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: Recycled Art, Hand-carved Furniture, and Wool Hats with a Mission

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.

Recycled Mixed Media Art by Dolan Geiman

Chicago artist Dolan Geiman uses salvaged wood and found objects to create pieces that are at once rustic and cutting-edge. His “contemporary art with a Southern accent” has earned him national recognition and high-profile clients, such as Fossil.








Geiman’s “greenness” is rooted in an authentic DIY ethic:

Incorporating eco-friendly practices into our business has been a natural process since its inception. For Dolan, the idea of taking things and repurposing them was an ideological current passed down from generation to generation for a family living in a rural community. Years later, having moved to Chicago with a few bucks and a car-load of artwork and supplies, the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra was a similar economic reality for an emerging artist and burgeoning arts company.

Interpretive Furniture by Gray Works Design

Andrew Gray and Elizabeth Bryant run a woodworking shop in the Catskill Mountain town of Bearsville. Like Dolan Geiman’s constructions, Andrew Gray’s hand-carved  bowls, tables, and plates have a sense with timeless craftsmanship. The handmade style doesn’t come cheap, but each piece is a unique work of art.

In an article on the Etsy blog, Andrew and Elizabeth said their sustainable values are inspired the setting in which they work:

Our love of place informs the objects we create, as well as our strong sense of responsibility to cultivate an environmentally sustainable company. We owe everything to the wilderness where we live and work, so protecting and supporting it is our highest priority.


Reclaimed Wool Hats by Bricologable



Bricologable is the project of a San Francisco crafter “with an underutilized degree in history and an oddly applied degree in fashion design.” The limited edition hats featured in the online shop are made from reclaimed wool, and, better still, 10 percent of the profits go to Muttville, a charity that rescues and advocates for senior dogs.

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.

Gulf Coast Cleanup Shoes by Bed Stu

Have you been looking for a stylish pair of shoes that comes splattered with muck? If so, the hip footwear company Bed Stu (named after a Brooklyn neighborhood) has you covered. Or, has your feet covered. With oil-stained leather.


A new shade of artificial grunge style or just the fashion industry capitalizing on an environmental disaster? Really, it’s neither. Bed Stu will be donating 100 percent of the profits from this collection to NWF’s wildlife restoration efforts in the Gulf.

When you consider how much money we pay for mass-produced “vintage” clothing (faded jeans, frayed shirts, etc.), it doesn’t seem all that crazy to buy pre-stained shoes.

Love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t deny that they’re a great conversation-starter. And with Americans quickly forgetting the damage caused by the Gulf oil spill, it’s a conversation that needs to be started.