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The Uncommon Life

Gifts For Women: 15 Eco-Chic Designs for Her

November 26, 2014

Eco-Chic Designs for Her | UncommonGoods

At UncommonGoods, we love searching for sustainable and handmade designs when it comes to the products we share with you, especially with our jewelry and accessories. You want your gift to be unique and a reflection of who she is, so whether the word “stylish” or “eco-concious” (or both) describes your special girl, we got you covered! Below are 15 eco-chic designs and handmade items that you can gift her this holiday season that will not only add to her fashionable wardrobe, but also her green impact on the world.
Eco-Chic Gifts For Her | UncommonGoods

1. We love our gorgeous lace jewelry collection. This Vintage Lace Heart Within A Heart Necklace is made out of timeless materials such as gold, silver, and lace – the perfect gift for any mother or daughter.

Eco-Chic Gifts For Her | UncommonGoods

2. If the girl in your life is one to stand out and tends to go against the norm, this Waterfall Ring will quickly become one of her favorite treasures in her jewelry box!

Eco-Chic Gifts For Her | UncommonGoods

3. This Wine Cork Sling Bag is made out of 100% sustainable cork! The wine lover in your life will appreciate this eye-catching tote and it’ll conveniently play a weekly reminder to pick up more wine!

Eco-Chic Gifts For Her | UncommonGoods

4. Skip the plane ride and take your wanderlusting lady on a trip to Africa with this organic-designed clutch. It’s woven by artisans in Madagascar from sustainable raffia palm fiber. | Madagascar Handwoven Raffia Clutch

Eco-Chic Gifts For Her | UncommonGoods

5. The Provence Scarf is a lovely combination of upcycled burgundy cotton jersey and elegant black lace, the perfect touch for any outfit throughout the seasons.


Eco-Chic Gifts For Her | UncommonGoods

6. Let your lady know that your love for her only grows more and more everyday with this delicate A Tree Grows Necklace.

Eco-Chic Gifts For Her | UncommonGoods

7. For the ultimate bohemian chic in your circle of friends, bring the essence of India to her wardrobe with this Upcycled Sari Kantha Klutch. (The production of these clutches provides Indian women with a beautiful opportunity to create a better standard of living for themselves, their children, and their communities!)

Eco-Chic Gifts For Her | UncommonGoods

8.  This Emerald Mosaic Ring is made out of beautiful, rough-cut emeralds and is embedded in textured brass. A bold ring to represent the bold love you have for the boldest lady you know!

Tagua Gem Necklace

9. A stunning Tagua Gem Necklace  that helps curb illegal elephant poaching, prevents deforestation, and allows local artisans to make a living from the harvesting, carving, and dyeing of the seeds. #winning

Eco-Chic Gifts For Her | UncommonGoods

10. Chronic tea drinkers and vintage fashion hunters will give you more than a spoonful of smiles when you gift them these Spoon Handle Drop Earrings. They’re casted from 19th century demitasse spoons and then designed into these chic jewelry pieces!

Eco-Chic Gifts For Her | UncommonGoods

11. Gift a pair of nature-inspred earrings for the ultimate nature lover! | Fern Frond Hoops

Eco-Chic Gifts For Her | UncommonGoods

12. For the girl who loves to accessorize, this handmade Bora Scarf can pose as a scarf, neck warmer, or chunky necklace!

Eco-Chic Gifts For Her | UncommonGoods

13. Help keep her precious jewelry organized with a zen-ful touch by gifting her this beautiful handcrafted Hand of Buddha Jewelry Stand.


Eco-Chic Gifts For Her | UncommonGoods

14. The intricate designs you see on this wallet is made out of discarded black plastic bags in Cambodia. | Upcycled Plastic Crocheted Wallet 


Eco-Chic Gifts For Her | UncommonGoods

15. These beautiful bracelets you see are actually upcycled water pipes made by the hands of Namibian artisans. They use intricate carving techniques to transform utilitarian material into stylish accessories! | Hand Carved Upcycled Pipe Cuffs Set
Green Gifts | UncommonGoods

The Uncommon Life

The Winning Board in the Cooking Local Pinterest Contest

October 5, 2012

We swear our pants got tighter just looking at the entries to our Cooking Local Pinterest Contest. We asked you all to combine fabulous food and hometown pride in a Pinterest board showing your favorite things to cook and eat where you live, and you delivered bigtime. Big, as in, we’re going to need bigger pants soon.

