Archive for the ‘Products’ Category

Paper Antler and Fifty Nifty

A friend of ours told us about a project that his brother and sister-in-law are endeavoring on. They are Jonny and Michelle, boutique photographers, and the couple behind Paper Antler. Their work is beautiful and captivating. Looking through their photos I see hope, love, romance, passion, adventure, and an unquenchable joy for life. Their desire is to bring together their passions–their gift for capturing the beauty of the world around them and social justice– through the Fifty Nifty project. One of the things that I really love is that it will only work if others join them. We need each other and the success of this project is dependent on more than just this lovely couple. It isn’t safe. It is risky. They are putting themselves out there with faith that they will be joined and that is beautiful.

Fifty Nifty:

  • Beginning in January of 2012, Jonny and Michelle will begin an adventure that will span one year.
  • Their goal: photograph 50 weddings in 50 states in 50 weeks donating $1000 from each wedding to She Dances for a total donation of $50,000. While this is their ideal goal, their primary goal is to raise $50,000 for She Dances in 50 weeks.
  • She Dances is an anti-human trafficking organization that they have worked closely with over the years.
  • $50,000 would assist She Dances in sustaining their current safe home in Honduras for one year or allow them to open a new safe home in another place of need.
  • They have a route mapped out, so check it out to see if they will be in your area when you or someone you know is getting married. Download this PDF for information about their route.
  • Spread the word.

Paper Antler‘s blog will have updates on Fifty Nifty bookings and other Fifty Nifty related news.

Sustainable Home Decorating on a Budget

Over the past year I have come to the realization that many people I know have an uncanny knack for something, not that unlike a superpower.? Dan and Alicia have this amazing ability to find anything.? It is almost as if God has sent angels for the sole purpose of bestowing them with free gifts.? Like last Fall, walking our neighborhood they found and gathered enough apples to make gallons and gallons of apple cider.? Meanwhile, Kendall and I couldn’t even find a single apple tree on our walks.? Similarly, Jared is the king of getting steals-of-a-deal when it comes to buying anything from train tickets to office furniture.? Then there is my sister, Kathryn, who can sell anybody anything (usually on craigslist) while never budging on her price.? When moving from Chicago to Houston last summer with only room for what would fit in her Civic, she had to sell many of her possessions and after doing so found that she made a profit in the process.

Well, today, I am happy that we are being joined by one of my superheroes.? Kathryn has been kind enough to agree to share another one of her gifts.? With her cross country moves (Dallas to Chicago to Houston) Kathryn has gotten unbelievably good at sustainably furnishing empty apartments on a small budget.? She has gathered a few of her tricks and ideas and written them out for us below.? Please give her a warm welcome!? Enjoy.

Oh and I think the key to all of their superpowers may be vision and balls.? I am not sure which one I am missing.

?We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors….we borrow it from our children.?
-Native American Proverb

This quote inspired me to share with you some ideas that can not only ?cuten? up your home, but make you feel good about doing it!

One of the greatest issues facing our environment is the severe amount of waste that we produce. We can all do our part to reduce the number of disposable items we use, but we can also help by reusing what we already have. Have you ever had a table that just didn?t work with your room anymore? Or a lampshade you suddenly found dull? Before you toss it, here are some ideas to spruce it up and essentially create a new table, without the waste and without the buck.

An easy way to add a little pop to your room is to recover your table with a cute fabric or paper. Start with the top and move to the legs if you are up for a bit of a challenge. Arrange your paper/fabric (you can combine several different styles to create a fun design) onto the top of the table. Make sure the papers/fabrics are cut to fit the exact size. Place your design aside and paint the table with a water-based polycrylic protective finish. Now lay your design back on top of the glue and set it in place. Use the same protective finish to paint a seal on top of the design. Repeat this process on the legs if you desire.

A more complicated, yet rewarding, approach to recovering your table is to mosaic it. You can always find cheap plates at any second hand store. Just break them up and adhere them in a fun pattern with craft glue. Add some grout and you will have a brand new look.? Here are a couple tutorials I found.

