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Our commitment to sustainability

We’re announcing some big news about how we’ll be helping consumers make sustainable choices, and how we’re challenging ourselves to be a more sustainable organisation.

10/11/2020: Our commitment to sustainability

We know that consumers want to spend their money responsibly. They want to opt for goods and services that prioritise sustainability, and that make less of an impact on our planet. But policymakers and businesses haven’t always made this easy.

As the UK’s consumer champion, we want to change that. We’ve made a commitment to helping consumers make more sustainable choices and to making our organisation more sustainable.

To do this, we’re focusing on three key areas:

1) Being a credible source

We’ll share expertise with international consumer organisations, and invest in editorial and online content focused on sustainability, including an ‘eco column’ in Which? magazine.

2) Helping consumers, businesses and policymakers

We’ll highlight sustainability in our reviews and acknowledge the most eco-friendly products. We’ll also work with policymakers and businesses to prioritise sustainability, focusing on the key areas we’ve identified in energy, transport, products and services, food and plastic.

3) Reducing our own impact

Our plans include finding more ways to offset our carbon emissions and producing less waste.

We’ll be discussing more about our commitments later this week. Watch this space.

25/03/2019: Product sustainability

Interest in ethical and environmental issues has never been greater. Our reviews need to change. Here’s why we can’t ignore product sustainability.

Which? has been testing products for more than 60 years. With our rigorous reviews we’ve helped generations of consumers make the right choices – no doubt you have a few cherished Best Buys around your house.

As head of product testing, I’m very proud of this wonderful heritage. But we’re faced with a difficult and uncomfortable question.

Are our reviews fit for our times, for our readers today and the consumers who will use Which? tomorrow? The truth can be as uncomfortable as the question.

Sustainability is an increasingly important factor in buying decisions, and we need to respond to this change. In our test labs we’ve developed new packaging tests and piloted repairability assessments, and we’re finding new ways to analyse our reliability data.

Removing and replacing batteries

For example, in cordless vacs tests, we’re rating how easy it is to remove and replace the battery, the availability of spares and the ease of maintenance.

For washing machines and tumble dryers, we’re developing a basic repairability assessment. Among other things, it asks whether you can get the back off a machine – is it ‘screw or glue’?

We’ve also started to record the amount and recyclability of packaging – both in everyday and big-ticket items.

Environmental and corporate social responsibility

There are also calls to assess the practices of the companies behind the products, following the shift in consumerism towards brand values.

Is this trend relevant for us? In a 2018 survey, we asked 1,400 of you whether we should include brand environmental and corporate social responsibility credentials in our reviews. Two thirds of you agreed.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we stop testing. We know the value of our unique Best Buy verdicts. But if we can offer more, from better insights into durability and longevity, to advise on the wider sustainability practices of the brands behind them, that’s an ambition we think is worth striving for.

Should we be doing more? That’s not a question I ask myself. It’s a question I ask the Which? reader of tomorrow – my smart and courageous 13-year-old daughter, with her whole life ahead of her. Her answer? ‘What are you waiting for, dad?’

This contribution to Which? Conversation first appeared in the April 2019 edition of Which? Magazine (page 15: ‘Inside View’).

Richard Lofthouse says:
12 November 2020

This is a brilliant string so far – I recommend the report here: https://ukfires.org/absolute-zero/
This is top academics in the UK succinctly reporting to the UK government on what the legally enshrined Net Zero climate emissions law will look like for our ‘life styles’ and for industry. It is a new report only just out.
It addresses most of the issues raised in this string. The biggest awkward truth is the UK owning the emissions from stuff it imports and flights and other shipping that take place ‘off shore.’ We currently don’t count those emissions which is one big reason why the likes of China don’t take kindly to our politicians bragging about how we’ve taken a lead on being good environmentalists. We have not.
WHICH? will need to greatly raise its game to get close to any of these issues. Rather than going in with the shiny white lab coats they are going to have to decide what life cycle analysis they will go with to avoid perverse outcomes. Large battery electric vehicles are a case in point. They are not automatically ‘green’ it boils down to what environmental impact category you are addressing, the intended use of the vehicle. The green solution is not to own a car but to take the train or an e-bike in the city. Which? is instead going to plough on in and tell us whether they prefer a Tesla to a E-Tron. Well let me tell you neither vehicle is what Net Zero looks like because the UK is not on course to produce enough renewable electricity for us all to be driving around in those types of vehicles. And then factor in a huge material footprint of all those batteries. How will WHICH? address this? They have a poor track record.

