Eco-Friendly, Upcycled Clothes

old-jeans-recycled

There are a lot of people dealing with upcycled fabrics and clothes. In fact, quite of few of these places have found a home on Etsy and other similar sites that put customers in touch with small craftsmen. There is a large market out there for clothing that is made out of recycled fabrics. They are quickly becoming one of the most popular overall fashions in the country and they are also lowering in price as demand grows. If you are interested in buying yourself some recycled clothes, you may find yourself being a little picky at times. After all, you don’t know who was wearing those old clothes last, and that can have a tendency to freak some people out. The best way to avoid worrying about something like this is to simply buy from a reputable dealer or a reputable clothing creator.

Zasra Shop at Etsy

There are a lot of great shops on Etsy that let you buy upcycled clothes, but the stuff being sold at the Zasra shop in the Etsy marketplace is taking it to another level. A lot of people simply make stuff that “looks” like clothes out of older clothes. They feel like they can bring in customers no matter what the clothes look like since the fabrics are upcycled and that’s what customers “really” want. Zasra doesn’t take this tact. This store actually provides you with clothing that will be something that you’d be proud to wear for more than just environmental reasons. The selection here is great and you’ll like what you see.

Anita Spero Design Shop at Etsy

Also on Etsy, you will find the Anita Spero Design shop to be a high-class operation with a lot of great upcycled clothes. The clothes here are stylish and they can be worn for any occasion from formal events to lounging around at home. This shop really makes it easy to shop with an environmentally-friendly mindset.

Great Kitchen Ideas

green feather duster

One of the most wasteful parts of any home is always the kitchen. Everything gets wasted here. Water gets wasted constantly. Food gets wasted. Paper gets wasted. Plastic wrap gets wasted. Everything gets tossed away in the hubbub of getting dinner done and the dishes washed, and in between, we all produce quite a lot of waste here. While waste is a cycle that is borne mostly out of a desire for efficiency, it can be mitigated through the use of appropriate items throughout our kitchens. Two great ways to reduce waste and be more environmentally friendly in the kitchen are:

Biobag Compostable Trash Bags

These bags are absolutely great. Not only can you use them for regular trash, but you can compost them in your compost pile just like you would compost a paper bag. The secret is what it’s made out of. The plastic here isn’t quite the same as the plastic you’ve become accustomed to over the years. Instead of the nasty, oil-based plastics we more commonly use, the Biobag Compostable Trash Bag will break down in a very short amount of time. The secret is in its chemistry. The plastic in the bag is made out of corn starches, meaning it has a much more natural rate of decay than a plastic bag.

Green Cleaning Products

There are a lot of options out there if you want to use green cleaning products. I personally like the Seventh Generation line of products, but there are a lot of choices. If you’re new to using green cleaning products, then I recommend getting a gift basket of some type that will give you the chance to see how many different environmentally-friendly cleaners work.

Bamboo Everything

bamboo stalks

There are a few different options out there for people looking to have a more sustainable lifestyle. First, you can always just use reusable things. This is probably the simplest of all things you could do, and it will probably have the most immediate effect. However, if you simply need to use something that is lightweight, and that you may be OK with tossing every now and then, then you can’t go wrong with bamboo.

Not only does bamboo look good, but it’s light and it’s very sustainable. Some types of bamboo can grow feet in just a single day, meaning that there’s even less time spent between seeding and harvesting. Not only does this mean it’s a very useful product, but it also means that it’s a much more sustainable one. After all, if resource managers can get tons of bamboo out of one spot over and over again, why would they ever need to branch out into other spots?

I specifically like this travel set on Treehugger.com if you are looking for something nice, attractive, and sustainable. The great thing about this utensil set is that it comes with a very cool carrying case, making it very easy to tote around with you wherever you go. The size of the case doesn’t seem to be very proprietary or anything, so if you ever need to replace the bamboo with metal or other bamboo utensils, then it’s going to work just as well.

In the end, this is just a cool little thing to have around. It’s simple things like this that really add up over time to make your life much more sustainable, and really that much easier to live. If you are looking for any other green living ideas, Treehugger.com is a great place to start. This is especially true if you’re looking for recycled goods or anything of that nature. Good luck!

Usable Bike Chains, Part Deux

bike chains

I’ve talked about bike chain-themed wares on this site before, but this is a really interesting take on what can be done with a chain. This bike chain picture frame by Graham Bergh is a great little piece that adds a very unique flavor to any photo and room arrangement. The greatness of the piece lies within its utilitarian, yet infinitely versatile, look. This is definitely a piece that can make people stop and take a peek, and it is a wonderful addition to any home.

First, they start off much the same as many other items of this nature. They start off as old, useless junk that most people have already written off as trash. This is where Bergh and his small team of designers come into play. They put themselves in the right place at the right time to grab the best chains they can to do a lot of different things with. Some of the chains get turned into those awesome little bottle openers I talked about a few posts ago. Others get turned into these frames. The ones that aren’t up to snuff in terms of quality are either tossed or donated to local schools that teach bike maintenance. Either way, every effort possible has been made to do something with these chains other than just dump them off.

