Solar Charger Backpack Eco Product Review

Anyone who regularly uses gadgets to keep their business and social life running smoothly will have been caught out, at some point, by a lack of charge. Running out of battery life on your cell phone or music player is a bit like having a part of you temporarily disabled, and it always seems to happen when you desperately need to make a call, or have a long stretch of time ahead that only a great album can while away for you.

All is not lost for green gadget enthusiasts, however, as a savvy company have developed the ultimate in practical charging accessories: The Infinit IV2.1 Solar Charger Backpack. This neat little bag features a 2.4W solar panel, which is discretely positioned in the front of the backpack, and used to charge up its internal battery. You can then take the green energy and use it to power up your cell phone, GPS device, iPod, or any other gadget that will accept power from a USB port.

Finally, an eco product that is as stylish as it is green

The solar panel is about the same size as a book, and looks stylish enough for you to take the bag from work to home without fearing being laughed at on the way. The bag is durable, black and understated, with a neat design and hard-wearing material. Not only does the bag look better than you would expect for a first-generation eco gadget, it also has a number of features to recommend it, including a retractable USB cable, an AC adapter plug, a removable rechargeable battery, eight different adaptors and a waterproof sack to cover the whole thing and protect it from the elements.

Great storage to take you from home to office to camp site

The Infinit has a great range of pockets and compartments to put all your gadgets, all of which are protected by a red interior netting. The main section of the bag is big enough to take binders and accessories, and there is a second slightly smaller section which is ideal for carrying your laptop safely. Your music player has its own section, which lets you thread headphones through to keep the device dry when you listen. Finally, a reinforced base and toughened handles make sure that the bag can take more weight than you would expect, without sagging.

Using the bag to charge your devices

The Infinit battery is easy to use. All you have to do is pop the battery in to a standard USB cable to charge, and you can remove the battery if you want to charge your devices without carting the bag along at the same time. Using the adaptors which you get with each gadget such as your cell phone or iPod make it easy to charge them, simply by plugging them in. an indicator lets you know when everything has charged up, and how much charge you actually have left in the battery itself. To get the battery back to full power, all you have to do is plug it in to the solar panel and let it do its stuff!

Overall, the Infinit is a highly stylish and convenient way of being green and getting some spare power for your favorite gadgets along the way. You can buy the Infinit IV2.1 Backpack for around $180, from a number of online retailers.

[Image credit: EnviroGadget]

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The Logmaker Eco Product Review

There is nothing better than having a roaring fire on the go during those cold winter months. Not only does an open fire warm a room quickly and effectively but the dancing flames and crackling sounds are soothing after a long day at work.

Cheap and cost effective logs

Keeping a fire going strong uses up many logs, which can be expensive and if not sourced naturally can be damaging to the environment. Step in the Logmaker a great little gadget that can save you money while at the same time reducing your household waste. In fact, the makers of the Logmaker claim that it can reduce your household waste by 30%.

Shredded junk mail, paper, newspaper, wrappings from food and household products, cardboard, tissue, nuts, tea bags, used coffee beans and all your burnable garden waste can be used as fuel for fire.

Depending on the materials used, your handmade logs could burn for up to one hour.

Easy to use

The Logmaker has a simple design, which makes it easy to load and use. It works on a plunger system whereby you line the Logmaker with some newspaper and seal the bottom end by pressing the plunger on the top. You then fill the Logmaker with your burnable household waste that you have collected; pressing on the plunger every now and then to compress the contents and keep it compacted.

To eject the recycled log you simply reverse the operation. The ends of the log are then twisted or slightly wetted to seal them and you have your first homemade free fuel supply. There is no waiting around for wood to dry, no seasoning, just instant useable logs.

Not only is the Logmaker great for use around the house but also because it is small and compact, it can be used when on camping trips or just for barbeques down the park.

Logmaker tip

Another great thing about the Logmaker is that while you are making your logs, instead of just putting in your recyclable items, why not add a stick of cinnamon or vanilla to create a beautiful smell while it burns. You can add any of your favorite spices as long as they will burn safely in an open fire.

The Logmaker is a great gift for someone who has an open fire in their house or just enjoys barbequing during the long hot summer days.

The Logmaker is available over the internet and retails at around $30. Delivery is fast and because it is small in size and weight, it does not cost the earth to ship.

CompoSphere – Garden waste composter

I don’t know if you are like me but don’t you find that the biggest problem with having a compost heap in your garden is that it is static! You pick a corner of your garden, probably hidden away behind some lovely bushes, throw all your garden waste in a pile and then spend most of your free time running to and from your compost heap. If you are like me, you tend to end up having mini-compost heaps all over the garden, which starts to look messy.