About time then, for Which? to apply this principle to its very own Car Reviews, to help consumers understand and make more informed and sustainable vehicle choices.

It has long distressed me to see that the Which? car review section is mostly run by wanna-be Top Gear presenters, testing a selection of cars more likely to satisfy Jeremy Clarkson than the average Which? subscriber. I doubt many of us have £40,000 or more to spend on a new car, let alone the ongoing fuel, punitive road tax and servicing costs. And as responsible citizens, those that could afford it probably don’t feel the need to show off such levels of ostentation and profligacy, unless of course we are persuaded to choose the “best” car that money can buy.

The Which? intro even has the cheek to gaslight environmentally-aware readers with the fantasy that “Only cars that are … economical … can become a Which? Best Buy.”

So, let me see then. It’s OK to buy one of the top Which? Best Buys – a bevy of Lexus, Porsche, Mercedes Benz or maybe a BMW if I want to reduce my impact on the environment. According to Which? ratings, as well as choosing one of the best cars, I am also choosing one of the most economical. That must be more eco-friendly than maybe the VW Golf or a similar medium family car I was considering, since that only appears half way down page 2 of the Best Buy results.

There’s not even a filter I can use to show results with a minimum MPG or a certain CO2 emission. So time for a re-think, giving sustainability and eco-friendliness a bigger weighting than performance, handling and whatever else the motor industry has brainwashed us into believing are the most important attributes for a motor car over the last 120 years.

Well said Em. It would be interesting to see an assessment of the environmental impact of manufacture, use and disposal of cars. I have no problem with people paying for expensive cars or keeping people in a job fixing them (a recent Which? report suggested that most expensive cars are not terribly reliable) but it would be good if we all tried to reduce damage to our environment.

Like Em, I became exasperated with the motorhead attitudes coming through the car reports and articles so I stopped reading them. I hope there is a change of direction at the roundabout we are now approaching.

As the months tick down to the end of fossil-fuelled motoring, the number of oversized guzzlers on our road seems to be increasing. It’s about time people got real and recognised that in a few years time we will all have to drive something much smaller, lighter and easier on the juice. And replacing fossil fuel duty with other forms of tax on the use of vehicles is going to hit hard as well.

I suspect that part of the reason that Which? reports on cars that are uneconomical and probably use more resources to build is that their subscribers are interested in them. I looked at the annual Car Guide hoping for detailed coverage of electric vehicles and home charging options but was disappointed.

The annual Which? survey on cars is by miles ahead of the average Connect surveys. Although it collects information about the problems we encounter with our cars, readers do not get to know how much it costs to resolve problems, which will affect the cost of ownership and presumably environmental costs if parts have to be scrapped and replaced.

The days of universal car ownership must be numbered, particularly for people living in cities. There will not be enough electric energy to power them if our use of natural gas for heating and cooking is abolished.

But simply demanding we use public transport requires a radical change in its provision, frequency and cost. It has to be tailored to our needs but also to our pockets. Travelling intercity by rail is a clear win environmentally, but a typical journey currently costs at least twice as much as a car journey (if, as many will, you look at the fuel cost) and if this is a group outing – a family or work colleagues -on monetary grounds it becomes maybe 4 to 8 times the cost.

