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Maker Stories

Inventors Month: The Alyce Santoro Story

August 18, 2010

When I first saw the sonic fabric tie, I knew which uncommon artisan I wanted to talk to for National Inventors Month.  Alyce Santoro makes each sonic tie from prerecorded audio-cassette tapes– and if you’ve got a tape deck handy, you can actually listen to your tie sing. The sonic fabric tie is available for $120 in platinum or onyx black.

Read my interview with Alyce Santoro below

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Design

Announcing the YouGoods Guest Judges

August 11, 2010

Update 8/12, 1:18 PM: Meet Allan Cochinov, Editor-in-Chief of Core 77.com and our fourth YouGoods judge.

Update 8/11, 5:52 PM: Meet Becky Stern, an editor at CRAFT and MAKE: Online, and our third YouGoods guest judge!


We only announced the YouGoods “Inventors Month” Design Challenge last week, but already, we’ve seen some really clever and sustainable product ideas.  And there’s still a few more days to enter. In fact, we’re extending the entry deadline to August 23!

So be sure to submit your great ideas to the YouGoods Design Challenge today.

In other exciting YouGoods news… I’m thrilled to introduce two four of our guest judges.

Allan Cochinov is a partner of Core77, a New York-based design network serving a global community of designers and design enthusiasts. He is the editor-in-chief of Core77.com, the widely read design website, Coroflot.com design job and portfolio site, and DesignDirectory.com design firm database. He has been named on numerous design and utility patents, and has received awards from Communication Arts, The Art Directors Club, I.D. Magazine, and The One Club. He teaches in the graduate departments of Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and serves on the boards of the Designers Accord and Design Ignites Change.

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The Uncommon Life

Welcome back the Plastiki

July 27, 2010

If you haven’t heard the news yet, be sure to congratulate the crew of the Plastiki on their epic voyage across the Pacific. They set out to raise awareness of the threats of plastic bottle waste and ended up inspiring a wave of activism.

Here at UncommonGoods we try to do our part.  We print our catalogs on recycled and FSC- certified paper. More than half of our products are handmade or constructed from recycled materials. We’re always looking for more ways to become more sustainable.

 

And just last week, we resolved to shake up our monthly company lunches. Each month we all get together for lunch, and we go through a fair amount of plastic plates and silverware.

So we agreed as a company that we would try to reduce and reuse. Next month, many of us will be dining with these Box Appetit lunch boxes.

And after seeing photos of the Plastiki docking in Sydney Harbor, I’m gearing up to do more.

What  about you? What kinds of things can you do to cut back on plastic waste?

The Uncommon Life

Sweet Treats Week: Recipe #4

July 23, 2010

I love buying my groceries from the farmers who actually grew it.

Strawberry image by Bahadorjn, posted under a Creative Commons License

I just started going to the farmers market at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. In the past I’ve frequented markets in Carrboro, NC, DC and Vermont.  It can be hard to get up on a Saturday morning, but it’s worth it. Just check out this video of the farmers market in Burlington, VT!

But once I get home, I’m stumped. I just bought 3 lbs of strawberries! What do I do?

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The Uncommon Life

Care to Air Design Challenge

July 2, 2010

Care to Air

A few years ago, a neighbor moved out of our apartment building and gave us her washer/dryer. Instead of doing our laundry in the building’s basement, we could now do it at home. But there was one catch: our building prohibits the use of dryers. To solve that problem, we decided to keep the washer, pass on the dryer and become air (aka line) dryers with the help of a couple folding metal racks.

It’s a little more work, but I enjoy it, much in the way I like composting or cooking.  It’s a welcome contrast from my digital existence and makes me feel a bit more grounded.  It’s also a household chore that my sons can participate in (with only a limited amount of grousing).

Last year, I read an article about  a non-profit called Project Laundry List that was fighting for people’s right to line dry their clothes.  Apparently, some towns ban line drying for aesthetic reasons.  Project Laundry List’s founder Alex Lee is an environmental activist who believes in the energy savings of line drying.  It makes a lot of sense, since line drying gets the job done in 24 hours using zero fossil fuels.

In talking to Alex about his efforts, I learned about the current “Care to Air” design challenge being sponsored by Levi’s and Myoocreate. The Care to Air contest challenges people to design “the world’s most innovative, covetable, and sustainable air-drying solution for clothing.” Levi’s is offering up a $10,000 prize for the best design, and they are doing this in conjunction with their new product care labels that instruct customers to cold water wash, air dry and donate the jeans to Goodwill when they’re done with them. UncommonGoods was invited to participate in the design challenge and help judge the winning entries next month.  Ultimately, we hope to be able to bring one of the designs to market.  If you’ve got an idea, please visit  Myoocreate to submit. Good luck!

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