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emilyfridge1.jpgEmily Cummins is an inventor with a focus on helping the environment. This wouldn't be so unique if it wasn't for the fact that she is only 21, and has been inventing since the age of four when her grandad gave her a hammer.

Starting by taking things apart and rebuilding them with her grandad - who she describes as an 'inspiration' - in his shed, Emily progressed and won a barrage of awards and competitions at school for inventions such as a toothpaste dispenser that minimises waste, which she came up with at just 15 years old. She went on to become Cosmopolitan's Ultimate Save-The-Planet Pioneer in 2008.

Currently in her 3rd year of university at Leeds, she studies part time so she can work on her inventions, and dedicate time to inspiring young people.

Emily's best known invention is the sustainable fridge, (pictured with her) which she also produced at school, and is set to change lives in the third world, as it is used to hold medicines. Emily is currently working on a second generation version that is intended for commercial use.

Cosmo.jpgEmily believes that all new inventions should be green. She says "This concept - to maintain the quality while neutralising the damage to the environment - must be extended to all the other appliances we can't seem to function without such as TVs, cookers, dishwashers, computers, even cars."

"Just like Trevor Baylis's wind-up radio, the key is to creating quality green alternatives to the items which people have come to rely on."

If you think you have a great idea for a green invention, she suggests you check out N powers 'Bright Ideas competition' on their website, where you can also check out some great tips for getting more energy efficient.

earthdrive_8GB_usb_drive.jpgUnlike when taking unnecessary car journeys or printing an excessive amount of paper, I don't feel particularly environmentally unfriendly when using a USB drive. But if you do, then this could be the USB drive for you.

Claiming to be the first earth-friendly product of its kind, the ATP 8GB EarthDrive boasts that it is made entirely from bio-recycled plastics, and it can be recycled when you've finished using it. It remains to be seen whether people bother to recycle the EarthDrive, or whether an item as small as this will merely be discarded.

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It's all very well living an eco-friendly life, but if you're going to blow it all by going up in a puff of polluting smoke or clog up the 'landfill' in one of Britain's over-crowded cemeteries when you pop off, it can all seem a bit like a wasted effort. So what can you do to ensure a green death? (Hmm.)

green-burial.jpgFirst of all, you have more choice as to where you are laid to rest than you might realise. If you're lucky enough to own a private plot of woodland, for example, or can gain permission from someone who does, you can legally hold a burial there. There are surprisingly few stipulations on what you can and can't do (mostly to do with not putting a body too near any water supplies for obvious reasons) and as well as being a greener option, being closely involved with the burial is said to be very helpful in the grieving process. If the idea of a woodland burial appeals, but all you have is a small patio (and no desire for any Brookside type moments) then it is possible to find rural burial sites you can use for your ceremony for a fee. More information on conducting your own private burial can be found here.

Of course, a body is only as green as the coffin its buried in, so it's important to find one made from earth-friendly materials, which will enrich rather than poison the soil when it decomposes. There's a big market in these now, and many are far more attractive and less gloomy looking than their traditional counterparts. They include wicker coffins from the Somerset Willow company (above). As well as making really quite bright and cheery-looking coffins (now there's a sentence I never thought I'd write!) willow is a very sustainable material and a renewable source that does not need to be re-planted once established.

ecopod3_1.jpgAnother option is Ecopod, whose caskets look more like funky surfboards than anything dracula would want to be seen dead in! Every Ecopod comes in bright, jewel-like shades and — unlike a traditional "box" — is completely biodegradable. There is also an acorn-shaped urn available, though it comes with a disclaimer urging those considering cremation to reconsider, as it 'inevitably causes pollution'...

internet-right.jpgWhile you're reading HippyShopper and other favourite blogs, have you given any thought to the ethical policies of the Internet Service Provider which allows you to do so?

The Phone Co-op is an ethical communications company offering cheap broadband and dial-up internet connections, as well as both mobile and terrestrial phone packages. As the name suggests, the company is run as a co-operative. It also operates a strict environmental policy, promising to offset all the C02 it generates as a company. It does this through initiatives which include the use of recycled office stationery, using electricity from renewable energy sources wherever possible, and investing money in the Westmill Wind Farm co-operative. The Phone Co-op also advertises other ethical companies, in exchange for receiving a percentage of their profits when Phone Co-op customers purchase goods from them.

thames The results of tests conducted over a period of almost two years have confirmed that levels of bacteria and viruses in Thames river water after bouts of heavy rain exceed recommended safety levels.

Although in recent years the Thames had gained a reputation for being one of cleanest rivers in Europe, the research found that discharges of untreated sewage into the river after bad weather was putting river users including rowers, canoeists and anglers, at risk of gastro-enteritis and other water-borne infections.

sedbuk2.gifI’m just having a new boiler installed and balked when my installer suggested putting in a boiler with a B rating for efficiency. When I didn’t see a nice bright green A rating I thought – ooh this isn’t for ecogeeks like me, no no, no! But I have just done a little research on what the difference actually is between A and B.

