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Eco-city not green, but offers hope

New city will provide an opportunity to test new technologies that can be used elsewhere

The world’s largest eco-city is not a green, carbon-free paradise where cars are banned from the streets.

Instead, as its first residents moved in this month, they found it is remarkably like most other Chinese cities: shrouded in smog and depressingly grey. But then the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city, just over an hour from Beijing by train, is not supposed to be a whizzy vision of the future.

It is far more practical – a model for how Chinese cities could develop and solve some of the enormous problems facing them: permanent gridlock, a lack of water and ruinous electricity bills.

If a few of the changes adopted in Tianjin were rolled out nationally, the results could dramatically change China’s devastating impact on the environment.

“Our eco-city is an experiment, but it is also practical,” said Wang Meng, the deputy director of construction. “There are over 100 eco-cities in the world now, and they are all different. If you look at the one in Abu Dhabi, they spent a huge amount of money and bought a lot of technology. It is very grand, but is it useful?”

To date, almost all of the world’s eco-cities have been green follies, crippled by a central parado the more they enforce bothersome environ-mental rules, the less people want to live in them.

In Tianjin, the residents will not be expected to make any particular effort to be green.

“If they take the bus and sort their rubbish for recycling, they will be making their contribution,” said a spokesman for the city.

Their main contribution, in fact, is to be guinea pigs as planners experiment with the city around them. General Motors, for example, is using Tianjin to work out if electric driverless cars can function in a normal traffic system.

“Some eco-cities are too idealistic. In Tianjin they do not want to stop people from driving, but they do want to put into place policies that will help our vehicles to operate success-fully,” said Chris Borroni-Bird, the head of GM’s autonomous driving project in Detroit.

He said Tianjin would allow GM to road-test the next generation of vehicles: small urban cars that drove themselves but were safe in an environment full of unpredictable drivers and pedestrians.

Not only does China desperately need to solve its traffic problems, but it is one of the few countries that can throw significant resources at new ideas and build cities from scratch in order to experiment.

Other projects on trial include a low energy lighting system from Philips and garbage bins that empty themselves, sucking litter into an underground net-work, by a Swedish company called Envac. “We are not sure about that one,” said a spokes-man. “It requires people not to put the wrong sort of rubbish in the bins, or it could jam the system and prove expensive to maintain.”

By the time it is finished, in the next decade or so, 250 billion yuan ($40 billion) will have been spent by the Chinese and Singaporean governments, and a number of private companies, on transforming the site into a comfortable home for 350,000 people. Sixty families have already moved in.

Already, one new technology has been patented. “We had an industrial reservoir that was full of heavy metals,” said Wang. “It used to be so bad that people could not go near it because of the smell. Now we have cleaned it with a special process that we can send to other parts of the country.”

In a country where 70 per cent of the rivers are too polluted to provide drinking water, the technology is likely to be a money-spinner. Having ruined vast swaths of its countryside as it raced to wealth, China is now likely to spend billions on cleaning up the mess.

Elsewhere, government-owned buildings collect their own rain water for reuse, are powered by geothermal energy, have window shutters that move with the light, in order to keep buildings cool, and heating systems that use solar energy.

In a sign of how seriously the project is taken, eight out of the nine members of China’s politburo standing committee, which rules the country, have visited.

“The idea is to create something that can be adapted to other cities in China,” said Wang.

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Bieber goes green as he turns 18

JUSTIN Bieber has been given an eco-friendly runaround for his birthday.

High speed gift ... Justin Bieber's birthday car


The Baby singer, who turned 18 today, was presented with the luxury Fisker Karma vehicle with a solar-panelled roof by his manager Scooter on a US chat show.

And Scooter told the teen star he had broken his own rule to avoid anything ‘flashy’ and revealed the car — which cost between £64,000 and £72,000 — was from himself and Justin’s mentor, Usher.

He said: “You work really, really hard. I always yell at you don’t get anything flashy. You know, we’re not about that. Be humble, be humble and I kind of broke my own rule.

“So we wanted to make sure you were environmentally friendly and we wanted to make sure since you love cars that when you’re on the road you are always environmentally friendly and we decided to get you a car that would make you stand out.

“I think you know where I’m going and you’re kind of freaking out right now.”

And host Ellen DeGeneres presented the teen idol with her own birthday presents – a windscreen shield with her face and his in a heart, and an Ellen bobble-head for his dashboard.

The Canadian crooner, who is dating Selena Gomez, has been collecting luxury motors since he turned 16, the legal driving age in the US.

Amazing ... Justin was thrilled with his new car


Last year, he treated himself to a £100,000 customised Range Rover, which had a sound system worth £50,000, leather interior, modified paintwork and a Cosworth engine.

