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The Uncommon Life

The Uncommon Life

Why We Keep Marching

January 14, 2018

On Saturday, January 21, 2017, women across the world marched together to protest injustice, lift each other up, and send the powerful message that women’s rights are human rights. Thanks to the combined efforts of millions of people, it was the largest single protest day in US history. From clever signs to a well-rehearsed song, marchers came prepared to fight for equality. As a plethora of pink hats stood out among the signs, songs, and crowds, it became clear that the hat would go down in history as a symbol of female power and unity.

Recognizing that the hat makes a strong statement, our Product Development team decided to incorporate it in a design that celebrates women. The Keep Marching Necklace is a wearable reminder that while there may not be an organized demonstration every day, the march for equality continues.

Keep Marching Necklace | UncommonGoods

The necklace was designed by women who wanted to not only create a beautiful piece, but also develop a product that could make a positive impact. With that in mind, $5 from the sale of each Keep Marching Necklace supports our longtime Better to Give partner RAINN. Since partnering in 2010, we’ve donated over $350,ooo to RAINN–the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization–and hope to grow that amount when you select RAINN at checkout (our $1 donation is at no cost to you) and through givebacks on designs like our Keep Marching and Hope Shines necklaces.

As we approach a series of Women’s Marches planned for January 20 and 21, 2018, we asked the women behind this necklace to share what the pink hat symbol means to them and why they keep marching.

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The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Impact: Making Green Commuting Easy with the Bike Share Bag

January 12, 2018

Maria Boustead hitches a ride with CitiBike on a snowy Brooklyn day; photos by Rachel Orlow

In a city like New York, biking can be quite intimidating. Big streets. Bigger puddles. Drivers with no regard for human life. We’ve got it all! But some—many of whom are braver than I—have long sung the praises of our bike share system, which isn’t the only environmentally friendly transportation scheme of its kind. With bike shares cropping up in cities around the country, like Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, biking’s barrier to entry has lowered further than ever before, allowing commuters nationwide to leave their cars in the garage at last. This rings especially true in smaller cities, where the luxuries of good public transport, like subways and express buses, often don’t exist at all.

That’s all well and good, but industrial designer and longtime bike rider Maria Boustead noticed one teensy problem when she first hitched a ride using Divvy, the bike share system in her native Chicago: The front basket just. Didn’t. Work. As a designer of fun, yet functional accessories for cyclists, however—especially women—Maria was uniquely equipped to design a solution. The result? A bag designed especially for bike share bikes, equipped with more bells and whistles than you can shake a stick at. (OK, OK, no literal bells.)

We stopped by Maria’s workspace on the border of Bushwick and Bed-Stuy here in Brooklyn, NY, and spoke with her about the story behind the Bike Share Bag and what sustainability means to her. Read on for more. (As for us, we’re off to snag our first Citibike membership. Be back in five.)

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The Uncommon Life

3 Easy Meal Tips to Please Picky Kids

January 9, 2018

Your kid has yet to discover that broccoli is delicious and they won’t touch anything that isn’t an unnatural color with a ten-foot fork. It’s going to be OK. While letting your kiddo live on gummy bears and microwaved mac ‘n cheese alone certainly isn’t an option, sneaking some healthy good stuff in their favorite meals is. These tips make breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes healthier, but they’re still completely kid-friendly. Serve up each meal with our Construction Plate & Utensils and your little one might even ask for seconds.

Kid-approved Bake Goods | Breakfast | UncommonGoods

Breakfast: Kid-Approved Baked Goods

As the old saying goes, it’s the “most important meal of the day.” But if that meal is packed with sugar, your kiddo will crash before lunch. Start the day right by replacing the refined sugar in baked goods like mini muffins or waffle bites with a fruity alternative.

  • 1 cup of no-sugar-added applesauce easily replaces 1 cup of white sugar

-or-

  • Mash 3 medium bananas and add a splash of water to get the equivalent of 1 cup of sugar

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The Uncommon Life

Doing Good, in Brooklyn and Beyond:
A Look Back at 2017

December 26, 2017

At UncommonGoods, we strive to be more than a business: We strive to be a force for good. In addition to providing one-of-a-kind, high-quality handmade goods to our customers, we’ve made it our mission to use our business to help improve the world we live in. As an independently-owned company with 18 years under our belt, we’re lucky to have the freedom to act according to our convictions, providing our workers with a living wage and a generous paid family leave policy, donating thousands annually to our Better to Give partners, and supporting makers who create a positive social and environmental impact wherever possible.

Of course, this isn’t all that we do each year. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to ensure we’re supporting causes we believe in as effectively as we possibly can, and we’re always trying to make sure that UG is a great place to work. (Side note: Being a great place to work, like most things, requires a lot of trial and error, and we don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we do know that being open to change and putting our employees’ needs first are key points for us.) This year, we’re letting you in on our proudest achievements, from work we’ve done within our Brooklyn warehouse to relationships we’ve built with new nonprofit partners. Read on for more on what we’ve done #InsideUG, with our Better to Give partners, and within the B Corporation community.


#InsideUG

Samples line the walls in our newly renovated office, complete with custom woodwork.

