Update :)

wynwood miami taratona

 

It’s been over 5 years since I last wrote on this site.  I took an unplanned trip down memory lane today, browsing through our posts here… it made me both happy and a bit sad.  Sad because we had such grande dreams for this place– to turn it into a TV show!  We were going to drive around the US and interview cool people and share their amazing stories!  Alas, no one wanted to buy our TV show idea, and Elizabeth and I got busy with new jobs and living our lives.  What made me happy was the fact that we started this blog.  It was important to us, we loved it and poured our passion into writing every little post.  That means something.

Not every project will go big.  Not every idea will become a reality.  But everything we make, everything we take time to put a little love and energy into, it’s worth it.

Today, Elizabeth is married to a fabulous guy and living an exciting and lovely life in Australia.  She is an architect and designer (and pretty darn fabulous at both).  As for me, I now have two cute little kiddies keeping me and my husband busy.  In my spare time I can be found writing at my blog Project:Women, and hosting a new podcast, “Project:Women – the podcast“.  And the journey continues…

✌️ Peace out (for now)

Tara T.

 

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(photo -above- I took in Wynwood, Miami, just before we moved. July 2014)

 

My Biotiful Bag

I love canvas bags.

Handbags, beach bags, grocery bags, you name it.  And if the bag is made from 100% organic cotton, I go a little bit crazy for it.

Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting with Ragnhild Greve-Isdahl, one of the founders of the My Biotiful Bag brand–aka my new favorite canvas bag supplier.  My Biotiful Bag (pronounced either beautiful or bio-tiful) is a line of consciously produced, GOTS certified organic cotton canvas bags that come in a bevy of colors and styles.  I first learned of the brand when I attended the MIA Green Conference & Expo last month, at which Isdahl had a booth set up.  It was there that I purchased my own Biotiful Bag, and ever since I have been carrying my green portfolio around practically everywhere.

(I added a little felt & bead leaf to personalize my bag : )

The line was founded in Paris by Isdahl and her business partner and friend, Colette Guigue, in early 2010, and it has already seen immense success both in Europe and the states.  Isdahl told me that the concept for My Biotiful Bag “Started with our desire to create a fashion brand that was sustainable.  A brand with a vocation to give back and raise awareness for the environment [and] the organic cotton industry.” Such statements are becoming more common with the ever-growing Green trend, yet not too often are those statements backed up by someone with a true passion to their commitment.  Isdahl is one of those rare individuals who possess a healthy balance of wit, wisdom, honesty, and unmistakable passion, and when she speaks those qualities radiate from within her.  I think that was the main pull for me towards this brand–the thoroughly refreshing lack of BS.  These two women are out to create well-made, beautiful, versatile bags for people who care about how and where the products they buy are made.  People who care, period.

Which brings me to the question I always, always ask when I look at a new garment or accessory to purchase:  Where was it made? Usually I avoid items that were manufactured in China, and try to buy things made in the USA whenever I can.   My Biotiful Bags are in fact manufactured in China, but when I asked Isdahl about the reasons, she didn’t shy away or try to change the subject.  In fact, she gave me a completely straight-forward answer:  “We made the conscious choice to start producing in China because that is where we have cultivated 25 years [of] experience and key relationships with our two main partners in the industry.  The suppliers are regularly audited and conform to all local labor laws on working conditions and safety, prohibit child labor, allow unions and do not discriminate.  We are committed to the best quality, [and] our Chinese partners can guarantee and surpass our quality controls.”

So there you have it.  A brand with eco-awareness, style, function, and sincerity– a brilliant mix of all the right ingredients.


 

*Last two photos from My Biotiful Bag website*

MiaGreen Conference 2011

A couple weeks ago I attended the MiaGreen Expo & Conference in Miami, and here’s my review of the show…

Nearly 3,000 attendees turned out for the show, visiting some 120 booths in the showroom and 60+ speakers for the conferences.  Truth be told, I can’t give a very thorough review of the entire event because I only walked the showroom, and skipped out on the conferences.  But, I did get to see some cool products, discover new companies, and meet some wonderful people!

Most of the show was geared towards the building industry (engineering, architecture, construction), with a variety of innovative materials on display.  Solar panels, LED lights, water-saving adapters for toilets, recycled flooring, and energy-saving insulation.  Very good stuff, but I was on the lookout for more consumer type products.

