eco chic

Save money on energy bills with Smart Meters

British Gas are about to install their millionth smart meter, giving households greater control and understanding of their energy usage. It’s essentially going to revolutionise how families and households approach to energy consumption.

Households should be able to save on average around 5% on their energy bills, which equals around £65 per year, by utilising their smart meter.

How it works

Smart meters allow you to:

· Display energy use as you use it, for the first time: households will be able to see how much gas and electricity is being used and the cost in £ and pence, making it easier to identify waste and save on bills

· Put an end to estimated bills: by sending energy suppliers exact meter readings automatically, meaning customers will only pay for the energy they use

Britain will be nearly £14 billion better off thanks to the introduction of smart meters to British homes and businesses, according to a new report published by British Gas and Oxford Economics.

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The world’s most advanced electric super bike

Electric bikes are sometimes just not that glamourous but the Agility Saietta R bike is not only pretty impressive looking but can also travel up to 100 miles on just 45p of electricity! It does 0-60mph in four seconds and is available in 11 different colours. Eco chic at it’s finest.

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Eco Chic: is fashion getting greener?

How Fashion is Going Green

When the average person considers eco-friendly clothing options, they may have images of the wardrobe from The Matrix (not the cool trenches and skintight pants they sported inside the Matrix, but the unfinished, no-color sacks they wore on the Nebuchadnezzar).  But green fashion has come a long way from the rough, un-dyed, homespun garments of yesteryear.  In fact, you may not be able to tell the difference between textiles that have harmed the planet at every turn and those that have done very little to increase your carbon footprint.  Thanks to changes in the industry that have turned an eye towards the future of fashion and how it relates to the environment, green fashion has grown.  Here are just a few ways in which the clothes on your back may be getting a little greener.

Schooling

The crossover between green living and the fashion industry starts with education and the new batch of designers entering the field.  This is why it’s awesome that so many fashion schools are now offering courses that explain the goals and possibilities where green fashion is concerned, as well as offering instruction in how to make eco-friendly clothing and accessory.  Even well-known schools like the Fashion Institute of Technology have embraced the possibility of greener clothing options by hosting exhibits and offering seminars and courses in eco-fashion.

Textiles

Organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, eucalyptus, and plenty of other plants are all being used to create fabrics that are free of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, doing less harm to your body as well as the environment.  And peace silk and organic wool are gathered humanely so that no animals are killed to give you the shirt on your back (which is good for your conscience as well as the animals).  In addition to the many environmental benefits that come with these textiles, you’ll be happy to hear that they’re good for your wallet, too.  Although they may be a bit more expensive initially, they can last up to ten times as long thanks to the fact that no chemicals are present to break down the fibers prematurely.  And many designers are now opting for these fabrics in their lines, thus supporting the organic farming movement.

Manufacturing

If you knew how many chemicals went into producing a garment (bleaches, dyes, flame retardant, stain-proofing, and even formaldehyde, amongst other things), you might not be so keen to put them on your skin.  And in addition to the potential for bodily harm, the processes used to manufacture textiles for clothing are a source of pollution and waste.  But concerned designers and manufacturers are beginning to seek ways to reduce the damage caused by clothing creation, from using natural dyes and skipping chemicals to recycling scrap cloth left over from the production of garments.

Accessories

You can’t have a fashionable ensemble without a few accessories, and while some green changes are obvious (faux leather belts, shoes, and handbags, for example, or accessories made from recycled materials), others may be things you never even thought of (fair trade precious metals and gemstones for jewelry, shoes that can be recycled to create playground surfaces, etc.).  Many companies in the fashion industry are finding creative ways to go green not only with clothing, but with accessories, as well.

Designers

Perhaps you haven’t heard of up-and-coming eco-designers like Casey Larkin, Kizzy Jai Knight, and Ada Zanditon (although you should definitely check them out), but you’ve likely heard of Stella McCartney, who espouses eco-friendly fashion along with her vegetarian values.  And with more and more designers going green, it won’t be long before some of your favorite fashion houses start offering clothing options that will make you feel as good as you look.

Carol Montrose is a writer for www.tshirtprinting.net where you can create your own custom tshirts, hoodies, and much more.

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Appliances of the Future…

Established in 2003, Electrolux Design Lab is an annual global design competition open to industrial design students who are invited to present innovative, daring ideas and solutions for tomorrow’s home appliances. The 2011 theme is Intelligent Mobility: how people can prepare and store food, clean and do their dishes, both within and beyond the home.

Portable Spot Cleaner (Portable Handheld Washing Machine)

Designed by Adrian Mankovecky of Slovakia

Whether you’re a back packer or a business traveller you will love this small portable cleaner. Separate the two components, place on either side of the garment and choose the suitable cleaning program. Negative Ions and steam refresh clothing and remove stains. Powered with a sugar crystal battery, this device could potentially be used anywhere in the world.

Smoobo Blender (‘Bouncy Ball’ Food Blender)

Designed by Roseanne de Bruin of New Zealand

The Smoobo blender is designed to be enjoyable and easy to use. Simply open the blender, put the ingredients inside and bounce. Each bounce activates the kinetic batteries, which in turn power the rotary blades to create a perfectly blended smoothie that can be enjoyed by opening the pouring cap.

