Think it’s not easy being green? I didn’t think so either, but then, while I was researching this article for Our Green Earth, I discovered that actually, there are lots of really cool gadgets out there to help you save the planet and do your bit for the environment too!
[Edit 3rd December 2010: Sadly, Our Green Earth no longer exists but the owner has very kindly handed back copyright of my articles to me. Here, for your reading pleasure, are 5 Great Environmentally-Friendly Products…]
5 Great Environmentally-Friendly Products
A couple of weeks ago my flatmates and I were somewhat irked when we inexplicably lost our cable Internet connection for a day or two. The reason? The local council had been putting up Christmas lights in the street and had accidentally knocked our cable box and disconnected us. Bah-humbug. It’s that time of year again! Christmas shopping seems to start earlier and earlier each year, but what to buy for your environmentally conscious friend or relative? I’ve been investigating the latest eco-friendly gifts for all the family.
Save Water, Save Money, Save The Planet
We take for granted the fact that we can turn on any tap for a fresh flow of drinkable, safe water every day. As I write, it’s pouring with rain, which makes it harder to believe that water in the UK is not so plentiful as you might think. According to the UK Environment Agency, the average availability of potable water in Britain is 1334 m3 per annum, with densely habited and lower rainfall areas like the southeast having significantly less (1). The rise of products like washing machines, dishwashers and power showers mean that the average UK household uses 50% more water than 25 years ago, yet if every person in the country reduced their shower time by just one minute, it would save the equivalent of all the water used in one day in London, Leeds and Birmingham combined.
The Efergy Showertime Monitor
The Efergy Showertime Monitor is a clever little device that not only times how long you’ve been in the shower, but actually measures how much water you use thanks to an inbuilt flow rate monitor. It only costs £8.99 from e-store Green Stamp, run from the home of earth-loving Cornish couple Anthony and Sarah, who only use recycled and reused packaging in the delivery of their products (2).
A responsible solution for eliminating pet waste
Clearing your pet’s excrement from your garden, or poopascooping on a walk is not the nicest of chores, but this invention at least helps to get rid of it in an environmentally friendly way! Instead of deposit your dog’s droppings into a pet waste bin (the contents of which will often be incinerated) or flinging it over the neighbour’s fence, the Pet Poo Loo contains detritivorous worms that safely decompose the waste into a nutrient rich compost that can be used to fertilise your garden.
The Pet Poo Loo
The hardy plastic container is buried in the ground and contains a population of tiger worms that naturally and organically mulch Fido’s faeces into a harmless and beneficial product. Because tiger worms are so effective at this, the waste is reduced down in a matter of days, so the Pet Poo Loo only has to be emptied approximately once a year. It comes complete with worms and a bran-based accelerator medium and biodegradable corn starch bags are also available for “on the go” pet hygiene. Price: £73.40 from The Recycle Works (3).
There are so many exciting and innovative products at www.NigelsEcoStore.com that I could write enthusiastically about any of them, but one that particularly caught my attention is Nigel’s bestseller – the Radiator Booster. The fact that this product once appeared on Dragon’s Den has no doubt boosted its popularity, nevertheless with more than 80 positive reviews it certainly seems as though it’s a successful product in its own right (4).
The Radiator Booster is a simple plug-in fan device that sits on the top of your radiator and circulates the warm air that would otherwise be lost through the back and out of the wall. It claims to cost a mere 30p in electricity costs per year and can help to reduce your overall heating expenditure by up to 50% since it boosts the efficiency of your radiator by so much that you won’t need to leave your boiler on for as long, or the temperature turned up the maximum. Despite reports that the whirring of the fan is a little annoying, others say that it’s no louder than a computer in the background and, in any case, the Radiator Booster Mark II has an extra-quiet fan as standard. For just £19.99 plus postage and packing, I’m definitely putting this on my Christmas list! (4)
A load of balls
No, I’m not being rude, this product is exactly that – Ecoballs® are reusable plastic balls that you place in your washing machine instead of powder, tablets or washing liquid. The balls are filled with mineral pellets that release ionised oxygen into the wash, which combined with the pounding action of the balls as they spin with your laundry, lift dirt and stains out of your clothes (5).
Because they don’t contain enzymes or detergents like many washing powders, you can forgo the rinse cycle and set your washing machine to a very low temperature or even a cold wash, thus saving time, money and water. You won’t need to buy washing powder again in a hurry as the balls last up to 1000 washes – plus you’ll be helping to reduce chemical effluent outflow into the nation’s waterways. For hard water areas, you can add a supplement called Magnoball® which will improve the efficiency of the Ecoballs®, but for most washes the Ecoballs®, plus a little stain remover on stubborn stains, are all you will ever need. They are available for £29.99 + P&P from www.NigelsEcoStore.com (5).
If you must drive, drive green. There have been a few adverts around lately advising us that if we don’t accelerate quite so hard, or if we change gear more smoothly, then we could save pounds on our fuel costs and reduce vehicle carbon emissions by up to 20% (6).
The Vexia Econav
Vexia, a Swedish manufacturer of satellite navigation devices, has recently launched the “Econav” – an in-car satnav device that warns you if you’re driving too fast or if you’re braking to hard, knows exactly when you ought to change gear to maximise fuel efficiency and plots the greenest route from A to B. It is cleverly programmed to the make and model of your car so advice is tailored to the particular specifications of your vehicle. For an extra fee, you can add the function to show the speed cameras along your route, but then if you’re following the Econav’s advice anyway, you shouldn’t need this! The Vexia Econav has won several awards for environmental innovation and four different models go on sale in March 2010 (ok, so maybe an Easter present…) for £160-230 (6).