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Eco boost: tech to help save the planet

Seeing green

Yes, we’re fully aware of the irony in a magazine called Stuff warning of the dangers of rampant consumerism; but as the tech industry adapts to greener ways of working, we want to champion those forging ahead with more sustainable solutions that don’t sacrifice style or substance. 

Remember when going eco-friendly at home meant buying an ‘A’-rated tumble dryer? Now we’re spoilt for choice, with gadgets to improve air quality, audio gear made from old rubbish, and food blenders so quiet

So allow us to show you the greener side of tech…

Words by Chris Haslam, James Day, Natalya Paul

SMARTPHONES, LAPTOPS, GEAR

Fairphone 3 (£420)

Fairphone 3 (£420)

Amsterdam-based Fairphone started out in 2013 to raise awareness about ‘conflict minerals’ in gadgets, but has now become a leader in sustainable phone production using an increasingly ethical supply chain.

Its latest model, the Fairphone 3, maintains a modular approach, letting you quickly repair virtually every component, from the camera to the screen – it’s the only smartphone we’re aware of that comes with its own screwdriver. So if a part breaks, you can just buy a replacement, screw it in place and you’re set.

A new 5.7in FHD+ LCD (427ppi) screen costs £80, a camera £44, a battery £26 and a speaker £18, while the top module with selfie-cam and headphone socket costs £26. It’s not a cheap phone, and the quality of the 12MP/5MP cameras can’t compete with the likes of Apple or Samsung; but as the tech gets better, upgrades will be effortless.

With its Snapdragon 632 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage (plus microSD) and a stripped-down version of Android 9, the Fairphone 3 can keep up with budget smartphones; it’s no flagship beater, but for now at least, that’s not the point.

Fairphone is a totem to ethical production that, according to research from the EU Commission, could become the blueprint for a circular economy based on “reusability, reparability and upgradeability of components and software to avoid premature obsolescence”.

Find out more about Fairphone 3 here.

Le Cord Ghost Net (£28)

Le Cord Ghost Net (£28)

It’s hard to get all fired up when looking to buy a charging cable… but with eight million tonnes of plastic dumped into the oceans each year, this, the world’s only Apple MFi-certified charge and sync cable made of recycled fishing-net plastics and textiles, is about as exciting as it gets – and the brand gives a dollar to watery charity Oceana for every purchase

Juice iPhone Eco Case (£20)

Juice iPhone Eco Case (£20)
Pop it on the compost heap when you’re bored with it and this iPhone case will break down and return to the earth in just 12 months – the same time as a regular teabag. Rated to protect from 1m drops, it’s made from wheat corn and starch, with colours taken from renewable natural sources, including bamboo and the contents of that aforementioned teabag.

HP Elite Dragonfly G2

HP Elite Dragonfly G2

One of the finest laptops available for on-the-go executives, and proof that business tools don’t have to be boring, this flawlessly designed 2-in-1 is packed with premium features… and yes, it’s green too.

Many of the parts not honed from the finest-grade magnesium alloy are made using a mix of post-consumer recycled and ocean-bound plastics. For instance, the B&O-tuned speakers are enclosed in a component made with 50% recycled and 5% ocean-bound plastics, and in total 82% of all mechanical parts are made from recycled material. Even the magnesium in that chassis is 90% recycled.

And for a company like HP, this could be a big deal. Apply those numbers across its whole vast product range, from printer-ink cartridges to monitors, and the impact would be enormous.

The upgraded convertible design tops out with a 10th-gen Intel Core vPro processor, 16GB max memory, 2TB max internal storage and a 4K 1000-nit screen with a new privacy filter that keeps out prying eyes but remains sharp even in direct sunlight.

You get a web camera with physical shutters, an optional 5G module and up to 20 hours of work on a charge, with what’s claimed to be the world’s longest battery life in a 13-inch business convertible. And should you want to plug it into a larger screen, HP’s EliteDisplay E273d is the world’s first monitor made with ocean-bound plastics.

Where to buy

Get yours from HP

GREEN HOUSE EFFECTS: CLEANER AIR AND WATER

IonFlow Evolution (£379)

IonFlow Evolution (£379)

Finally, an air purifier that doesn’t look like a ’90s air-conditioning unit: the Scandi-designed IonFlow combines a high-performance filtration unit with a handcrafted base.

Traditional purifiers use motors to suck in the dirty air and spit it out clean, trapping particles in a filter; but the IonFlow uses ionic filtration, which works by charging the particles in the air negatively, while the collector is positively charged. As a result, those particles are drawn to the collector pretty much in the same way a magnet works.

Designed to clean a space of up to 50m2, the IonFlow has a whisper-quiet peak volume of just 21dB, compared to the typical 35-80dB of a standard purifier – so you won’t even know PEACE MAKERS Noise pollution stresses us out, so we asked hushabye experts Quiet Mark for their top five home appliances that won’t leave your head in a spin it’s on while it rids your home of the smallest of nanoparticles, of the kind that could make life uncomfortable for those suffering from respiratory issues such as asthma, allergies and lung diseases.

