Browsing Tag


Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Clean Water and a Cleaner Earth – One Drop At A Time

August 13, 2015

As a B Corp certified company, UncommonGoods is excited about sustainability. That means more to us than just being “green” – we strive to offer products that reflect the environmental and social best-interests of everyone. So, when our makers are as concerned with sustainability as we are, we’re always excited to learn more about their process and the positive impact they’re having on the world.

While many of our makers rely on sustainable practices at one point or another in their process, we’re especially excited about those who place the wider world at the forefront of their craft – those who are making an uncommon impact. Continuing the water theme from our interview with Margaret Dorfman, we spoke with Vince Purino – the Vice President of Aquaovo – about the sustainability implications surrounding the new Adventure Filter Water Bottle.


Vince Purino – Vice President of Aquaovo – with the Alter Ego Adventure Filter Water Bottle

“Sustainability to us is simply being accountable for the well-being of the Earth’s limited resources… in our case water.”

The Adventure Bottle was designed by Aquaovo cofounder Manuel Desrochers as an eco-chic solution to replacing bottled water. “Our goal is to enhance the experience of drinking water with beautifully designed objects that pay homage to this precious resource,” said Vince.

Continue Reading…

The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Megan Stickel

August 8, 2015

Megan Stickel, UncommonGoods Assistant Buyer, Children & Desktop, Merchandising

My hometown…
Phillipsburg, NJ – known for having one of the oldest football rivalries in the country with neighboring Easton, PA. I never went to a single game but apparently it’s a big deal.

An uncommon fact about me…
I enjoy doing chores. Mowing the lawn has always been a favorite and I find weed whacking to be especially satisfying and fun.

My guilty pleasure is…
Having too many cats.

I’m passionate about…

The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen is…
It’s a toss-up between the Great Ocean Road in Australia and Bjork at ACL (Austin City Limits) in 2007.

My favorite place to eat in New York City is…
Too many places! I really love this Korean place called Hangawi where you have to take your shoes off. Other favorites are Candle Café, Champs Diner, and Angelica Kitchen.

When I’m not working, I’m probably…
Obsessively cleaning my apartment. Once I finish with that, I usually like to hang out on this random stoop with my friends – sounds lame but it’s actually perfect because none of us live there, so people just come and go as they please. No commitment!

My relationship with Mother Nature is…
I love the outdoors. I grew up in a very rural area and spent a lot of time hiking in the woods, playing in streams, and riding bikes up very steep hills. I love animals and have very strong feelings on how humans use them. I think that a lot of people are beginning to open their eyes to the truths of this as well as how we treat the environment – and that’s a great thing.

If I won the lottery, I’d…
Open a massive animal sanctuary! Also, buy a bunch soft-serve ice cream machines and open a fully vegan/non-dairy mini version of something like 16 Handles.

My style is…
Mmmm, I don’t know. I’m pretty simple and just want to be comfortable and boring. Whenever I buy something that’s not basic, I end up having no clue how to wear it and it just sits in my closet. I wish I could pull more things off!


Uncommon Design School: The Origins of Earth Day & the Green Design Movement

April 9, 2015

As Earth Day celebrates its 45th anniversary this year, it’s hard to believe that the concept of “going green” is still relatively new. While we’ve come a long way as individuals to evaluate our environmental impact, the countless designs that we interact with on a daily basis have, too.

Planting Flowers

The UncommonGoods team planting flowers for Earth Day.

In the decades prior to the establishment of Earth Day, the manufacturing industry was more interested in making green than going green: factories belched out clouds of black smoke; toxic chemicals were dumped carelessly, polluting the soil and groundwater; and bottles, cans, and paper were all destined for the landfill after just one use. At the time, most people remained blissfully unaware of the consequences of overconsumption and how negligent manufacturing practices were wreaking havoc on the planet.