He also owns a Batman-themed customised Cadillac and a Ferrari.

Justin received a birthday tweet from Cheryl Cole on his big day.

Bieber birthday bonanza ... Justin checks out his ride


She wrote: “Happy Birthday @justinbieber ! I hope you have an Amazing 18th that you never forget.. *kisses*

But girlfriend Selena, who is away filming in Florida, has so far failed to mention his birthday.

Maybe she’s keeping her birthday messages strictly private.

Getting behind the wheel ... Justin tries it out for size


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The cutting edge of eco-friendly style

OLD curtains, sheets and junk clothing have been transformed into cutting-edge fashion by school and college students.

The aim of the event, which included Longcroft School, Bishop Burton and East Riding College, was to highlight the mountain of clothing sent from the county to landfill.

GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK: From left, Charlotte Smith,15, Linzi Hirst, 14, Susan Ktchen,15, back, and Hannah Hurt, 15, of Beverley Longcroft School, with some of their creations that won them accolades at East Riding Council's Recycling Fashion Awards. Picture: Simon Kench

Organised by East Riding Council, it culminated in an awards ceremony, held at Bridlington Spa where the students got to show how unwanted items can be creatively recycled.

East Riding College student Liz Shipley, of Brandesburton, was the winner in the 16-plus category after crafting a wedding dress made from a pair of curtains.

The mature student, who is studying a BTEC in fashion and clothing, said: “I was thrilled to win. I designed a spring equinox bridal gown.

“It took quite a while to make, but I was pleased with the finished product.

“I think it’s a great idea to show what can be done with clothes which would otherwise be thrown away.”

Longcroft became the first school to take part in the annual competition.

Pupils in the 14 to 15 years category had to make an outfit from a discarded pair of jeans and T-shirts.

The winner was Hannah Hirst.

Her teacher Elaine Cherington, said: “In the current financial climate, it is a great idea to try to divert clothes away from landfill.

“All the students enjoyed taking part and they used clothes that otherwise would have been thrown away.

“I was impressed with what they made.”

A mountain of clothing, weighing up to 4,000 tonnes, equivalent in weight to more than 3,500 Mini Coopers or nearly four million pairs of jeans, is thrown away across the East Riding every year. Much of this clothing could have been repaired or refashioned.

Councillor Stephen Parnaby, leader of East Riding Council, who presented the awards said: “They have shown that not only are they into their fashion, but are conscious of the need to reduce the amount of clothing sent to landfill every year from the East Riding.”

The winning entries will be on display in the entrance to the Treasure House, Beverley until Thursday.

Ten great eco-friendly gadgets for 2012

The tech world is going green everyday. In the wake of looming energy crisis, the tech makers produce lots of eco-friendly gadgets. Consumers are willing to buy and test green products, which not only cut their electric bills, but also help reduce their carbon footprints. Out in stores there are too many eco-friendly gadgets and accessories for grabs. Here we review ten great eco-friendly products for this year. Most of them were displayed at the International CES 2012 in Las Vegas.

OLPC XO-3 Tablet
One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) has unveiled its solar powered XO3- Tablet at CES 2012. The 8-inch tablet with an HD display is meant for education purposes in developing countries, where electricity is still not accessible to many people. What makes the XO-3 notable is that it works on solar panels and it has a price tag of just $100.

SolarFocus’ SolarKindle is a solar powered case for Amazon Kindle eReader. It is touted as the world’s first solar panel-backed case for an eReader. The case is manufactured using lightweight solar cells, which produce and store power in a built-in battery. The stored power can provide additional battery for your Kindle. The case also has an integrated LED lamp, which will light up 50 hours without using your eReader’s battery. The case is priced at $79.99 and it weighs 7.58 ounces.

Wagan Tech Portable Solar Power Generators
Wagan Tech has surfaced two versions of portable solar power generators; the Solar e Power Cube 1500 and Solar e Power Case 450. Both machines are meant to generate solar power using a set of solar panels. They also come with AGM/gel hybrid battery and Wagan’s power invertors to store and turn the solar energy to AC power. Wagan Tech will bring the solar generators into stores for around $1100 in Q2 this year.

AOC 22-inch HD USB-based monitor
Leading display maker AOC has surfaced a 22-inch USB monitor at CES 2012. It is an eco-friendly monitor, because it consumes less power and is mercury free. In addition, it is manufactured of recycled materials.  The monitor features 1920 x 1080 resolution at 60 Hz and it will work with Windows 7/Vista/XP and recent Mac OS versions. The high-clarity display comes for a price of just $199.