Should we be encouraged to travel less? I doubt many would be happy with that for leisure but we could make a huge change to the environment if we discouraged commuting, certainly over any distance. But again, this needs a radical change in working and business location – with great benefits in other ways though, potentially spreading work over far more of the UK and losing our city-centric obsession.

Trouble is, I see no way we can organise this with the kind of UK management that we have, of whatever political persuasion. Logical long term thinking and policy making seems outside their capabilities.

Maybe we simply ban all private cars in cities and larger towns to get the ball rolling.

It’s a gloomy day, so a gloomy outlook. Natural selection will, as always, find a way when we are forced into change.

The argument that more expensive cars cause more damage to the environment could do with explaining as a generalisation.

An area of environmental damage is in house building. Consider how many resources in materials and energy will be involved. But the smaller the dwelling the less resources required. Should we therefore, on environmental grounds, require single occupants in properties with three or more bedrooms to vacate them and allow a family to become the occupants, moving to a smaller home? It would take a great deal of pressure off the housing requirement.

Last week in Norwich a major redevelopment scheme near the city centre which included 1,250 housing units was refused planning permission by the Secretary of State for Housing etc after the city council’s decision to grant approval had been called-in.

One of the reasons behind the refusal was the unsatisfactory nature of the housing provision: it was predominantly in the form of small one- and two-bedroom flats with single aspects. It had been considered that building 1,200 tiny flats ticked the box marked “build more housing units”. The obsession with the number of units over the housing capacity provided is unhelpful. To my mind building 400 three-bedroom homes is preferable to building 1200 one-bedroom homes – apart from anything else it saves 800 kitchens, 800 bathrooms, and 800 front doors. I accept that it would provide accommodation for 800 fewer ‘households’, but the Norwich housing market is over-supplied with unlet small flats since so many empty office buildings have been converted into cellular residential blocks and several student housing schemes and other speculative buy-to-let developments have been completed in the last few years or are still under construction.

I believe the key to rationalising housing provision and balancing need and capacity is to make sure the market is open and fluid enough to cater for all types of demand. I see no point in trying to control theoretical under-occupation by rigid controls. I don’t think there is any good reason why people whose families have grown up and moved away, or where death or separation have left a sole occupier, should be forced to downsize if they can afford to live in and maintain a larger property that they have bought and worked hard to maintain; the council tax incorporates financial penalties on the occupation of bigger properties as it is. Over time, people upsize and release smaller properties onto the market and eventually downsize and release larger properties. The mechanism is not fluid enough because prices are too high at every level of the pyramid, but that is generally a consequence of normal supply and demand. That can really only be moderated by an increase in supply coupled with better value and a consistent approach to the affordable homes ratio.

[Re: John’s post about housing development in Norwich]

That’s interesting. It seems obvious that it is important to pay attention to what is wanted as well as what might look good to planners. A small flat might be fine for students who are living away from their parental home.

Malcolm wrote: “Should we therefore, on environmental grounds, require single occupants in properties with three or more bedrooms to vacate them and allow a family to become the occupants, moving to a smaller home?” I wonder if Malcolm would be happy to downsize. Should it also be a requirement in parts of the country where there is plenty of housing available?

No, I would not be happy to move from my present home. Nor would I advocate forced downsizing. What I was pointing out was that if people are intent on reducing what they consider damages the environment there are many measures committed individuals can take, cars and houses included.

I have lived in the home we developed for over 40 years and like it, so I’m staying. I’ve just ordered some peonies, phlox and hellebores and most of next year’s seeds have arrived. I drive quite a lot fewer miles than I did, in my quite nice car that I do not propose replacing, so in consequence pollution is reduced. And I have just renewed my bus pass.

I thought as much, but you posed the question about whether, on environmental grounds, we should require single occupants in properties with three or more bedrooms to make way for those with families. I doubt that many people will want to downsize.

And perhaps those who own several cars, especially older and hence more polluting, should be required to own only one? One has to ask if multiple car ownership in an age of increasing concern with environmental health can ever be justified.

