have a high carbon footprint, and can even harm wildlife.
- What is the fertilizer usage of bananas: The main fertilizer that bananas use is potassium. Potassium generally has minimal negative impact on the environment. They also use phosphorus, nitrogen, and magnesium. Nitrogen has a significantly negative environmental impact. Although bananas use more potassium than harmful nitrogen fertilizer, they are still fairly unsustainable in their fertilizer use compared to many other fruits.
- Are there any known issues connected to the agrochemical usage for bananas: According to a 2015 report, bananas had the highest agrochemical usage rates of any other food. According to the same study, the World Health Organization has deemed many of these agrochemicals particularly hazardous.
In short, the significant use of pesticides and moderate use of nitrogen fertilizer means that bananas are very unsustainable at this stage.
How Ethical & Sustainable Is the Carbon Footprint of Bananas
Bananas have a moderate carbon footprint of 0.21 kg (0.48 lb) of CO2e per pound of bananas. The main factors that contribute to these emissions are transportation fuel, pesticides usage, and plastic waste. They have a relatively high carbon footprint compared to many other fruits.
Carbon footprint is one aspect of the overall sustainability of a fruit. It essentially measures how much carbon or other greenhouse gasses the production of fruits emits into the atmosphere. Emissions from product manufacturing, irrigation, transportation fuel, and landfills all add up to create the overall carbon footprint of a fruit. Let’s see how the carbon footprint of bananas contributes to their overall sustainability.
How ethical & sustainable is the carbon footprint of bananas?
- What is the overall carbon footprint of bananas: The overall carbon footprint of bananas is 0.21 kg (0.48 lb) of CO2e per pound of bananas. This means that for every pound of bananas produced, 0.21kg of carbon is released into the atmosphere. This is a below-average carbon footprint among fruits.
- What are the main contributors to the carbon footprint of bananas: The main contributing factors to bananas’ carbon footprint are their use of plastic packaging, high pesticide use, and high transportation distances in refrigerated trucks.
- Which life-cycle stage of bananas has the highest carbon footprint: The end-of-life stage of bananas’ life cycle has the highest carbon footprint. This is because bananas use plastic packaging, which has a low recycling rate, and have low composting rates for their food waste.
In short, several factors, such as packaging and pesticides, contribute to the carbon footprint of bananas.
How Ethical & Sustainable Is the Waste Generation of Bananas
The waste generation of bananas is significant. They produce a large amount of organic waste and plastic waste. Both of these types of waste mainly go to landfills, meaning they are very unsustainable.
When fruit waste, either in the form of packaging or organic materials, is disposed of, it can cause a lot of problems. Whether it’s damaging wildlife, getting into oceans, emitting methane, or dissolving into microplastics that contaminate groundwater, all these materials have their part to play. The sheer amount of waste we produce is reaching a crisis point and won’t be able to continue much longer. In this section, we will look at how sustainable bananas’ waste generation is.
How ethical & sustainable is the waste generation of bananas?
- What is the packaging of bananas: Bananas are packed in cardboard cartons with plastic covering. Plastic is extremely unsustainable, with consequences like affecting ocean life, emitting greenhouse gasses in its creation, and creating toxic microplastics that get into groundwater and food. Cardboard, though better than plastic, still contributes to deforestation which is very unsustainable.
- How is the packaging of bananas disposed of: Plastic and cardboard can both be recycled, but they have very different recycling rates. Plastic has a low recycling rate of around 9%, whereas cardboard has a high recycling rate of around 89%. Because of the low recycling rates, the plastic component of banana packaging tends to end up in landfills. Landfills are very unsustainable. They emit carbon, pollute the soil, and harm wildlife.
- How are bananas disposed of: Bananas have peels that can theoretically be composted. However, food in general has a very low composting rate of around 4%. This means that the majority of banana waste ends up in landfills. Besides the general unsustainability of landfills, they also generate the greenhouse gas methane with food waste. On top of the peels from the 100 billion bananas consumed every year globally, Americans are estimated to throw away 5 billion full bananas annually. Thus, bananas are very unsustainable at this stage.
In short, the types of packaging used—mainly plastic—as well as the organic waste from bananas frequently end up in landfills, making them extremely unsustainable.
