Think of a phrase that best describes the celebrated naturalist Sir David Attenborough and ‘middle-class hypocrite’ certainly isn’t one that springs to mind.
Yet the man widely considered to be one of our national treasures recently confessed that he is one.
In his new film, A Life On Our Planet, out next week, Sir David details all the ways we must protect our environment, including having fewer children, using less oil and not eating meat. He then readily admits in an interview promoting the movie that he just can’t resist fish and free-range chicken.
If an icon like Attenborough admits to tripping up when it comes to saving the planet, then what hope is there for the rest of us?
In his new film, A Life On Our Planet, out next week, Sir David Attenborough details all the ways we must protect our environment
Of course, many of us proudly trumpet our eco credentials to friends and family. But are you actually a middle-class hypocrite like Sir David?
Take our light-hearted quiz to see if you’re really living up to the standards we all now set ourselves.
1. How do you get around from day to day?
A) You walk. You easily clock up 20k steps a day, you have buttocks of steel and if it rains, well, you just get wet.
B) On your fabulous new £3,000 electric bike. It’s marvellous, you can now cycle up a huge hill without keeling over. You feel a bit guilty about it being made in China, but you can’t have everything.
C) A Range Rover Evoque. You did look at the electric cars, but there just aren’t enough charging points. If they put one in your road, though, you’ll be first in the queue.
Where will you be holidaying when able, and are you a middle-class hypocrite
2. Do you have a reusable coffee cup?
A) You have three! One at home, one at the office and one you keep in your bag at all times. If the cafe won’t accept reusable cups, then you go without.
B) One. But you’re terrible at remembering to put it in your bag. On days you forget, you always have non-dairy milk in your coffee to make amends.
C) None. You’ve tried and the lids all leak. And besides, takeaway cups are made of paper, they’re recycleable, aren’t they? The plastic lids? You hadn’t thought of that.
3. How often do you eat meat and dairy?
A) Never. You went vegan five years ago and haven’t looked back. You’ve lost weight and your conscience is clear. Your chickpea stew and beetroot brownies are the stuff of legend.
B) You have chicken and fish but not red meat. The fish is dolphin-friendly, the chickens are free range and organic, so you really are doing your bit. OK, you did eat beef bourguignon at a dinner party recently, but only because you didn’t want to upset your hostess. You have oat milk in your coffee, but you still need a drop of semi-skimmed in tea.
C) You’ve cut right down. But you do still enjoy turkey at Christmas, lamb at Easter and roast beef with all the trimmings every Sunday. You’ve tried alternative milks, but they make your Twinings Everyday tea taste funny.
How you get around effects how you score on the environmentally conscious quiz. Pictured: A Range Rover Evoque
4. As soon as it’s safe to travel, where will you take your next holiday?
A) Until they invent an electric plane you won’t be flying anywhere. Instead, you’ll camp in the Scottish Highlands — if it’s good enough for Boris and Carrie, it’s good enough for you.
B) A farmhouse in Provence where you can enjoy the local cheese and wines. It’s only a two- hour flight and you’re a member of one of those offsetting programmes where they plant a tree for you — so it all evens out.
C) The Maldives. Yes, it’s long-haul, but the locals depend on tourism to survive so you see it as your duty. And you won’t be driving your Range Rover for the three weeks you’re there, so it’s win-win.
5. What kind of household recycler are you?
A) A zealot. Pictures of landfill sites give you nightmares and your aim in life is to be a zero-waste household. The council recycling centre is your idea of Disneyland.
B) You really try. You fill your recycling wheelie bin most weeks, but you’ll occasionally slip the odd wine bottle in with your regular rubbish if you’ve been overindulging as you don’t want the bin men to think you’re a lush.
C) You do your bit but, honestly, when did the bin men turn into the Stasi? It’s ridiculous how they rifle through your wheelie bin before they empty it, like you’re some kind of criminal. You refuse to use the food slop caddy though — they stink the place out.
6. What do you do with your leftover food?
A) Fruit peel gets turned into pot pourri or used in your homemade cleaning products. Everyone loves the vegetable peel crisps you make and everything else gets turned into soups or stew. It’s all on your blog.
B) You make croutons out of stale bread. At last count you had 20 bags of them. Everything else you feed to the chickens you keep in your garden.
C) There’s a bird feeder in your garden. You’ll stick a few scraps in there when you remember, but anything else is binned. Life’s just too short to be making carrot-top smoothies.
7. What products do you use to clean your home?
A) You clean your glass and mirrors with vinegar, your bathroom with baking powder and all your dusting is done with old clothes that you turn into cleaning rags.
B) All your products are by Ecover and bought from Waitrose. They’re expensive but worth it to know you’re doing your bit. You started re-buying Dettol wipes when Covid-19 struck though.
C) No idea, you leave it all to the cleaning lady. Everything sparkles though, so it must be good stuff.
8. How energy-efficient is your home?
A) The heating, via your biomass boiler, doesn’t go on until December 1 — before that it’s woolly jumpers and thick socks. You dock the kids’ pocket money every time they leave a room without turning off a light and showers are limited to three minutes.
B) You have gas central heating but you always make sure the thermostat is set to 19 degrees. It causes a lot of rows. You wash most clothes at 30 degrees and you dry your laundry on a clothes horse. You do feel a bit guilty about the air pollution your woodburning fire causes, but you do use those eco pellets.
C) There’s nothing like an open fire, they’re just so cosy but you only burn wood, not coal. You buy those light bulbs that take for ever to get bright, but you do still love your deep soaks in your rolltop bath and use your tumble dryer in winter — you’re not draping wet laundry all over the house!
9. Describe your weekly shop
A) You buy only seasonal food that you can check the carbon footprint of. You take your own containers to replenish things such as laundry detergent and flour. Everything comes from local, independent traders. You gave up alcohol when you went vegan.
B) You love going to your local butcher, fishmonger and baker. It’s great to support independents, but they are so much more expensive and sometimes you have no choice but to do a supermarket shop and save money — plus there’s free parking and you can get your car valeted while you shop. You buy organic gin to have with your Fever-Tree tonic and your other half loves his craft beer.
C) Your Friday night trip to Waitrose is like date night for you. You love perusing the aisles and stocking up your trolley. You buy some Fairtrade stuff. You used to have a subscription for those boxes of wonky veg that nobody recognises, but it all went to waste. Prosecco got you through lockdown — yes, it has a carbon footprint and you read about the soil erosion problems it causes in Italy. Should you switch to crémant or cava?
10. Describe your outside space
A) The composting area and water butt are at the back near the herb garden. The lawn is overgrown as it’s better for the worms, and your flowers are bee-friendly. You don’t weed, as they help to improve soil quality.
B) A tiny, mostly paved area — you just don’t have time to garden. But you’re on the waiting list for an allotment where you have intentions of growing your own veg.
C) You have your rattan furniture and Weber BBQ on the paved patio and there’s an artificial lawn at the back — next door water their precious lawn constantly, at least you don’t do that. You’ve got lots of geraniums in terracotta pots, that’s got to count?
HOW DO YOU RATE?
Mostly A: Sir David would be proud of you. Saving the planet is a full-time occupation, even if people do find the smugness a bit annoying.
Mostly B: You do your best but you’re not perfect. Maybe a trip to the cinema to see Sir David’s film next week will improve your score — and don’t drive there!
Mostly C: Oh dear. You are a raging — and frankly unapologetic — middle-class hypocrite. Wake up, times have changed and not all eco warriors look like Swampy!