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Ethical retailer of the week: Free Play Energy



Clean energy should not be accessible to rich countries only. Instead, it should help those nations that mostly suffer from the lack of electricity, according to the values of Free Play Energy.

Chris Staines founded the company in 1994, with the idea of realising a self-sufficient clockwork radio to help spread information about AIDS across Africa. The company later specialised in emergency preparedness, aid and development and outdoor leisure.

It produces a wide range of solar, wind and human powered devices, which are particularly helpful to people living in disadvantaged areas of the world. For instance, the Encore Primary is the “latest radio in the humanitarian sector”. It is self-charging and equipped with an incorporated solar panel.

Other devices include emergency power charger for mobile phone, PDA, iPod or GPS receiver powered by human energy, as well as Sherpa torches and lanterns, which have been distributed across the developing world by UN agencies.

Free Play Energy works with international organisations to make sure that disadvantaged countries can have access to information, electricity and communication, reducing their dependence on toxic kerosene and promoting education and health trough informative tools.

The firm’s products are not just thought for extreme situations, but can be easily employed for camping or other outdoor activities. However, because of their resistance, they can play a key role for developing countries – both socially and environmentally.

One of Free Play Energy products also received an INDEX:Award in 2009, when the company developed the foetal heart-rate monitor powered by human energy, a medical device capable of showing signs of foetal distress that is quite rare and expensive in developing countries.

Free Play Energy was acquired in 2010 by the Hong Kong based Euro Suisse group, therefore gaining solid financial backing, which the company hopes will enable “to invest and manufacture new and exciting alternative energy products”.


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