If you like painting, you can always paint (using zero-VOC paint) a solid color on the table and then paint a fun design or pattern on the top or sides. I?m a big fan of silhouettes, so I constantly find myself painting something black and then painting a leaf or floral silhouette on top. You will end up creating a completely unique piece that can?t be found at the closest Pier 1.

Even if you don?t have an older piece of your own to play with, Craigslist and garage sales are the perfect places to find a fixer upper. For $5-$10 you can find solid pieces that simply need a makeover. This way you save money buying used, you cut down on the amount of waste the table could potentially cause, and you find yourself with hours of entertainment creating your own masterpiece.


A fun idea I had came about when I was shopping at the Canton Marketplace. I found an old window for $7 in the garage sale section. I also had an Eiffel Tower poster displayed at home in a regular frame and I wasn?t crazy about the look. So, I took the window home, cleaned it up with a rag and then placed the poster behind the window, transforming a regular poster into a really unique addition to the living room. Even better is that it only cost about $15 total for the window and poster.


Just remember….don?t limit yourself and don?t worry about messing up! Almost anything can be sanded down for a clean start. These techniques can be used on picture frames or mirrors as well. Basically treat any item as though it is your canvas for creation! Check back in soon to find a fun and easy way to liven up your lampshade and much more!

Sweatshop Free/Fair Trade Shopping

I was asked in response to my post yesterday to provide some suggestions as to what some of the best/worst companies to support are with regard to fair trade or to provide a resource.? Co-op America’s Repsonsible Shopper is probably the best resource that I can point you to.? It allows you to search for companies and get information about their environmental and social track record.? It is not a comprehensive list, but they are always adding new companies to their directory. Gap (this includes Old Navy and Banana Republic), Wal-Mart are some of the most notoriously bad companies as far as fair trade practices go.? Gap has repeated accounts of terrible working conditions overseas, including employing children as young as 10 years old in their sweatshops.? Some of the biggest complaints against Wal-Mart involve its treatment of workers in America.? According to reports, thousands of their employees are underpayed and rely on government assistance to meet their basic needs.? Nike is another traditionally bad company to support, however, they have been making a concerted effort to change their overseas labor practices. They recently have been more transparent about the locations of their factories and are being independently monitored.

Co-op America also has a great article on sweat shop free clothing.

Here is a list of some basic tips:

  1. Buy local.? Not only does this support your local economy, but you get to know the person creating the product and you can ask them as many questions as you like about their practices.? This goes for anything from food to clothing.? The clothing will more than likely be more expensive because it is handmade, but it guarantees that the product that wasn’t made in a sweatshop.? Etsy is a fun site to check out for handmade goods.
  2. Buy used products.? Go to a thrift store or local consignment shop and look around.? You will find some great deals.
  3. Research the companies you are buying from.
  4. Look for a UNITE label.

It is important to note that none of these can guarantee that the entire product was made in a fair trade facility.? Most products are assembled from pieces made all over the world and a Made in America label could mean that only the finishing touches were put on in America (like buttons).? However, following these guidelines is still important.? It is just not a perfect solution to the social justice issues of labor practices.

Here are a few more helpful resources in your search for responsible shopping:

No Sweat Apparel

Co-op America’s National Green Pages

Green Home’s Products Page

Fair Green Trade

The Green Earth Directory

Finally, I would like to leave you with an interesting article on Portland, OR, a city that is attempting to go sweatshop free.

Apple goes green with new aluminium MacBooks

Apple unveiled it’s new campaign to promote it’s new line of laptop computers. They call it the greenest notebook Apple has ever created. They have also released their Environmental Report for 2008 which outlines and gives environmental information about their products and facilities.

Some highlights about the new line of MacBooks and MacBook Pro laptops (information provided by Apple).

  • Arsenic-free glass
  • Mercury-free LED-backlit display
  • Brominated flame retardant-free internal components
  • PVC-free internal cables
  • Highly recyclable aluminum and glass enclosure
  • Up to 41 percent smaller packaging

Apple has taken a lot of heat over it’s environmental practices in the past. A couple of years ago they pledged to remove PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from all of their products by the end of 2008. CEO Steve Jobs says that they are on track to meet their goals.

