I'm glad John Lewis is killing the floral midi dress - I've removed it from my wardrobe too

Listen, it’s not you, it’s me. We had a good run, and you were always there for me when I needed you, but things have gotten a little stale lately. It’s time for me to move on. In fact, perhaps it is time for all of us to move on.

John Lewis has announced the death of the floral midi dress, to be replaced in upcoming collections with “something new, rather than doing more of the same”. This news will be to the dismay of many women who have relied on the floral dress to be everything from a summ

Bars of soap are gaining in popularity amid plastic bottle pollution concerns

Bars of soap are gaining in popularity amid plastic pollution concerns

Plastic bottles of handwash and shower gel have ruled the roost for years. But could the bubble be bursting?

Soapmaker Tiphaine Chalaron adds ingredients to produce handmade soaps for her label 'Route Mandarine' at her workshop in Porpoder, western France (Photo: FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty)

“We were constantly told that we must use palm oil as the base for our soaps, but our research and our passion for the product told us oth

The gift of coffee bushes is sowing seeds of change for women in Kenya

If Zeddy Rotich is feeling impatient, she isn’t letting on. It’s Sunday morning, and she’s due at church soon – her neighbour, Esther, is already waiting, dressed in blue with a string of pearls around her neck.

Rotich’s children, also in their Sunday best, flit shyly around us in the shaded garden, occasionally scrambling into their mother’s lap as she talks. Chickens forage around our feet.

It is the second time we have met, and it’s becoming increasingly apparent how valuable Rotich’s time

Charity shops are swamped with ‘fast fashion’ – it’s time we rekindled a lasting love affair with our clothes

Call me superficial, but I love to shop. On a day off, there’s nothing I like more than to wander around a department store, browsing through rails of clothing. I covet certain pieces that I will never buy, being either too outlandish to be considered office appropriate or too extortionate for me to justify. But I love to touch the fabrics, see how skirts drape, coo over supple leather and intricate lace.

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

Can’t sleep? Millions are using the Calm app to hear a soothing bedtime story for grown-ups

It’s enough to make you lose your sheep. The clock ticking mercilessly on, while sleep remains elusive. The frustration of knowing that the morning – and the time to face a new day – is drawing closer.

It’s no secret that we’ve become a nation of night owls, partly due to the never-ending stream of technology at our fingertips. As many as one in 10 of us could be turning to medication to help us drop off, with sleeping pills costing the NHS £50m a year.

The chief executive of Netflix, Reed Has

How the Body Shop is using moringa oil to help rural Rwandans lift themselves out of poverty

There is something innately satisfying about shelling moringa pods. Known as “drumsticks” because of their shape, they crack easily in my hands, the golden kernels popping out easily.

I am sitting cross-legged on blue tarpaulin with Rwandan farmers all working on their own pile of moringa seeds, under the shade of their trees.

Just as we appear to be making a dent in the pile of pods, another load is dumped into the centre of our circle – the bounty appears to be endless.

They’re curious, the

Europe celebrates five years without animal testing on cosmetics - is a global ban next?

At a laboratory in Cheshire, cosmetic experiments are being carried out. Soaps, moisturisers, shampoos, lotions and potions are all being tested for things like skin sensitivity or corrosion, eye irritation and toxicity. But here, there are no substances being dropped into albino rabbits’ eyes, no chemicals applied to shaved skin.

At XCellR8, in fact, there are no animals at all, or even any animal-derived products being used. All the tests use engineered human skin or eye tissue, or human skin

'Irish pubs abroad are tacky. But somehow, I grew to love them'

I vowed I’d never become one of them. Those Irish who moved abroad and became more Irish than they’d ever been before. The type who spent weekends crammed into an Irish bar, listening to diddly-eye music, sinking pints of the black stuff, and getting misty-eyed while crooning along to Christy Moore.

Except, then, I did. I’ve jostled with green jerseys while watching a rugby match (I’m not a fan of the sport, really, but you can’t beat the atmosphere). I’ve watched open-mouthed as, in the early

We love our Cornish pasties - but are our food loyalties half-baked?

We’re fiercely nationalistic when it comes to our beloved baked goods. “It’s not a pie!” my colleagues cautioned as I composed the front-page headline: ‘American pie: push to sell US ‘Cornish pasties’ in UK’.

I have also learnt that Cornish pasties must have a distinctive D shape, must be crimped on one side, and must under no circumstances contain peas. And, of course, they must come from Cornwall.

So the idea that US lobbyists are sniffing around our Cornish pasties, as well as other geograp

The best fitness gear to shop on the high street

The sky’s the limit when it comes to sportswear spend. Designers joined in years ago – adidas by Stella McCartney is now a veteran, having launched in 2005 – and a pair of leggings can now cost anything up to £300.

But do you really get the sporting bang for your buck? High-street retailers are hot on the heels of the high-end designers with technical fabrics, performance features and, perhaps most importantly for some, serious fashion credentials.

Quality has always been a key concern for spo

Ultra-processed foods and cancer - how worried should we be?

If that sounds like your average three meals a day, your diet is likely to be high in ultra-processed foods, which a recent report suggested could be associated with an increased risk of cancer.

