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The Uncommon Life

Get Your Green: Serving You Sustainable News

September 28, 2010

Eco Salon finds a mod, green home worth dreaming about: meet the itHouse. [Eco Salon]

Dutch designers are having an eco-friendly moment: Architects, graphic designers, fashion designers and jewelers developed a collection of sustainable work for new exhibition reTHINK at the Textiel Museum in the Netherlands. Passing through Tilburg? Send us pictures of the solar-powered textile robot. [Eco Fashion World via The Textiel Museum]

Here’s looking at you, Greenpoint. Newton Creek, the backyard waterway separating Brooklyn and Queens, gets a Superfund nod from the EPA, which promises a “thorough environmental cleanup for the long-neglected” waterway. [The New York Times]

Get creative, activists: Grassroots initiatives around Atlantic Rising, an educational organization focused on promoting shoreline erosion awareness, taped yellow “caution” tape around a Nantucket lighthouse. “The more of this, the better,” reports columnist Andrew Revkin. [Dot Earth, The New York Times]

Because all cool things start in a lab: Japanese scientist invents a machine that converts plastic into oil. A magic box that recycles and restores a precious resource! We want one in our kitchen. Scratch that: We want four. [You Tube via Eco Friendly Mag]

While we’re on oil: Researchers say the U.S. military needs to ween itself from the slick stuff by 2040 if it wants to stay strong (read: eliminate weak spots, like a 77% operational dependency on petroleum). [Tree Hugger via the Center For A New American Security]

Today’s electric slide: A study released Monday by the Baker Institute claims that if 30% of Americans drove electric cars, U.S. oil use would drop by 2.5 million barrels a day and reduce oil imports by 20%. [CNBC via the Baker Institue For Public Policy]

Speaking of green machines, the award for most concentrated electric car charging stations goes to …. Elk Horn, Iowa! Surprised? [Tree Hugger via The Wall Street Journal]

The Uncommon Life

Talking About Corporate Responsibility

September 22, 2010

Today our CEO, David Bolotsky, is joining Andrew Kassoy, founder of B Lab, and other business leaders on a panel discussion about sustainably-minded businesses and the laws that could make it easier for companies to become more ethical, sustainable and accountable to our customers.

Learn more about the panelists and the Social Investment Forum, happening today in Washington, DC.

And of course, part of our commitment to a sustainable business model means that we’re accountable to you. If you have any suggestions for how we can make our business better, leave a comment below!

The Uncommon Life

UncommonGoods Heads to the Farm

September 20, 2010

Last Friday, a group of UncommonGoods staffers headed out to Governor’s Island for a day of volunteering at the Added Value Farm.

(L to R) Mary Catherine, Marcus, Sara, Shammyann and Sarah are pulling up weeds from the okra, cabbage, collards and lettuce crops. The produce is donated and sold locally, and the farms offer educational programming and work opportunities for children and teens in South Brooklyn.


YouGoods: Put a new twist on old greeting cards

August 30, 2010

“Pass me the White-Out!”

Christy Eichers had just realized she had no card for the birthday girl, so she quickly fixed up an old card of her father’s.

The result was fairly tacky, but she was certain there was a business idea there somewhere.

And regreet was born:

With regreet, you can upcycle your old cards in style, and take away the stigma of passing along a card that’s been doctored with whiteout or eraser marks. Christy’s even thought of a way for you to track your card’s journey, and see just how many times it gets regreeted.

According to Christy and the Encyclopedia of American Industries, the greeting card industry is a $7.5 billion business with 90% of households purchasing cards each year. The typical household purchases 30 cards annually.

So regreet kits, made from earth-friendly materials with a minimum of 30% post-consumer waste and printed with soy inks, can have a huge impact on reducing the amount of paper we waste each year.

Christy is winning a $1,500 cash prize, along with the chance to show off her designs at World Maker Faire NYC and sell the regreet kit at

Leave a comment below to congratulate her on her idea– eco-friendly, clever, and well designed.  A perfect YouGoods design for National Inventors Month!


And the Finalists Are…

August 26, 2010

Last night, a group of us met with the YouGoods guest judges at the Tribeca Grand in downtown Manhattan to pick our finalists among all the great entries we received.

And the finalists are:

The Grocery’minder by Francene Pisano Dudziec. With a wet-erase front, this bag is perfect for making your grocery list, checking it twice, and heading off to the market. . Judges thought the concept solved a basic problem; sure, everyone tries to be a good person and bring their reusable bag to the grocery store. But it’s hard to remember every time. With your grocery list stuck right on the front of your bag, the grocery’minder tote makes it hard to forget.

But the judges did have some questions.
1. Would you be more likely to use the grocery list if the bag were easily attachable to your refrigerator?
2. Are there enough blank spaces for you to fill in your personal shopping list?

If you’re a fan, you can vote for the grocery’minder tote through Sunday, August 29 at 11:59 PM ET.

The Double Wall Tea Cup by Endrit Hajno. The judges admired the basic concept of this tea cup made of glazed porcelain or ceramic. Each cup has an insulated double wall for keeping your drink warm, but not burning your hands. The bottom strip of color is notched, allowing you to tuck the string of your tea bag out of sight. While the judges expressed some reservations about how difficult it could be to make this cup and the choice of materials, they all agreed that with a little tweaking this tea cup had a lot of potential!

If you enjoy the idea of a Double Wall Tea Cup, vote for it through Sunday, August 29 at 11:59 PM.

And last but not least, regreet by Christy Eichers. regreet offers you a way to reuse old greeting cards without the stigma of seeming cheap. Judges thought of this entry as a great social concept. These greeting cards make “regifting” cool and give senders a way to reuse last year’s greeting cards. The designer even included a way for you to track your regreet-ed card’s journey using Google maps.

Judges were curious to know what the environmental impact is of using additional paper to regreet an old card.  And judges also wondered if after seeing the idea of regreet, you wouldn’t just use your own scrap paper to reuse your stack of birthday and holiday cards. But everyone acknowledged it was a great way to inspire us all to be more sustainable during the holiday season.

If you love the regreet gift card set, vote for it now through August 29 at 11:59 PM.

If you like them all, don’t worry. You can vote for each entry once, through August 29.  And feel free to leave a comment if you have a question or idea about the designs. We’ll announce the winner on Monday!

Special thanks to our guest judges: Becky Stern, editor at CRAFT and Make: Online, Debera Johnson, Academic Director of Sustainability at the Pratt Institute, Allan Chochinov, Editor-in-Chief at Core77, and, and Graham Hill, founder of

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