It’s pretty cool when a company that has as much attention and mindshare as Apple makes these claims and then meets the goals they’ve laid out. This, along with many other reasons, is why our household is committed to buying Apple products.

Organic Undies

Sorry I have been gone for a bit. School is a total time sucker and in attempting to continue to live a simple life I must choose to give up some activities that I enjoy doing. Since spending time with my hubbo and sleeping will not be sacrificed (not even to school no matter how hard it tries to weasel its way in), my blogging cannot be as regular as I would like it to be. Unfortunately this will continue to be the case until I GRADUATE, which will be in DECEMBER!!!!


However, I did want to share with you an awesome find. Nordstrom is now selling Holistia Organic cotton underwear. It is so soft and comes is simple solid colors as well as some funky designs (most of which they unfortunately don’t picture on their site). The one down side is that when I was in the store I read the Ethical Fashion tag and interpreted it as Ethical labor practices. I wasn’t until I was in the middle of writing this post that I realized that it just talking about the environmental practices. So, it isn’t perfect but it is a step in the right direction, especially since cotton is the number one pesticide crop.


Nike and Steve Nash make steps towards sustainabilty

Nike Trash Talk sneaker
image courtesy of

Last night Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash debuted his new shoes. This time his Nike’s were a little different. They were made from scraps from other basketball shoes. I know that Nike has long been the bad guy in the world of footwear due to labor and environmental practices, but let’s give credit where credit is due. Nike has recently made a move towards more global responsibility and is now making the Nike Trash Talk which is the shoe model made from scrap material that is based off of their already popular Nike Zoom BB II model.

Nike footwear designer, Kasey Jarvis said: ‘I was really looking for a ‘here and now’ solution to footwear waste, and creating a performance product using waste materials felt like a very innovative solution. Using Nike’s Considered design ethos I was able to create a shoe that stands up to the stringent on-court performance requirements but is also more environmentally friendly.’

Steve Nash has been involved with environmental issues for a long time. It’s really great to see that he is taking that concern to his shoe company and that they are utilizing the waste that they create, and are making it usable. Nash said, “Any opportunity to promote the environment and preserve our planet is a step in the right direction.” If you’d like to get your hands on these, they will go on sale on April 22nd.

Nike still has a lot work to do to clean up it’s international labor and environmental practices.

A little environmental School House Rock

Eco School

Working on my Undergrad degree has been a broken trail for me as I have steadily committed to give it a place of importance, but never wanted it to be The Most Important piece in my very full life. There are other things that I have come before and will always come before my formal education. That being said, it has over the years remained important to me to graduate with a Bachelors degree and because of this I made a return to school last September. I am now attending University of Washington and it has been a very positive experience and I am very much enjoying this part of my life. There are some changes to my schooling habits that I have made upon my return that I would like to share with you.
In the spirit of ecological responsibility at universities around the world, I now present you with NOTES on Environmental Changes for Students (or anyone really):

  1. Travel Mug filled with: fair trade, organic tea; fair trade, organic, decaf coffee; or fair trade organic hot chocolate. So, good. Drinking a warm beverage is lovely on these cold, wet Seattle days.
    • Produces less waste than disposable cups
    • On campus they have a Tully’s that only uses fully compostable cups. However, unless you actually put these cups (like any compostable products) in your compost they are not compostable.
    • It provides a lovely treat while sitting in class or studying.
  2. Bring a refillable water bottle
  3. Take public transportation (or of course walk, bike, or carpool)
  4. Rebinders
  5. Recycled notebook paper
  6. Take notes on my computer through WordPress (how to below):
    • Install a webserver on your laptop. It’s easier than you think. There are packages that make it easy to install and setup (MAMP for a Mac and WAMP for a PC).
    • Create a database using the tools installed with either MAMP or WAMP.
    • Install WordPress. There will be some manual text editing you need to do for setup, but it’s minimal.
    • Create categories for each of your classes.
    • Start a new post for each class session.

    When you use this method of taking notes, you can easily look back at past class periods by date, and also there is a search function installed by default. If you run into trouble, my husband has offered assistance to those who need some direction. You can get in touch with him over at his company web site Vigilanteweb.