A ball of fun

Some clever person must have been experiencing the same problems because they went ahead and invented one of the coolest garden accessories that I have seen on the market in very long time.

The CompoSphere is a lightweight ball that made from 100% recycled plastic and designed to hold 312 liters of garden waste. At the top is an easy twist lid, which means no messing around with latches. The designers were clever enough to ensure that the loading opening is big enough to fit a spade so there is no need to struggle trying to fill the tumbler and big items are easy to place inside it. The tumbler can also be separated into two hemispheres for easy storage and transport.

Spinning around

The CompoSphere works on a very simple and effective principal, the more you turn your compost, the quicker it degrades. This tumbling is necessary to improve circulation and to disperse the rotting matter evenly thereby speeding up the process. It has been proven that regularly turned compost degrades much quicker than compost that is left stationary. With the CompoSphere this is done automatically whenever you roll the ball to where you are working in the garden.

The spherical shape is also great if you have back problems or just cannot lift heavy items. If you do not have a wheelbarrow or are unable to push one, the CompoSphere is just what you need. All you need to do it give your CompoSphere a gentle push in the right direction and off you go and because it is a ball, even when it is full it is easy to maneuver.

It is such fun even your kids will want to help!

The CompoSphere can be purchased from most online garden sites and retail for around $140. Originally only available in black they now come in green to match your garden.

Lastly, when your CompoSphere arrives and you have assembled it, jump in and have a roll around the garden before you start using it. There is no point in saving all the fun for just your potato peels and grass cuttings.

Method Laundry Detergent Eco Product Review

Method continues it’s expansion of eco-cleaning products and has released its first laundry detergent.

Just looking at the bottle you know it’s going to be different, it’s an unusual shape and has a pump on the top proudly stating that “4 PUMPS = 1 WASH” and that this 300ml bottle is equal to 25 washes. Impressive stuff.

Method Laundry Detergent has a patent-pending formula which “seeks out dirt and stains” and means that you only need to use a quarter of the amount of detergent that you usually need, hence a small bottle with a lot of washes.

Method laundry

There are further instructions on the back saying how you can use less or more pumps depending on how dirty the wash is.

I have an old washing machine that is eco-friendly by default – it’ll only wash on a cool wash so sometimes eco detergent can struggle. Not this one though, although I haven’t used it on a particularly dirty load, just putting four pumps in cleaned the clothes nicely – basically as you would expect any detergent to do, eco or not.

The other useful thing is that my machine doesn’t like taking the powder or liquid from the drawer so having the option to squirt directly into the machine is a good thing. I did worry that it’d just wash the clothes I squirted onto so I spread it around a bi,t but it worked perfectly, all the clothes seemed to be cleaned the same.

The eco credentials of the liquid are pretty good, it’s 95% plant based and concentrated so you use less detergent each time. You may be thinking about the plastic bottle, I asked Method about that and it’s made from 50% recycled plastic and is grade 2 recyclable.

Method Laundry detergent is available from places in the UK like Tesco and Waitrose as well as online (try Big Green Smile) for around £5.99. The version I tried was ‘fresh air’ but there is also ‘peony blossom’ and ‘free + clear’ which is fragrance and dye free.

Babies in Sheep’s Clothing Lambskin Merino Wool Eco Product Review

Babies In Sheep’s Clothing is an online store selling ethical lambskin and merino clothing for babies and children.

Based in East Sussex, it sources high quality, handmade ethically produced lambskin and merino clothing from New Zealand that are built to last – the founders passionately believe that their products should be passed along to a brother or sister. As I don’t have any children, I passed on the beanie hat so my godson, Harry and his mother Kate to review.

Merino hat

“As well as stocking a fabulous selection of sheepskin products,Babies In Sheep’s Clothing also sells the cutest selection of hats, scarves, blankets, trousers, hoodies and jumpers made from super soft merino wool.

“Like the sheepskin that they sell, the merino wool is also sourced from New Zealand. It is both durable and suitable for the most sensitive of skin and is therefore the perfect fabric to dress even the youngest of babies in.

“There are three different styles of hats to choose from suitable for newborn babies up to 12 months old. My personal favourite is the stripy beanie, which would look adorable on any baby’s head and at £16.50, it would make a great new baby present. The tiny scarves with button detailing are the perfect thing to keep baby warm in autumn, when it’s not really cold enough to wrap them up in snowsuits but they need something more than a little coat or cardigan.

“For the super stylish parent of baby girls, I would highly recommend the ponchos, whilst the hoody would look fabulous on either a boy or a girl.