The Stockholm-based designers, LightAir, claim the IonFlow efficiently removes 99.94% of pollutants – such as traffic pollution, mould, smoke, fine dust and pet allergens – and because there’s no traditional filter, all you need to do to maintain the system is rinse the collector under the tap.

Available in black, white or gold, with a premium Signature model and futuristic ceiling pendant version also available (both for £469), the IonFlow uses only 5W of energy, so breathing sweet air needn’t cost the earth.

Where to buy

Get yours from Amazon

Welltek Naava (£poa)

Welltek Naava (£poa)

Let’s face it, despite your love of all things green, you still manage to kill the hardiest of perennials and most drought-resistant succulents. What you need is this 3G-connected, remotely-monitored, self-contained smart wall stuffed full of air-filtering plants. It’ll purify up to 60m2 of air, and uses AI to predict and adjust watering and lighting patterns.

Aarke Carbonator II (£169)

Aarke Carbonator II (£169)

A serious challenger to SodaStream’s fizzy crown, the Aarke is a luxurious sparkling water machine with a stainless-steel case and worktop-friendly dimensions.

To carbonate, just pull down the lever and the mechanism injects C02 and automatically releases the pressure in one movement – an easy way to cut out plastic bottles and make tap-water taste nicer

ANTI NOISE POLLUTION: PEACEMAKING HOME GADGETS

Noise pollution stresses us out, so we asked hushabye experts Quiet Mark for their top five home appliances that won’t leave your head in a spin.

1) Fisher & Paykel Double DishDrawer DD60DDFHX9 (£1299)

Stainless steel and stylish as hell, this 45dB designer dishwasher has an A++ energy rating and space for 12 place settings, plus foldable baskets for getting the big stuff cleaned.

2) Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer (£300)

2) Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer (£300)

This weirdly hushed dryer has a motor that spins at 110,000rpm, moving 13 litres of air a second, while the microprocessor regulates the air temperature 40 times every second so you don’t scald your bonce.

Where to buy

Get yours from Dyson

3) LG F4V909BTS Washing Machine (£800)

LG’s Alexa-controlled A+++ smart washer can put a 9kg load through a 39-minute quick wash at a maximum volume of just 48dB, while its TurboWash 360 tech reduces water consumption by up to 40%.

4) Magimix 5200XL Premium 18709 Food Processor (£419)

4) Magimix 5200XL Premium 18709 Food Processor (£419)

This multi-functional food-blitzing machine doesn’t sound like a plane’s taking off from the back garden, and comes with three bowls (1.2, 2.6 and 3.7 litres) plus more blades than a Tarantino movie.

GREEN SCREENS: LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU (In a sustainable way)

Way back when, if you wanted to be eco-friendly and get some entertainment you’d chain yourself to a bulldozer and hang on for the ride; these days, however, there’s plenty in the way of sustainable technology to satiate your thirst for fun at home

Apple Pro Display XDR (£4599)

Apple Pro Display XDR (£4599)

When Apple launched its latest dreamy monitor, many people shrugged it off as a folly for the overpaid graphic design brigade… but with a screen that beats anything LG and Samsung have to offer, this might just be the finest hybrid workhorse and entertainment centre money can buy. P

lug in an iMac or MacBook (2018 and up) and bask in its pixel-perfect 6K resolution, supported by unrivalled brightness and the array of blue LEDs modulated by 12 controllers that mean light and dark don’t spoil each other’s fun.

Then you can stream Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Sky Go, Apple TV+, iPlayer… basically anything you’d get from a smart TV. Yeah, you’re thinking, but where’s the green angle here?

Well, all the aluminium used is smelted in factories powered by hydroelectricity, 50% of the plastic comes from recycled sources, so does the tin in the solder, and every single supplier Apple uses has committed to using 100% renewable energy.

Oh, and the Pro Display XDR itself is no planet-plunderer: its electricity consumption is 40% below the Energy Star limit. All of which begs the question we’d all like to know the answer to: If Apple can make a 6K computer monitor with game-changing new screen technology that destroys the competition, and Macs that can feed it all those streaming services, why on earth don’t they just get on with it and make an actual TV?

Sony A8H OLED

Sony A8H OLED

Sony is using plastic recycled from optical discs and water bottles in 12 of its 2020 televisions, including this forthcoming 4K HDR OLED all-rounder. How much plastic, we don’t yet know – but the smart part is it can be recycled again to further cut down on e-waste. Pair it with the HT-ST5000 Dolby Atmos soundbar, which is made of 65% recycled materials.