The thing that is really great about this piece is that it invokes a certain “steampunk-esque” feel to just about any living arrangement. The patterns of the chain are delicate, and they contrast with the brute strength of the steel chain, making for a very interesting melding of form and function. This is also great for the frame since it means that it is very abrasion resistant, meaning you won’t have to worry about messing the frame up until it’s busted beyond repair.

There are a lot of great ways to make your home much more eco-friendly without really going to that much trouble. The simplest ways are always the best ways, and it doesn’t get a whole lot simpler than just intercepting something on its way to the dump.

Newspaper Earrings

stack of newspapers

I recently had an anniversary with my wife (only two years, hold your applause), and I wanted to get her some interesting stuff to mark the occasion. She’s big into recycled clothes and jewelry and stuff like that, so I figured one of the things I’d get here would be recycled paper earrings. They looked cool and kind of funky like her, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I’m glad I did, and so is she. This is a great way to reuse something old and make something really neat out of it.

For one thing, who the hell knew that you could even do this in the first place? I never even thought that you could ever use newspaper to make earrings. I mean, I’m no crafty son of a gun or anything, but I consider myself to be a fairly worldly type of person and I had never even thought that it was possible to do something like this. Upon further inspection of the process, I felt a little embarrassed that I was so thoroughly impressed by this whole thing, but I stand by my amazement. It’s a good idea, and good ideas deserve an appropriate level of amazement to mark the occasion.

So, here’s the background. The company that makes these Recycled Newspaper Earrings is a co-op in Cambodia. They work to put kids in school and keep them off the streets. The newspaper you’re wearing was actually something that they found on a street in Cambodia. They use a water-based varnish on the paper to keep it in the ball shape– but it’s water-based so it doesn’t agitate your skin or anything. I thought it was pretty great that they were not only helping to keep Cambodia clean but that they were also working to help kids get an education that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. No matter how you slice it, this is a cool little piece of kitsch that actually looks cool.

Scrappy (Not Crappy) Scarves

different color scarves

Yeah, I thought it said crappy at first. I thought, what a horrible marketing schema to use… but man I was wrong. Upon further inspection, these things are actually pretty interesting, and by “these things” I mean Scrappy Scarves by the Scrappy Scarves company. They’re a Canadian company, which I’ve been glad to find since I know a bunch of people reading this blog are from Canada, and I’m sure you want to know about goods being made in your country. So here it is the Scrappy Scarf.

The name is sort of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there is the fact that it’s made out of old scrap cloth. On the other hand, they’re built to last. Scrappy, as it were. The great thing about these scarves is that you will literally have a one-of-a-kind scarf that will never be found elegantly draped around the neck of another person. This is something that I personally look for in just about anything I ever buy. I mean, if I’m going to be spending money on something, why on Earth would I want something that looks identical to thousands of other things? Especially when it comes to clothes, this kind of automatic individualism is a really great thing to have as an extra feature.

The quality is nothing to shake a stick at, either. Too many people seem to have it in their heads that an article of clothing made out of recycled clothes will just fall apart around them. Not so with this product. In fact, they seem to overcompensate for the old fabric by making sure to reinforce the joints of fabric to make sure that the whole thing holds together nicely. It doesn’t detract from how attractive these scarves are, and they will go with just about any type of outfit you can think of. Whether you like to dress a little funky or super-straight, you’ll be able to get a scarf that looks great with what you’re wearing. All that for a pretty decently reasonable price when compared to other types of “artisan” green clothes out there.

Vinyl Record Bowls: Blasphemy or Awesomemy?

vinyl record

There are a lot of different things that people do to turn old, useless junk into something usable. Not only is this great for the environment, but it is also a great way to create useful, kitschy stuff for around your home that says something about you. Sort of like the Vinyl Record bowl by Modern Artisans. For the music lover in your life, this is a great way to give a great eco-friendly gift that says something about them.

Or go ahead and buy it for yourself. I’m sure you’ve earned it. Whatever you do, there’s no doubt that you’ll be impressed by this thing. I’m not entirely sure how they force it to keep its “vinyl” look despite being warped like this, but it’s still pretty cool despite that. That’s really the great thing about these bowls that makes them really stand out. They still “look” like vinyl records, just warped into a bowl. It’s like you’re really eating off of a record of Buddy Hackett’s greatest hits… and maybe you are.

The bowls come in a number of genres as well. So if you’re a metalhead at heart, you can eat your mead and gruel off of an old UFO. If I could find a Rush album among the mix of bowls these guys sell, I can just about guarantee I would get it. It’s cool that you get that much control over what the bowl looks like, and it’s another way that a music lover can really tailor these bowls to say something about who they are and the role of music in his or her life.