  7. Print only when a Professor requires a hard copy of an assignment and print on both the front and back of each paper.
    To print on the front and back from my computer I:

    1. Press Print
    2. Within the Print Detail page select Paper Handling
    3. Select “Print Odd Numbered Pages”
    4. Print
    5. Place either the single sheet or stack of printed pages face down in the paper tray with the bottom of the page closest to me in.
    6. Repeat steps 1 and 2
    7. Select “Print: Even Numbered Pages” and “Page Order: Reverse”
  8. Buy used Text Books. There are plenty out there already and they are usually cheaper. You can also check text books out of the library instead of buying it. A final suggestion is to book share. If you have a reliable classmate it may work out for you to share a text book and split the cost. Everyone has their own study habits and you know what works best for you.

If anyone else has tips feel free to share them through comments!

Natural flea fighter

I don’t have any pets, but I came across this natural flea fighter on Care2 and wanted to share it. Usually I test any recipes or remedies that I post, but since I don’t have dogs, cats, or fleas I cannot tell you how well it works or ways that I may alter it. However, if any of you do try this I would love to hear your thoughts through some comment feedback.

Citrus peel extract is an excellent choice against fleas for dogs, because its components d-limonene and linalool kill all stages of the flea’s life cycle. I have completely eradicated our home and dogs of fleas using citrus peel extract I don’t think anything else works as well. Still, you must use caution: while it is a natural material, and much safer for health and the environment than toxic synthetic pesticides, it is not without problems, especially for asthmatics (see Caution below). Citrus shouldn’t be used around cats.
SIMPLE SOLUTION: For Fleas from and on Dogs
Assuming you don’t own a cat, and you keep your windows open when using citrus peel extract products, get rid of fleas in your house by washing floors twice a week with a solution of 1/4 cup citrus peel extract (available in health food stores–citra solve is one brand) in 1 to 2 gallons of water. Spray bedding with a mixture of 2 teaspoons citrus peel extract and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle.To make a fur rub for the dog, cut up 4 lemons, and simmer for one hour in 1 quart of water, adding more water as it evaporates. Cool the mixture, strain, and massage into the dog’s coat. Note that there are a number of pure citrus-peel-based pet products on the market (see Shop for Supplies, below).For Cats *and* Dogs
Herbal repellents work well to repel fleas. Make an herbal infusion by adding a handful of dried herbs (available in most health food stores) to a tea pot and fill with boiling water. Let the tea set overnight, and then strain it into a spray bottle. Recommended herbs include southernwood, rue, rosemary, sage, catmint, eucalyptus, and leaves from the black walnut tree. Start with just a small amount to make sure the pet can tolerate the herb.

Boric acid and borax are also widely used against fleas. Sprinkle a thin powder or boric acid or borax on carpets, leave on for a few days, and then vacuum up.

Other Flea Controls


  • One controversial study found that when fed extremely high doses of d-limonene, male rats developed cancer. There was no evidence that it did so in female rats or in mice of either sex.
  • Citrus-peel extract is a strong volatile organic chemical (VOC). Make sure you use adequate ventilation when using. Asthmatics should not use this approach.
  • Don’t use pennyroyal around pets, especially pregnant pets or people.
  • Avoid pet’s eyes when using any of the above recommended ingredients.

StatAttak: tshirts that tell quite a story

StatAttak Mozambique TShirt

Los Angeles-based design company Stolen, Inc. was researching a project they were working on and came across some staggering information.

came across “Life Expectancy at Birth.” Andorra was the highest with 83.51 years, and all the way at the bottom was Mozambique with 31.1 years

They decided to do something about it. They’ve created a line of tshirts to educate and raise funds. It’s called StatAttak. Stolen will be setting aside 20% of the money from the sale of the shirts to build an orphanage in Mozambique.

Since Mozambique was the country that inspired all of this, the Sons of Stolen are putting 20% of the money from the sale of the shirts towards building an orphanage in Mozambique. Instead of giving the money to a charity, we will go to Mozambique with a group of volunteers from the design industry and build an orphanage from the ground up. We hope that this will help us better understand Africa and that a personal interaction with the local population will inspire everyone involved to keep working towards solutions to the many problems facing that continent.