I think the common sense of downsizing is a sufficient motive in itself in appropriate situations and it will depend on individual circumstances and preferences.

There are several reasons to downsize later in life but it shouldn’t be left too late as it gets harder as the years pass. There are also good reasons not to move, and many people have little choice over whether or not they can move.

We tend to look at this from the point of view of people whose property is too big, has poor accessibility externally or internally, is difficult to maintain, or is not in a convenient location. In practice, most people probably live in an adequate property, in a satisfactory location, and convenient for their needs and income, so they have no need to change upwards or downwards in size. They might better expend their energies in making their existing property simpler to occupy and look after through some newer appliances, less furniture and contents, some alterations inside and out for lower maintenance, and a general refresh.

Moving home is a troublesome and costly process. In environmental terms it is also wasteful unless there are personal health and safety benefits.

We can only drive one at a time.
So should all older and more polluting cars be withdrawn and scrapped? Might be an option to propose for those who can afford a new electric or hybrid, but many cannot.

I presume that scrappage schemes will provide an incentive for owners of older cars to trade them in. What is needed is a scheme that allows an owner to trade in their polluting old car for a secondhand cleaner car, which would help those who cannot afford a new car or do not want to buy a new car that will lose thousands of pounds in value the first time it is driven.

One of the neighbours has two cars, one is kept in the garage and the other is parked in a ‘residents only’ parking area. To ensure a parking space on return, the one in the garage is driven out and parked in the empty space left by the other one parked in the ‘residents only’ area and returned to the garage until the next time they go out, when the whole process is repeated, much to the annoyance of the other residents.

If trading in your main car for a less polluting car, and the trade-in is scrapped, then that would help the environment. But if your main car is environmentally friendly and you have little used extra cars, for whatever reason, then there is little or no point.

Beryl – Some people might be tempted to park in front of their garage.

Only as a last resort John as the garages are in two rows of 5 directly opposite each other.

And not I nice thing to do 🙁

Would it help for residents’ parking bays to be reserved for named individuals (or their guests)?

Theoretically it would if there were sufficient parking spaces for each and everyone of the garage owners, but as the garages are mainly used for storage there is usually one car too many when everyone is home. Often during weekdays workmen (and sometimes guests) attending one of the houses will park wherever they can find an empty space.

I think we have veered away from the main topic which is about sustainability 🙁

I, among others, have been asking in Convos for products, particularly major electrical appliances, to be durable and to be economically repairable to ensure long life. I am pleased that, at last, Which? are addressing this in their product reviews. Initially in dishwashers and washing machines.

There may always be justification for appliances that are not repairable and do not last as long from those who use them less frequently – second home owners for example – on the assumption that is the only way to get a cheap product. But I do not believe that it costs a substantial amount more to make a repairable durable product. Usually it requires better-quality components, but electric motors, pumps, bearings, electronics are not going to be radically more expensive, better design and assembly. I consider the environmental pay off to far outweigh the extra cost.

I would like to see any non-repairable products clearly marked with what cannot be replaced at the point of sale, so we are at least informed when choosing what to buy. I would also like to see the current cost of common available spares – say pump, motor, circuit board, drum bearings – and how long the manufacturer will make them available.

I suspect that this convo has been relaunched more to grandstand the new Which? “ECO BUY” labels, than to solicit genuine input from members and other consumers. So I had a look to see how those labels are being applied, without the benefit of our input.

As a reminder, ECO BUY labels are awarded to “Products that score well in our tests and have a proven lower impact on the environment as measured by our own criteria.” But Which? are not exactly following the science – not even their own – so it is quite hard to work out how these labels are being applied and what criteria are being used.

If you select only “ECO BUY” washing machines, 16 machines are returned out of 132 “Best Buys”, mostly Bosch and Miele brands, but only a quarter of the total number of these manufacturers’ machines tested (over 50 “Best Buys”, not counting Siemens and Neff).