The most exciting find for me?  The My Biotiful Bag booth!  It was like discovering a pair of Terra Plana heels in a closet full of work boots (albeit very cool, sustainably produced work boots!) The brand hails from Paris, and offers a full line of versatile day bags and purses in a host of scrumptious colors.  I was lucky enough to have lunch with one of the brand’s founders last week, and I will expound on this fabulous label in a later post!

Two more companies I found that don’t require a contractors license to get excited about: Elu-Zen and Aussan Natural.

Both brands offer all-natural cleaning products, but Elu-Zen impressed me the most.  The formula for their products is made from a blend of 100% nontoxic, biodegradable ingredients, and is safe enough to drink–literally.  Aussan Natural also claims to be 100% natural, botanical, and nontoxic (“Made with Food Grade Ingredients”), but I didn’t get a chance to test any of their products.  I will be on the lookout for them popping up in my local Wholefoods!

I tested Elu-Zen’s hand sanitizer (which is just as effective as Purell, yet without the reeking smell) and was informed that the essential base ingredients in that product are used in all their other products as well–face wash, pet spray, insect repellent, shampoo, laundry detergent, floor cleaner, and industrial-strength hand soap– which made me think that if you can put basically the same product on your face as on your floor, and still get the job done, then it must be worth a try!  But so far I have only sampled the hand sanitizer, so I can’t endorse the effectiveness of their other products.  I may order for myself some of their Sunburn Soother (for those long-exposure beach days coming up) and their Tile & Bath Cleaner (because I’m sick of using nasty Tilex!)  Will post my reviews if said purchases take place in near future   : )

All-in-all, I’d say the Expo was well worth the $25 entrance fee.  Next year I’ll make sure to sit myself down and soak up the conferences as well!

Green Day

I nearly forgot about St. Patty today!

It wasn’t until I walked down to the corner store an hour ago that I realized it… when I saw a troupe of jolly (Re:  tipsy) spring breakers all sporting kelly green T-shirts and various other green accessories.  SO… a little list of “green” green things in honor of the day.  : D

♣     ♣     ♣     ♣     ♣

 

images from Lonely Dinosaur website

 

Clever T-shirt from Lonely Dinosaur

“100% USA-grown Organic Cotton, and the shirts themselves are stitched, designed, and printed in the United States.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

image from West Elm website

I really love this 100% GOTS certified organic bedding from West Elm! Color shown is Cactus.  (230 thread count, oh heaven.)

 

 

image from Jam website

Ever since I discovered Jam Paper & Envelope in New York City a few years back, it has been my favourite source for gorgeous paper and envelopes.  Yes, I said gorgeous.  I like paper.  A lot.   And these Green Recycled Brite Hue Envelopes are no exception!

 

 

image from "aplacefortwiggs" shop on Etsy

I am a HUGE lover of Etsy, and I have written about the great online handmade/vintage goods store several times before on this blog.  This rather green fine art photograph struck me as both lovely and friendly (Beetles are such affable looking cars, aren’t they?)

(this piece, named “Mrs. Olive Green”, can be found in aplacefortwiggs shop on Etsy)

 

image from Neverland Jewelry's store on Etsy

 

What is St. Patrick’s Day without shamrocks?

Sweet handmade four leaf clover necklace from Neverland Jewelry’s store on Etsy.

Green Miami Events- Springtime!

Everything starts happening in March, it seems. As though the year was taking a much needed nap in January and then spent all of February trying to wake up.  As soon as March hits, it gets its cup of coffee and starts getting things done!

The first thing on its agenda?  Attend a Green expo.

Downtown Miami skyline (photo by me) 😀

Or maybe that’s the first thing on my agenda.

Tomorrow kicks off the two day MiaGreen Expo and Conference in my local town of Miami, and it will be my first time attending.  Although I didn’t spring for the expensive VIP tickets and access, I will be going to check out “Innovative Products and Technology” in the main exhibit hall!  I wonder if I’ll get to test-drive a Tesla

March 31st-April 6th brings along Sustainatopia, which appears to be a veritable festival of various green/eco experiences.  Music, fashion, movies, lectures, food & parties… oh yes, I’ll be there!

Earth Day 2011 is coming up on April 22nd, and Miami is celebrating with the Miami Goin’ Green Earthday Festival on Apr. 23rd.  This is another new local event for me, held at Bayfront Park in downtown, and it looks like it won’t disappoint.  This year’s schedule isn’t yet up, but last year they had a clothing swap, e-waste collection, live music, and a kid’s mad science lab!  (I’m hoping there’s no age limit on the mad science lab.)

I will post a follow-up of the events, and hopefully have plenty of great photos to share!


Lovely Music

Vegging out on TED again, I came upon this trio’s performance.  Passionate musicians and lovely music… (made me want to dance and then weep)

 

Uncorporate Tees

Spotted on Springwise:  These T-shirts look comfy and quirky at once, with great cuts and real knots at the neck which make for a lovely trompe l’oeil effect.  On top of that, they are made made in the USA using organic cotton (which is grown in the USA!)  Americans can still make good stuff.

image from Formalitees.com

from the Formalitees website:

“The Tie Tee was invented by Bjorn Borstelmann and Kelley Sharp, two twenty-somethings who’re sick of the wastefulness of business as usual.

The Tie Tee combines the casual comfort of a sustainably produced T-shirt with the timeless icon of a necktie, creating a new symbol of professionalism – one that’s as substantial as the symbol of servitude it replaces is shallow.”

www.formalitees.com

Animal Waste as Renewable Fuel

It’s time to get back to writing!

I spent part of this summer studying abroad in the lush, verdant country of Costa Rica.  And it was there, at a women’s cooperative in a little village called Hone Creek, that I discovered that pigs can power a kitchen.

a Senora sweeping the pig waste into the capture area

 

Happy Pigs

…Or at least their manure can fuel a gas stove.  How did I not know about this before?

Oh sure, sure, I know about cow patties standing in as fire wood, a practice that goes way way way back.  But animal biomass being converted into biofuel (or, more specifically, biogas) was a new one on me.

My friend Johanna and I took the weekend off from studying español to visit the women’s co-op, called El Yue, (pronounced “el jway”) which is located on the Caribbean coast, about an hour northwest of Puerto Viejo.  It’s a place that is difficult to describe.  Small yet endless, simple yet immensely diverse… walking into El Yue is like walking into a magic jungle.

The early-morning stillness gets you first.  Like a big, quiet space… until you notice that everything is moving.  Tiny creatures dart and fly and twitch and crawl… leaf-cutter ants, poison dart frogs, toucans, howler monkeys, some kind of crazy blue lizards… and there is a coating of dew on all the green life that sparkles in the sun and makes you feel like you are walking in some kind of dream.  Then you get 17 mosquito bites on your right leg and walk face-first into a spider web and remember that you are here to document what some incredible women are doing in this village out in the middle of no where.

Johanna on the property - El Yue

 

The women of El Yue are an anomaly in Costa Rica.  Seemingly the only women’s co-op in the country, El Yue is a mini oasis of female brilliance amid a male-dominated society.  They have an organic medicinal herb garden, a school room, a library, a kitchen and lodging, and soon will also have a functioning arts and crafts building.  And of course they have those pigs.  Two adorable pigs, which provide the fuel for the community kitchen.


Flor

So how do they do it? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure.  What I know is that one of the women sweeps the dung from the piglets into a catch, and then the gas is captured in a sort of plastic tube, and piped into the kitchen.

A great link if you want to learn more about it: Animal Waste:  Future energy or just hot air?



Architecture for Humanity

My heroes.

[Thanks to IIAD for creating this video that gives so much insight on their 2010 Pioneers in Design Award winner, Architecture for Humanity.]

Illumi-Charger

I admit, I’m guilty of it.  I leave my laptop, iPhone and other gadget chargers synced into the wall at ALL times.   I know I’m wasting energy, it’s just so darn convenient!  Well, hopefully we can say good by to those phantom electric charges with the clever new Illumi-Charger.  The charger uses solar power to provide you with off-grid power to fuel your gadgets.  An award recipient at this years Greener Gadgets competition, I hope to see this product on the shelves (and with a typical wall outlet option) soon!

Tulane City Center

Since Katrina there has been an influx of creative minds and generous donations to the city of New Orleans.  The Tulane School of Architecture has utilized the countries re-kindled love of their hometown to finance several design build projects.  With encouragement and support from the faculty, these projects are led and executed by students at both the graduate and undergraduate level.  Through the City Center and UrbanBuild programs, Tulane School of archtecture has created an impressive portfolio of built works and created a Design+Build culture that applicants and magazines are noticing.

Though the several completed houses are innovative and beautiful, I was particularly enthralled my past visit with the Hollygrove Growers Pavilion.  What started with a raised garden on an abandoned parking lot has developed into a beautiful market and a source of income for the surrounding neighborhood.  The farmers, typically professional during the week and volunteer on the weekend, have managed to produce an wide variety of veggies in the heart of New Orleans.  For only $25 market goers can fill their box or bag brought from home with a weeks worth of in-season, locally grown goods.  The pavilion (pictured above) was designed and built by Tulane architecture students.  Much more than a tool shed, the pavilion serves to educate the community on rain water collection and green design practices.  As of the end of 2009, the market was only open on Saturdays.  Judging by the demand, I’m expecting expanded hours soon!

4 potatos, 2 squash, six oranges, a head of lettuce... so many great local goodies!

happy girl with her veggies!

For hours, events, and location, visit the markets official website.

Greener Gadgets Design Competition

The Greener Gadgets Competition is at it again, now in its third year running.  Held in NYC, the competition is part of the Greener Gadgets Design Conference–a gathering of forward-thinking electronic companies, innovators, and inventors from around the globe.  Entrants to the event are put to the task of creatively and aesthetically solving energy consumption issues with an eco-responsible approach.

Some of the ideas are brilliant, some have obvious flaws, but all of them get you thinking about the possibilities that are out there!  Here are a few of my favourite concepts from the 2009 finalists/semi-finalists (from Core77 – a totally brilliant design website)…. check out the Greener Gadgets website for the 2010 schedule!

Power-Hog

“Power-Hog is a power consumption metering piggy bank designed to sensitize kids to energy cost associated with running electronics devices. Plug the tail into the outlet and the device into the snout; feed a coin to meter 30 minutes of use.”

( …click image for more details)

WattBlocks

“With a single tap of the foot, WattBlocks easily disconnects devices in the home that are notorious for consuming standby power.

Few consumers understand that many of today’s electronics consume power while not in use. These energy vampires can account for $100 of a home’s yearly power cost, wasting up to $10 billion annually in the United States. The WattBlocks kit is designed to reduce this wasted energy. It consists of several WattBlocks, which are plugged in between wall outlets and vampire devices, and a master step switch that plugs into an outlet near the entry/exit of the home. As the user exits, tapping the step switch sends a signal through the home’s power lines, telling all WattBlocks to block power to the vampires.”

Sun Stations

“Sun Stations are pieces of public furniture that provide free solar energy in open areas, allowing people to charge and use electronics in a greener way in a wider variety of places.

They are made of concrete, teak wood, and stainless steel. The energy (84W – enough for laptops, cell phones, etc.) is generated entirely by Mono crystalline solar cells located 3 meters above ground for less shading and higher efficiency. The solar cells are set on security glass allowing people to immediately recognize where their energy is coming from. The energy is stored either in a battery pack or in a grid-tied system under the seat.”

Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver is determined to transform the way we feed our children!  Such a powerful and needed mission, Oliver was recently awarded the TED prize for his work and gave the above presentation of his ‘One Wish to Change the World.’ What is his wish exactly:

“I wish for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”

Moving to West Virginia to tackle the problem first-hand, Oliver has generated the perfect case study for change.  In the above video he highlights his work to date.  The accounts are eye-opening though I particularly appreciate the steps he has taken towards solving the problem that seem realistic for any school to incorporate: 2- 1hour sessions in classes, demanding better foods in schools.

Oliver also praises a few ‘angels’ that are already pioneering change.  Though he doesn’t mention them all directly, we have been impressed by a few programs:

The Edible School Yard

Tulane City Center Hollygrove Growers Pavillion and Shade Units

Food Inc. partner Hungry for Change

You can learn more about Jamie Oliver’s wish here.

Delivered in Beta

This video provides a wonderful commentary on working collaboratively and releasing our ideas/concepts/and prototypes to the people who need them before they are perfect– because they never are.

Working in this way reminds me immediately of the innovative work produced by International Design Clinic.  Created by groups of students and professionals, projects executed by the IDC  are deployed in communities in need and are assumed to be version 1.0.  The succeeding 2.0, 3.0, etc. occur as communities take in our work, accept our designs, and then evolve them into something more efficient and personally meaningful.

So start sharing!  Be Creative!  And get Excited!

Trash Talk

I’m on the downtown improvement board where I live and trying to encourage some sustainable decisions that will make living green just a little easier.  One pretty obvious idea: make recycling accessible to everyone!  It makes me cringe to see the large public cans overflowing with cardboard, paper, and water bottles.  So we just need to tell the city to grab some bins and leave them on the corners… Sounds easy enough, right?  Sure, if we wanted the bins to be rained on, get taken by the next morning and clutter the pedestrian corners.   I’m looking for a better solution.  A pretty and well designed solution.  I have found a few from landscapeforms (pictured), though I want to hear from you all on this one:

What creative ways has your city promoted sustainable recycling or trash managment?