PowerTrekk mobile charger
PowerTrekk is a portable mobile charger that makes use of water to produce power to charge your smartphones or other devices. The charger produces hydrogen through a chemical reaction as it mixes water with a chemical substance, called sodium silicide in a cartridge. The produced hydrogen generates power to charge your handsets. The PowerTrekk mobile charger comes for $200 and the cartridge is priced at $4.

Eton Rukus solar powered Bluetooth speaker system
Eton’s Rukus portable Bluetooth speaker has received a solar powered version. The new speaker system comes with an E ink display and two full-range speaker drivers to provide better clarity sound. The Rukus portable speaker can stream content from any Bluetooth-enabled devices including your smartphones and tablets. Eton is to sell the product for a price of $150 in the second quarter of the year.

Eco ATM gadget recycler
Eco ATM is not to withdraw money from your bank account. It is an eco-friendly automated kiosk that will give you money if you dispose e-waste in it. A San Diego-based company has developed the Eco ATM gadget recycler making use of high-tech machine vision and artificial intelligence. The dumped e-waste is to be recycled for new products.

Panasonic DMP-BDT320 Eco Blu-ray Player
Panasonic’s CES 2012-demoed DMP-BDT320 Eco Blu-ray player comes with a special eco-friendly feature called, the Smart Sensor. The sensor is meant for intuitive power management as it can identify the movements of its user. The Blu-ray player can switch to the start mode once the user comes within 16 feet radio of the player. This system is highly useful in saving the power the Blu-ray player consumes.

SmartLook Home Energy Display
SmartLook Home Energy display is the latest generation of energy consumption meter from Wireless Glue Networks. The new SmartLook display provides real-time information on the energy use in your house. You can see all details regarding power consumption in your house in a day, week or month. It will largely help you bring down the level of consumption.

The House of Marley Bag of Rhythm
The House of Marley has unveiled an attractive Bag of Rhythm Portable Sound System to dock your iPod and iPhone. The travel bag-shaped speaker system is made of FSC-certified renewable birch wood and cotton canvas. The boombox can bring you crisp and clear sound from your iPhone, iPod or other devices.

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This Tiny Electric Bike Delivers 80 Miles of Efficient, Eco-Friendly Travel

Eventually, the time will come when mankind can fully replace archaic foot-powered bicycles with the electric variety. Boxx Corporations clearly wants the same thing, as their stylish take on charged two-wheel travel is getting ready to roll into production, along with making the necessary rounds on the trade show and exhibition circuits. For a cool $3995 and some change, you can buy one of the first models and even slap a coat of “hot rod” red paint on your new eco-friendly ride.

In fact, it might be more accurate to call the Boxx a miniature electric motorcycle instead of an electric bicycle. According to the specs, it tops out at a pretty speedy 35 miles per hour, which is just fast enough to get you a ticket in most city areas. Considering that the entire thing’s only a meter tall, that’s pretty good speed in relation to the Boxx’s diminutive size. Speaking of which, it’s apparently a lot sturdier than it looks despite being so small — the Boxx’s aluminum build can support even the bulkiest drivers, up to 300 pounds of weight. Then again, weighing 300 pounds might be a good excuse to get out the old “foot pedal” bicycle anyway.

As Red Ferret notes, the real attraction for the Boxx is most likely the fact that you can easily store it inside your office cubicle or home. That’s a notable step up from mopeds, which have to sit outside and face the elements, although we can’t imagine that hunching over an even smaller vehicle is any cooler. Surprisingly, it also packs in features that you’d expect from a larger motorized gadget, such as onboard storage, all-wheel drive, and even an auto-braking system.

Of course, that 80-mile running length is only applicable if you pony up the cash for the optional “Core 2” modular power system, which boosts the price above 4500 dollars. And if you’re just feeling crazy about it, Boxx Corp can even throw in a one-hour charging unit and 3-year warranty for a little (well, a lot of) extra cash. If you want to get in on the Boxx early so you can ride to work in expensive-yet-eye-catching style, the developer’s taking orders right over here.

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5 Surprising Fashion Brands Going Organic

Organic cotton t-shirt from H&M;, photo via Nitrolicious

Most of us, when looking for organic, eco-friendly clothes, know enough to skip the mall; sustainable materials and mass-produced clothes with commercial appeal hardly ever overlap. But we guarantee you’ll know these five companies, who have enough recognition and reputation to do whatever they want and yet are choosing to incorporate organic materials and sustainable practices into their most popular items. Who knows? You may even have one (or all) of these stores at your local mall.