After witnessing the ravages of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson had the idea of bringing environmental issues to the public eye by creating an event infused with the same energy as the anti-war protests occurring at the time. On April 22nd, 1970, his simple idea for a teach-in exploded into a national event uniting 20 million people under one common goal: raise awareness about environmental impact. The little holiday that could led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

During the same era of change, Vienna-born designer Victor Papanek quietly penned his cri de coeur, Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change, an impassioned plea for reform that laid the foundation for the emerging sustainable and humanitarian design movements.

Design For the Real World

 Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change, Paperback, Second Edition, Published August 30th 2005 by Chicago Review Press (first published 1972), image via Goodreads

“There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a few,” he writes at the start of his 1971 manifesto. In addition to pillorying his peers for producing shoddy, stylized work that wasted natural resources and aggravated the environmental crisis, he also introduced the idea of socially responsible design. Calling designers “the handmaidens of capitalism,” Papanek advocated for a triple bottom line policy, in which people, planet, and profit are interconnected and should be considered together.

Dave Bolotsky meeting with Artisans in India

UncommonGoods Founder & CEO Dave Bolotsky meeting with artisans in India.

To Papanek, ecological and social responsibility are the twin pillars of the design practice and his advice has gone on to influence a generation of designers as well as businesses like ours. As a founding B Corp, we meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. We’re also proud to support designers with a similar agenda, who make it their business to come up with better design solutions for people and the planet.

Bike Chain Designs by Graham Bergh | UncommonGoods

 Reclaimed Bike Chain designs by Graham Bergh

In 1991, after getting a flat tire while riding his bike, Graham Bergh was inspired to salvage the materials to make something new and totally unexpected. Every year, his team of bicycle craftsmen collects thousands of pounds of used parts, drawing from bike shops nationwide, and revives them into creative home accents.

Graffiti Jewelry | UncommonGoods

Graffiti Jewelry Collection by Amy Peterson and Diana Russell

After encountering the crumbling walls of graffiti throughout Detroit, Amy Peterson and Diana Russell found the inspiration to turn these bits of urban detritus from around the Motor City into one-of-a-kind remnants of its vibrant street-art scene. Together, they work with women from local shelters to create beautiful works of art that also have a beautiful mission to improve the lives of the people in the community.

Puppet Pals | UncommonGoods


Edgar and Ollie the Puppet Pals by Jen List and Stacey Waddington

When Jen List and Stacy Waddington stumbled upon a heap of unwanted sweaters and shirts, the duo decided to transform the old fabrics into a line of snuggly and imaginative children’s toys and accessories that encourage early learning and individual expression through creative design, wonder, and storytelling.

How do you plan on celebrating Earth Day, and what “green” practices do you incorporate into your life?

The Uncommon Life

How UncommonGoods Celebrated Earth Day 2013

April 23, 2013

One of the most inspiring things that gets me excited to come to work are the people that work here, but mostly their passion, enthusiasm and spirit to be part of something great.

I’m the first person (or maybe second, next to our security guard) that all new team members meet when they walk in on their first day. One of the questions I am always curious to ask is “so what brought you to UncommonGoods?” And the most popular replies include something with “B Corp,” “Better to Give” and “sustainability.”

When I sat down with the HR Manager (my boss) a few weeks ago, it didn’t take us too long to map out how the UncommonGoods team could participate in Earth Day. We knew that with our team members’ dedication we could accomplish anything… So that’s why we presented Earth Week. Why NOT celebrate the Earth for more than one day?!

With Earth Week, we presented five day’s worth of challenges for our team members to partake in, and on the fifth day, we would celebrate our efforts, encourage lasting green-behaviors and feast over our accomplishments!

We didn’t necessarily set specific days for each task, but allowed team member’s to work at their own pace. Here’s how our week panned out.

#1 – Ride your bike to work or walk from the 45th Street station
Goal: 10 bike riders and 20 walkers

This was by far the easiest goal for our team member’s to reach. We have many people located close to our headquarters in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, so commuting via a green mode of transportation is pretty popular every day. Not only did we have our usual bikers participate, but we also had teams walk to and from the subway station together. Almost all exceeding our set goal of 45th Street (we are located at the 59th Street subway stop).

