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Tuesday, January 20, 2015


old is new – a roundup of reclaimed and salvaged wood shelves

salvaged fir shelf

Furniture and accessories made of reclaimed or salvaged wood can not only save living trees from the sawmill, but they can add all the inherent character, patina and charm embodied in the old wood to your home’s decor. Here are few select items we’ve uncovered.

This woodsy shelf unit (above) is created from live edge slabs of wood salvaged from forest restoration activities. The tree has been milled, kiln dried, sanded, cavities have been filled and it’s sealed with hard matte wax. Each shelf is priced separately – by Real Wood Works

handmade reclaimed wood shelfbox

If you’re taste runs toward the rustic – this wall-mounted set of boxed shelves (above) will provide a myriad of decorating and presentation possibilities. Handmade entirely of reclaimed wood. A very tasty $99 @ Del Huston Designs   (more…)

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

green home: designer lamp made from recycled pizza cans

margherita lamp kids

The funky little Margherita lamp features reused materials – the shade is made of recycled pizza sauce cans – and is created in an end-to-end environmentally conscious production process. The lamp is a playfully green lighting solution appropriate for almost any modern loft space, kid’s room or home office – and it’s eco-friendly.

margherita lamp bedside

To kick off Margherita’s debut, the Italian design collaborative, Izmade, is hosting a crowdfunding campaign over at Indiegogo. All contributions to the campaign will help Izmade meet minimum order quantities for the local Italian beech tree plywood and soybean adhesive required in the manufacture of the lamp (the recycled pizza cans are free). The utilization of these readily available local materials will allow Izmade to continue its commitment to truly environmentally conscious design – even as the lamp is marketed to a larger audience.

margherita lamp pizza cansmargherita lamp cans

Howz it made?
Every day in Turin, Italy, nearly 15,000 tomato sauce cans are used and thrown away by restaurants. Izmade recognized this source of raw, recycled materials as an opportunity to build a beautiful, useful object while simultaneously sharing their philosophy of global sustainability. The recycled tomato cans are collected from local restaurants in Turin. The recovered cans are then washed, cut, and painted to create the lampshade.

The stand and the plywood
The plywood stand comes from fast growing beech trees, a species native to the Piedmont region of Italy. The layers of plywood are bonded by a renewable, eco-friendly soybean adhesive – while the lamp itself is assembled without any glue and utilizes the friction between the stand and the connecting parts to hold its shape.

2 Margherita lamps

Parts and process
The wooden pieces of the lamp are cut with a proprietary CNC milling machine built by Izmade in collaboration with Paolo Giacobbe and Paolo Di Napoli. Named the “Woody Router”, the machine was built for an open-source project that allows citizens free use of the machine inside the Officine Creative workshop. All electrical components (including the cables, the plug, and the switch) are locally sourced from Italy.

Production is hosted by Officine Creative, a community workshop project which promotes the artisan culture and enables shared creation. Officine Creative is part of Cecchi Point, a multicultural hub located in the heart of Turin.

margherita colors

8 different colors
Margherita is available in 8 snazzy colors, so you can match you can match your space’s color scheme or add a fun color accent.

Izmade is offering a wide range of rewards for those who contribute to their Indiegogo campaign which runs through February 6th, 2015.

related: more eco-friendly home decor items featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Countertop Challenge: choosing the greener counter-top

Icestone eco-friendly kitchen countertop

With so many “green” counter top options on the market it’s difficult to know how to make the right choice. If we are interested in something truly environmentally friendly first we need our material of choice to be one that is sustainable or made from recycled materials. Avoiding virgin materials and opting for recycled ones also has the benefit of reducing harvesting or sourcing costs. Because of this our contenders all utilize recycled material. Secondly, the product itself needs to be recyclable – otherwise, at the end of its lifetime it ends up in the landfill. With this in mind here are my top 3 contenders.

3-Form recycled plastic countertop

Contender number one: Recycled plastic countertops by 3-Form. Recycled plastic is made from 100% post-consumer plastics satisfying the first of our requirements. And at the end of its lifespan the product is 100% recyclable, satisfying the second requirement. The plastic that 3-Form uses in these counter tops is high-density polyethylene (HDPE). This product is available under their 100 percent material option and comes in various striped, solid and speckled color choices.

