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Barcoo a new mobile app attempts to empower ethical consumers, as well as encourage a new generation of ethical shoppers.

The free app gives consumers instant access to a brand's social, ethical and environmental profile, as well as a product's nutritional information and price comparison. Barcoo has all the usual barcode scanner features, in addition to a traffic light rating system to help the environmentally and health conscious, make better purchasing decisions.

In recent years being green has become a bit of a fad, with a lot of companies doing the bare minimum, so that they can make this claim. This app helps you instantly discover just how green these companies are. It can help you figure out if a product or company is polluting the environment and to what extent, or if your favourite fish is on the endangered species list.

Barcoo is available for iPhone, Android devices, Nokia, Samsung

Get organised with the Christmas Wrapped iPhone app

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If you haven't got around to planning your Christmas presents yet and are starting to feel slightly stressed out now that it's only 12 days left, this is the app for you!

Christmas Wrapped generates tailor made gift suggestions for all your loved ones. The app factors in budget, age and gender to suggest the very best possible gifts from over 5,000 products and 250 shops. It also organises it all into a handy shopping list for when you head to the shops!

And better yet, 10p of every download of the Christmas Wrapped app goes to the Make-A-Wish Foundation® UK, a British charity that grants magical wishes to children suffering from life-threatening diseases.

A few key features of the app include:
-Gift ideas generator
- View similar products
- Input gifts manually
- Assign gifts to your chosen contact list
- Add people to list direct from phone contacts
- Set budget for each person/total budget
- See total actual/budgeted
- Mark what's been bought and what you still need to buy
- Create a single page Christmas shopping list

The app is available now from the iTunes store for £1.19 (iPhone, iPod Touch).

Photo: PR

iPad cork sleeve TAPE Nigel's Eco StoreWith news of lower iPad prices I'm guessing that one of the most wished for presents this Christmas will be found under many Christmas trees in a couple of weeks time.

If you are one of the lucky ones, or know of someone who's getting an iPad, what better way to protect it than with a soft eco iPad sleeve?!

Designed by TAPE, the sleeve is handmade in London from FSC-certified fabric-backed cork - so you can carry it with you wherever you go or keep it in your bag away from any harmful items. Did you know cork oak forests prevent desertification and are home to various endangered species and cork is completely biodegradable and recyclable?

Available from Nigel's Eco Store at £17.99 + shipping.

Photo: Nigel's Eco Store

Help save the planet with Open Planet Ideas

Thumbnail image for recycle.jpg Got a good idea which re-uses or mashes-up existing technologies and products to tackle today's environmental challenges? Well Sony and the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) want to hear from you.

They are behind a new initiative called Open PlanetIdeas which has been formed to answer questions like how do we make better use of our scarce natural resources? And how can we actively change people’s behaviour to encourage more sustainable lifestyles?

panel of experts has already sifted through an incredible 335 of inspiring ideas. And it has pulled them together into six themes to form this challenge. These themes include: changing behaviour, cleaner by design, more with less, make it real, waste not and recycling revisited.

So now it’s over to you. Take a look at Sony's technology showcase and start thinking about how you could re-use, combine or mash-up these and any other technologies to address the challenge. You can applaud other people’s concepts or refine them further. Best of all, why not contribute a concept of your own here.

The expert panel, along with the community, will select the concepts that most excite them. Once the winning concept is chosen, its contributors will work together with these experts to make the final concept real.

To help get you started, Hippyshopper has come up with its very own concept: Fly Tip Focus. This automatically alerts you if people are dumping rubbish in your local neighbourhood. You can see the full details here.

To view the challenge brief itself go here: http://bit.ly/aMPzEV.  You can also visit http://bit.ly/ccvdpd  for more details as well as watch the video below for more inspiration.



Open Planet Ideas

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Here's an iPhone app with a difference. Called Cool Tree, it enables you to plant a virtual sapling and nurture it into a tropical tree, like a sort of green Tamagotchi. Neglect it and you risk losing it to loggers and bulldozers!

Costing £1.79, £1 from the app is donated to the charity Cool Earth. The idea is that your purchase protects a real endangered rainforest tree in the Ashaninka region of the Peruvian Amazon which is, handily, geo-located for you to view on Google Maps as part of this application.

Three different species are available to choose from. Take care of your tree and you can unlock the next levels. You start with the Cocoa Tree but progress apparently to the more challenging Murumuru and Capirona trees.

For more info go to www.syncstudios.co.uk/cooltree and www.coolearth.org

econav.pngThe irony with advice is that while everyone loves giving it, so few us are actually up for receiving it, writes Ashley Norris. No matter if it does make our lives easier, saves the planet or keep a few extra quid in our pocket, quite often we simply don't want to know.

So the Vexia Econav, a clever new-ish product from a Spanish company claims to be the first to tell us how to drive more efficiently. I can't help but inwardly groan a little. There are two ways of looking at this. One, that is is a genuine attempt by a progressive company to make a difference to consumers and the planet. Or two, that sat navs are all the same these days and too stand out a new company needs to have a bit of a hook.

