Etheco rates the greenness of products and services

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What makes the washing machine here greener than other mass market washing machines?  It's front-loaded, which is more energy efficient and gentler on clothes than the top-loaded variety.  With an energy rating of A+, and washing and centrifugal efficiencies rated A, it comes out tops at Etheco's green rating system.  And at only £213.64, upgrading will ultimately pay for itself in reduced mains, hot water and clothing costs.  Etheco also helps you find green energy and service providers across the corporate spectrum.  [GT]

[Via New Consumer]

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February 16, 2007 in Utilities, services & misc | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Organic Assistant: your own personal (hippy) shopper!

Vegrack If you want to live a totally organic life, you're going to need a bit of help tracking everything down. And that's exactly what a new website called Organic Assistant aims to do.

Whether it's a hotel serving organic fare or an organic meal for your moggy you're looking for, the website will find it in its database of thousands of organically-certified products and services, via an easy browse feature that lets you locate those nearest to you.

[Via New Consumer]

I gave it a try today, and found no less than 300 organic shops within five miles of Shiny Towers, some of which I didn't know existed, and I think it would be even more of a handy tool on trips away from home, when you're unfamiliar with the local area. The layout is very clean and simple too, which is always a relief on sites that are there to provide information. So give it a try, and let us know what you think!

February 15, 2007 in Utilities, services & misc | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Delocator - helps you find an independent cup of coffee

DelocatorWell done to the folks behind Delocator; they have come up with a great idea. You put in your postcode and the website tells you where your nearest independent coffee shop is. Say goodbye to corporate coffee! Resist globalisation!

Okay, so the site is nowhere near comprehensive yet, but you can help out with that by adding your local cafe.

[Via EcoWorrier]

Related stories: Starbucks fair trade claims | Even fairer coffee | Black Gold

February 2, 2007 in Utilities, services & misc | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Eco-Marketing puts eco-green with money-green

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The saw about the world beating a path to your door if you invent a better mousetrap was surely disproven by a lot of developments in the computer industry. Same is true in environmentalism, but Eco-Marketing is about clearing that up. Pairing corporations who have green aspirations and cash but no eco-sense with eco-mavens in a long-arms-deep-pockets situation, sectors covered range from recycling to alternative medicines, and services from research to telemarketing. [GT]

Eco-Marketing

Related stories: Saving Green by Going Green: turn your business hippy | Top concern for ethical investors is workers' rights | Monday ethical celeb: Sir Paul the garbage picker

January 3, 2007 in Utilities, services & misc | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Barnet Council tries to phase out the bath

Bathtime kitty - the plughole mystery Barnet council is consulting its residents about planning rules it's proposing that will encourage builders only to install showers and not to provide baths.

The rules would apply to house extensions and developments of less than 10 homes. Planning committees will look at whether water flows to power showers have been restricted, water meters have been fitted and a water butt installed, but ultimately the council could refuse planning permission to developments that unnecessarily include a bath.

Presumably the subjective term of 'unnecessarily' allows them to wave through things like housing developments for people of restricted mobility. As a new father, however, I might even argue that I need the bath to wash my daughter, since I doubt she would appreciate a shower at her tender age.  (Not that she enjoys baths either.)

No doubt there'll be a lot of hoo-hah made about this proposal (Vanessa Feltz was on the BBC this morning doing her 'outraged' thing, which put me right off my breakfast) but as Hugh Ellis of Friends of the Earth said: "I would hate the whole debate to get focused on baths... We have got some excellent local authorities that have led the way in addressing climate change and London should be very proud of that."

Fines and bath reduction - council level green action [via How to Save the World for Free]

Related stories: Tameside Council's £30 fine for leaving PCs on | Green Building Company's one stop shop for water saving |

Photo credit:  Bathtime Kitty - the plughole mystery by Prozacblues used under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence

December 12, 2006 in Energy saving, Utilities, services & misc, Water saving | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tameside Council's £30 fine for leaving PCs on

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Tameside council "is to fine its own departments £30 for every computer left on overnight in a bid to save energy." The council reckons a computer left on all day costs £37 a year to run, £27 more than it would cost if users simply switched if off at nights and at weekends.

When the council left warning stickers on PCs which had been left on overnight in a kind of trial run, the resultant change in behaviour saved £4,000 in one building in three months. Leaving aside the obvious environmental benefits, I'm sure council tax payers will be happy to see that kind of saving.

The council's Labour-run, so naturally the Tory group leader couldn't just praise the initiative, he had to slag it off, claiming that it was "autocratic to treat employees this way".

