Green Indie Products of the Month: Krochet Kids Hats + Biodegradable EcoTensils

Knitwear Hats with a Mission by Krochet Kids

Think of Krochet Kids International as the next evolutionary step beyond TOMS. Founded by a trio of college students, Krochet Kids has a goal of empowering people in developing nations to break out of the poverty cycle with sustainable economic development. They began this effort in Uganda, teaching women in refugee camps how to crochet and then paying them to use their new skills. The Ugandan women get a fair wage and greater independence; consumers get stylish, handmade hats.

Krochet Kids knitwear

The Krochet Kids model of social entrepreneurship has attracted quite a bit of attention, landing the nonprofit a collab with Volcom and an appearance on last year’s Bing SuperBowl commercial. Recently, Krochet Kids raised enough money through Kickstarter to launch a new project in Peru.

If you’re shopping for socially conscious headwear this year, be sure to check these indie products out. Hats from $21.95,

Biodegradable Spoons by EcoTensil

Back in the summer (ah, the summer!), visiting the farmers’ market was a regular part of my schedule. Although I wrote a lot about the virtues of fresh, local produce, I have to admit that the best part was not the vegetables, but the ice cream. When the heat index is inching toward one hundred, homemade peach ice cream beats tomatoes by a long shot.

EcoTensils are a biodegradable alternative to plastic spoons.One thing bothered me, though. The ice cream was served with a disposable, plastic spoon. Have we discussed disposable plastic spoons? They violate the essential tenet of green design: Things that last forever should be useful for a long time, and things that are only meant to be used once should break down quickly.

EcoTensil biodegradable spoons

That’s why I was interested when I found out about EcoTensils, a biodegradable alternative to plastic spoons. Invented by packaging designer Peggy Cross, EcoTensils are made of paper board (FSC-certified, of course), so they break down quickly–according to the Web site, the spoons biodegrade in three to five weeks.

Definitely a huge improvement over plastic.

This is part of a series of monthly posts featuring sustainable and independent brands from around the web. If you want to see your favorite indie seller on the Green Lens, get in touch via the contact page or @thegreenlens.


Green Indie Products of the Month: Audubon-Inspired Art, Upcycled Seatbelt Bags, and a Stylish Bike Tool Carrier

GIPM is back, and it’s as green and independent as before. If you’re new, this series is where I try to curate the coolest work from independent artisans around the web. Great for them and great for you! This month we’ve got creative wildlife illustrations, upcycled iPad cases, and a stylish case for your bicycle tools.

Audubon-Inspired Digital Collages by Jason LaFerrera

Jason LaFerrera is a math and computer science student at Columbia University, but he says his memoir would be titled Should Have Gone to Art School. Inspired by the work of John Audubon, he creates digital wildlife collages. A unique feature is his use of maps; for example, Le Pigeon de Paris is made with historical maps of Paris, and California Grizzly Bear is cut from maps of the Golden State. Prints range from $40 to $250.

Upcycled Seatbelt Bags and Wallets by Interrobang

There are plenty of companies making recycled bags an iPad cases, but Melbourne-based Interrobang combines form and function in a unique way. Part of the fascination comes from taking a completely utilitarian product–a seatbelt–and crafting it into something attractive yet still indestructible. iPad sleeves start at $18, wallets at $20, and handbags at $45.

Mopha Bike Tool Roll by E.H. Works

E.H. Works is a design and development studio specializing in functional, expertly crafted products. Their latest creation is the Mopha Tool Roll, a stylish way to carry your bike gear on the morning commute or the cross-country expedition.

Via Bearings:

[Founder Erica Hanson] told us the Tool Roll was born out

of a desire by a few members of a cycling group, known as Mopha, who wanted a simple and highly functional way to carry their bike tools…She delivered a straightforward form comprised of rolled canvas, leather trim and vintage toe strap that allows for maximum utility. “No more chaffing velcro, synthetic zippers and fabric, and black-hole searches through something manufactured far from home,” says Erica.

Useful, handsome, and well-crafted… Isn’t it interesting that the revival of an “old” form of transportation can inspire classic creativity? This piece of creativity is priced at $44.


I’m always looking for new green products to feature. If you have any tips, go ahead and hit me up @thegreenlens or here.