What Have Been Historical Ethics & Sustainability Issues Connected to the Banana Industry
Bananas have partaken in several farming practices that have harmed people and the environment significantly over the years. These include reports of worker endangerment, destruction of the Amazon, damage to aquatic life from pesticides, and disruption of water balance.
All fruits have had a complex road toward global distribution. They originate in one part of the world and often travel far to end up in your local supermarket. From farm to table, some of our favorite fruits have racked up some serious damage along the way. Whether it’s exploiting labor, deforestation to meet demand, water pollution, or disruption of wildlife, most fruits have left a path of destruction. Let’s see how bananas have fared throughout history.
What have been the key ethical & sustainable issues of the banana industry?
- Has labor been exploited because of banana production: The banana industry has been very notorious for labor violations over the years. One case in 2022 had banana workers suing their employers over alleged exposure to dangerous chemicals. Cases like this show that the banana industry has endangered their workers in the past.
- How much land has been lost because of banana production: Land devoted to banana use has gone up considerably over the years. Between 1993 and 2017, bananas’ global land use increased by 2 million hectares from 3.6 million to 5.6 million. India and China in particular increased their banana production by 48% and 83%, respectively, between 2000 and 2015. All of these expansions have encroached considerably on wildlands over the last few decades.
- Which wildlife species have been negatively impacted or displaced because of banana production: Many animal and insect species native to the Amazon rainforest have been negatively affected by the banana industry. Since 1998, humans have destroyed an average of 4,000 hectares of rainforest every day, in part due to agricultural lands for products like bananas. Every hectare of rainforest contains over 40,000 insect species, as well as hundreds of trees, plants, and animals. This means that the 4,000 hectares destroyed every day are eliminating habitats for millions of plants and animals. Aquatic life has also been seriously harmed by the extremely high agrichemical use of bananas.
- Have water sources and soil been contaminated because of banana production: Bananas’ use of agrichemicals has had a severe effect on water sources. Pesticides and fertilizers can easily end up in freshwater sources, which harms humans and wildlife alike. Bananas’ water usage has also led to excessive draining of water resources in nearby areas, which has permanently damaged the environment and caused droughts.
In short, bananas have had a severe impact on workers and the environment over the years, from causing severe deforestation to endangering workers and contaminating water sources.
How Can You Reduce Your Environmental Impact and Offset Your Personal Carbon Footprint
There are a few things you can do to make your banana consumption more ethical and sustainable, while still enjoying them. You can also consider offsetting your personal and banana-related carbon emissions, which work to remove carbon emissions elsewhere that are then attributed to you. Here, we will walk you through how to accomplish both of these things.
How Can You Shop for Bananas More Ethically & Sustainably
In this section, we give you a short list of ways you can consume bananas in a more sustainable way. This list is designed to target the most unsustainable parts of bananas’ life-cycle:
- Buy fair-trade bananas: Bananas are some of the most unethical fruits, but the good news is that there are a significant amount of fair trade banana farms. If you want to support them, you will be helping to make your banana consumption more ethical.
- Buy organic bananas: Pesticides contribute heavily to the negative environmental impacts of bananas. Organic farms, however, generally avoid high amounts of chemical pesticides and nitrogen fertilizers and so they are good to support if you want to reduce your pesticide and fertilizer impact. Additionally, pesticides are a danger to workers and so buying bananas with fewer chemicals means that workers may be exposed to fewer hazards.
- Compost and recycle: Landfills are a very unsustainable aspect of the banana industry. Try to recycle as much of the packaging and compost as much of the organic waste of bananas as you can. This way, you will be contributing far less to landfills and thereby making your banana consumption more sustainable.
- Use bananas before they go bad: With 5 billion whole bananas wasted every year, it is imperative that banana consumers try to waste as little as possible. Try to consume your bananas as soon as you can after buying them so they don’t go bad. If they are too brown to eat, consider turning them into banana bread to keep them from the landfills.
- Reuse banana peels: Instead of throwing them away, use your banana peels as natural aphid deterrents or even to remove scratches from CD’s and DVD’s!
Following some of these methods can really help you to make your banana-eating more sustainable. None of these will completely eradicate the negative impacts, since there are always effects that may be outside of your control. But some reduction is always better than nothing!
