‘Single-use’ is the Collins word of the year – so why are we still using 1m more coffee cups every day?

It would appear that 2018 is the year we all became eco-conscious – at least if the dictionary is to be believed. Collins has named “single-use” as its word of the year, reporting a four-fold increase in its usage as we discuss the problems associated with disposable coffee cups, water bottles and plastic bags. The European parliament has just back a ban on some single-use plastics, and the UK is planning to introduce a tax on plastic packaging. We fret about plastic straws in our drinks, the

‘Killing vegans’ jokes leave a sour taste in my mouth

How do you know someone’s a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. Har dee har har. We all like a little joke at the expense of our plant-eating brethren, don’t we? They deserve taking down a peg or two, the sanctimonious lot. The jokes are starting to wear a bit thin, though. William Sitwell, the editor of Waitrose Food magazine and a critic for BBC’s Masterchef, has apologised for jokingly suggesting that vegans should be trapped and killed, in response to journalist Selene Nelson, who had pi

Microplastics are ending up on our dinner plates – but scientists aren’t shocked

It gives a whole new meaning to the term “junk food”. This week, a study revealed that tiny plastic particles were found in the stool samples of eight people from countries including the UK. It was only a matter of time before the ubiquitous packaging found its way to the top of the food chain: plastic has been identified in fish, water, beer and honey. We’re grinding it on to our meals along with our expensive sea salt. It’s in the microbeads, now banned in the UK, that have been commonly foun

Why Fiji is so much more than a honeymoon destination

There are a few places in the world that perfectly fit the “honeymoon paradise” cliché. Fiji is one of them: the 330-island archipelago, with its thousands of miles of white-sand beaches, palm trees, coral reefs and luxury resorts, has romance in spades. But when the world’s most famous newlyweds, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, visited last week, they offered a glimpse into a country with so much more to offer beyond the beaches. I visit just days before Harry and Meghan landed as part of the

Lay off Generation Sensible: getting wasted is not an essential rite of passage

The youth of today, eh? Far from teenage rebellion, it seems that around a third of them are – brace yourselves – not drinking alcohol at all, while 17 per cent say that they have always been teetotal. Pause for the lamentings of older columnists everywhere, bemoaning how boring “Generation Sensible” has become and beseeching them to give sex, drugs and rock’n’roll a whirl. Hey, Baby Boomers: leave those kids alone. Dare I suggest that the younger generation is getting it right? They may be br

More of us are travelling alone, but I found it more of a challenge than I expected

I’m not sure how it took me until I was standing at a fork in the overgrown path, swatting away dragonflies with my crumpled map, to remember what a bad sense of direction I have. Out here, on the brink of a ravine in the southern Italian countryside, my trusty Citymapper app was useless. I squinted at the map again, then at the path ahead. Time to retrace my steps… I’m one of those irritating people who call themselves a traveller, yet I’ve been mostly shielded from anything resembling a chal

Ibiza’s racy cabaret club Lio is coming to London – but can Brits handle the hedonism?

The master of ceremonies looms over our table, coiffed moustache curling further north as his near-maniacal grin widens. We nod, shy and self-conscious despite the fact that the wine was already flowing. I’m not sure what to expect from a night at Lio, a dinner party-meets-cabaret-meets-nightclub in Ibiza’s high-end marina district. We’ve been here 10 minutes, and already are a bit slack-jawed: rhinestone-twinkling performers greet guests like old friends, women strut through the dining area l

Pret’s move on labelling is a watershed moment for allergy sufferers

Grabbing a quick lunch is something many of us do without a second thought. If you suffer from an allergy, however, you get used to lingering in front of the fridge section, reading labels and scanning ingredients to see if there’s anything “safe” to eat. Some outlets were never too keen on that. In recent years, even as the range of “free-from” products increased, and most retailers upped their game on allergen labelling, there has been a quiet backlash from some “artisan” producers and resta

Turning pensioners into fitness instructors could be just what the doctor ordered – for all of us

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to retirement. Granted, I’ve got about three decades to go (or more if the goalposts keep moving), but by then I’ll be more than ready to put my feet up. Or perhaps not, if the health tsars have anything to do with it. A new campaign from ukactive is encouraging pensioners to consider retraining as fitness instructors to help over-55s feel more comfortable in the gym. I know what you’re thinking – we slog all our lives and then you want us to pra

Laura Ashley The Belsfield, hotel review: a sumptuous stay in the heart of the Lake District