Are Which? really re-evaluating tests carried out as long as four years ago? And how exactly, when some of these machines are no longer available or in very limited supply? Is there a lab full of old washing machines?

Stranger still, none of these manufacturers’ machines score at least 4 out of 5 for Energy use, and only 6 are returned for Water use.

If these brands’ machines have been selected based on other Eco-critera (durability, repairability, recyclability, carbon-offset, etc.), what are they and why don’t they apply across the range?

In summary, without some published critera and test data to support them, these extra labels are about as meaningless as the “can be recycled”, “sustainable”, “eco-friendly”, “organic” and “compostable” labels that are rightly subject to scrutiny and campaigns by organisations like Which?

I was gently despairing about this but certainly support Which? paying more attention to sustainability.

What concerned me was that on of the products featured in the magazine report is a smart appliance. What will happen when it no longer speaks to the phone? I hope that it will continue to function as a dumb machine when the novelty wears off.

We have frequently discussed built-in obsolescence as a reason for products being scrapped but I suspect that ‘premature replacement’ may have more to do with owners rather than products themselves.

From many discussions with friends, family and people I have chatted with it seems common to replace products because they are ‘quite old’ and they are concerned that they might fail or just because they wanted a new one.

A friend who is a landlord routinely replaces white goods because this attracts new tenants. He buys budget products at trade prices and they tend to survive for a few years until the property is redecorated and equipped with new appliances for the next tenant. From an economic point of view it seems to work. I have not asked what happens to the ‘old’ appliances that are still in working condition.

There have been various documentaries etc. that have reported that electrical goods taken to recycling centres are often still in working condition. Nowadays, many charity shops will collect electrical goods and test them for electrical safety. I don’t suppose many people keep their appliances when they have a new kitchen fitted, and some of the appliances supplied with expensive new kitchens are not the best quality.

Perhaps what irritates me most is when people discard products that just need a simple repair or are misbehaving because they have not been properly maintained. When I was negotiating what I would pay for a new home I asked the vendors if they were aware of any problems. I was reminded that the dishwasher was ‘no longer fully effective’ (this information had already been given) and the vendors offered to get rid of it. I kept it and spent half an hour removing limescale from the spray arms. He also said that there was a problem with the main oven because the door handle was very loose. A couple of new screws and shakeproof washers fixed this problem. Both appliances are over fifteen years old and will well be replaced at some stage, but they have survived for an extra four years. I have seen many household products where a simple fix needing no special tools was all that was needed to fix problems.

On the other hand, I don’t want to use an old computer or phone.

I think mobile phones are one of the obvious examples of what you call premature replacement. And many people use older computers. We need to think very carefully about what we need to buy but, when so many have “discretionary spending” – more money than they need for normal living – they will spend it. I guess those living near the breadline would be using old phones, white goods and an old car because they cannot afford to replace them.

The amount of use that a product is used is a measure of whether it represents good use of resources. I use my mobile every day and many younger people make much more use of their phones. I do not regret replacing my previous smartphone after nearly five years because the new one performs better and is safe to use for banking and other financial purposes.

It was wasteful for me to buy a cheap electric hammer drill/chisel to demolish a wall prior to rebuilding because I’ve only needed it ones in over 20 years. I had intended to give it to a charity but it was declined because it is 230 rather than 110V and the latter is needed to comply with safety requirements for non-domestic use.

@mbriggs Hi Mike – The European ‘Right to Repair’ requirements should mean that spare parts and servicing information must be made available from 2021, but I have read that some manufacturers want to restrict this to companies that do servicing. I hope Which? will support making parts freely available, so that DIY enthusiasts like myself can repair our own household goods. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFNxyDjrpNE&feature=emb_logo

BEUC report a German view on this (BEUC is an umbrella organisation for European Consumers’ Associations):
“Second, more should have been done on the repair front. The measures state that in some cases only professional repairers will receive spare parts and repair instructions. This leaves behind consumers who want to repair things themselves. Why would a consumer not be able to replace the light bulb of his own fridge? In a survey carried out by the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv), 25% of respondents said that they had repaired a broken appliance themselves or with the help of a friend. Money is not always the sole reason behind self-repair. Fun and satisfaction also play a part. Psychologists call it “the experience of self-efficacy”.

