Good Person by Melissa Harrison

I am a good person. I wash at low temperatures, rinse and sort my recycling, and keep my thermostat at 19 degrees. I do meat-free Mondays, buy organic when I remember and choose only free-range eggs. I’ve switched to a green energy provider, I’ve started using beeswax wrap instead of cling film – so much prettier! – and I pay over the odds for solid shampoo to reduce my plastic use. I am a good person. I carbon-offset my flights (four last year, down from six the year before, which is progress) and my city car is a hybrid. I pick up litter every time I walk the dogs, and their poo bags are biodegradable, of course. I buy hand-made scented candles instead of using air freshener (god, who uses air freshener these days!), I adore artisan, small-batch skincare, and scorn so-called “disposable” wipes. I was the first in our group of friends to get a veg box, way back before they were even fashionable, and I’ve got the entire set of Ecover cleaning products under my sink. I am a good person. I watched Blue Planet II and I agree with Extinction Rebellion; I’ve stopped using weedkiller in the garden, or those nasty slug pellets, and this year I’ve planted up some antique terracotta pots with pollinator-friendly flower seeds. You can see from the bee logo on my T-shirt that I support bees – 10% of the cost of it went to save them, which is so important, you know. Of course, I also donate monthly to a wildlife charity, I sign all the petitions I get sent and retweet everything I can that’s about protecting the environment, because I am a good person. Single-use plastic really outrages me; any shops or restaurants still using plastic forks should throw them away. Personally, I like old-fashioned paper straws, and I’ve bought some lovely wooden picnic cutlery from John Lewis; I also have a reusable coffee cup, and my chopping board is bamboo – I’ve no idea where they grow it, the Far East I suppose. Do you? Which reminds me: did you know you can get vegan handbags now? I saw an ad for them on Instagram, a tiny company, Vietnamese I think, and they’re actually really cool now – not just for hippies or tree-huggers. The big high-street brands seem so… ostentatious these days, don’t you think? I like to be more discreet, less… conspicuous, especially now, what with everything. The point is, I am a good person. I only buy recycled toilet rolls, even though the kids object, and my dishcloths and napkins are made from lovely old repurposed French linen – so soft! In fact, I generally prefer vintage things over new – much more authentic, quite apart from being better for the planet. Things with a bit of age to them, you know; things that seem real, and haven’t been mass-produced. I absolutely love antiques barns and reclamation centres; in fact, I think I might be addicted. I can rummage around for bygones all day, things that are just right for my home: heirloom wool blankets, wooden wine crates, vintage bread tins… oh! I love baking my own sourdough, when I have time, and this year I thought I might start growing heritage vegetables. It’s about slowing down and letting yourself really connect to nature; I feel like we’ve lost the art of making and growing things, and it’s a fact that if more people bothered to garden or have allotments or even window boxes it would help save the bees, make the air cleaner, cut food miles and even help with childhood obesity. Most people are just lazy these days though, that’s the problem – you see them, don’t you, feeding their toddlers chicken nuggets, or French fries! It breaks my heart. As for me, though, I am a good person. Last year a few of us got together and planted up the bases of all the street trees in our road – ‘guerilla gardening’, it’s called. The pictures got a lot of clicks on social media, which really goes to show. Everyone I know is a good person, actually; all my friends want to save the planet – you should see us all at the shops with our reusable tote bags stuffed full of shower gel without parabens, conflict-free diamond studs, free-range chicken, homewares made by blind people, palm oil-free gelato, small-batch gin, locally sourced honey, sustainably caught fish, plant-based snacks, coconut scourers, eco-friendly pillow spray, Fairtrade caster sugar, grass-fed beef, unbleached cotton, compostable teabags, wooden toys, recycled packaging, English craft beer, outdoor-reared pork, peat-free compost, ethical pet food, native wildflowers, SLS-free haircare, green household cleaner, vegan chocolate, cruelty-free cosmetics, organic wine, natural deodorant, seasonal fruit and vegetables, shower gel without microbeads, cold-pressed West Bank olive oil… you see, don’t you? I am a good person. I am a good person.


I am good.


I am









Melissa Harrison is a novelist, nature writer and columnist whose latest book, All Among The Barley (Bloomsbury) is the UK winner of the European Union Prize for Literature 2019. She owns a coconut-fibre dish scourer and loves artisan-made organic skincare. Twitter: @m_z_harrison


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Doing the Green Thing | ladymissalbertinereply
June 11, 2019 at 10:43 pm

[…] come across as too much ‘look-at-me-aren’t-I-good?’ – and then I read this by the genius Melissa Harrison, and realised whatever I wrote will be silly and meaningless […]

Jane Sauntereply
September 20, 2019 at 8:10 am

But the bottom line is, I exist at all.

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