Echarger Mobile Solar Charger Product Review

Solar charging has almost become the method of choice of charging gadgets on the move. With products like the Solio Hybrid, if you live somewhere sunny it’s an easy decision to make. But what about in less sunny climes? Well in the UK, Echarger has launched theMobile Solar Charger.

Charger 3

Unlike the Solio, it doesn’t have an internal battery so you’ll need to put in up to three rechargeable batteries and then unfold the case to reveal the solar panels. Then it’s up to the sun. You can also use it to charge the batteries through your computer using the USB cable, but I went for six hours in the British sun. And it was a lovely day so I hoped for good results.

It was recommended that I use 1600mAh rechargeable batteries for best performance but as I’ve only got 2700mAh ones I had to make do. The charger comes with a few connectors – Nokia, Sony Ericsson, iPod, USB and one for the Nintendo DS so that’s what I decided to try and charge with it afterwards. I left it alone to charge although you can play it while its charging (but I didn’t) and the three batteries gave one and a half hours of charging. This translated to almost an hour and a quarter of game play on the DS before it died – and that was with full sound and the screen brightness at maximum. Which is pretty good really.

The downside is that although the charger is portable in size, you can’t really use it on the move – it doesn’t attach to a backpack like the Solio Hybrid for example. Also as a piece of electronics it’s not made from environmentally friendly materials, but using rechargeable batteries powered by the sun is better than using the mains or normal batteries.

Mobile Solar Charger

The Mobile Solar Charger costs £30 from Echarger.


The Wholeleaf Co. Palm Leaf Plates Eco Product Review

We’ve tested different disposable plates on Life Goggles before – the ones made from potatos which Kev looked at and ones made from sal and siali leaves that I looked at. So when I was given some made from the Areca palm tree I jumped at the chance to test them.

Palm plates

Made by the Wholeleaf Company, the plates are made in southern India from leaves that have naturally fallen to the ground. Usually these sheaths are burned, fed to animals or composted. The Wholeleaf Co turn them into plates and bowls by soaking the leaves in local spring water, and hot stamping them with a mould by hand to make the plate and then cutting away the rough edges. The heat also sterilises the plates. And that’s it. They are produced by marginalise rural people and claim that if all the fallen leaves were used in this way they would employ 300,000 people!

But how do they work? Very well is the answer. I would have thought being made out of wood that some juice of my dinner would seep through but no, they’re well sealed and not even that easy to cut with a normal knife.

Palm plates 2

As you can see from the picture they’re strong too, although maybe if I’d had another orange I may have caused a problem, but they’d be perfect for a barbeque or a buffet where holding the plate with one hand is needed. Also you can see how different each one looks, I think that’s part of the charm.

Although they’re a disposable product – just put them on the compost heap when you’re finished – I did try and wash one. A quick wipe and you can use them again, but soak one and it loses shape.

The Wholeleaf Co. supplied the BBC Good Food Show this year and have a huge range of products – bowls, dishes, plates and so on, take a look at the website for more details. Or go to Nigel’s Eco Store where they’re £11.75 for a set of 25 plates, they have bowls too.

Method All Purpose Spray Eco Product Review

All purpose spray

After testing Method’s Stainless Steel Cleaner, Flushable Wipes and Soy Candle, Big Green Smile sent us some All Purpose Spray to review. Firstly I’ll get out the way how much I like the bottle shape and tounge-in-cheek writing on the bottle – all products should be like this – but it’s more important to find out if it works well.

I didn’t get the same colour as pictured on the website, I think Method must just update them as mine was pink as pictured below, although I’m sure it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference to how it works.

I gave it a stern test – my cooker top which hadn’t been cleaned for a couple of weeks. And I just used a cloth so I would have to work at stubborn stains. But I didn’t have to really. I turned the nozzle to ‘on’ and off I went, a few sprays and a quick wipe and I was done. Well almost. There were a few places which needed a further wipe but what I discovered was that if you sprayed a drop of the Method cleaner on the area, left it for about 30 seconds, it then wiped off easily.

The smell wasn’t quite as nice as other Method products and it did seem a bit ‘chemically’ but I wasn’t worried about breathing it in or touching it with my hands like I am with other cleaners. It’s made with naturally-derived surfactants and is biodegradable.

Method All Purpose Spray costs £3.00 and is available from Big Green Smile.

My Method

Method Bathroom Flushable Wipes Eco Product Review

Once again, Big Green Smile has sent us a Method product to test, this time it’s Bathroom Flushable Wipes.