“For the first time the measures include requirements for repairability and recyclability, contributing to circular economy objectives by improving the life span, maintenance, re-use, upgrade, recyclability and waste handling of appliances.

Spares and instructions must be available to everyone, although there should be disclaimers for diy repairs in case they are done incompetently.

This will need to be an international initiative otherwise the producers a more than likely going to ignore the pleas of just one state. Which?, hopefully, will be working with those sister organisations under BEUC to ensure we get a consensus and action. We cannot really expect to go it alone and succeed.

Thanks Malcolm. I have read these articles but they may be of interest to others. I can certainly identify with the ‘fun and satisfaction’ of doing my own repairs.

The concept of a circular economy fascinates me: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org In principle the idea seems worthwhile, and proper recycling certainly is, but commercial pressure could turn this into a business model where older models are traded in for newer ones. We already see examples such as customers trading in their ‘old’ phone for a new one after two years. Businesses like this approach because it helps their cash flow. I hope my fears about the circular economy are not justified.

It frustrates me when I am not able to obtain spares. I used to buy laptop batteries from Apple but now that batteries for Apple products are not deemed user-replaceable the only way of replacing a battery is by getting the job done by an Apple Store or one of their authorised service providers. When I was having to charge my phone every morning I bought a third party replacement battery and fitted it with the help of an iFixit video. Not the easiest job I have tackled it, but the new battery performed excellently for a couple of months. It then deteriorated and would not hold a charge for more than a few hours. Since the phone was about five years old I decided to buy a new one. Some time later I found that the failing battery in the old phone had swollen, bursting open the case:

The refusal by Apple to supply spares to independent repairers and the public has resulted in a great deal of consumer pressure, certainly in the US.

I look forward to all phone and laptop batteries being user-replaceable and the likes of Apple being forced to sell spares.

In the last few years, we have bought a new Bosch washing machine and (6 months ago) a new Bosch dishwasher – both on the strength of Which? Best Buy reviews. These were graded A+ or higher for economy and efficiency, and were scored highly for performance by Which? However, in both cases, these machines perform markedly poorer that the 15-year-old and 25-year-old respective Bosch appliances they replaced. In the case of the clothes washing machine, it has to be run on the longest, hottest wash that the clothes can stand if they are not to emerge still smelling of sweat, and the machine has to be treated monthly with a noxious cleaning fluid that I worry is harming our sceptic tank (which the previous machine did not require). In the case of the dishwasher, it requires to be run on the hottest settings and for much longer than our old one, with less cookery, more spread out, and even them some dishes emerge still dirty. This means that both machines have to be run more often than our old ones – which I cannot believe is more economical in either water or energy. It begs 2 questions: have Which? become more lenient in theirs scoring of appliance performance over the years; and are the efficiency grading systems by the manufacturers a big con, based on mythical ‘ideal’ conditions and partial loads (analogous to the alleged VW fraud over diesel emissions)?

Modern washing machines typically use lower temperatures but longer cycles to achieve the same cleaning performance. This saves energy and the lower temperature means less damage to the fabric. Temperature settings could be meaningless, as explained in this Which? article: https://www.staticwhich.co.uk/documents/pdf/62-65_washingmachines-331452.pdf

There are two problems that could explain the problem with your washing machine, James:

1. Manufacturers often provide quick wash cycles which are appealing but to wash effectively at lower temperatures you need longer washes.

2. When washing at lower temperatures it is important to do a periodic ‘maintenance wash’ at the maximum temperature, as explained in the manual. Without this a slime of bacteria and moulds will build-up unseen in the innards of the machine.