Lori Smart’s board highlighted some of Eugene, Oregon’s superfoods: salmon, blueberries, chard, wine, and beer (don’t tell us that Sweet Cheeks Chardonnay and Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale don’t look super). It’s kind of a shame that Eugene Beliebers are, no doubt, too young for Believer.

The pins collected by Greenville, NC’s Allyson Rideout featured some racy southern food items generally not seen here in NYC: cheesecake that drinks creme de menthe, shrimp and grits all hot for each other, peanuts reverting to their base legume-y natures, and various flaming meats. Heavens to Betsy! We had to fan ourselves while ogling this board.

On to Melanie Feigl of Spokane, WA. Melanie! Why, oh why, did you torture us with your pins of delectable fresh-baked cupcakes, huckleberry cake donuts, and even better worse, beer-battered onion rings? Have mercy, woman! We are only human! Not to mention how you filled us with envy; Spokane has a restaurant with a ceiling made of two humongous stained-glass peacocks, and a diner that’s a converted rail car. We have zero of those in New York.

Like our runner-ups, winner Katie Selman of Tampa, FL made us salivate. Scallops in gumbo and polenta, or paired with roasted squash. Florida orange cake and cookies. All yummy.

But seriously, Katie, how do you expect us to look at the following without breaking down sobbing?

1) Reese’s Peanut Butter Banana Bread

2) “The Brewski” cupcake (“moist chocolate cake marinated in Maduro Brown Ale, blended with chocolate ganache filling, topped with whipped Kahlua icing, garnished with chocolate and toffee bits”)

3) “The Pumpkin Bomb” (“similar to an Irish Car Bomb, “ this lethal-sounding beverage combines Cigar City Brewing’s “Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale, brewed with Ceylon cinnamon, Jamaican all-spice, Zanzibar cloves and nutmeg, with a shot of Baileys Irish Cream and Pinnacle Whip (whipped cream flavored vodka), sprinkled with cinnamon”).

Through our tears, we managed to note how artfully Katie put her images together, a collection ranging from fifties vintage Florida orange juice, to a palm tree scene made entirely of Florida fruit, to funky local street signs. They were diverse, and yet all conveyed the Florida theme, including the UncommonGoods products she chose, like our Rowboat Salad Bowl, our Toast Glasses filled with orange juice, Cantaloupe Bowls, and Spanish Sangria Pitcher.

Join the foodie lovefest by checking out these fabulous Pinterest boards, and help us congratulate winner Katie!

The Uncommon Life

B Corp Status Renewed: The Mission to be a Responsible and Sustainable Business

August 8, 2012

When you think UncommonGoods you probably think unique, creatively designed and, well, uncommon products. Perhaps UncommonGoods is even your go-to place for gifts for those hard-to-buy-for family and friends and maybe even the place to gift yourself (don’t we all do that occasionally).

What you may not know is that UncommonGoods is voluntarily meeting higher standards of social and environmental performance through the B Corporation certification. The B Impact Assessment, conducted by the non-profit organization B Lab, aims to look beyond the marketing efforts of a company to assess the true impact of a business on their workers, community, and the environment.

Earlier this year, I led the effort to recertify UncommonGoods as a B Corporation, working with cross-departmental team members to assess how we’re doing. A founding member of B Corp, we’ve now reached our third term and our score of 91.3 shows that we are committed to upholding a higher standard when it comes to our stakeholders, including the environment, our employees, and the community.

(source, B Corp)

Our founder David Bolotsky has been making a continuous and strong effort in running a sustainable business ever since the company was founded in 1999. We are passionate about changing the way business is conducted by making sustainability a part of every decision we make. An important focus is to have a positive impact, not only in our own work place but in the world at large. For example, some benefits available to employees are that 80% of health insurance premiums are paid by UG (50% for families), whenever feasible alternate work schedules like part-time, flex-time or telecommuting are an option, there is a health and wellness program in place, including offering fresh organic fruit in the break rooms and incentives are given to encourage low-impact commutes to and from work.

Dave speaking to fellow NY B Corps.