I never thought I’d like these, well maybe I’d like them but they’re disposable so not very green right? Wrong. Okay it’s probably better to use a cloth but these are made from wood from renewable forests and can be flushed or even composted as there’s nothing bad in them.

Basically for giving the bathroom a quick wipe rather than a proper clean, they come into their own when cleaning the toilet or the tiles around there. Smelling strongly of eucalyptus and mint (reminded me a drinking a mojito), they’re fine to use with a bare hand and are pretty wet. Almost too damp as squeezing them releases a bit of foam, but actually are the right side of moist and the resealable flap means they remain that way.

Quick and easy can also mean green. I liked the convenience and ease of these and don’t get told off by the girlfriend for using the cloth meant for the kitchen floor for the toilet – hey, they were right next to each other.

Method Bathroom Flushable Wipes cost £3.50 for 24 and are available from Big Green Smile. Check out our Eco Reviews pages for other Method product reviews.

Method Soy Candle Eco Product Review

Big Green Smile sent us a Method Soy Candle for testing. It’s a bit tricky to test a candle, so took a picture of it lit along with one of our Wizard of Oz placemats – nice isn’t it?

Soy candle

Anyway I’d put off reviewing this candle for a while as I love the smell of it when it’s not lit. I have the pear and grapefruit flavour and it’s lovely. I was worried it would disappear when lit but it actually doesn’t and dissipates into the room. We’ve been using candles for a while now instead of air fresheners and this is a great eco-friendly alternative.

Made from renewable, natural soy and with cotton wicks, the only gripe I would have is the ceramic holder. Perhaps the soy doesn’t hold it’s shape that well so needs a holder but we’ll definitely reuse it once the candle is finished – it would be good if you could buy refills. It seems to be lasting a while though and compares favourable with other candles I have – and we have quite a few.

Also available in other scents – sweet water, lavender lemongrass and vanilla apple, Method candles are said to produce 90 per cent less soot for healthier air quality than regular candles. They cost a nice round £5 and are available from Big Green Smile.

Interview With Sian Kendall From The Green Dog Company

Ever thought about how your pet affects the environment? Sian Kendall has. She set up The Green Dog Company so we thought we’d have a chat.

Let’s start with your background and how you came to set up The Green Dog Company?
We try to live a green lifestyle ourselves, for example, we try to buy organic products that are produced locally wherever possible. We found that although there were products natural and eco friendly pet products available they were difficult to find and there was no ‘one stop shop’. After talking to other dog owners we discovered that we weren’t the only ones who would like these products to be easily available and all in one place. So after a lot of research to find manufacturers and products we would be happy to sell The Green Dog Company was born!

Why dogs?
Well, simply because dogs are what we know best. As dog owners ourselves we understand the sort of products that are actually going to be practical and helpful to other dog owners. I wouldn’t sell any product on the site that I wouldn’t be 100 per cent happy to use myself on my own dogs.

Sian and the girls

Are dogs different to other pets in terms of greening up?
I don’t think dogs are particularly any more or less green than other pets but there are lots of opportunities to be greener. There’s the food and treats they eat, the collars and leads they wear, the beds they sleep on and the shampoos they are bathed with to name a few.

Are people educated about pets and the environment?
Because eco pet products haven’t been widely available many people aren’t aware of the options out there and haven’t considered the ways that they can minimize the impact of their pets on the environment. We hope that The Green Dog Company will also help to educate people about ways to be a greener pet owner. We will be publishing a series of articles on the website very soon on a range of green topics to help people make informed choices as dog owners.

Is having a pet bad for the environment?
Definitely not! Infact, in many pets can be good for the environment. Chickens for example are great ‘green’ pets. They can be kept organically, their waste can be used as a natural fertiliser and of course they produce lots of lovely eggs to eat which don’t require any packaging! Most pets have a very minimal impact on the environment, it is as owners that we often increase that impact through the products we choose to buy for our pets. Dogs encourage a very green past time which is of course lots of walking!! A great opportunity to enjoy the natural environment around us.

If I was buying a dog, is there any type, breed or place to buy from that’s green?
Well I’m not sure there is a greener type or breed of dog but i would highly recommend considering rehoming a dog from a rescue centre before looking anywhere else and then I guess you could say you would have a recycled dog!