Fortunately for the Vexia, I think it is more the former than the latter, but whether all this driving advice is going to work is another thing.

So I put the device in the car and fired it up. It locked on to the satellites quickly and presented me with a straightforward interface. It is is not perhaps as elegant as some of its rivals, but I got used to it pretty quickly. Overall the maps are clear and easy to follow and the turn by turn instructions clear and precise.

There are some decent extra features too such as advanced lane guidance - which shows you which lanes you can use when coming to a turning - speed camera alerts and a healthy database of points of interest. As a basic sat nav this works fine.

Fuel efficiency

What though of its driving features? Well the blurb is impressive. It claims to be able to reduce fuel consumption by up to 30% which means reducing CO2 emissions by up to one ton and also saving the user up to £400 per year.

To do this though I have to change gear each time I am told (it calculates which is the best gear by analysing your car's details and pairing it to the road you are driving on) and I am also prompted if I pull away too quickly or stop too suddenly.

The eco features clearly do work, but I think you have to be a certain type of person to live with them. Some people will relish being told when and where to change gear, others will reach straight for the off button.

The latest version of the Vexia's software also has a speed nag built in. This tells you not only when you are breaking the speed limit but how many points you are likely to get on your licence. I wouldn't say it was a useful feature, but the first time you use it does come as a bit of a shock to see how easy it would be lose your licence.

Overall the Vexia is a sound enough satellite navigation system. If those extra features appeal then it is well worth the additional money you'll pay for it.


Here at Shiny Towers it looks like another scorcher of a day, and we reckon you should make the most of it, writes ShinyShiny's Kate Baxter. No, not by slathering yourselves in cooking oil and frying yourselves to a crisp. But by etting your hands on some gadgets which really can bring a bit of sunshine into your life.

And when it comes to solar powered gizmos we're not just talking about portable chargers. Check out our gallery for pretty party kit, robots and other miscellaneous goodies.

The time I chose to visit Australia was one of mass drought. Water saving was of utmost priority, and every drop was accounted for. When my Australian friends visited me during our 'drought', they scoffed that our water saving measures tended to extend as far as - not using the garden hose. My friends concluded that we Brits didn't even know the meaning of water saving, and our concerns existed purely on a superficial basis. I contested that this was because our droughts weren't so dangerous as those in a land mass made up of mostly arid desert, but I still didn't know many examples of British concern for water usage to back up my weak argument.

The growing awareness of our need to conserve the resources handed to us by mother nature, however, has increased the number of water saving gadgets on the market. It's time to encompass these gadgets into our lives and put us Brits back on the water saving map. Click on the image below to start our gallery of the best new gadgets around.

There seem to be few Londoners left who still battle with public transport and are yet to be converted to the cycling revolution. Either they feel that work is a little 'too far' to arrive there solely on their own steam or they believe that getting on a bike is certainly going to end with them arriving at work a sweating heap or, worse, with a broken limb.

Technological development serves yet again to convert the unconvertible with the 'electric' bike. From now on that burdensome hill can be conquered without groaning through flaming thighs, by switching on the electrics allowing you to scoot up with ease. The easier, more effortless electric cycle allows you to roll up to work sweat free and smelling fresh.

It's also apparently safer to travel by electric rather than pedal bike, although I'm not sure I fully follow the logic here. Either way, if you think the electric bike is for you, check out these options.

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orange power wellies1.jpgI thought this was an April Fool. But seemingly not, given we are half way through June. Orange really has developed a mobile phone charging device for your wellies.

Billed as perfect for this weekend's Glastonbury festival (handy given your mobile phone normally runs out of charge after a few hours of texting/phoning your mates to find out where they are) it apparently works by converting the heat from your feet into electric current.

Twelve hours of stomping through the mud will give about 1 hour of charge (not much really), but you can increase it by dancing around because the hotter your feet get the more energy you produce.

Developed in conjunction with Got Wind, the Power Wellies are unfortunately still in prototype form. But you can recharge your devices in the Orange Chill 'n' Charge area. For more information go to www.orange.co.uk/glastonbury

Here's a video featuring a guy from Got Wind explaining how the wellies work. Though after watching it I'm still no clearer whether this is for real or just a wind up.


Name: Infinit Solar Charger Bag

Type: Backback with solar-powered gadget charging technology

Price: £89.99 (Infinit)

As the Summer sun slowly begins to peek through the ever-present layer of British cloud-cover, you're probably looking to head on out, tastelessly displaying your milk bottle legs in a pair of shorts, beer in hand, ready to catch some rays. You'll probably want to bring an MP3 player with you for a few tunes and your mobile to call your mates on too. But what if a technophile's worst nightmare comes true and you suddenly find yourself without any battery power for your many gadgets? Enter the Infinit Solar Charger Bag to save the day.