Which Organizations Can You Support to Help Promote Ethics & Sustainability
While banana production engages in some very unsustainable practices, there are also some organizations that help you change the parts of these processes that would otherwise be outside of your control. These organizations are working hard to prevent and reverse damage to the environment caused by industries like banana agriculture, towards a more sustainable future.
In the table below are some of the best charities that work in the areas where banana production are very unsustainable—and beyond:
Though it is helpful to boost the sustainability of your personal banana consumption, supporting these organizations takes your positive impact a step further. You will be reaching far beyond your own consumption impacts and helping to build a better world for everyone!
How Can You Offset Your Personal Carbon Footprint
The carbon footprint is a key part of how sustainable we live. And it is one of the ways we measure the effects of our human-induced global climate change. Yes, even from eating bananas!
“Carbon footprint: the amount of greenhouse gasses and specifically carbon dioxide emitted by something (such as a person’s activities or a product’s manufacture and transport) during a given period”Merriam Webster
Basically, it is the amount of carbon emitted by you as an individual or an organization providing you with goods and services – including bananas:
- This includes GHG emissions from producing the products that we use and foods that we eat (e.g., power plants, factories or farms, and landfills)
- GHG emissions from fuel that we burn directly or indirectly (e.g., logistics and transportation, cooling or heating facilities),
- as well as the GHG emissions attributed to how we consume these products and foods.
Carbon offsets are reductions in carbon emissions that are used to compensate for carbon emissions occurring elsewhere – for example for the carbon emissions that are associated with bananas. They are measured in tons of CO2 equivalents and are bought and sold through international brokers, online retailers, and trading platforms on what is known as the global carbon offset market.
“Carbon Offset: a way for a company or person to reduce the level of carbon dioxide for which they are responsible by paying money to a company that works to reduce the total amount produced in the world, for example by planting trees”Oxford Dictionary
In terms of bananas – and indeed all food types – there will always be a carbon footprint, because of the resources it takes to get your food from farms to the place where you’ll eventually eat them. And while there are ways to reduce your carbon footprint when shopping for bananas, carbon offsets would be a way to reduce your CO2e emissions all the way down to net zero (or even to become climate positive).
However, when you purchase carbon offsets, it’s important that they actually make a difference in offsetting (aka reducing) total carbon emissions. To achieve that, the following are key criteria:
- Carbon offset projects have to be effective (different projects have different effectiveness rates)
- Carbon offset projects have to be additional
- Carbon offset projects have to be permanent
- The claims from carbon offset projects have to be verifiable
To find the best carbon offsets for you personally, check out our full guide on the best carbon offsets for individuals, where you’ll also learn more about how these carbon offset projects work, what their respective offsetting costs are, and what your best way would be to offset your own carbon emissions.
Bananas may be one of the most popular fruits, but that doesn’t stop them from being very unethical and unsustainable. Their use of monoculture farming, excessive pesticides, and plastic packaging mean that their production is extremely unsustainable and their use of child labor, as well as low wages are incredibly unethical. However, through organic shopping and waste mitigation, as well as supporting sustainability organizations, you can help to make your banana consumption much more ethical and sustainable.
- FAO: Banana Facts and Figures
- Harvard: Banana Nutrition
- Simply Recipes: Banana Bread
- Allrecipes: Quick Banana Milkshake
- Liquor.com: Banana Daiquiri
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: SAFA (Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems) Guidelines
- Food Ethics Council: What is food ethics?
- The Fair Labor Association: Agriculture Standards
- MDPI Sustainability: Eating in Season—A Lever of Sustainability? An Interview Study on the Social Perception of Seasonal Consumption
- MDPI Foods: The Role of Local Seasonal Foods in Enhancing Sustainable Food Consumption: A Systematic Literature Review
- UN Environment Programme: Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment: Towards an Integrated Approach
- Our World in Data: The environmental impacts of food and agriculture
- Our World in Data: Global land use for food production
- World Health Organization: Preventing disease through healthy environments: a global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks
- ScienceDirect (Biological Conservation): Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers
- EPA: The Sources and Solutions: Agriculture
- EPA: Reducing Food Waste and Packaging
- FoodPrint: The Environmental Impact of Food Packaging
- Impactful Ninja: What is the Carbon Footprint of Bananas
- World Atlas: Where Do America’s Bananas Come From?