What’s been the toughest area of pet ownership to ‘green up’?
I guess the toughest area to green up is probably the rather unpleasant matter of dog waste. There’s no getting away from it, but there are several ways of disposing of it and it can be quite confusing. Probably the most eco-friendly options are either to bag it in biodegradable poo bags and bin it in designated bins or your household waste bin where it will be taken to landfill and biodegrade naturally or using a specially designed wormery to produce compost for shrubs and trees or, if you have a large enough garden, you can bag it and bury it. Either way you really must collect it carefully as dog feaces can cause some very nasty illnesses in humans. We stock Onya Dump It Bags which are handy little bags to clip on your lead and come with 100 biodegradable poo bags to fill them with. Alternatively you can fill them with treats, either way you will always have them Onya.

I notice you also have slippers on the site – presumably for owners. Is going through their pets a way to reach owners about the environmental message?
The slippers are actually for dogs – not to wear though! We hope that the dogs will prefer this loofah version to chew rather than their owners favorite pair! Most owners care so much about their pets that by getting them to first consider the immediate impact of some less ‘green’ products on their dogs it could help them to see the wider picture and consider the impact of not only their pets but themselves on the environment as a whole.

What’s your most popular product?
Our hemp collars and leads have been our best selling product to date. They are made of natural hemp and dyed with natural vegetable based dyes. Hemp is naturally hypo allergenic so great for dogs with more sensitive skins and actually gets softer the more it is worn so is really comfortable for the dogs. The leads are also lightweight and comfortable to hold. We will soon be launching a new, wider range of colours in the collars and leads.

Are there any benefits for the dog?
Eco friendly products are particularly good for more sensitive dogs or those with allergies. Hemp for example is naturally hypo allergenic, our range of shampoos contain no Sodium Lauryl Sulphate which can irritate the skin of humans and dogs and our range of organic pet food and treats contain no artificial colours or flavorings and are easily digestible.

What pets do you have?
We have two dogs, a five year old Springer Spaniel called Rosie and a four month old Cocker Spaniel called Bracken. They both enjoy testing all of our products! We also have two Haflinger ponies and two Lincolnshire Buff chickens.

What’s next for The Green Dog Company? Green cats?
We would very much like to develop The Green Dog Company to include green cats and perhaps other green animals too. We are very keen to hear from anyone who has suggestions of particular products they would like us to sell.

I will be attending dog shows and other events across the East Midlands so if you see us at an event near you please come and say hi, have a browse of our products and treat you four legged friend to an organic dog treat on us!

Green People Organic Formula Day Solution Product Review

The thing about doing reviews is that it can be very subjective. Or not. Some products either work or they don’t, but others may be a personal opinion – while I might not like the smell, someone else might. So when I gave Claire this Green People Organic Formula Day Solution I thought she’d like it, after all she loved the Green People Organic Formula Gentle Cleanse. But she didn’t. So in fairness I gave it to my girlfriend to review as well – not knowing whether she’d like it or not. And she did. It’s a funny old world.

Day solution

Anyway, their contrasting views are below, but a little background is that the day solution is basically a moisturiser that’s “suitable for all skin types. Gentle, alcohol-free day cream rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids, formulated to balance, nourish and moisturise your skin”. It’s also made from 93.5 per cent certified organically grown ingredients and 30p of every one sold is donated to Penny Brohn Cancer Care.

Claire’s view:
“I’m not quite as impressed with the results of the moisturiser, though my skin is very, very fussy when it comes to moisturisers. Products are usually not effective enough, my skin dries out relatively quickly after applying the moisturiser, or it is too oily, and my skin ends up with a ‘nice’ greasy sheen to it by the end of the day. I found this product very thick and heavy, it didn’t rub in very well and left my skin feeling slimy.

“I find a good moisturiser also works well as a makeup primer, this product however, was not. Because it left my skin feeling slimy, it affected the application and look of my makeup. I also didn’t notice the scent of fairly traded rose geranium!”

The girlfriend’s view:
“I liked the smell, it smelled of plants, a bit herby but really nice. I didn’t find it greasy at all, though it was quite light and rubbed in well. I’ve been using it in the morning and at night and it soaked in well and a small amount goes a long way.

“The bottle is fantastic – pump action works really well – not too much comes out and is great compared to a lot of other products I have. It compares very well with non-organic moisturisers but I will be going back to my old brand as I like one with some sun protection in as well which a lot of moisturisers do have but not this one.”

However, she won’t be going back to her old brand as Green People do have a version with factor 15 sun protection here, it’s just the version I got to test didn’t. Happy days.

So there you have it. Green People Organic Formula Day Solution without SP15 costs £11.99 and with is £12.99 for 50ml.