Either way, it’s a great way to reuse something that would just go in a heap of trash outside the city limits anyway. As has been said time and time again, reusing is always better than buying new, and generally better than recycling. In fact, it’s the ULTIMATE form of recycling in that you’re cutting out the middle man and just using the thing itself instead of just the material.

Vino!

wine

I’m on a home-brewing KICK! And now I’m going to talk about homemade wine. I never really have done a whole lot with homemade wine before, but that’s mostly just because I’m not really much for wine. I’m a beer man, but it’s a pretty cool experiment to try and make your own wine. There are even a bunch of recipes out there for making wine with juice concentrate and bakers yeast, but I REALLY don’t recommend doing that. Unless you’re in prison. Then: knock yourself out.

 

For the rest of us, getting a good kit is essential for getting decent wine out of your experiment. There are even some very fancy sets out there that give you special wine pressing equipment and all of that. I’m not going to get into anything that crazy, but I can recommend a great beginners kit that I haven’t personally used but that a friend of mine has used with great success. It’s called the Strange Brew Wine Making Kit, and as a homebrewer, I can tell that this thing is well worth the money and time.

 

One thing that is great about this set is its simplicity. Some sets are full of confusing home brew components that can make the whole process seem way more complicated to a newbie than it has to be, and there’s really no good reason for that. Another thing that I love is that it has a glass carboy. The carboy is the thing that you’re doing the actual fermentation in before you do the initial bottling, and having a glass one is great because it allows you to actually see the fermentation going on. When it comes to wine fermentation, this is a great way to keep an eye on the fermentation process so you can see when it’s done. Aside from that, this kit has a very sturdy build and none of the parts that come with it are built out of that cheap, shaky plastic that makes you shake your head in shame at having spent money on them.

The Samsung Reclaim

samsung phone

As the name might tell you, the Samsung Reclaim is a little more than just another phone. It’s a newer type of phone that is looking to put a hurt on the immensely wasteful consumer electronics industry, and hopefully, make people think a little bit about the problem of “throwaway” technology while they’re at it. After all, it’s getting a little crazy out there in the electronics world.

The average person goes through a phone every year. Some people go through as many as three phones a year, and they’re always buying the newest and most “up to date” phone whenever it comes out. On the other hand, some people keep the same phone for years at a time because a phone is just that to them– a phone. Throughout the consumer electronics industry, there is a trend toward just tossing out old tech for the new tech that is just a month or two away.

The Samsung Reclaim, however, is made out of recycled materials through and through. Its casing is “reclaimed” from old recycled plastic, and the components are partially recycled from older phones and electronics. One of the other really great aspects of this phone is that it is made without PVC or other harmful materials that can leach out into your skin when it sweats. These things have been linked to cancer and other illnesses, so the Reclaim has taken them out of the equation entirely. The Reclaim instead opts for using less harmful materials and reduces its imprint on the world by significantly reducing the number of materials it uses in total.

In a world of throwaway technology, it’s nice that there’s something out there for the rest of us. If you’re not a smartphone addict, and you just need a great phone that is loaded with features and easy to use, the Samsung Reclaim is made almost entirely with you in mind. It’s worth noting that Samsung has recently overtaken every major cell phone manufacturer in the United States and Canada in terms of sales, so they’re obviously pretty keen at giving people what they want.

Buying Recycled Products: Awesome Eco

recycling symbol

I’m a huge fan of recycling glass for a number of reasons. Mostly, it’s because I’m a huge fan of going barefoot and nothing ruins your day more than some carelessly strewn glass interacting with your foot. However, it’s also because it’s one of the most widely used materials on Earth, and it often simply winds up being dumped into a junkyard once people are done with it. This is especially true with windshields, windows for buildings, and stuff like that.

This is why I love these recycled beer glasses so much. First, I love me some beer. Second, they are made out of 100% recycled glass. They even retain some of the hues that was imbued within the glass originally to keep out sun glare. Don’t worry, there are no harsh chemicals in the glass that could leech into your drink, but it does give them a really interesting look. Each one of these glasses is completely hand made, and no two of them look identical. Since I’ve never understood this obsession that some people have with all of their stuff looking the exact same, this is really great for me. It gives your kitchen some character when you have stuff in it that varies a little. Maybe that’s just me.

This is the time of year when you can make bad decisions or good decisions in epic proportions. At no other time of year do people spend so much money all at once. Due to this, it’s important that we all dedicate our purchases during this time of year to the most responsible items we can. It’s important to take advantage of the massive saturation provided by the temporary acceptance of “shopaholism” that happens during the Christmas season. Things like this are a great way to do that.

There are a lot of different products out there that are made out of entirely recycled materials. Since the best way to be environmentally conscious is to recycle/reduce/reuse, these really are the top of the line in terms of eco-friendly gifts. There will be more of these types of gifts coming up in future posts.