The guilt-free guide to being a better person in 2019

We’re all trying our best to be ‘woke’, ethical and sustainable. But then again‚ sometimes it’s hard to know what the damn rules are. Here, Francesca Hornak breaks it down

Recycling

Essential, obviously. But if only waste disposal didn’t come with so many diktats. How clean must an empty pot of Yeo Valley be to guarantee recycling? What about an empty can of sustainably sourced tuna? Is a rinse fine, or does it need to go in the dishwasher, or is that a waste of energy? Which bin does cling film go in? What about cellophane? And Jiffy bags – part paper, part plastic? These are the kind of quandaries that have seen sane people get out of bed to give the hummus pot in the green box an extra wash, for luck.

Coffee Cups

Hooray for KeepCups! So simple, so stylish! Except that every morning one of two things will happen. You’ll either realise, as you rummage for the sodding cup at the front of a long, tetchy queue for coffee, that you have forgotten it and will have to sidle to your desk with a shameful disposable cup, conscious that yesterday you were talking loudly about ‘that documentary on plastics’. Or you’ll remember the KeepCup just as you’re about to leave home, and locate it sitting in your bag, coated in stale coffee from the day before. You’ll then make yourself late washing it, and detect a hint of Fairy Liquid in your flat white.

‘Why do I never have one of my 500 canvas totes when I’m actually in a shop?’

Facebook

Isn’t there something innately unclean about Facebook? Even before fake news and all its attendant moral dilemmas, the whole place always felt grubby, posting content for likes from people you neither like nor care about. But still we can’t help ourselves stalking the girl everyone fancied at school and then cursing Mark Zuckerberg for stealing another hour of our lives.

Bags for life

Is it wrong to miss, just slightly, the time when there was always a spare plastic bag kicking around at home? Something to line the bathroom bin with, or shove your muddy trainers in? It is wrong, and you know it. As a result, you now have a huge collection of bags for life under your sink, and an uneasy feeling that these might take even longer to biodegrade than the flimsy plastic bags of yesterday. See also: why do I never have one of my 500 canvas totes when I’m actually in a shop?

Periods

Once, you could unwrap a Tampax Compak without seeing a little grenade of toxic plastic, waiting to wash up on a beach. And in a few years’ time, we’ll probably all have mastered Mooncups and Dear Kate pants (does anyone else find this off-puttingly close to a nappy?). But until then, no woman should be begrudged the occasional Lil-Let.

Veganism

Touted as the no-brainer route to a more sustainable life (assuming you can find joy in life without cheese). That is, until you Google ‘air miles from almond milk’ or ‘is coconut oil worse for you than butter?’ and feel immediately exhausted. But let’s face it, who regularly has time to roast legs of lamb anyway? You’re probably unintentionally vegan half the time out of sheer culinary laziness. Job done.

In case you need even more help living a guilt-free life, take a look at our handy Q&A below

How clean does a yoghurt pot need to be recycled?

As clean as you can get it. According to the North London Food Waste Authority, via Metro, ‘Food residue is a form of contamination because food residue left on containers cannot be reliably processed… If contamination levels are too high when a recycling load arrives at the facility, it might have to be rejected.  If this is the case, then the whole load is sent to be burnt for energy or to landfill.’

Can you recycle tuna cans?

Yes – provided they are clean (see above). According to York City Council, you don’t even need to take the label off.

Are Jiffy bags recyclable?

Not if there’s bubble wrap (but, by itself, bubble wrap is recyclable at supermarket checkpoints).

Combined with the envelope, the Jiffy bag is classed as composite materials, and therefore not recyclable.

If it’s a Jiffy bag filled with shredded paper, it might be recyclable. Check the back for any symbols.

Is cling film recyclable?

This depends on your local authority – according to the BBC, only 10% of households found they could recycle cling film in kerbside recycling 

Is cellophane recyclable?

No – but ‘true cellophane’ (i.e. the uncoated kind made of wood) breaks down in an average of 28 to 60 days when buried or composted.

Is coconut oil worse than butter?

It’s about the same, according to the American Heart Association. Both are saturated fats, and raise your ‘bad cholesterol.’

Obviously, if you’re lactose intolerance, butter is almost definitely worse.

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