- Fresh Fruit Portal: Low Wages and Union Violence Tarnish Guatemala’s Banana Trade
- Bananalink: Guatemala
- Business Human Rights: Guatemala Non-Unionized Banana Workers Earn Less
- NCL Net: Child Labor in Banana Production
- Fair Trade: Farmers and Workers
- Banana Link: All About Bananas
- Linkedin: Profitable Banana Farming
- Impactful Ninja: What is the Carbon Footprint of Watermelons
- Bananalink: All About Bananas
- Scientific.net: Carbon Storage and Sequestration of Bananas
- World Atlas: Where Do Americans’ Bananas Come From
- Country Reports: Guatemala
- Bananageddon: The Science of Bananas
- EOS: Monoculture Farming Explained
- Rainforest Alliance: Bananas From Brunch to Breakfast
- Rainforest Concern: Why Are Rainforests Being Destroyed
- Reuters: Indigenous Amazonians Sue Retailer
- Ecologi: How Does Deforestation Impact Wildlife and Biodiversity
- Rainforest Alliance: Bananas
- Happy Sprout: When Do Banana Trees Produce Fruit?
- Home Guides: Banana Plants and Irrigation
- Eco Family Life: How Much Water Does a Banana Tree Need?
- Arizona: Irrigating Citrus Trees
- Water Footprint: What is a Water Footprint?
- World Atlas: Where Do America’s Bananas Come From?
- Climates to Travel: Guatemala
- Science Direct: Energy and Carbon Footprint of Irrigation
- World Atlas: What is the Environmental Impact of Irrigation?
- Greyhound Chrom: Why Do Bananas Require So Many Pesticides?
- USGS: Pesticides in Groundwater
- Science Direct: Towards Understanding the Impact of Pesticides on Freshwater
- IUCN: Marine Plastic Pollution
- Pesticide.org: Pesticides and the Climate Crisis
- GOV.BC: Environmental Protection and Pesticides
- Home for the Harvest: How to Fertilize Banana Trees
- Plant Nutrition: Potassium
- Mitsui: Reducing the Environmental Impact of Chemical Fertilizers
- Bananalink: The Problem With Bananas
- The Guardian: What is the Carbon Footprint of a Banana
- Agric: Harvesting, Packing, and Storing Bananas
- St Mary Gillingham: Journey of Bananas
- Also Known As: 12 Interesting Facts About Packaging Waste
- EPA: Reducing the Impact of Waste Food
- Biological Diversity: The Plastic-Production Problem
- Teorra: What is the Carbon Footprint of Packaging
- UNEP: Plastic Planet
- TRVST: Environmental Impact of Cardboard
- SL Recycling Ltd: What Are the Negative Effects of Landfill
- GOV.BC: Waste Management
- Chicago Tribune: 5 Million Bananas Get Thrown Away Each Year
- Rainforest Alliance: Banana
- Sentient Media: Amazon Deforestation
- NPS: Wildlife of the Tropical Rainforests
- Corp Watch: Nicaraguan Banana Workers’ Lawsuit
- FAO: Water Footprint of the Banana
- Our World in Data: Greenhouse Gas Emissions per 1,000 kilocalories
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Climate Change Terms
- Impactful Ninja: Best Charities That Advance Ethics Worldwide
- Impactful Ninja: Best Charities That Promote Sustainability
- Impactful Ninja: Best Charities That Help Farmers
- Impactful Ninja: Best Charities That Fight to Protect our Environment
- Impactful Ninja: Best Charities for Reforestation
- Impactful Ninja: Best Wildlife Conservation Charities
- Impactful Ninja: Best Charities for Protecting the Amazon Rainforest
- Impactful Ninja: Best Charities That Fight for Clean Water
- Impactful Ninja: Best Charities That Help Conserve Our Rivers
- Impactful Ninja: Best Charities to Save Our Oceans
- Impactful Ninja: Best Charities for Helping Farm Animals
- Impactful Ninja: Best Charities for Climate Change
- Impactful Ninja: Best Carbon Offsets for Individuals
- Impactful Ninja: Best Charities That Fight to Reduce Food Waste
- Impactful Ninja: Best Charities That Fight to End Plastic Pollution
- Impactful Ninja: Best Charities That Promote Recycling
- Impactful Ninja: Why Is a Carbon Footprint Bad for the Environment?
- Impactful Ninja: Best Carbon Offsets for Individuals