At least you’re in good company: another study tells us that these foods make up half of Britons’ daily intake.

The news was vindication for many who have championed the benefits of unprocessed food and “clean eating”.

But others have dismissed the “ultra-processed” categorisation – which covers foods

Do you love or hate Marmite? It might be all down to your genetics

It has divided opinion for more than a century, but now there might be a scientific reason to explain why some people loathe Marmite – and others love it.

The makers of the yeast-based spread teamed up with the genetic testing centre DNAFit to conduct a clinical trial to see if there is a biological link to our preferences.

Participants in the Marmite Gene Project were asked to taste a 2g serving of Marmite on their tongue for 10 seconds, filling out a questionnaire on their reaction.

The stu

Could pink-coloured 'ruby' chocolate be the world's next superfood?

Someone’s laughing all the way to the bank: they’ve found a way to make chocolate in millennial pink. The new ‘ruby chocolate’, made from the ruby cocoa bean for a blush-hued treat, is an Instagrammer’s dream, and bound to be coveted by couples on February 14. It is also the great pink hope to revive the flagging chocolate market, as a global surplus has resulted in a massive fall in the price paid to farmers.

But the marketers behind this pink confection are missing a trick, I reckon. Chocolat

How to change the world, one holiday at a time

How eco-friendly are you when you travel? OK, so there are the giant jet engines spewing fumes into the atmosphere, but what about when you arrive? Most of us feel we’ve cleared our conscience by reusing our towels as per the friendly reminder card in the bathroom, or by turning out the lights when we leave our hotel room. Out and about we don’t litter, of course – take only pictures, leave only footprints.

But the tourism industry is a far bigger animal than simply the actions of its hotel gue

The Body Shop's bid for a cruelty-free world

Shopping can be a fraught business for the ethical consumer. Are those eggs free-range? Were those trainers made in a sweatshop? At least we can breathe easy in the make-up aisle – animal testing on cosmetics has been banned in the UK since 1998, and in the EU since 2013.

But 80 per cent of countries worldwide still have no legislation on animal testing, including Australia, Brazil, Russia, China and the US.

It’s something most consumers think has been dealt with – the beauty industry’s dirty

Whiskey and whimsy: the real story of Jack Daniel's

Amid the clamour of this year’s Christmas advertising, you may have spotted one of the distinctive monochrome Jack Daniel’s posters. It weaves the latest of a series of whimsical fables surrounding the whiskey’s home town, telling how the residents of Lynchburg, Tennessee, are given a special commemorative bottle of Jack come the festive season. But, it adds, “we tend not to get caught up in the frenzy that seems to take hold of places where life moves a little faster”.

Like its other ads, it’s

Don't be fooled by the touchy-feely tag - wellness is big business

What do you think when you think of “wellness”? A long-haired lovely doling out kale and good karma to her fellow commune members? Or a business opportunity, albeit one projected through a rose hip-tinted lens?

If you’ve lugged a basket around a branch of Whole Foods, or even Holland and Barrett, recently, you’ll know it’s the latter. Where there’s mung beans, there’s brass, and wellness is

big business.

This week, Arianna Huffington announced that she would be stepping down as chief of the

What labels aren’t telling us about how our clothes are made - The i newspaper online

“Who are you wearing?” That’s the plaintive cry that echoes around the red carpet parades, as reporters jostle to get the attention of the designer-clad Hollywood set turning up for their latest awards night.

For the sartorially inclined, the gown (and its designer) is often more important than the gong. But what if the question on everyone’s lips was “who stitched that hem?”, or “who dyed that fabric?” Now a fashion campaign is calling on people to do just that – to ask “who made my clothes?”

Ethiopia’s coffee could be its salvation against growing drought

In much of the world, coffee is a social lubricant, an indulgence, a morning eye-opener. In Ethiopia, it is also the backbone of the economy and now, as the country faces its worst drought in 50 years, it may also be its lifeline.

Ethiopia is a different country from that of the 1980s. It has rebranded as the Lion of Africa, one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Yet drought has been sweeping the north and east. Aid agencies are suggesting that the government – keen to shake its ima

Beyond the grind – the byways of Ethiopia are lined with black gold

Thirty years on from famine in Ethiopia, the country has seen huge change. The capital, Addis Ababa, has become a thriving hub – it is nicknamed the Dubai of Africa thanks to a construction boom that is rapidly changing the skyline. Hotels, shopping centres and new infrastructure have sprung up in the rapidly modernising city, thanks in no small part to massive Chinese investment.

A day’s drive away down bumpy dirt roads in the Yirgacheffe region, however, time has all but stood still. Chickens

Fairtrade setting new gold standard for African mining

Imagine if you stumbled across a gold mine in your back garden. You’d be set for life, right? You could pack in the nine-to-five and start picking out that sports car.

Or could you? Perhaps it depends where your back garden is. In Uganda, finding gold on your land is seen as a blessing from God, yet those who have struck gold live a life of subsistence.

The rich seam of gold running along the shores of Lake Victoria hasn’t created millionaires but hardship and division: more than 50,000 unlice