Marketing Associate Rocky Taft and Merchandising Associate Ne’Quana Rollings having fun on their commute to 36 Street

Little did these guys know, they weren’t the only ones that went the extra steps! (From left to right): Cassie Tweten Delaney, Community Moderator; Abi Treut, Marketing Assistant; Rachel Goldstein, Inventory Planning Analyst; Jason Gomer, Purchasing Associate

#2 – Bring in your #5 plastics to recycle through our Take-Five-Drive
Goal: 20 recyclers

NYC has some great recycling programs and anyone can contribute by donating their unwanted #5 plastics to a participating Whole Foods. This plastic is the thicker more durable kind used for yogurt containers, ketchup bottles, aerosal caps, etc. This plastic is recycled for use as a material for every day products, including toothbrushes (my boss’ personal fave).

Although we aimed high with this goal, we landed a bit short of reaching 20 recyclers, however, we had some great donations including deli containers and pill bottles, and we emptied our break room cabinets of unwanted take-out containers, which we are bringing to the recycling center later this week.

#3 – Help weed tree beds and plant flowers around the Brooklyn Army Terminal
Goal: 30 green thumbs

UncommonGoods resides in the historical Brooklyn Army Terminal, which was built in 1918 and was the site of Elvis Presley’s deployment to Germany in 1958 (hence the photo of The King in the lobby). One thing this industrial atmosphere lacks is a lot of green space.

Similar to what we did last Earth Day, we had over 30 volunteers take two hours out of their day to weed tree beds and plant flowers around the trees within and around the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We also watered and mulched around the trees that we planted bulbs around last year – hopefully we will see those beauties sprout within the next few weeks!

Lee Griffin, Area Operations Manager

Giovanna Rosario, Warehouse Team Lead; Kris Keenan, Merchandising Associate

David Anderson, Inbound Operations Coordinator; Nicole Wang, Accounting Assistant

Ray Franco, ITC Associate; Jackie Robinson, Warehouse Associate

Matt Monsees, Marketing Analyst; Matt Disla, Warehouse Team Lead; Morgan Tanner, Production Manager

Lauren Negron, Drop Ship Associate; Jazmin Abreu, Warehouse Associate

#4 – Go to the local greenmarket and earn a $10 reimbursement
Goal: 10 veggie lovers

A task too easy to be considered a challenge!

Another great thing about living in NYC is the array of green markets in every other neighborhood, every other day of the week. The accessibility to local, fresh fruits and veggies is just another perk of city life.

Our team member’s beat this challenge and many of them are wearing the title of “veggie lover” with pride.

#5 – Bring your own non-disposable place setting to our company lunch
Goal: 50 UGooders

On the final day, we asked all team member’s to bring a plate, cup and cutlery to our monthly company lunch, in replace of our sustainable disposable products. It was great to see our break room sink piled over in dishes and the bathroom sinks filled with soapsuds (despite our maintenance team’s short grumbles).

For this Earth-inspired company lunch, we chose to go all vegetarian and local as a direct effort to minimize our carbon footprint. We (my boss and I – foodie connoisseur and foodie novice) traveled to our favorite Brooklyn spots to fill the Mediterranean-inspired menu: Damascus Bread for pita and falafel, Sahadi’s for fresh feta and hummus, and Tanoreen for the main course of mini pies and vegetarian eggplant.

On the day of the event, we set out a Flower Wreath of Wishes for our team member’s to dedicate to Earth Day 2013. They were asked to write out a promise on a flower petal and place them on the wreath, which will soon be hung in our community break room as a reminder.

Kira Snyder, Marketing Analyst

Some of the most inspiring promises our team member’s made were:

“I will plant a tree.”

“I will request fewer samples from vendors.”

“I will try to use cloth diapers for Ben for at least one week!”

And one of my faves…

“Vegan for life!”

With another Earth Day in the UncommonGoods books, I am already pondering up ways for the team to celebrate in 2014. Have any suggestions? Share your thoughts below!

Pin It on Pinterest