Mobile Induction Heat Plate (Smart Phone Operated Mobile Cooker)

Designed by Tommi Moilanen of Finland

This smart induction hot plate is a compact solution for those on the go. Place the heat plate wherever you want and pair it with your smart-phone to gain a child safe remote control. The smart-phone app is designed to be used with intelligent food packaging where NFC-tags provide instructions on how to heat the food properly. The smart-phone app is also programmed to remember how you previously cooked. The induction plate is a glossy black and white design with a wooden handle that makes it easy to carry and store and can be hung on a wall when charging the battery.

Robo TAP Cleaner (Robotic Vacuum Cleaner)

Designed by Gyu Ha Choi of South Korea

The Robo TAP is a smart evolution of the robotic vacuum cleaner used to target an exact area for cleaning. An IPS system aligned with a simple remote control is attached to the shoe or slipper of the user. Two taps on a dirty spot directs the Robo TAP to the precise area for cleaning. Two more taps will cancel the command and three taps returns the vacuum cleaner to its automatic programme.

Ribbon (Multi-Purpose Heater and Cooler)

Designed by Enzo Kocak of Australia

The Ribbon is a multi-purpose heater and cooler for portable use. Its unique shape and flexibility allows for wrapping around a vessel containing food or drink for heating or chilling. The black side provides heat, whereas the white cools. You can curl it up, take it with you, fold out and even put it together to use as a hotplate. Controls placed on the side facilitate easy use. The chargeable thermoelectric cell battery can also reverse the charging process– whilst not in use the cells convert excess heat back into electricity

Salvé Bagel Toaster

Designed by Kent Madden of Canada

This portable bagel toaster is especially convenient for those who can’t find time to cook. Place a bagel in the toaster and it will automatically start rotating. When happy with the colour of the freshly toasted bagel, simply remove and enjoy. The toaster is very energy efficient being run on sugar crystal batteries or recharged on a ceramic dock using induction. Now there are no excuses for missing the most important meal of the day!

Sous-vide Cell Cooker

Designed by Adam Miklosi of Hungary

The Sous-vide Cellcooker is inspired by the professional trend of slow food cooking. The Sous-vide helps you cook delicious healthy food at pre-indicated times. Personalised internet and smart-phone software helps you plan your food menu a week ahead and aids you in buying the necessary ingredients. Ingredients are sealed in airtight plastic bags and held within a water bath (72 hours is not unusual as a cooking time) at an accurately determined temperature and much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 60 °C or 140 °F. The intention is to maintain the integrity of ingredients and achieve very precise control of cooking.

Onda Portable Microwave

Designed by Matthew Schwartz of USA

The Onda Portable Microwave oven is a very clever twist on an appliance that was first introduced to homes in 1955. Pre-prepared meals are placed in compatible food packages and warmed with microwaves. Specifically, the Onda is slid on to the packaging and the aluminum contained within the interior of the handheld device creates a circuit connection when the seal of the packaging is broken. Paper batteries are used to produce energy, making the Onda both smart and eco-friendly. The Onda also comes in a range of different colours for personal preference.

Electrolux awards three prizes: 1st place is 5,000 Euros and a 6-month paid internship at an Electrolux global design centre. The 2nd prize of 3,000 Euros and 3rd prize of 2,000 Euros are also on offer. Good luck everyone!

Designs are now also available to view on the John Lewis Facebook page – www.facebook.com/JohnLewisRetail

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The MINI bike for urban mobility launches in August

MINI presents an eco-friendly, space saving solution to city centre parking hassles with its very first bike.

The MINI Folding Bike which launches in August 2011 and is available from all MINI dealerships is compact enough to fit into the boot of a MINI (except the MINI convertible where it will need the back seat!) when folded. For commuters, it’s a fantastic ‘Park and Ride’ accessory, enabling you to park out of town and then simply continue your journey in style. With many city centre car parks offering free bike bays, it’s a pocket-friendly, environmentally-conscious transport option featuring MINI’s unmistakable design credentials.

The MINI Folding Bike is a genuine high-tech vehicle: with high-quality components, a light-weight aluminium frame and a clever folding mechanism that enables the bike to be folded and unfolded in just a few seconds. The bike is folded along the crossbar and handlebars. In addition the saddle can be retracted and the pedals be folded up. This makes the bike extremely easy to handle whilst saving space.

 Fitted in a sleeve under the saddle is a practical transport bag. The MINI Folding Bike can easily match the riding characteristics of a “normal” bike. Weighing less than 11 kilos and equipped with 8 gears and 20-inch wheels, it is quick and versatile. The teflon-coated chain prevents annoying soiling caused by chain oil and reduces the wear and tear on the components. The comfortable gel saddle ensures comfort. Thanks to the front and rear mudguards, you can carry on peddling regardless, even in the rain. It also has decent visibility on the road with its accompanying reflectors.

The bike comes in matt black. Silver highlights are set by the MINI lettering on the crossbar, the brand logo on the handlebars and the Union Jack motif on the rear forks. The the bike chain and bell in bold neon yellow.

The MINI Folding Bike is available as of August 2011 for £499 at www.mini.com/shop  and from all MINI dealerships. The bike comes fully assembled and ready to ride.  Additional accessories available soon.

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