The bag features a 2.4w photovoltaic solar panel on its outside to harvest the sun's rays ,which it then stores in a high capacity 2000mAH Li-ion battery, safely stored away in a pouch inside. Detach the battery from the solar panel and you're then free to use its stored energy to power hundreds and hundreds of devices using the myriad included connections. These include anything from a Nintendo DS to an iPhone or TomTom GPS device (click here to view the full list of compatible devices). You can even plug the battery into both the solar panel and the gadget to be charged at the same time, giving you continuous power providing you stay in quite strong sunlight. The battery can also be pre-charged from a mains supply if you want ready portable energy before you leave the house.


It's a great, green way to stay charged while on the go, and requires very little fuss to attach the many compatible devices it's capable of powering. The battery itself has a great capacity, offering roughly enough power to charge an iPhone twice-over when it has maximum solar power stored. Charging the battery is not always a smooth process though; the length of time it takes to fully power up the battery is very dependant on the amount of sunlight you expose the solar panel to. On a day of bright weather it hit maximum capacity within a reasonable 8 hours, but on a dark, wet, overcast day it was closer to 11 or 12 hours, give or take. It's also worth noting that the Infinit Solar Charger Bags currently don't support charging abilities for laptops or netbooks, though Infinit have suggested this will be on the way in later designs.

As a rucksack, the Inifinit Solar Charger Bag can't be knocked. It's a little weighty at 1.4kg, thanks to the built-in solar panel, but it seems more spacious than its 25 litre capacity would suggest. There are copious amounts of pockets and pouches, including an elasticated spot for laptops up to 15 inches in size. Straps are heavily padded and adjustable, and there's a clever mesh air-flow system for keeping your back cool while the bag is being carried. All in, it's a well built bag that should easily see you through some rugged usage.

Inifint Solar powered bag.jpg

How useful you'll find the Infinit Solar Charger Bag is, quite obviously, down to how much time you spend in the sun. It's a great rucksack by conventional standards, with plenty of space and useful pockets, and it is very comfortable on the back, even during prolonged, intensive journeys. But if you live in a dreary corner of the world weather-wise, you may feel that the extra premium you pay for the solar tech wont be worth it. On the other hand, if you're an outdoors type who is always out hiking, is looking to do a bit of globe-trotting or are even planning on attending a couple of music festivals this year then it really comes into its own, providing on-the-go power from Mother Nature herself. Expect to see Ray Mears sporting one of these bags very soon.


By Gerald Lynch

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The summer's finally here. Time to invest in solar gadgets like this Infinit Solar Bag. Developed for power-hungry consumers who use iPhones, iPods, Mobile Phones, Blackberry, Tom Tom and Nintendo DS devices, the bag features a 2.4 Watt integrated solar panel.

This continuously soaks up and stores natural light which you can then use to charge your devices. The energy is stored in a high-capacity internal battery. The solar bag is lightweight, powerful and can be used anywhere in the world to create a self-sufficient charging resource for your gadgets.

As part of the company's social and environmental policy it also makes a donation Solar-Aid.org with every purchase of the Infinit Solar Bag on its website.

The Infinit Solar Backpack retails at £89.99 in the UK and ships Worldwide. The solar bag will be launching in the US, Australia and New Zealand in the next couple of months.



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If you're the sort of person who wants to keep a track on your carbon footprint with every carefully weighted step, you may want to have a look at Proporta's latest Smart range of eco-friendly smartphone cases.

These eco-friendly cases have waste packaging whatsoever. The bamboo packaging which lets the pouch hang on retail store hooks is removed and put inside a pocket of the hessian or recycled leather pouches to give your handset maximum protection.


This is a guest post by D. Salmons over at TestFreaks.

Digital displays are now a way of life. From our TVs and DVD players to our computers and phones, a crisp and bright colour display has become the expected norm.

But having that nice bright display takes valuable energy, and after you multiply all of the devices running it, it becomes a major source of energy use. Fortunately technology has come up with a solution that uses less power.

LED backlighting is a method of backlighting, or illuminating the screen, that replaces the standard Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps (CCFL) typically used for this purpose. LED backlighting can be used as actual backlighting behind the LCD screen or side mounted with diffusers in order to keep the display as thin as possible.

It gives a longer life than CCFLs, and they are more efficient with the energy they do use. This means that in most cases the same energy on a LED backlight gives brighter output. Also LED Backlighting doesn't use mercury in its construction, making it more friendly to the environment when manufactured and for eventual disposal.

LED Backlighting can offer higher brightness than comparable CCFLs, resulting in a TV screen that can brighten up the room. It can also offer a wider colour gamut, making the colours on the screen stand out better.

And finally, LED backlighting can offer better dimming control, allowing for a fine degree of adjustment for the end user. Here we look at some of the LED backlight displays that are currently available on the market.


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As much as we all enjoy endless hours waving virtual lighters and popping virtual bubble wrap, you'd be forgiven for wondering if there was something a bit more... err...constructive that you could do with your iPhone, writes Kathryn Rodgers.

Well, by some miracle it looks like you weren't the only ones wondering. While you've been sipping your virtual pint at the virtual pub, some eco-conscious apps creators have been busy working on an array of green apps to help you help the planet.


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