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Brits are gadget addicts, says green think-tank

Sod the planet, I must have a juicer...

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Britain is a nation of gadget addicts, according to a report from the Energy Saving Trust (EST). The environmental think tank says over the next six months Brits will buy around 30m electric or electronic gadgets, with many describing their purchases as "essential".

The shopping list is composed of 2.5m digital cameras and mobile phones, 2.25m TVs, and 1.75m computers. We'll also splash out on 1.25m cordless phones, DVD players, microwave ovens, MP3 players and electric kettles, as well as another million hairdryers or hair stylers.

The kinds of gadgets falling into the "essential" category are so frivolous it makes us wonder about the questionnaire. For example, while few people would describe a washing machine as a luxury, we're not sure that a juicer could be described as essential even if a very stretchy imagination was applied. Cordless phones and electric toothbrushes also make it into the indispensable category for at least half of those planning to buy them.

Coffee machines are, of course, quite different. We realise these have a vital role to play in the proper functioning of the country.

But the EST saves its most scathing words for big screen plasma TVs. These energy gluttons can consume as much as four times the power of a similarly sized cathode-ray goggle box.

EST chairman Edward Hyams argues that manufacturers will have to provide better labelling of products so consumers can make an informed choice.

He told the BBC: "We don't want to be saying 'don't have it' - a lot of it is about information and choices. On televisions, for example, we would like to see labels saying 'if you watch it, it will cost x pence per hour, if you leave it on standby, it will cost y pence'. Then you can present the environmental cost in monetary terms." ®

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