  • Pros: no sealing required, is lightweight and easy to install
  • Cons: the product isn’t very hard – so it is easy to scratch.

alkemi recycled aluminum countertop

Contender number two: recycled aluminum by ALKEMI. ALKEMI-acrylic is made of waste aluminum flake, solid surface scrap and recycled acrylic. This product almost meets our first requirement by being comprised of 84-97% recycled material. As for our second requirement (more…)

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

rustic dining tables in reclaimed cypress

rustic dining table in reclaimed cycpress

A finely crafted piece of furniture created from reclaimed wood can add character and country flair to almost any home. The patina, grain patterns and saw cuts inherent in these tables created by Texas-based furniture maker, Jacob Triche and Revival Supply Co., provide plenty of eye-catching appeal. Many of Jacob’s pieces are made utilizing locally sourced reclaimed cypress in a patchwork pattern.

reclaimed rustic cycpress table

dining table in reclaimed pine and cypress

Consumers in search of unique home furnishing solutions should always consider purchasing handcrafted pieces created by local craftspeople from reclaimed materials before buying expensive, machine-made furniture from giant chain stores. In doing so, you can save money, help preserve old growth forests, support local businesses and benefit from all the history, craftsmanship, character and patina inherent in in these pieces.

related: more eco-friendy furniture featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Kissing Under The Mistletoe

fresh Mistletoe

For thousands of years mistletoe has been a symbolic herb. Ancient cultures like Greece and Rome used it in medical treatments. The Celtic Druids of the First Century A.D thought the plant had romantic overtones because mistletoe can bloom even in the frozen winter. And in Norse mythology it was the plant used by Loki to kill Odin’s son, Baldur.

Kissing mistletoe

The kissing tradition seems to have started with servants in England then spread to the middle class. Men were allowed to steal a kiss from any woman caught standing under the mistletoe and refusing was viewed as bad luck.

But mistletoe’s use is not limited to this festive tradition. In fact, it has been used as a medical herb for centuries. What is mistletoe? Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant that grows on several types of trees. including: apple, oak, maple, elm, pine, birch. Because of its semi-parasitic nature, mistletoe needs a host tree to survive and live off.

dried mistletoe

(photo above: dried mistletoe) Over the years, mistletoe has been used to treat epilepsy, hypertension, headaches, infertility, arthritis, rheumatism and menopausal symptoms. Most interesting is that it has also been used in the treatment of cancer. Mistletoe is believed to be a possible anticancer agent because it has been shown to: have an effect on the immune system, killed mouse rat and human cancer cells in the laboratory, protect the DNA in white blood cells including cells damaged by chemotherapy drugs in the lab. Mostly used in clinical trials, mistletoe has also been used as adjuvant therapy in patients with cancer and is injected under the skin.

Mistletoe extract

But most of this is happening in Europe: the use of mistletoe as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition is not approved by the FDA, (Food and Drug Administration). So in America, mistletoe extract has only been used in clinical trials. Also important to note is that American-grown mistletoe is unsafe for medicinal use  – mistletoe extracts use European mistletoe. Despite not being approved by the FDA various mistletoe extracts are still available on Amazon and a 2-ounce bottle can vary in price from 15 to 30 dollars.

mistletoe tea bags

You can also buy it as an herbal tea. Mistletoe herbal tea is believed to help prevent build up in artery walls and may also protect (more…)

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Are Wireless Christmas Lights in Our Future?

Aura wireless christmas light

File this under: holiday home décor goes wireless. When putting up your Christmas tree the most time-consuming step is stringing the lights. Unless you have a fake tree already strung, traditional lights require several steps. Strings have to be: tested, fixed, plugged-in, hidden and woven over the entire tree. The eRing Kickstarter project (it used to be called Aura) is saying farewell to wired lights and hello to wireless. The designers of eRing are offering us the first ever wireless Christmas tree lighting system and their project will be featured on Kickstarter until January 18th. If it becomes a reality, starting next year, wired lights may become a thing of the past.

Here’s how the eRing system works. To light the tree, simply lay down a (supplied) base ring, plug it in and hang your light-up ornaments anywhere. The wireless lights are completely encased in a glass, or plastic, sphere-shaped ornament. The idea is more holiday magic then holiday décor; here are the Pros for the everyday consumer and pros for the alternative one.

smart phone control

Everyday Pros:

  • Lights cannot short circuit or spark
  • Lights give off little to zero heat unlike traditional light bulbs
  • Lights are LED’s, and use less power than traditional lights
  • Greatly reduces risk of fire, if not completely eliminating it
  • Option for smart phone control (image above)

Alternative Pros:

  • eRing wireless lights last up to 20 years and one system can light up to 100 ornament lights
  • Being wire free means less materials and less materials means less waste
  • You’re using less plastic. Traditional string lights have plastic coating on the wires, plastic plugs and plastic holders for the bulbs.
  • The wireless lights are on a PCB, printed circuit board, which is recyclable.

wireless lighting ornament

The whole thing works using wireless power transfer via resonant inductive coupling. The base ring contains a coil, electricity flows through the coil and (more…)

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