An Exercise in Eco-Friendly Living

15 Jun

Over the weekend I discovered a new love in uncharted territory: running. I’m a swimmer, and swimmers have oddly flexible ankles and a little extra body fat for buoyancy (right?) – neither of which are particularly conducive to running. But some incredible friends asked me to be a part of their team for the De Celle Memorial Lake Tahoe Relay, a 72-mile race around the lake, divided between seven runners. I had the 6th leg, which culminated with a nightmare hill up to Inspiration Point. I thought I was going to die, but almost as soon as I finished (slowly but surely), I wanted another shot at my training, that hill, and a race.

The Fallon Phlygirls from left to right: Shannon, Anna, me, Rebecca, Courtney, Karla, Mackenzie

It occurred to me today that running has to be an incredibly green way to get fit – no air-conditioning required. I just need some green gear to complement this eco-exercise. A little reading and research led me to Patagonia, a company passionate about quality gear, innovative materials and environmentalism.

Patagonia's sport skirt, made from "recycled polyester," which includes recycled soda bottles and unused second-quality fabrics.

A personal favorite is their Women’s Sport Top. Who doesn’t love a long tank with some extra room in the middle? And I’ll take a little corporate responsibility, and environmental consciousness with my order – check, check and check.

Oh, and while browsing the Patagonia site, “Crystal” – a customer service rep – popped up to chat with me, asking if I needed help finding anything. No, thanks, Crystal; but I appreciate the gesture. I’m waving at you from my run – outside and in my running skirt made partly from recycled soda bottles.

Summer Breeze: Makes me feel like finally writing

10 Jun

Hard to believe it’s been five months since I last wrote. Hard to believe how much can change in such a short period of time.

The Green Fingerprint Signature Letterpress thank you. Set of 6 : $14.00, includes shipping.

I recently had occasion to write lots of thank you notes, which are – by the way – kind of nice to write. In defense of writing thank you notes: (1) It’s therapeutic and, depending on what you’re thanking people for, cathartic. (2) The act of writing a thank you note implicitly requires a bit of selflessness. You’re not going to get anything in return, but you’re spending a minute thinking about how someone else did something nice for you. And let’s be honest: stamps are pricey. (3) It makes people feel good. I know I feel special when I receive a nicely written note, and who doesn’t love to get mail other than bills and invitations to kids’ birthday parties? (not that I don’t love those too, guys)

If I owe you a thank you, and you know who you are, I’m sorry – they’re on their way. Add this to the list of things I should do more frequently. Oh, and I’ll be using the GF Signature letterpress thank you notes. But don’t worry – I’m not expecting anything in return. Now go listen to some Seals & Crofts. It’s windy here, and this summer breeze makes me feel like finally writing.

“It is resolved…”

19 Jan

It’s a new year (well, it has been for a few weeks), and while I always manage to make and break these annual challenges, I’m committed this year to one major resolution: live more simply and sustainably. This resolution seems especially appropriate given the economic and environmental climate (forgive the pun). It’s time for me to really throw myself into this “doing more with less” lifestyle. I think what I’ll find is that I actually have more than I know.

When I look around our home, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of “things” we have: old clothes, ratty t-shirts, mail, perfectly good, but seldom used blankets, books and boxes, boxes, boxes. We move every two or three years, and we tend to accumulate, rather than shed, our belongings.

It’s counter-intuitive. After all, my sister recently used her move across the country into an apartment 1,000+ square feet smaller than her old house to pare down. She sold and gave away tons of stuff, which freed her up to be organized and streamlined and now allows her to actually use what she has. My problem is that in the rush to unpack, I tend to shove some mystery boxes in the garage or fill a closet with old clothes or scatter our seasonal items throughout our space. Consequently, I have all these things, but they’re not immediately accessible. What’s the point of owning something if you don’t use it? Wouldn’t it be incredible to, every year, use every item you own?

Following the earthquake last week, I’m particularly moved to purge and donate what I don’t use (and what might be needed by someone else), to buy only what needs to be replaced or consumed, and to try to choose goods and practices and companies that are as sustainable as possible.

Let’s see how it goes, shall we?

I’m starting small this week, by using old magazines that have piled up to create homemade Valentines for my friends and family. Don’t donate your old mags to the library just yet – stay tuned for pics of my idea on Friday!

{Unique} Spotlight on TYLER BENDER BOOK CO.

2 Nov

Last week, I emailed several questions to another green vendor who will be selling his wares at the Unique LA December show. Tyler Bender, whose “BOOK CO.” bears his name, thoughtfully responded to our inquiry. We hope you’ll check out his exquisitely creative, decidedly green products.