A positive impact also means offering our customers creative and exciting merchandise that is built to last and made without harm to humans and animals; giving talented artists and designers a platform to sell their unique and often handmade product on a larger scale; making truthful and substantiated claims around all our products and avoiding the pitfalls of green-washing; and making smart packaging decisions when we ship the goods out to our customers and their friends and families.

(source, B Corp)

While not always an option in every product category, we prefer to work with local, sustainable, and fair trade suppliers. As a matter of fact, 14% of sales last year was generated with local and independent suppliers alone, ‘local’ meaning suppliers within a 200 mile radius. About half of our sales came from items made in the US, a little over a third from handmade products and about a fifth from products made of recycled content.

Being an internet and catalog retailer, we understand that producing a catalog uses the earth’s resources. Our goal is to minimize that impact by shifting more business online, limiting how many catalogs we mail, and continuing to print our catalogs on either recycled paper or paper sourced from FSC certified forests.

We love to give back to the environment and the community whenever we can. In 2011, we helped plant hundreds of trees (1,400 to be exact!) in Marine Bay Park as part of the MillionTreesNYC initiative. After over a year of tenacious persuasion tactics we also convinced city officials to make the landscape more appealing by planting street trees around Brooklyn Army Terminal (our offices) and we are volunteering our time and resources to help keep them in good health. I’m happy to report that so far they look quite happy!

Planting with MillionTreesNYC

Beautifying tree beds in and around Brooklyn Army Terminal.

Through the Better To Give program, UncommonGoods supports the mission of local and national non-profits. The Better To Give program gives our customers the opportunity to have UncommonGoods contribute to a non-profit organization each time they shop with us. Also, a portion of the sales of our Plates with Purpose, the Be The Change Paperweight and the Pelican and Sandpiper Nightlights is donated to non-profit partners – each item listing tells our customers exactly how much is donated and which organization it’s donated to. Last year we donated about $120K through our Better To Give program as well as $75K in product donations!

Our products that are making a difference.

On an ongoing basis, employees from all areas of our company are given the opportunity to discuss how we can make UncommonGoods more environmentally friendly, socially responsible and an ever-more rewarding place to work. Our four company goals serve as our guiding principles to be a responsible company; these goals are to be a great place to work, to be our customer’s favorite place to shop, to have a positive impact on the outside world, and to produce strong financial results.

Some members of the Certified B Corp community in front of Independence Hall in Philly. (source, B Corp)

The great thing about the B Corp seal is that it certifies the company as a whole, not just an individual aspect. It gives a customer insight on how a company is doing overall, from providing a living wage, to employee wellness, to lessening the environmental impact, to giving back to the community.

Fellow B Corp BBMG conducted a study on why B Corps matter and found that 73% of consumers care about the company, not just the product, when making a purchasing decision. Another interesting finding is that less than 1% of consumers actually trust company advertisements or statements when assessing a product or company. The more consumers know about the concept behind the B Corp certification/Benefit Corporation, the more consumer-spending will be influenced by this knowledge.

Check out this infographic to learn more about B Corps.(source, GOOD)

The bi-annual assessment and re-certification process is an excellent way to share our achievements with our customers and team members. More important, it helps us to set benchmarks for the social and environmental impacts of UncommonGoods and identify opportunities for future improvement.

We strive to be a driver of positive change and are convinced that collaborating with fellow B Corps and other industry leaders will have a positive impact. The certified B Corp community is made up of over 550 companies from 60 different industries and represents about $3.1 billion in revenues. It’s a large community of value-driven companies wanting to make a positive impact that are open to sharing advice and insights.

The holy grail of 100% sustainability is no small task to achieve – after all, the most sustainable product is the one that was never made – but we are very dedicated to making responsible, thought-through and well-informed decisions in everyday operations and to leading our business with integrity.

The Uncommon Life

10 Tips for a Sustainable Summer Party with Bekuh of Secondhand Sundays

July 23, 2012

Hello there friends! My name is Bekuh and I’m the creative type behind the blog Secondhand Sundays; my personal blog filled with pretty vintage wares, delicious home cooked meals, crafty handmade goods, and life as a newlywed in Virginia. Most days you’ll find me playing in my studio or outside on the porch with my husband, and our pup Nellie. There is nothing we love to do more than be outside together.

