Why it's hard to buy 'green' gadgets

Shops should be doing more to help us buy greener gadgets - including ones without the dreaded standby button

The National Consumer Council ( NCC) has called for new labelling scheme to help shoppers identify 'green' gadgets - it made the call after a survey by its own researchers discovered that most shops don't know how to explain the eco-benefits of some consumer electronics and PC products over others.

The survey showed that just one out of 350 items in the 10 stores surveyed carried an energy label sticker. The NCC would like green A-G energy labelling - like the system for domestic appliances - to be applied across the board to products like TVs, DVD players, laptops, MP3 players and games consoles.

"You would not expect to buy a car without knowing how much petrol it consumes, yet shoppers buying a television will have little idea how energy efficient it really is," said Larry Whitty, chairman of the NCC.

"However, labelling alone is only part of the solution. Currently telephone help-lines and websites do little to help customers make greener choices when buying everyday electrical goods."

Green gadget subsidies

The NCC also called for better training for shop staff, more energy-efficient products from manufacturers and even subsidies for poorer families to help them buy greener goods. You can see the latest government advice on 'green technology' at the Directgov website.

Of the stores surveyed, Sony Centre stores were found to have the most knowledgable staff. Shops owned by John Lewis, Tesco, Dixons Stores Group and Debenhams were also included in the research.