All the photos you see hail from postings on Tyler’s Etsy shop. Enjoy the interview, and thanks, Tyler, for your time. See you in December.

G|F : How would you describe what you do?

TBBC : I make functional everyday objects from yesterday’s discarded materials, currently: blank notebooks from vintage clothing, LPs, cereal boxes, and discarded library book covers.

TBK_BANNER

Is the “green” element of your work a conscious decision or a pleasant by-product of your design aesthetic? In other words, what came first : the eco-mission or the art?

Our parents raised us to be frugal and resourceful, and this has found its way into every corner of my life, including the making of artwork. The green elements in my work draw more upon the concepts of reusing and reducing via the repurposing of materials otherwise labeled as waste. As I learn more about what others are doing to preserve and make the most of our natural world, my goal is now to become as ‘green’ or renewable as possible. The art is constantly evolving and adapting to this idea, but it was the art that came first.

How and when did you stumble upon book binding?il_430xN.95392645

My interest in bookbinding sparked in kindergarten, when we would ‘publish’ little story books at school. That process was always so exciting to me. After high school I made blank notebooks for myself to write and draw in, using scrap paper from other art and collage projects.

The first binding method I used was my own crude design, using what was immediately available in the house. I pounded holes into a stack of paper with a hammer and nail, and sewed it up with telephone wire.

Considering you work in art and design, where do you glean inspiration?il_430xN.95392916

Thankfully, inspiration may be found everywhere, by almost anything people do. Some of the most brilliant design or technology is often the simplest.

On your Etsy page, you offer custom work. What are some of the most interesting items you’ve been asked to bind or use for binding?

It’s amazing how rarely a customer makes a familiar request. Probably the most heartwarming idea I’ve received so far was the careful portioning of a family heirloom, a grandfather’s coat, into several books, one for each of his children.

And finally : When did you first become involved with Unique LA, and what are your expectations for the December show?

Unique’s Spring 2009 show was my first, and it was very successful. ┬áThe organizers really know what they are doing, and I sincerely look forward to December’s event.

You can find Tyler Bender Book Co. on Etsy.

Myriad Debuts : Drumroll please…

26 Oct

Hi few and faithful! Well, lots has been going on the last few weeks, namely our acceptance to participate in UNIQUE Los Angeles, an independent design and gift sale, this December 5th and 6th. Beyond excited, as this will be our first event of this kind, not to mention we’re using UNIQUE to launch the latest addition to our cache of chic, eco-friendly stationery designs : GF Pret.

pret-comingsoon

“Pret” means “ready” in French, and this line of stationery is aptly named : ready-made and ready for anything. We’re designing all manner of occasional cards, personal stationery, gift tags and thank you notes, all of which will be printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. If 2010 is the year that G|F products might be found in stores, then Unique LA is the launching pad for this bold endeavor.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be giving our readers a preview of our G|F Pret products, discounts on cool new merchandise, holiday gift ideas at every price point, spotlights on other Unique LA vendors, and info on the upcoming LA debut of our new line.

Located less than 12 miles from our original front-yard stationery stand (circa 1990), the venue for Unique LA, the California Market Center, seems like the perfect place to make our off-line debut. Save the date to do some uber-cool holiday shopping. We hope to see you there!

Free Design Friday : More than Words

11 Oct

So, it was a bit of a rough week for me. One of my best friends moved from the house across the street to a house across the country. M and I dropped her off at the airport (her gorgeous 5-month old in tow) on Monday and said a tearful goodbye. This week’s Free Design is inspired by our dear friends – a “miss you” card designed to be downloaded, printed, cut and embellished with the 4 x 6 inch photo of your choice.

A 4 by 6 inch black and white photo completes this week's free design.

A 4 by 6 inch black and white photo completes this week's free design.

It fits neatly in a standard size 10 (business) envelope, so get printing, buy a stamp, and tell someone you miss them, more than words can say. Big T, Pterodactyl and Friend : this one’s for you.

We Love LA

5 Oct

new_nav_r1_c1We officially submitted our application to participate in Unique Los Angeles, an “independent design and gift sale” held in the City of Angels in December. We hear Friday whether we’ve been accepted. Sort of hoping we get it, as J and I have already planned out the booth design, talked Owen into building some collapsible shelving, and basically spent all of Saturday night sketching out design ideas whilst Tom vR was forced to watch Ghosts of Girlfriends Past by himself.

Look, Tom, no one said being on our Board of Directors was going to be easy.

Not to mention, the event itself sounds incredible : 50% of ticket sales go to benefit charity, they expect about 220 vendors and 10,000 attendees, and there’s a “green room” featuring environmentally friendly products.

Stay tuned for an update on Unique (and ticket giveaways should we be accepted!).