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We also saw a bunch of sexy eco-gadgets in 2006, but none quite so sleek as the Binvention, an aluminum prototype (only 100 made, and surely all sold out prior to a huge order being done), which takes the plastic sacks we've all got hundreds of floating around, and gives them a useful home as recycling bags.  The Binvention in particular impressed because it did a dirty job and looked great doing it, and at a great price to boot.  But, if you must have a gadgeted-up version, there was the ecopod e1 Home Recycling Center, styled by BWM Designworks.  [GT]

Original stories: Making recycling sexy with the Binvention | ecopod e1 Home Recycling Center


A little late on the Monday ethical celeb, but Nobel-nominee Bono was just honoured by her Majesty as Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for his all-purpose good works. Being Irish, he can't call himself "Sir", but neither can Bill Gates. (Conrad Black emigrated from Canada because the Canadian government wouldn't let him be Lord of Crossharbour.) Bono recently complained that his charity work has been so engrossing that he was concerned he might not have time to make music, but seems to have got it together. Congrats, not-sir. [GT]

Queen's knighthood for Bono

Related stories: Damian Lewis + Samaritans = better mental health | Jackie Chan Organic Skin Care | Rock tours damaging environment, says Radiohead singer

Pouch pants

Disposable nappies result in millions of tonnes a year in landfills, of organic material wrapped tightly up in plastic, which means it is definitely not going to biodegrade properly.  That said, no mother is going to give up the convenience of disposables without thinking twice - not to mention the energy consumed in cleaning the cloth kind and the difficulty of finding the right one for you.  The Plush Pants cloth nappy library and Cloth Nappy Review both provide some terrific assistance on that front.  You put down a deposit with Plush Pants and they lend you up to 3 nappies at once.  When you buy, then your deposit is applied to your purchase.  This way you get to be totally sure they do what you need.  However, you can streamline the process even more with a visit to Cloth Nappy Review, a great site that took the whole cloth nappy search out of my tired hands (having chatted on everything from the No Excuse! Cloth Nappy Campaign to Wam-Bamboo nappies to Green baby alternative nappy options to Lollipop silk nappies).  Four years ago when I started looking for material like this, it was really difficult, but now there are some great niche sites with deep analyses of specific green lifestyle issues.  [GT]

Original stories: Cloth Nappy Review, I love you | Plush Pants: a Cloth Nappy Library | No Excuse! Cloth Nappy Campaign | Wam-Bamboo nappies | Green Baby alternative for eco-nappy fans | Lollipop reusable nappies in cotton and silk


Knickers are the single article of clothing you most want to have organic and natural fiber (and not always typical: g=9.8 is made of wood): soft, breathable, and without any chemicals that might disrupt your later capacity for childbearing.  In 2006 you saw plenty of options, such as Greenfibers, Greenknickers and the organics offered by Say Pants to Poverty, which also donate to a good cause while helping you feel sexy.  Hippyshopping is about optimizing the little parts of your life in a way that improves the world for you, for them, for everybody.  [GT]

Original stories: Greenknickers returns! | Hot pants | Sexy sexy hemp panties | Sexy and exciting Greenfibers organic underwear | Pants to Poverty: buy pants, end poverty | g=9.8 Lingerie made from trees


We saw so many wind-up gadgets in 2006, from the hand crank blender that attaches to your bumper to the more prosaic Indigo lantern from Freeplay.  Generally they have a hand-crank on the side, which you whang around until it comes alive, and whang around again when the power goes out.  Easy as pie.  You can even build your own for USB devices, with a soupcon of Lego on top.  While we especially saw torches that you just shake to light up (saving toxic batteries and preventing you from having dead ones when the blackout comes anyhow) the Eton FR200 was a particularly impressive radio.  Doing AM, FM and shortwave, it's a compact and pretty device, lightweight enough to carry around and holding enough power to be easy to keep cranked.  It also has a built-in LED torch, and a mobile charger socket.  Also, it's easy.  How easy?  My non-technical mother stole my FR200 and has been carrying it around delightedly since the end of the summer.  I kind of want it back - it's really nice - but it's making her so gosh-darned happy.  [GT]

Original stories: Hand crank blender attaches to your bumper | Indigo lantern from Freeplay | The Eton FR200: lean green listening machine


I reviewed the Green Cone a few months ago, but basically, it's a solar-powered (in the simplest and lowest-tech sense: it uses black plastic to make the sun get hotter so it reduces the contents into compost more efficiently) cone that you dump any kind of food into.  Dairy, meat, the regular, it doesn't matter.  It does have to be buried partway in the ground, though, so it's not for urbanites (but I'll revisit electric composters later).  The Can-o-worms takes this a step further, being a stack of five worm habitats that you layer organic waste into.  By the time you've laid on the last habitat, the bottom one is full of compost ready to be emptied, and the process continues.  Again, no mains power involved; they both use natural principles that've existed since either the Big Bang or "let there be light" (or your personal equivalent).  [GT]