It might be worth giving Bosch a ring but I suspect they will make similar suggestions and also suggest that the machine is not overloaded. The main problem with my Miele is inadequate rinsing, which means that I often have to run a second short wash programme. It probably uses more water than the single cycle in the 34 year old Philips machine that it replaced.

I have no experience with modern dishwashers but if the performance has deteriorated this could be due to blocked filters or limescale in the spray arms. If food has been allowed to dry it might help to run the short rinse cycle to soften it before the wash cycle.

As I said above, I now wash my ALL clothes at the hottest AND longest programmes available – I have never been tempted to use the short or eco washes, since even the longer ones fail to wash the clothes properly. The manual does indeed mention a ‘maintenance’ wash – with washing machine cleaner, and we do do this. However, these strong noxious cleaning detergent eventually end up under the field behind us – which can’t be good for the environment – it seems like Bosch taking credit for reducing energy and water use, but just passing environmental harm on to other concerns.

We live in a very soft water, with virtually no limescale (or very little other mineral content), and in any case, the dishwasher performed poorly (despite Which? Best Buy) from day 1, 6 months ago, and be have only gradually got it performing acceptably by switching to hotter and longer programmes.

Hi James – The way that we damage the environment concerns me too. Maybe if we all had septic tanks like you do we might be more careful about what chemicals we use.

I do not know what Bosch cleaning detergent contains and cannot find a ‘safety data sheet’ which would list potentially hazardous chemicals. Maintenance washes can be done at 90 or 95°C with ordinary washing powder (or tablets), which usually containing a bleach – unlike liquids or gels that do not. It should not be necessary to use washing machine cleaner and the instructions for my own machine don’t suggest using a cleaner.

It’s best to use powder or tablet detergents when possible, but these can fade dark colours, meaning that liquids or powders for coloured fabrics should be used.

My Bosch dishwasher is about 15 years old and both the ‘Eco’ and ‘Quick’ cycles are useless. Thankfully the ‘Normal’ cycle is effective and I occasionally use the ‘Intensive’ setting which takes less time.

I have an email update from Which?:
“Only 5-10% of washing machines and dishwashers we’ve tested are sustainable enough to be Eco Buys.

Minimum requirements for an Eco Buy washing machine
Total test score: at least 60%. Energy efficiency 3* (out of 5) : Water efficiency 3* : Cleaning power 5*:
No rating for durability (brand longevity)

Minimum requirements for an Eco Buy dishwasher
Total test score: at least 65%. Energy efficiency 5* : Water efficiency 5*: Good brand longevity

No mention of economic repairability, length of guarantee.

The minimum requirement for the washing machine, and lack of information on how sensible repairs might be, seems disappointing. Are washing machines really no better than this? I’d have thought if only a very few met a high standard they should be the only ones listed. Of 153 “best buys” none were better. Of 20 “don’t buys” 11 exceeded the energy efficiency and 8 water efficiency; so it can be done (but at the expense of performance?).

I wonder if the criteria need looking at to decide the best balance between energy and water efficiency and performance but, on the current basis, I’d suggest there are no washing machines worthy of an Eco label?


I was interested in this article from today’s BBC News website headlined “City drivers ‘should think twice’ before buying SUVs” –

It was good to see an official spokesperson from the RAC Foundation, say: “We should all choose the right vehicle for the right trip to cut the size of our carbon footprint.

“It is right to question if suburban drivers need a car capable of ploughing over rivers, across fields and up steep hills just to pop to the shops.”

Around our urban area in Norwich there are lots of big SUV’s on the front drives [and waiting outside the private schools at 3:30 pm] but once you get out into the country the average vehicle on the roads is small, old and mud-splattered. Any ‘utility’ vehicles are of the working kind like traditional Land Rovers and similar models; big SUV’s in the rural areas tend to be attached to horse boxes or agricultural trailers [near the Broads, it’s a boat, and near the coast it’s a caravan from miles away].