Here at UncommonGoods HQ in Sunset Park’s historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, we’ve made some improvements of our own. In June, we announced the launch of our Guiding Principles, a series of seven carefully formulated standards by which we at UG strive to lead our professional lives. With values like We Are a Force for Good, We Are Open-Minded, and We Are Always Learning, we’re encouraged to foster a culture in which we respect one another and consider our company’s impact on the world. (But more on that later.)

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The Uncommon Life

How to Help Change the World with What’s in Your Wallet

December 19, 2017

*Editor’s note: On November 26, 2017, UncommonGoods participated in Shop for Good Sunday. Following Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, Shop for Good Sunday celebrates businesses that make a positive impact on the world. The newest addition to themed post-Thanksgiving shopping days, Shop for Good Sunday was founded by the team at DoneGood, a social enterprise working to put people in touch with brands that share their values. DoneGood’s Cullen Schwarz took a moment to tell us about his company’s mission and why “consumerism” doesn’t have to be a dirty word in this guest post.

Cullen Schwarz, DoneGood co-founder and Chief of Good Thoughts

The most powerful tool you have to change the world is in your pocket right now

There’s a revolution happening across the country and around the world. UncommonGoods is a part of it. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a part of it already too.

The world

Our world is filled with tremendous love and beauty. It also has some problems—inequality, environmental degradation, exploitation to name a few.

We believe that the world’s most powerful force for addressing those problems is already in your pocket—it’s the dollars you spend. We quit our careers to start DoneGood because we wanted to help people more effectively wield that power.

Together we all spend trillions of dollars buying stuff every year—if even a fraction of that money can automatically help alleviate poverty, fight climate change, and otherwise make the world better, the impact is huge!

The dollars we spend help solve problems when we shift our shopping to mission-driven social impact brands—companies that are paying good wages, empowering people, investing in communities, offering paid family leave, and using sustainable production practices.

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The Uncommon Life

From Puppies to Pistols: Six of History’s Most Uncommon Gifts

December 14, 2017

Today, few things say “holiday season” so well as Christmas trees, carols, and gifts. So what if we told you that none of those traditions have actually been around for very long? Christmas trees didn’t catch on in the US until the turn of the 20th century, and caroling—at least as we know it—was a distinctly Victorian invention. As for Christmas gift-giving, that’s a new tradition, too, popularized by wealthy 19th century New Yorkers.

Image our surprise, then, when we set out to assemble a collection of history’s strangest Christmas gifts and came up with—get this—absolutely nil. Lucky for us, diplomatic gift-giving is a time-honored custom, and one that’s sprouted plenty of oddball stories… just the thing to will all that pre-holiday shopping stress away.

And so, to celebrate the coming of the holiday season and all the good-natured gift-giving that goes with it, we present—with, um, minimal comment—six of history’s most uncommon gifts.

No. 1: A Live Puppy

You can’t archive a dog! Featured good: Pedigree Poem Pillow, $90

In theory, a puppy isn’t all that odd a gift, but bureaucracy can make anything weird. In 2005, then-President George W. Bush received five gifts from Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov. Among them? A black-and-white Bulgarian shepherd puppy dubbed “Balkan of Gorannadraganov,” or “Balkan” for short. Valued at $430, Balkan was one of many thousands of presents Bush received throughout his tenure as president, most of which were sent to the National Archives to await the opening of his presidential library. For goods worth $305 or more, that’s standard procedure, and in order to hang onto anything above that threshold—a risky move, as costly gifts may sway foreign policy decisions—presidents and their spouses are required to purchase the gifts back from the US government.

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The Uncommon Life

Giving Tuesday 2017:
Partner Stories & Doubled Donations

November 28, 2017

If you’ve been paying attention to our blog this month, you’ve probably noticed references to something called “Giving Tuesday” slipped in among our many holiday gift guidesBut what exactly is Giving Tuesday?

Launched in 2012, Giving Tuesday is perhaps best described as a foil for the ever-popular quasi-public holidays Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Celebrated yearly on the Tuesday that follows Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday encourages observers to use the day to focus on giving back, both in their communities and in the world at large. Here at UncommonGoods, this will be the third year we’re toasting Giving Tuesday by doubling our donations to our Better to Give partners. That’s right: On November 28, 2017—otherwise known as today—we’ll double the donation your partner of choice receives when you select them at checkout from $1 to $2, and, as always, we’ll do so at no additional cost to you.

Not sure who to choose? We love all of our partners, so we can’t play favorites. We can, however, link you to the four stories we shared this month, one for each partner, to count down to this very day… you know, in case you need a little nudge.

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The Uncommon Life

Storytelling with 826 National:
Meet the Garcia Family

November 27, 2017

*Editor’s note: Here at UncommonGoods, we’re counting down to Giving Tuesday—an annual day of giving back observed on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving—by sharing stories from our Better to Give partners. Up this week, with our final story: our newest partner, 826 National, introduced in July of this year. Today, we’re proud to share a video that highlights the story of the Garcia family, whose children have flourished with help from 826LA.

Meet Katherine Garcia, her brother, and her mom, Juvenita Martinez, residents of the Mar Vista neighborhood in Los Angeles. In the above video, created by 826 National, Katherine tells us about her ambitions to write—and Juvenita shares how 826LA’s unique programs have helped her children excel in school and among their peers.

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