I also love to use seemingly random holidays as an excuse to invite friends onto our porch to dine alfresco for an evening. On Bastille Day this year we threw a grandiose country garden party full of locally sourced food and drink for our friends.

During this first year of marriage Ryan, and I have had many conversations about budgets, and spending money, and to say we are on a tight budget would be an understatement. BUT we are also huge supporters of organic, fair-trade, and locally sourced produce. So, we made a commitment to continue buying our groceries in what we feel is an ethical way, while sticking to a pretty tight grocery budget. What does that have to do with this party you might ask?

Well, Ryan and I decided to buy as much as we could locally with a budget of $70 to feed 20 people, including wine (our guests brought the beer). And yes we succeeded, spending less than our targeted budget for the whole shebang. Here are my secrets to sustainable party success:

Reduce Waste with Cloth Napkins
Instead of using disposable napkins we buy linen dish rags to use in our personal life, so we just set out a giant stack of these beauties for our guests, saving us a lot of paper waste.

Cut the Garbage, Use Your Own Silverware
In the same vein instead of using plastic silverware I find that using our everyday silverware is easy to clean-up, and helps elevate the party into something more intimate, and nice.

Use What You’ve Already Got
When thinking about decor I definitely take the stance that the food comes first, atmosphere second. Because we don’t have enough porch chairs that match for big groups I decided to embrace the mix-matched atmosphere and incorporated lots of color through vintage linens, wild flowers, and brightly colored accents, like the Solar Tealight. It magically all came together in the end and I think embracing the resources you do have is the best way to go.

Homemade Tastes Better Anyway
Another great savings for us was Ryan’s contribution of the homemade bread, bbq sauce, and hummus. Homemade bread costs pennies to make and it’s always a crowd pleaser. The hardest part is waiting for the dough to rise.

Locally Source Your Produce in Bulk
We joined a CSA back in February and with our allotted $10 share that week we were able to pick-up all of the produce we needed for the party, with the exception of a couple of cherry tomatoes, the watermelon, and the peaches. The additional produce we needed to complete the meal came from our local farmer’s market.

Serve Foods that Grow with Your Guests
Foods that seem to grow as the number of people do, like couscous salad, is another great way to feed a lot of people with little monetary waste. Outside of the couscous I only used a small cucumber, about six cherry tomatoes, half a medium sized onion, one red pepper, and a handful of mint and pine nuts for 20 people. Since this is a versatile dish, you can keep adding more ingredients to account for unexpected (or extra hungry) guests. Now that’s economical.

Local Wine Fits the Bill
Local wine can also be surprisingly affordable, and with a lot of great options too. We bought two bottles of Virginia wine for $25. The Rocking Carafe was a great way to show off the wine and encourage people to try some.

Ask for a Contribution
Guests always want to contribute to the get together in one way or another and asking them to bring their favorite summer beverage can save you a lot of pain in trying to pick out something that will please everyone. We are really lucky to have a good friend who home brews some pretty amazing beers. Martin brought two six packs of home brew to share and they were definitely a highlight; all of the guys tried their hand at opening one with the One-Handed Bottle Opener.

Think Outside the Box for Fun
For entertainment we played Pictionary against one of our porch walls, using an old high school projector to draw on. It made it a lot easier for a lot of people to play and see no matter where they were standing. We will definitely be doing this again.

Buy in stages for a Better Deal
My last money saving tip, spread out your grocery shopping over a couple of weeks, buying things in stages. I bought the peaches for our dessert a couple of weeks before when a local farmer had a great deal on them, and froze the sliced peaches until I was ready to bake. You have to seek out the deals.

I truly believe you can feed, and entertain people in an affordable, and sustainable way using fresh local ingredients. It’s easy to do, but takes a commitment on your part to seek out the local markets and farms, make things homemade, and out of simple ingredients. Also, remember to sit back and enjoy your company, they’re only there for a little while. I hope the next time you’re planning a party you’ll look around your neighborhood for inspiration first.

big kiss, bekuh
Maker Stories

Golden Grass Jewelry

June 21, 2011

Add a touch of gold to your summer wardrobe with sustainably made golden grass jewelry.

Environmental, social, and corporate sustainability inspired social entrepreneur Cristiane Kimura to create golden grass jewelry.  By using traditional creative designs, fair trade artisanship, and local and sustainable materials, she is able support the local Brazilian environment and economy.

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