“All of the items are hand knitted which more than justify the price of the products and as they are made of such top quality wool with a little careful care, they should become a much sought after hand me downs.”

The products made from merino wool vary in price and are available from Babies In Sheep’s Clothing.

21st Century Smallholder – Book review

If you are looking for a book that covers everything about being self-sufficient, then this is the only one you will ever need. In ‘21st Century Smallholder’, author Paul Waddington describes various eco-friendly ways to change your home and garden in a simple and often very humorous manner.

Most of us think that to live a self-sufficient life, we have to sell up and move to the country but as Paul states in 21st Century Smallholder, this is not always a viable option. This is what makes this book worth its money. Starting with apartment owners and moving all the way up to houses with big gardens, Paul explains how we can live in a more eco-friendly environment.

Window box allotments

Paul starts by explaining how we can grow some of our own food in window boxes and pots in a small balcony or tiny garden. Crops like herbs, strawberries, tomatoes and salads are ideal for people living in the city because they are fast growing and space-efficient. Even plants such as peas and beans can be trained to climb walls saving you even more space. Moreover, because they are easy to maintain and grow quickly, the results of your window box allotments will be quick in coming. The only problem is you might be tempted to have a taste and end up seeing your crops plundered before they land on the table.

Bigger gardens, bigger results

As you move up from small gardens to houses with big gardens, the opportunities to live self-sufficiently really start to increase. Not only can you grow your window box crops but you can also plant crops that require more space like potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower. Sections of the garden can be put aside for a compost heap or even a small pond to attract frogs and birds that will help keep the garden pests at bay.

Chickens on the loose

If you really want to turn your back garden into a smallholding, Paul in covers a section on livestock though for most of us, chickens may be an easier option than keeping goats, sheep and cows. A farmyard full of lowing cows might not be advisable in your average suburban neighborhood. The great thing about chickens is that they are relatively easy to house and maintain. Bear in mind that a chicken lays an egg a day so even with only four chickens you will soon be selling eggs outside your front door.

If you are raising livestock for their meat, it might be worth keeping in mind that you may have to explain to your child at some point that Toffee, their favorite chicken, has just been served for Sunday lunch.

Total self-sufficiency

If you are really serious about self-sufficiency, 21st Century Smallholder goes onto to cover the very top of the eco-friendly ladder. Paul explains how to use solar panels, wind turbines and even water features to create electricity and heat. Subjects as diverse as bee keeping are covered as well as how to turn your garden into a paradise for wildlife.

The most refreshing thing about Paul’s book is the extensive research he has done and the humorous way in which he writes. Paul lists the pros and cons of each situation and does not hold back if he thinks that something that is hailed as eco-friendly does not really work. For example, wind turbines are used to generate electricity around the world but for even a large property, you would need a garden full of them to generate enough electricity to drop off the grid. And of course, you would need constant wind.

Paul Waddington’s 21st Century Smallholder can be bought at most online book retailers like Amazon and is well worth the money, even if you are a beginner or only have an apartment with which to work your self-sufficiency magic.

Babies in Sheep’s Clothing Lambskin Beanie Hat Eco Product Review

Babies In Sheep’s Clothing is an online store selling ethical lambskin and merino clothing for babies and children.

Based in East Sussex, it sources high quality, handmade ethically produced lambskin and merino clothing from New Zealand that are built to last – the founders passionately believe that their products should be passed along to a brother or sister. As I don’t have any children, I passed on the beanie hat so my godson, Harry and his mother Kate to review.

Lambskin

“We’re already a fan of Already a fan of Babies In Sheep’s Clothing (see the lowrise booties and lambskin reviews) Harry and I have the pleasure of reviewing the gorgeous beanie hat sent to us.

“Like all of Babies In Sheep’s Clothing’s products, the hat is made of ethically sourced sheepskin and is beautifully made. It comes in a choice of three colours pink, camel and spice and is available with or without ear flaps.

“We’ve been sent the beanie hat in the delightful spice colour, which is a rich chocolate brown. As we’ve had an unusually warm summer Harry and I can’t really testify how warm and snugly it has kept him as we’ve not really had chance
to wear it outside of the house but we are looking forward to autumn when Harry can finally show it off.

“With the recent warm spell, it may not seem a great time to be purchasing sheepskin products but it is worth checking out the current offers on the Babies In Sheep’s Clothing website. With several close friends expecting babies in the next
few months, I will be taking advantage of the very generous discounts currently being offered.”

The lambskin beanie hat costs £26.99 from Babies In Sheep’s Clothing.