The Belsfield Hotel has had a Laura Ashley makeover, one of two Laura Ashley hotels in the UK. A third, Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire, will join the family next spring. The British textile brand has also announced plans for expansion overseas to the Middle East and Indian Ocean, hoping to stimulate its interior decor sales by showcasing them in hospitality environments. The hotel is perched on the banks of Lake Windermere, with rooms offering panoramic views. About a five-minute walk from

How to cut down on household rubbish for Zero Waste Week

Douglas McMaster launches into his spiel before we’ve even taken a seat. The sofa we’re about to sit on has been upcycled from waste materials, he tells me, as has all the furniture in his industrial-chic restaurant, Silo. Some very decent coffee materialises in front of us, along with milk that arrived at the restaurant that morning in a giant pail (the staff use it to make yoghurt, cream, cheese and butter, too), and two fizzing glasses of kombucha, a fermented tea that has been brewed in-hou

The secrets of living to 100? We've known them all along

I always wonder if the centenarians are pulling our legs when we beg them to reveal the secrets behind their longevity. Raw eggs, they tell us solemnly. Daily plunges into icy ocean waters. A can of Stella and a packet of custard creams (props to you, Eileen Maher of Blackpool). No wonder we’re desperate for some nuggets of wisdom – barely a day goes by where scientists are not locking horns over the best course of action for a long life. High-fat, low-carb, some say, while others wring their

Pockets are a feminist issue

Women, eh? We moaned about not having the vote, and got it; we whinged about unequal pay and that was alleviated (well, not quite). We lamented being denied pockets by the patriarchal fashion overlords – and were granted them, at least in some items of clothing. Now, it turns out, we’re not satisfied with the shape or size of said pockets. A study published on US website The Pudding revealed that the pockets on women’s jeans are only 60 per cent as deep as men’s, with most unable to accommodate

Cycling through history: new London bike tour celebrates women’s achievements

Think of your average historical city tour: chances are, it will comprise a rambling round-up of dead white blokes. Statues of conquering heroes on horseback, plaques for playwrights, those kinds of things. But a new London bike excursion is taking people on a tour marking a few of the city’s females heroes, some of whom you will probably never have heard of. Tour de Force, a joint initiative between Santander and Transport for London, is aiming to put the spotlight on some inspirational women

How I learned to love the over-friendliness of my hometown

Believe the hype: Ireland is awash with friendly cities, according to a recent travel poll. Cork was voted third in Condé Nast Traveller’s 2018 Friendliest Cities in the World, with Galway and Dublin also in the top 10. I could have told you that about Cork: I grew up there. Maybe it’s because you can’t ask for directions without entering into a 20-minute conversation (The “well, I wouldn’t start from here” cliche is made for Corkonians). Or that they call everyone “boy” or “girl”, no matter t

Gerry Adams’ new cookbook could be just what Theresa May needs

Silly season continues apace. Headline writers had a field day this week when former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams announced that he was working on a cookbook filled with the recipes that saw negotiators through the 1998 peace process (because “the British didn’t feed us”, he explained). “Cookie ár lá” was my favourite, with honourable mention for “Good fry-day” and “Give peas a chance”. You might initially think that Adams fancies himself a Paul Hollywood character. That steely glint in his ey

Teach children how to be married, says a top divorce lawyer who would know

Despite what certain popular dating shows would have you believe, it hasn’t exactly been the summer of love. Divorce lawyer Fiona Shackleton condemned this week the “archaic” divorce laws in England and Wales, which require couples to prove in court that their marriage has irretrievably broken down. She warned star-crossed lovers that it isn’t “just about the heart”, and that children should be taught to be more practical about marriage. It’s hardly romantic – but is it time we rethink how we

Hey guys! Isn’t it time we thought of a better email greeting?

It’s finally happened: the backlash has begun against “guys”, and I couldn’t be more delighted. No, no, I’m not on a feminist crusade to wipe out the male gender, nor am I coming a bit late to the Me Too movement, before you all start writing in. I’m talking about the ubiquitous use of “guy” in our day-to-day language. “Hey guys!” chirp group emails. “Can I get you guys anything else?” waitresses enquire. Well, I’ve had enough. No more Mr Nice Guy, if you like. BBC Woman’s Hour host Jane Gar

Mothers of Invention: Mary Robinson on why climate change is a feminist issue

Forging a double act can be powerful, but risky. The chemistry needs to be just right, with no one person dominating. And, importantly, they have to at least appear to get on. So the podcast producer who came up with the brainwave of pairing the former president of Ireland with an irreverent comedian deserves a plaudit for their genius – and bravery. Mary Robinson, 74, an academic, diplomat, campaigner, barrister and politician, is a luminary in the fields of human rights and climate change. S
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