1. Victoria’s Secret

Photo via Victoria’s Secret

Victoria’s Secret has never been an especially green company, with the tons of catalogs sent out every month and the synthetic fiber blends. But over the last few years, in addition to greening the mass mailings, the brand has also introduced beauty products made with organic ingredients from mint to coffee beans—and now offers camisoles, pajama pants, thongs, and panties made from organic cotton. While the organic products are still just a teeny-tiny part of the overall VS empire, they are a step in the right direction.

2. Target

Photo via Target

Chain stores that try to be all things to all people—selling clothes, shoes, groceries, electronics, home goods, outdoor gear, sports equipment, and anything else you can think of—generally don’t have the motivation to offer green products, especially if it means raising the prices. But at Target, organic products show up everywhere, from bedsheets to baby clothes. And with their selection of women’s cropped pants, pajama pants, tank tops, and tees, you can choose eco-friendly impulse buys.

3. H&M;

Photo via Nitrolicious

Last year, H&M; used 1,500 tons of organic cotton for its spring line—this year, the company hopes to increase that amount by 50%. While you might not expect eco-friendly pieces at the retailer’s rock-bottom prices, the change makes sense: H&M; tends toward knockoffs of the season’s biggest trends, and with green more popular than ever, we’re glad to see them jumping on board.

4. Banana Republic

Photo via Banana Republic

The other brands owned by its parent company—Gap, Old Navy, and online shoe store Piperlime—haven’t been driving forces in the green movement, but that doesn’t mean that Banana Republic—the most luxurious of the four—can’t do its part. Boxes and bags include as much as 50% recycled material; stores are putting in place energy saving measures that cut usage by 41% last year; and 100% organic offerings include denim pants and cotton hoodies. A quick scan of the site showed plenty of products made with a small percentage of organic cotton (about 5%) alongside more conventional cotton (in as much as 90%). In the future, we hope the store continues to increase the organic component and set a standard for its sibling companies.

5. Nike

Photo via Nike

Although they got a bad reputation with the use of sweatshops, these days Nike has been doing more for the planet than you might think. In addition to the Reuse-a-Shoe program, which turns old sneakers into playground turf, and Nike Considered, an attempt to trim waste from production and switch to sustainable materials, the company offers 100% organic tees and hoodies, and aims to use at least 5% organic cotton in all its products by next year.

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Green Honeymoon Ideas

With increased awareness of environmental issues, many people are putting more of an effort into choosing green lifestyle options; this includes where to go and what to do on honeymoon.

It’s no longer popular to lie basking in the sun being waited on hand and foot, although plenty still class that as the ultimate luxury. Now honeymooners, keen to leave less impact on the planet and have more of an experience on their trip, are looking at various ecotourism projects, resorts or lodges in which to consummate their union… or just have a nice wee break if the union’s long been consummated! Well, it’s the rules of getting married isn’t it? Get married, have honeymoon. It’s the only reason people go through with it, right?

Eco-friendly Honeymoons Ideas

  1. Put some thought into the destination – do you really need to travel to the other side of the world when you haven’t explored what’s on your doorstep yet? There are ecotourism options practically everywhere so check out your own backyard (not literally) before booking a trip further afield. You may get an unexpected surprise.
  2. Make a list of all the places you’d like to go and then investigate them thoroughly. Maybe you could do a two centre holiday? Some people like to get involved in a community ecotourism project for one week and chill the next. Choose something that suits you both and book through a good eco travel company.

  3. Many popular honeymoon destinations have questionable practices. They build without any regard to the environment, pay pittance wages and treat staff with little respect yet they still manage to provide 5 star treatment to holidaymakers. So give a little something back by venturing out of your holiday haven and spending money in local communities rather than ploughing it all into an already wealthy resort.

  4. Book tours through locals when you get to your destination, not through your holiday rep. That way you know the local community will benefit directly from the money and you won’t have to sit on a bus with 50 other touros singing round choruses of Una Paloma Blanca when all you want to do is experience things first-hand.

  5. Use local transport to get around and use a local guide to explore; after all they will know the area better than someone employed through a company back home. If you do have a wonderful guide, spread the word about their services, leave info on websites for other honeymooners looking for similar experiences, that way you’ll be generating more work for your guide and potentially other guides too.

  6. Eco doesn’t always mean hippy, there are a number of luxurious eco escapes worldwide that have been built sustainably and employ responsible tourism principles so you can have your cake and eat it.

  7. As with any eco-friendly holiday, check the hotel or resort’s green credentials. It’s sometimes difficult to know whether the vacation you fancy is genuinely green or tainted with greenwashing tactics, so read up a few tips from Ecotourism Logue before you book.

  8. Dare to be different!

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