Sky Q (£20)

Lockdown or no lockdown, sometimes all you want is to have a nice night in with the telly. And with a Sky Q subscription you get the works (Sky Sports, Sky Movies, Netflix, Disney+) in one small, energy-saving box… plus you help fund Sky Ocean Ventures, who have already invested £25million in innovations to rid the oceans of plastic.

NATURE CALLS: AUDIO TECH

JBL Flip 5 (£104)

JBL Flip 5 (£104)

IPX7-rated, meaning it’s waterproof down to three feet, this 20W Bluetooth speaker is made from 90% recycled plastic, while the portable case is completely biodegradable. Its 12hr battery life should see off the party stragglers.

Where to buy

Get yours from JBL

iFi Aurora (£1399)

iFi Aurora (£1399)

Where to buy

Get yours from eBay

House of Marley Redemption ANC (£180)

House of Marley Redemption ANC (£180)

Where to buy

Get yours from eBay

Small Transparent speaker (£450)

Small Transparent speaker (£450)

At £450, the Small Transparent Speaker is half the price and half the size of its big brother. You lose the subwoofer, swap black components for white and reduce the stereo output to 30W, but as a sensible Bluetooth speaker it makes more sense.

It’s built from an aluminium uniframe and tempered glass, both sustainable materials – and the white components and wires sit smartly in any environment. It carries modular options hidden in the base and you can wirelessly connect two Small Transparent Speakers without a multiroom upgrade.

This means that rather than chuck it out when you’re hankering after the next big thing, you’ll instead be able to swap and buy new parts as the Swedish-based enginners and designers finesse what is already a 5-star speaker.

Where to buy

Get yours from Conran

Focal Chora (£599)

Focal Chora (£599)

Where woke warrior and astute audiophile collide, this speaker has a composite cone made from recycled carbon fibres and thermoplastic polymer that’s super-rigid and ultra-light, creating a dynamic, exceptionally balanced sound.

GREEN MILES: Zero emissions travel and eco living

With EVs starting to ease their way into the mainstream at last, cruising down Electric Avenue on zero emissions is becoming increasingly attainable – but you could always reach your destination by bike.

Eventually we won’t need to label everyday products as eco, ethical or sustainable – it’ll just be a standard operation of how we eat, wash, and all that other stuff we call – living.

Gocycle G3C (£4499)

Gocycle G3C (£4499)

All new for 2020, Gocycle’s latest e-bike is its lightest yet, weighing just 15.5kg courtesy of a redesigned carbon front frame and quick-detaching Pitstopwheels.

As with all Gocycle models, the battery – in this case a powerful 375Wh option, with enough juice to take you 50 miles – is seamlessly hidden away; and while it remains an odd-looking velocipede, thanks to the Brompton-esque folding frame and diddy wheels, you’ll not find a more convenient commuter option even if you live in the pokiest of flats.

Charge time is between four and seven hours – so if you’re a fan of early starts and late, late finishes you could theoretically live in Leeds and commute to Manchester by CASE STUDIES If you have to take a fuel-guzzling jet and want to offset your guilt footprint, start by packing one of these: the finest in sustainable suitcases bike. Or go as far as Ripponden then turn around and work from home like everyone else.

On the handlebars you’ll find an LED dashboard that displays battery level, driving mode, speed and gear position, and as with all Gocycles it has a predictive electronic gearshift, which automatically downshifts when you brake – so you’re never in the wrong gear and always have the jump on the sweaty mamil* at the lights.

As the first ever e-bike brand to offer Bluetooth connectivity, Gocycle does it better than most, with its app allowing the rider to regulate speed, choose a preferred riding mode, monitor battery health, track your fitness, and adjust how much assistance you get when pedalling.

Find out more here.

Hydro Flask 64oz Growler (£63)

Hydro Flask 64oz Growler (£63)

The most on-trend of all water bottle brands has just done us eco-minded beer drinkers a massive favour with its 64oz growler – which not only makes us look way cooler than our wispy beards suggest, but also keeps almost two litres of our favourite double-hopped Citra and Amarillo unfiltered NEIPA perfectly chilled all day long. Other bottles are available and we’ve listed our favourites here.

Splosh Home Range

Splosh Home Range

Household cleaning products make up a huge chunk of plastic, and once you’re out of detergent and germ-blitzing toilet liquid, you just buy more, right?

Enter Splosh, the company looking to shake up how you clean your house in the most environmentally friendly way. Toilet cleaner, floor cleaner and all the essentials are accounted for and once you’ve used up the contents of the bottle, Splosh will deliver you more as a concentrate in convenient letter box pouches. You then mix that with water, and decant into the Splosh recycled bottles.

The green-minded company also offer free returns of used pouches, which will be recycled into new products. Zero waste. Zero landfill. The concentrate weighs far less than a full bottle would too, cutting plastic waste by about 90% and the amount of Co2 emitted in delivery is also massively reduced. You can also subscribe to keep receiving refills and feel incredibly smug as you do so.

Find out more about Splosh’s home cleaning range here.