Browsing Tag


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

Continue Reading…


Announcing the YouGoods Guest Judges

August 11, 2010

Update 8/12, 1:18 PM: Meet Allan Cochinov, Editor-in-Chief of Core 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, the widely read design website, design job and portfolio site, and 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.

Continue Reading…

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?

Maker Stories

Tammy Roy at Green Festival

May 19, 2010

Green Festival

Attention Chicagoans!

Our favorite dumpster diver – Uncommon artist Tammy Roy – tipped us off about a very cool festival happening in your neck of the woods this weekend (May 22-23).

Green Festival is little get-together of about 350 diverse local and national green businesses. There will be how-to workshops, a Fair Trade pavilion, a Green Home pavilion, an Organic Food and Gardening pavilion, a Community Action and Green Careers pavilion…plus fun stuff for kids AND delicious organic beer, wine and cuisine! Makes me wish I could go!

Tammy Roy (shown here digging for metal) will be in the Green Home pavilion exhibiting some of her amazing industrial art pieces that she makes from discarded tools and recycled metals.

Tammy Roy

Tickets are $10 for one day or $15 for the weekend. Bike riders get in free! Schedules, speakers and more can be found on the Green Festival website.

The Uncommon Life

Bike to the Future

May 19, 2010

Bike Week

These days, I spend most of my time at a desk, pecking away at my keyboard, talking on the phone, and sitting in meetings.  But twice a day, I get to be free, riding through the streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side and the industrial corridors of Brooklyn.  And, to boot, when I commute, I save time – it’s actually quicker than the subway.

When I moved to NYC in the ’80s, I biked quite a bit – my favorite ride was out to Fire Island at the crack of dawn, before the beach traffic kicked in.  I also liked riding in the city, especially up to Central Park, though a cab hit me once and snapped my bike frame in two.  Fortunately, Frank’s, my local bike shop was able to replace the frame and it’s served me well ever since.

In recent years, there’s been a biking revolution in NYC – thanks to the work of the bicycling advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives, and the visionary Transportation Commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan.  Bike lanes have cropped up throughout the city, across the Manhattan to Brooklyn bridges and on many streets, making commuting by bike a bit safer.

There’s a lot of debate about “sharing the road.”  With a limited amount of public pavement, we need to decide how to allocate this resource between pedestrians, cyclists, cars and buses.  The car has been the king for many years, but now people are wondering if we’ve got it right.

So get out this Friday, ride your bike and show your support for cycling –  May 21st is National Bike to Work Day!

Gift Guides

Tour de Style

May 19, 2010

In honor of bike week, we rounded up some of our favorite gifts for cycling enthusiasts. Happy biking!

Bike Gifts

Starting at the top, from left to right: If Mode bike, $2200; recycled bike chain frame, $32; bear and cow seat covers, $20; map of the world water bottle, $18; recycled bike tube Night Out card case, $15; recycled bike chain bottle opener, $9 ; bicycle tie, $35 ; recycled bike gear clock, $76 ; recycled bike tire belt, $30 ; NYC skyline leg bands for biking, $22; walk and ride organic cotton babysuits, $25; recycled bike chain bowl, $63.50; recycled bike tube Queen Anne wallet, $58 ; Strida bike, $800; recycled bike chain lizard keyring, $18.

The Uncommon Life

Happy Bike Week!

May 18, 2010

Bike Week

So this is a little belated…but Happy Bike Week everyone!

For those of you who don’t know, May is national bike month and May 17-21 is Bike-to-Work
Week with Friday, May 21 being the big hurrah – Bike-to-Work Day!

Stay tuned this week for more posts about cycling…until now here are some resources and fun stuff about cycling:

Check out the League of American Bicyclists they have a lot of great news articles and blog posts, as well a tool to help you find bike resources (clubs, leagues, shops, etc.) in your area.

Ride the City is another super useful site that helps you find the best urban biking route, ranging from direct, safe and safer. Available for New York, Chicago, DC Metro, Austin, Louisville, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Toronto.

And now for some fun stuff…

Matt, Al and Meredith battle it on The Today Show in this year’s commuter challenge: bike vs. subway vs. car.

And of course, how to make a smoothie using a human-powered bike blender!

Do you bike to work? Are you going to try biking to work this week? Let us know! And if you have any other cool cycling websites or tips to share, please do so in the comments section. Happy Biking!

The Uncommon Life

A Composter’s Dilemma

May 17, 2010

In preparation for Compostapalooza, our partnership with Quirky to create the ultimate composting product, we’re running a series of compost education posts. Read up, then put those brainstorming caps on for kick-off on May 17!


I got into composting in 2008.  I had never seriously considered doing it until I read the Omnivore’s Dilemma (by Michael Pollan) earlier that year – it helped me understand the food cycle and how throwing organic material into landfill was a lousy solution.  Sanitation departments waste a lot of energy, money and land carting away food scraps that could otherwise be enriching the soil.

However, like recycling, composting is more work than just throwing something away, especially if you’re an urban dweller like me. To start with, you have to take the food waste and put it in a separate bin (no big deal).  But you also need to cut up the food waste into small pieces to help it break down faster and then put the compostable material into some vessel outdoors. We were lucky to have a few friends and neighbors that were interested in the same thing and were able to convince our building to provide us with an outdoor space to place a compost tumbler.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that our sons knew all about composting from school and were only too happy to tell daddy everything he was doing wrong, which was plenty. There was nothing they enjoyed more than catching me putting compostable material into the trash.  I then had to dig through the garbage to find the food scraps and move them to the compost bin.  I learned the messy way that tea bags, coffee grounds and egg shells were all fine for composting.


Read more about Dave’s adventures in composting!

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