Building Regulations have for many years included a section ("Part L") on the conservation of fuel and power which applies to all new homes built in Britain. Since April 2002 changes to existing heating systems included a main rule for boilers - that they have to meet a minimum specified level of efficiency, rated D, based on the Government's official SEDBUK test results. But what eco and money difference does the rating make?

Related stories: The Low Carbon Diet | Trianco pump converts hot air in your loft to hot water

solarpanelsHousing minister Yvette Cooper is to publish a draft planning policy statement which proposes the abolition of the so-called ‘Merton rule’ which requires any new building to reduce its carbon emissions by 10% through renewables, it was reported in The Guardian. Housebuilders do not want to bear the cost of adding the green options to newbuilds and have been lobbying against the rule. This appears to be a huge U-turn for the government who last year wanted all local authorities to adopt a version of the rule.

The leader of the House Builders Federation claims that different local initiatives are confusing and a national strategy would be more effective, but renewable industries representatives report that the ‘Merton rule’ has been of far more use to them than any previous national government initiatives which are often confusing and run out of money. Projects such as the solar thermal project being installed on the old Arsenal ground, which is the biggest of its kind in the world, would not have been done without the ‘Merton rule’. It remains to be seen what will happen if it is abolished.

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The internet has proved a useful tool against waste. Initiatives like Freecycle, and various swap sites such as What's Mine Is Yours, Read It, Swap It and Swopex - encouraging users to swap clothes, books, videos, etc - have become extremely popular of late. Sites like Swap A Skill have also been set up to promote the concept of bartering skills.

LetsLink UK is the leading organisation supporting Local Exchange Trading Systems - a system for swapping both skills and possessions - across the UK. Not only this, but they are also supported by the MP Linda Gilroy and the Parliamentary Group for LETS, and recently ran a national campaign to try and amend social security regulations for LETS. Their website is an extremely useful resource, showing you which regional group to approach to start participating in the scheme, offering an information pack which you can order, and also listing various events where you can listen to speakers discussing the philosophy behind the concept. They also have a members area and discussion forum online, as well as offering intertrading accounts and reduced attendance rates at national events to anyone who signs up to their internet service.

Related Stories: UK Student Swap Site|Visa Swap: a new concept in clothes swapping|Swopex DVD and game swap|No purchase necessary - Swap a Skill lets you swap your skills

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The recent earthquake in Japan, which measured 6.8 on the Richter Scale, triggered a leak at a nuclear power plant. The leak from the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility was minor and thought not to be harmful.

A spokesman from Tokyo Electric, who run the plant, said: "We have confirmed that water containing a slight amount of radioactive materials leaked out of the facility. But the leakage is believed to be far below the levels that could affect the environment." The quake also triggered a serious fire which took several hours to contain.

[via Energy Daily]

Related story: More on the nuclear power debate

roberts_mayfair_tower.jpgThe Roberts Tower in St Louis, Missouri will be the first high-rise building to be awarded a Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficient Design) Certification by the US Green Building Council.

The tower will be constructed with environmentally responsible and sustainable materials and designed to make significant energy savings of 50-70%. It will even have its own recycling program and feature energy efficient appliances.

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Western gray whales off the east coast of Russia are being driven away from their feeding grounds by noise from the construction of a nearby oil and gas site.

Environmental groups are concerned by the high levels of noise from the construction by Sakhalin Energy (which is partly owned by Shell). Following advice from experts they had agreed to limit load noises to more than four hours at a time. Environmental groups in the area claim that the noise is instead going on for up to 48 hours.

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When hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans in 2005 rebuilding the city and rehousing the homeless was an urgent priority. Global Green USA decided that out of the ruins of New Orleans a new greener city could be built.

With this in mind they have committed to rebuilding New Orleans in an eco-friendly, energy efficient way.

downing%20street%20crest.gifAs Gordon Brown settles into his new office British citizens can have their say on a variety of ethical issues at the Downing Street website. Here you can find petitions promoting animal welfare, energy conservation and a host of other green issues.

You can even support some less familiar campaigns. For example, Hugh Bernard wants fruit trees and other edible plants in city centres. Follow the jump to read more about how you can have you say.

greenfinder.jpgEver wanted to find green DIY products or look for an eco-friendly restaurant in your area? Maybe you just want a quick rundown of all the local box schemes for organic veg? Greenfinder is a brand new website that's here to help, and its interface is a lot simpler than similar sites I've seen that claim to offer the same service.

It's is a comprehensive listing of all things green and ethical, which allows you to search for household products and services, including IT and telecoms providers, cruelty free products, recycling services, green events and much, much more. All shades of green are welcome, from 'light green' folk with a passing interest in the environment to the dark greenies among you who are saving the world as we speak. The team behind Greenfinder have an interactive and very friendly approach to their work, and welcome ideas and suggestions. I suggest you go over there and have a look!

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Turn the hot air which accumulates in your loft into hot water with the Activair air source heat pump. The unit is installed your loft and sucks in normally wasted hot air and uses it to heat your home’s water. Capable of supplying all of a family’s hot water needs it only takes about half a day to install. Trianco, the company who make the pump say it can be up to five times as efficient as a gas or oil boiler.


Related stories: Heat recovery system | Odourbuster toilet sucker

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