Just because people are used to leaving an unused computer on all weekend, it doesn't make it an erosion of personal liberty to come up with a way of encouraging them to change their habits. It's not like the employees are being asked to pay the £30 fine out of their own pocket anyway. Councillor John Bell - you are an idiot. 

Fines and bath reduction - council level green action [via How to Save the World for Free]

Related stories: Google spces standards to save power - LOTS of power | Energy saving for your Mac

Photo credit: 4 am PC glow taken from slapjack's Flickr photostream under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs licence.

December 12, 2006 in Energy saving, Utilities, services & misc | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MagicMonkee.com Shopping Portal Promotes Charities and Ethical Businesses

Logo_6 Another week, another portal that wants to help you do your ethical shopping more easily. MagicMonkee aims "to encourage users to explore the good causes and ethical businesses promoted on the site and find ways in which they can help others."

It looks like a fairly basic search engine page when you first check in but look carefully and you'll see headings for 'Ethical' and 'Give'. The ethical section provides information on a host of ethical business where users can purchase this year's Christmas presents, while also benefiting others and the environment.

This altruism is a result of the two co-founders having personally benefited from the help provided by a number of the listed charities. Katherine Roberts has multiple sclerosis and James Randall survived cancer at the age of four. James Randall says, "Through MagicMonkee, we're hoping to return the kindness people have given us."

You can find out more about MagicMonkee's ethical and charitable stance on the main site and on their MySpace account.

Related stories: £5 off at the Ethical Superstore | Litegreen shopping directory | Dreaming of a green Christmas | London Remade's green Christmas

December 7, 2006 in Utilities, services & misc | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New directory enquiries benefits Oxfam

118_logo Need a number? Now you can dial with your conscience. 118 918, is a new directory enquiry service that donates 9p from every call to Oxfam.

The 118 918 service costs exactly the same as the market leaders, so you get to give to a worthwhile cause without dipping into your own wallet. 

This could work out as a nice little earner for the charity. In the last 12 months UK callers spent £180 million on directory enquiry services. If everyone who called 118 services last year, had called the new
118 918 number, over £32 million could have been donated to Oxfam. 

Related stories: Services and utilities

December 4, 2006 in Utilities, services & misc | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

No purchase necessary - Swap a Skill lets you trade your skills

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Say good bye to filthy lucre, say hello to reciprocal living!

Swap a Skill invites you to "step into a new world of giving, fun and friendship." If you can get past that, however, this service promises a nifty way of bringing barter power into your life.

Rather than, say, ringing twelve plumbers on a daily basis until one of them comes round and over-charges you for bashing your pipes around, you can do a favour for a plumber in your home area, and then they will come and sort out your pipes for free. Brilliant!

Although, presumably, it will help if you have some skills that other people want, too.

The service goes live on the 11th December, but you can register now here

November 21, 2006 in Utilities, services & misc | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Find local shops with theSHOPPERSbible.com

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Last week I drew your attention to a story about supermarkets selling their green credentials.  One of the things I mentioned was how your local grocer was likely to be hugely more energy-efficient than the supermarket, and someone very kindly drew my attention to curiously-cased theSHOPPERSbible.com.

theSHOPPERSbible was set up by a businessman who goes by the delightful name of David Croissant.  His favourite local shop (we're not told what it sold but I like to think it was a boulangerie) shut down after competition from the larger stores nearby proved too much for it.  As a result, he decided to fund and promote the creation of theSHOPPERSbible, which acts as a kind of portal for independent retailers.  Shoppers can use the site to search for local shops for local people in their local area, and use the site to contact the retailers directly if they have any questions.

It's a good idea and anything that makes it easier to find an alternative to the energy-guzzling supermarket is, of course, welcome.  There are some limitations to the site, however.

The search function doesn't allow a search by postcode for local stores.  The concept of 'local' suffers, too, since the site only groups retailers at the county level, not town.  This might be down to the fact that there appears to be few shops currently listed on the site.  The press blurb claims more than 2,000 retailers have signed up but by my reckoning 1,690 of these are listed in the 'Internet and Home Based' category - not really very local.

Retailers need to pony up to get listed on site, which may explain the sparseness of the listings.  To be fair, theSHOPPERSbible is trying to remedy the situation by offering free basic listings to the first 999 shopkeepers - the ones with actual bricks and mortar shops - to sign up.  At the time of writing, there were 622 free listings still up for grabs.

theSHOPPERSbible is a nice concept but it needs more shops in its listings.  Even then, it needs to add more information about the ethical and environmental aspects of each shop if it wants to get the full Hippyshopper seal of approval.

November 20, 2006 in Reviews, Utilities, services & misc | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack