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Tilter – recycled cork chair


The Tilter Chair, from the innovative cork designer team at DMFD, is constructed from recycled waste cork.  The simple, geometrically shaped seat’s backrest features relief cuts that allow the chair to tilt and spring, providing enhanced support, comfort and flexibility.  In addition to featuring recycled cork, the eco-friendly design is accented with non-toxic paint details.

If you want to expl0re purchasing DMFD’S Tilter chair, check it out @

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

lessons in organic farming – Stateline Farm Beginnings Classes 2 & 3

This the third post in Theresa Gould’s series on her organic farming experience in the Stateline Farm Beginnings program.


Each class we attend continues to help and guide us through the process of thinking of our farm as a business.  From strategic planning to identifying our strengths and weaknesses, we are receiving an in- depth business course designed especially for beginning farmers.

Because we were seriously under the weather, my husband and I missed our second class which featured a guest farmer speaking on Biodynamics, as well as a tour of a neighboring farm.   Since we missed the speech, we have assigned reading on the topic.


Also due to illness in the family, only I could attend our third class.  Each class is designed to have us complete sections of our business plan upon the completion of our homework assignments.  This makes the task of writing our business plan a bit less painful since we are able to do it in snippets rather than all at one time.

This last class was very thorough, as was our teacher who has both a business and farming background.  One of the things that he said was, “If you cannot tell someone why they should buy your product or use your services from the 14th floor to the 1st floor in an elevator you will not succeed.”  He actually made us come up with an elevator speech in one of the class exercises.


Another thing he emphasized was the fact that we needed to decide now whether or not our farm is a hobby or a business because in business your goal is to turn a profit.  That means that we also need to decide now who our customer is, the value of our product and the price.  These are keys to our success as organic farmers.


We also toured our host farmer’s farm and these tours are an education in and of themselves as the farmers are more than happy to share from their hearts and experience.  It is truly interesting, as potentially we could be competitors if all of us were to look at it like that.  The beautiful thing about this farming community is that everyone desires to help each other succeed.  That is a rare gift in today’s world.
(photography credit: Theresa Gould)

Related:  previously on altCon
Stateline Farm Beginnings – Our First Class (10.31.09)

farmer’s markets – fresh food year round (9.28.09)

Hawthorn Valley Farm – a favorite altCon biodynamic farm in NY

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bookBags – a different take on book bags

At the crossroads of law books and recycling, you’ll find the genesis of bookBags.


Founded by law librarian Kathy Kelly, bookBags are handcrafted by upcycling beautiful leather book covers — giving outdated reference books a second life.  In the process, 7000 pounds of paper have been recycled so far this year.

I was hooked on these eco savvy handbags and clutches at first glance…though perhaps most appealing to either bookish or legal types with a penchant for bags…these unique eco fashion statements have very broad appeal.  checkout Kathy’s eco boutique @

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recycled yarn laptop cover


Ever feel like your computer and all its plastic peripherals are taking you further and further away from the world of natural fibers and tactile reality?  Here’s a nice way to snugly package and protect your 15-inch laptop – providing a modicum of contact with the physical world and replacing that leather, vinyl or plastic computer sheath.

Custom woven out of recycled yarn (industrial textile waste).  You crunchy granola types could get DIY with this and make your own.

$27.00eur @ matteriashop

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bottled water: the enemy


You know bottled water is bad, but are you doing enough to stop it?

Bottled water isn’t a new gripe of the environmental movement.  Most of you probably don’t buy bottled water (and if you do, stop!) but what do you do when your kid’s school or soccer team is handing out bottled water?  What about at charity walks when pallets and pallets of water are distributed?  How do you deal with that parent who won’t let her kid drink tap water, or that friend of yours who seems to think tap water is dirty?

Let’s take it from micro to macro.  When someone you know insists on buying bottled water remind them of a few facts:

  • There is, statistically, less than one person at the FDA regulating the content of bottled water.  There is a whole department in your city regulating the contents of your tap water.  A recent study found rocket fuel in several brands of bottled water.
  • Plastics are bad!  Unlike glass, which can be recycled an infinite number of times, plastics are rarely recycled efficiently and almost never 100% recycled.  There is a mass twice the size of Texas made up of plastics, much of which comes from water bottles.
  • Water is heavy.  Transporting bottled water uses millions of gallons of fossil fuels each year.
  • Bottled water costs you approximately 10,000 times more money than tap water.


Perhaps most importantly (because if you can afford to buy bottled water you might not care how much of a rip off it is) is the fact that bottled water supports the privatization of water.  Water is essential to life, it’s not something humans can do without.  By supporting companies like Coca-Cola (Dasani), Evian, or Fiji you are supporting a privatized industry that moves into developing countries under the guise of “aid” and takes control of their water system.  They then turn around and charge locals more than they can pay for the water they need. The two movies linked above are amazing and informative and will change the way anyone looks at bottled water.  They’re both available on Netflix or at your local Blockbuster.

But what about the school, or the event that you’re attending where you know there will be bottled water available?  What can a charity walk or soccer team do to avoid bottled water?  Many people think that bottled water is simply an evil that teams and events must live with, but that’s not the case.  Talk with the event organizers about creative solutions like the following:

  • Rather than giving out t-shirts, give out reusable water bottles (many are now available even with built-in water filters) and provide water stations where people can fill them up.
  • Hold events in places where there are already water fountains at which participants can fill their bottles.
  • Advertise in advance the fact that this event will be bottled water-free; make sure everyone can plan ahead.
  • Utilize the resources available and the example of past bottle-free events.
  • If you’re in Canada, use the HTOtogo truck!
  • (Update: Links removed)

With planning and drive, a bottled-water-free event is most often cheaper than purchasing hundreds of bottles – not just monetarily but environmentally and socially as well.  Water will most likely become the next oil, and we are running out faster than most people know.  Many experts believe that water will be what the next wars are fought over, and we should all do our part to keep both plastics out of the environment, and water in the hands of people who need it most.  Reject the privatization of an essential resource like water and spread the word: bottled water sucks!

Related:  previously on altCon
(4.17.08) garbage island:  a sea of floating toxicity

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