Not only is this a great opportunity to make a change in the world, the shirts are also beautiful. Mollie and I will both be sporting StatAttak tshirts.

21 things you didn’t know you could recycle

Co-op America posted a list of 21 things you didn’t know you could recycle and I am sharing it with you.

1. Appliances: Goodwill accepts working appliances,, or you can contact the Steel Recycling Institute to recycle them. 800/YES-1-CAN,

2. Batteries: Rechargeables and single-use: Battery Solutions, 734/467-9110,

3. Cardboard boxes: Contact local nonprofits and women’s shelters to see if they Boxcan use them. Or, offer up used cardboard boxes at your local listserv or on for others who may need them for moving or storage. If your workplace collects at least 100 boxes or more each month, accepts them for resale.

4. CDs/DVDs/Game Disks: Send scratched music or computer CDs, DVDs, and PlayStation or Nintendo video game disks to AuralTech for refinishing, and they’ll work like new: 888/454-3223,

5. Clothes: Wearable clothes can go to your local Goodwill outlet or shelter. ShirtsDonate wearable women’s business clothing to Dress for Success, which gives them to low-income women as they search for jobs, 212/532-1922, Offer unwearable clothes and towels to local animal boarding and shelter facilities, which often use them as pet bedding. Consider holding a clothes swap at your office, school, faith congregation or community center. Swap clothes with friends and colleagues, and save money on a new fall wardrobe and back-to-school clothes.

6. Compact fluorescent bulbs: Take them to your local IKEA store for recycling:

7. Compostable bio-plastics: You probably won’t be able to compost these in your home compost bin or pile. Find a municipal composter to take them to at

8. Computers and electronics: Find the most responsible recyclers, local and national, at

9. Exercise videos: Swap them with others at

10. Eyeglasses: Your local Lion’s Club or eye care chain may collect these. Lenses Glassesare reground and given to people in need.

11. Foam packing: Your local pack-and-ship store will likely accept foam peanuts for reuse. Or, call the Plastic Loose Fill Producers Council to find a drop-off site: 800/828-2214. For places to drop off foam blocks for recycling, contact the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers, 410/451-8340,

12. Ink/toner cartridges: pays $1/each.

13. Miscellaneous: Get your unwanted items into the hands of people who can use them. Offer them up on your local or listserv, or try giving them away at or giving or selling them at will also help you find a recycler, if possible, when your items have reached the end of their useful lifecycle.

14. Oil: Find Used Motor Oil Hotlines for each state: 202/682-8000,

15. Phones: Donate cell phones: Collective Good will refurbish your phone and sell Cellphoneit to someone in a developing country: 770/856-9021, Call to Protect reprograms cell phones to dial 911 and gives them to domestic violence victims: Recycle single-line phones: Reclamere, 814/386-2927,

16. Sports equipment: Resell or trade it at your local Play It Again Sports outlet, 800/476-9249,

17. Technotrash: Easily recycle all of your CDs, jewel cases, DVDs, audio and video tapes, cell phones, pagers, rechargeable and single-use batteries, PDAs, and ink/toner cartridges with GreenDisk’s Technotrash program. For $30, GreenDisk will send you a cardboard box in which you can ship them up to 70 pounds of any of the above. Your fee covers the box as well as shipping and recycling fees. 800/305-GREENDISK,

18. Tennis shoes: Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program turns old shoes into playground and athletic flooring. One World Running will send still-wearable shoes to athletes in need in Africa, Latin America, and Haiti.

19. Toothbrushes and razors: Buy a recycled plastic toothbrush or razor from ToothbrushRecycline, and the company will take it back to be recycled again into plastic lumber. Recycline products are made from used Stonyfield Farms yogurt cups. 888/354-7296,

20. Tyvek envelopes: Quantities less than 25: Send to Shirley Cimburke, Tyvek Recycling Specialist, 5401 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Spot 197, Room 231, Richmond, VA 23234. Quantities larger than 25, call 866/33-TYVEK.

21. Stuff you just can’t recycle: When practical, send such items back to the manufacturer and tell them they need to manufacture products that close the waste loop responsibly.

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