Nippy as my bicycle acceleration usually is, I was a tad tardy off the blocks with this brilliant light-equipped pedal - it launched in March last year. Still, winter in January is the perfect time to get a pair of the Pedalite KPL100. It's basically a normal pedal but with three LED lights - red at the back, amber on the side, white at the front - that are powered by your pedalling, even 12 minutes after you stop. The engine here is GCSE science staple, the dynamo. There's a tiny one inside the pedal, turned by the pedal spindle (the bit that attaches the pedal to the bike). The result: motorists coming out of junctions see you from the side, geeky cyclists stop and quiz you about your cool accessory. And all without batteries. Majestic stuff. Slightly pricey at £62 inc P+P, but well worth it. Pedalite
Intrepid Travel is a unique company that truly believes in the "Take Only Memories, Leave Only Footprints" model. However, the footprints they leave behind directly benefit the villages seen in their tours. Using only local resources like minibuses, family-run hotels and tiny restaurants, the small tour groups of no more than 12 people can support the inhabitants while getting a better feel for the area they are visiting. Their brochure lists trips all over the world with varying levels of luxury, from backpacker up to premium and tour types include expedition, gourmet, and family. Intrepid has also created the Intrepid Foundation who work with groups like Spring Bud Plan, helping Chinese girls return to school; KOTO, providing vocational training for former street children in Vietnam; and Braille Without Borders, rehabilitating and training blind Tibetan children. [Elana]
I've managed to get my grease-stained mitts on those new battery-free bike lights I was rambling about the other day. True to the claims, they're simple enough even to fit, even for cycle igoramuses like me - all you need is a Philips head screwdriver and five minutes to stick them on your spokes and axles. Better still, they're as bright as my £30 Cat Eye LED lights. There are, however, three large Courtney Love-sized riders that let things down. The first is that if you remove your front wheel when you lock it up - I live in London, Home of The Professional Bike Thief - the light will sometimes wobble off the axle. Second up: unless you're cycling at a fair clip, they don't light up at all. The real problem, though, is they don't flash when you're stationary, so you need a second set of battery- or solar-powered lights to deter lorries from squishing you. In other words, these nifty green-powered LEDs are less a matter of Goodbye Batteries, more a case of Hello Greater Visibility. They're £25 from here.
I always found the AA's Very Nice Men and the RAC's Knights of the Road mildly disturbing, so it's good to see there's an alternative in breakdown land in the shape of ETA. Naturally, it offers roadside assistance - at £40 to the AA's £45, complete with a one hour guarantee - but it's also an out-and-out greenie company. For a start, it undertakes eco transport research, lobbies government on reducing car use and offsets its own emissions with energy effiency projects in the developing world. It even actively attempts to raise our awareness of car overuse and why public transport's good - presumably doing itself out of punters in the process - and recommends you offset your driving at £2.80 for every 1,000 miles. Finally, it hosts a mighty handy online guide to which cars have the best MPG - Honda's Civic IMA hybrid is currently sitting at number one. ETA
So it transpires Doc Emmett was wrong - instead of flying cars in the future, we'll all be whizzing about in hydrogen-powered ones on the ground. Well, we will in 2020 once we've sussed how to make the stuff without wasting more energy than the gas is good for. In the meantime, there are prototype sci-fi home power stations to get excited about, such as Honda's new Energy Station III. It's basically a hydrogen fuel pump and a generator for your house, complete with a fat battery. The only ungreen bit is that it's natural gas-powered instead of wind or solar. Honda Research.
This isn't something you can buy, unless you're Roman Abromavich and have a few paltry billion burning a hole in your pocket. Instead, it's news to warm your cockles - Birmingham yesterday joined cities such as Brighton & Hove and Aberdeen by earning the sobriquet of Fairtrade City. According to the council's website, that means at least 100 local shops sell Fairtrade stuff, a minimum of 50 Brum cafes flog Fairtrade food and drinks and all tea and coffee at the council is Fairtrade. It's roit bosta news, innit? Check out the full list of Fairtrade towns, cities and boroughs for ethical brews on your 2006 UK summer holidays. [Brum Bullring photo by supermoving]
Now call me harsh. Not straightaway. But cyclists who ride without lights in the middle of winter almost deserve to get bumped like the smug one-way-flouting rider in Alexei Sayle's The Dog Catcher. I justify this as a fellow cyclist and an occasional driver who knows unlit bikes are invisible 'til the last second. Anyhow, enough ranting - you want to know about these literally brilliant 'Reelight bikelights' that work without batteries. Nope, we're not talking about hard-to-fit dynamo lights. These LED newbies work using electromagnetic induction - GCSE science reminder for me and others here - and are a cinch to install. The lights attach to each wheel's axle and the magnets go on the spokes. Net result: green transport, green lighting, less battery dosh and less bumping by buses. In the UK they're on sale from Goodbye Batteries at £25 a pair. More info over at Reelight.