Original stories: Review: Green Cone solar-powered composter | Can-o-worms


We wanted science behind our home remedies in 2006, and science did not disappoint.  Fave story: farmers in India, too poor to use conventional pesticides, started dousing their crops with rotgut.  Here comes the science: it works; plonk kills bugs dead.  Maybe every good Hippyshopper should have their own still in the basement?  We also saw publication of The Truth about Garden Remedies: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why which breaks down whether you can kill slugs with beer, whether you should buy commercial compost tea, and what Epsom salts do for your pH.  While Grandmother may be wise, it's great to have evidence.  [GT]

Original stories: Plonk: kills bugs, dead | Review: The Truth about Garden Remedies: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why


Hippyshopper founder Adam (now of thegreenguy) has a piece in the Guardian discussing the problems with wind turbines not being ready for prime time yet.  Not the big farm ones, of course, they're flying along.  It's the small house-sized ones that aren't doing so well yet - practically nothing in some cases.  "I've had my second one for three months now - the first one was vibrating the house too much - and so far it's powered one energy-saving bulb for around three hours a day," Donnacadh McCarthy says." It's created a total of 1.6 kilowatts, which isn't even 20p worth of electricity."  Ouch!  Any Hippyshoppers have a wind turbine?  Anybody having any luck with them?  [GT]

Renewable energy runs into turbulence on the home front [via thegreenguy]

Related stories: Your own award-winning power plant | Home Wind Turbines Turn Fashionable in Britain | Volunteer Pedal-Powered Billboard


In 2006, everything is up for recycling grabs, from old soda bottles (but we'll talk more about Terracycle later) to your very underwear.  Hippy company Patagonia put out a call for your old Capilene base layers to be returned to their stores for stripping, dissolving and reuse in brand-new hiking gear - but only if it's really, really too worn for any human to reasonably wear again.  The other message: don't buy new if what you've got already does it.  [GT]

Original stories: Patagonia wants your underwear | TerraCycle sells your garbage back to you - as compost


If you particularly want a wash every day, even when you're in the woods or hanging at Glastonbury, you may think you're stuck staying at a hotel instead of roughing it under the stars.  Hippy gadgets to the rescue!  Maplin's portable shower (one of the many nifty Maplin eco-gadgets) plugs into your car adapter to heat up the water stored in the jug, so you can be gloriously hair-slicked and content but still frolic with Nature the other 97% of the time. [GT]

Original stories: Maplin Electronic Portable Shower | Top 5 eco-presents from Maplin

1. Europe's biggest dinosaur discovered. [BBC]

2. Light relief (if it doesn't make you cry); the top ten Bushisms of 2006. [MSN]

3. Rockhopper penguins (stars of 'Happy Feet') in decline. [Guardian]

4. The Soil Association demands that the Government takes action on farm 'superbug' problem. [Soil Assocation]

More Green News


Often we end up with heaps of stuff we should recycle, but it would be nice if there were something we could do in our own home.  The Logmaker gives us an option for those piles of old newspapers: stuff them in there and it reverts to something not unlike the chunk of tree it once was, suitable for placing in some warming glowy fireplace (and do scatter the ashes on your garden afterward).  Gadgets like this, with a long life, an obvious application, and which are fun to use, are absolutely the best.  The Eco-friendly Umbrella Stand was another one - the spike you hang your umbrella on which enables the water to drip into the plant, saving you mess and reusing the water.  We really need more like those in 2007.

Original stories: Logmaker, Logmaker, get me a match | Eco-friendly Umbrella Stand


The TREAD iPod and laptop cases, like the Gription Firefly, generated quite a lot of blog buzz in 2006.  They also sold like crazy, which is good for several reasons.  One, they're incredibly sturdy, and an all-around solid product.  Two, they involve recycling truck tires (which raised the big question: why Columbian truck tires in particular?  Did anybody get an answer on that?) into a useful product.  Three, they're a UK home solution.  Devised by Better Energy Systems, the same company that gave us the Solio, we expect great things to come in 2007. 

Original stories: Special weekend report!  Meet TREAD, the new product from Solio | Ethical celebrity sighting: Clinton gives out Solio chargers | Review: GuyotDesigns Firefly, Bottles, Gription


Teaching your kids to think green starts shortly after they're born, but it'll be fun with options like Automoblox and recycled cardboard toys like the Fort from Ecotopia.  They span both sides.  Automoblox are heirloom quality and meant to really last, as well as provide a variety of options (you build the car out of the blocks, then drive it; when you get tired of the car you take it apart, and can then build a new one).  Cardboard toys are meant to be disposable, so they're inexpensive, give your children a ready surface on which to express themselves, and can be recycled yet again when this life is over.  [GT]

Original stories: Recycled cardboard fort from Ecotopia | Automoblox: build your own wooden car

1. Prince Charles is building eco-mansion on England-Wales border. [Ecorazzi]

2. EU fish quota deal made for 2007. [BBC]

3. Extinct TV series is roaring success for the Bengal tiger. [WWF]

4. Scientists reveal that bears have stopped hibernating. [Independent]

More Green News

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