Green Indie Products of the Month: The New Life of Fire Hoses, Birch Stumps, and Delhi Trash

This is part of a series of monthly posts featuring sustainable and independent brands from around the web. If you want to see your favorite indie seller on the Green Lens, get in touch via the contact page or @thegreenlens.

Firehose Belt x Feuerwear

The green manufacturing scene is hardly short of innovative textiles, but the belts and bags from Feuerwear use a truly original material: retired firefighting hoses. (The German word feuer translates to “fire.”) The fashionably worn look of Feuerwear’s belts is not the result of an artificial “distressing” process but of a hardworking previous life. How else would you be able to tell your friends that your belt helped save lives?

+ Feuerwear

Upcycled Wallet x Holstee

Soon after quitting their day jobs, the founders of Holstee gained Internet fame with their much-reblogged Manifesto Poster. Another signature product, the upcycled wallet, is an accessory with a story.

Working with a family-run non-profit based in India that works to collect, sort and clean what was once litter from the streets of Delhi we were able to create our dream wallet. This vegan wallet is made primarily of plastic bags and newspapers. Production of the wallet helps reduce waste in Delhi, provides fair wage employment and subsidizes healthcare and education for each employee’s family.

If you have a functioning wallet, it’s really greener just to keep using it, but if you’re shopping for a new cash-carrier anyway, these are a hip and sustainable choice.



White Birch Forest Lights and Clock x Urban+Forest







The work of this Rockland, Maine-based studio has a rustic, and sometimes surreal, aesthetic. Urban+Forest’s lamps, coasters, clocks, and wall art are handmade from reclaimed birch. They promise to bring the outdoors into your contemporary space at a surprisingly affordable price. I might have to subtract some green points for the incandescent bulbs, but that design choice is easy to overlook in such beautiful pieces.

+ Urban+Forest













Greenaid turns vintage gumball machines into seedbomb dispensers

Urban eco designers create new tool for guerilla gardening

File this one under “random but brilliant.” Commonstudio, an emerging design practice and consultancy, has begun distributing gumball dispensers converted to hold seedbombs.

If you’re new to the idea of seedbombing, here’s some background. You’ve seen those “gray” spaces in cities — empty lots where buildings were torn down and derelict parking spaces, for example. With cash-starved governments unable to revitalize abandoned areas, an increasing number of green thinkers are taking matters into their own hands, discreetly planting flowers on unused land.

Seedbombs, an essential part of the guerilla gardener’s arsenal, are nothing more than clay, compost, and seeds. Slingshot them onto an empty lot, wait for them to break down, and watch the plants retake a forgotten urban void.

Here’s how Greenaid will help:

You can purchase or rent a machine (or two, or ten…) directly from us and we will develop a seed mix as well as a strategic neighborhood intervention plan in response to the unique ecologies of your area. You then simply place the machine at your local bar, business, school, park, or anywhere that you think it can have the most impact. We will then supply you with all the seedbombs you need to support the continued success of the initiative.

[vimeo 12059505 w=600&h=400]

Can’t find a Greenaid dispenser near you? Don’t despair! Just follow these steps to make your own seedbombs. You only need clay, water, compost, and (of course) seeds to get started with greening the gray space in your community.

Green Indie Products of the Month: Upcycled Clothing, Watercolor Art, and Nature Prisms

This is the first in a new series of monthly posts featuring sustainable and independent brands from around the web. If you want to see your favorite indie seller on the Green Lens, get in touch via the contact page or @thegreenlens.

Upcycled Clothing and Luggage by BrightWall Studios







BrightWall owner Erik Taylor of Michigan revives vintage shirts, coats, vests, and suitcases with simple, hand-printed graphics. In his words,

I really enjoy giving new life to old things. It always bums me out when I go into these huge stores and see all this new stuff everywhere, I just always felt we had enough already.

For that thinking, he deserves more green cred than a lot of clothing companies that brand themselves as sustainable.




Prisms and Art Prints by The Wild Unknown

“Inspired by summers spent in the Catskill Mountains and on the shores of Lake Superior,” The Wild Unknown is a line of unique handcrafted pieces by Brooklyn-based artisans Kim Krans, Jonny Ollsin (Kim’s husband), and Gaynelle Oslund (Kim’s mom). Gaynelle’s one-of-a-kind prisms and Kim’s watercolor prints bring nature inside in a fascinating way.