It's that time again to throw yourself down a mountain - word has it that Austria and Switzerland are both snowy and open for business - so what better way to celebrate than buying an eco-friendly board? To the best of my slope knowledge, the company to go for is Arbor: it's the only explicitly green board-making outfit out there. Based in the US, it gets wood from 'environmentally-friendly' sources and donates an unspecified portion of profits to charities protecting Hawaii's Koa trees (though there's no FSC badge equivalent to certify the wood's origin, so you'll have to take Arbor's word for it). According to Snow+Rock - whose buyers I know, and they know their boarding kit - the Arbor Element in the picture is ideal for intermediate boarders and above. Time to get practising, eh? £410 to you from Snow+Rock's store. Check out the Respect the Mountain site for tips on green ski and snow travel and accomodation. [found via Snowboard Club UK]
Clocks going back, temperatures plunging, rain coming in horizontally... It's a fair bet that right about now you're on the verge of dropping the cycling commute. But hold those public transport horses. For, lo, there is a way to keep cycling throughout the grey months and it involves getting kitted out with winter clothing. After a breathable and waterproof trio of jacket, trousers and gloves, the next thing on your list will be shoes. These Specialized Buzzsaws aren't designed specifically for roadbikes or commuting and there's nothing especially green or ethical about their construction. They are, however, very comfy, relatively light, warm yet non-sweaty, blessed with a sock-protecting boot design and completely waterproof (I've tried them). Unlike some cycle shoes, they also look innocuous enough to wear off the bike. In the UK, they're going for £80 over at Evans.
This just in from the Tokyo car show - a people carrier that takes the petrol-electric hybrid technology in cars such as the Toyota Prius and adds hydrogen fuel. Sounds to me like the ultimate green car. Once hydrogen refuelling stations start popping up it could run without creating pollution, provided the hydrogen was made in the first place with renewable electricity. The Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid's just a concept for now, but why not drop Mazda an email and ask them to bring it to the UK? In the meantime, take a look at the Prius, Citroen's C3, the Honda IMA and - if you really must have an SUV - the Lexus RX400h.
So, it's official - it's time to join Leo DiCaprio's Prius gang. According to Friends of the Earth stats out today, the average UK family would save £630 a year by buying a Toyota Prius (pictured) instead of a Ford Mondeo. And if you're a small car fan, you could chop £125 off your annual fuel bill by eschewing a Ford Fiesta and rolling off the forecourt with a Citroen C2 [see also the C3]. As the FOE chaps and chapesses point out, that's a greater saving than Golden Gordon Brown cutting fuel tax by 10p. What they don't mention quite so loudly is that the Mondeo and Fiesta aren't the most fuel efficient of cars - hence the dramatic savings. Still, the Prius is a brilliant eco motor and its £17.2K tag is growing more attractive by the day as petrol prices continue nudging upwards.
Green-powered lights on bikes aren't exactly new - dynamo ones lit by pedalling have been around for over half a century - but this is the first time I've seen a solar-powered one. The bulb's a low-power, high-visibility, long-life three LED job and it charges constantly while you're whizzing about via a simple solar panel on the top. There's no quoted charge time, but there is a mention that it'll run for 15 hours continuously. Which is useful if you were planning on doing the London to Brighton bike ride four times in a row during deepest darkest winter. The torch takes standard batteries, so buy Ni-MH ones. It's on sale for a very cheap £20 from Ecotopia.
Just think - next bank holiday weekend this could be you, running gaily through a field of wind turbines with a balloon in hand or a happy child on your shoulders. Frivolous field antics aside, 27-28th August is Embrace the Revolution's Wind Weekend, a chance to visit working wind farms across the UK and learn a bit about green power. As well as the chance to check out the turbines up close, there'll be plenty of kid-friendly activities including kite-flying and windmill-painting. Most of the farms are in Wales, Scotland, NW England, Norfolk and N.Ireland, but read the full list here. Embrace the Revolution recommends you share a lift using LiftShare, a site that's very similar to the Freewheelers site I've blathered about before.
As you've probably heard - and I keep hearing, ancedotally - bicycle sales in London have gone crazy since July 7. For every one of the shiny new Ridgebacks rolling out across the capital, however, there's probably an old bike rusting quietly away in a shed. Which is where Re-Cycle comes in. Give your old two wheeler to Re-Cycle and it'll refurb it and it ship it off to Africa - I refer you to the cheery kids riding old Royal Mail bikes in the photo. All you have to do is drop the bike off in Colchester (Essex) or Glasgow; new collection points are planned in London, Oxford and Bristol shortly. Re-Cycle's website.
School's out, which means holidays and nice quiet roads for my daily bicycle commute. Before you jet off to somewhere hot and end up buying some no-name sunscreen packed with chemicals, check out So Organic - it's doing a deal on one Lavera sunscreen and aftersun for £19 (you get a free shower gel too). Lavera was the first company to make a 100 per cent mineral-based sunscreen, free from - to quote Lavera - "petrochemicals, parabins, artificial flavours, colours, aromas, no sodium lauryl or laureth sulphate". In addition to feeling content that you're not poisoning yourself, you could go one further and visit Future Forests to offset your personal carbon emissions from the flight. It won't save the world, but it's a step in the right direction, right?