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














Twitter’s new eco-friendly HQ

I’m a big fan of stylish green design, so when I noticed that Twitter’s new headquarters in San Francisco was getting attention in both the green scene and the design world, I thought the Green Lens should zoom in on it.

The office space was designed by Sara Morishige Williams.  Her focus was on fun and sustainability: “I wanted to bring the outdoors in, while making the space playful yet useful and sustainable.”  The space uses non-VOC paint, non-toxic furniture, and eco-friendly decorations.  Most of the decor consists of used objects that have been refurbished or reinvented.

Inhabitat has a good summary:

Visitors to the space are greeted by a sign featuring the well-known Twitter logo made from reclaimed barnwood and hot rolled steel fabricated by Lundberg Design and can see the flittering bird motif that runs throughout the office. Inside the conference room is a long concrete table designed by Sara in collaboration with Mark Rogero with Concreteworks, composed of 40% fly ash and 100% recycled aggregates. The base of the table and the receptionists’ desks are made from reclaimed barnwood too. Tree hooks in the lobby were made by John and Live Wire Farm. The couches are custom copies of famous designs from a store called Furniture Envy and the Chiquita stools, by Kenneth Cobonpue, have tops made from natural rattan poles. Last but certainly not least, the in-house DJ booth, which was actually left over by the previous inhabitants, is completely envy-inducing.

The above article, as well as Michelle Kaufmann’s blog and the design blog Abduzeedo, have more info and photos.

Earthships: Sustainable, off-the-grid homes


The concept of sustainable homes is one of the most fascinating aspects of green living.  So far, the best practical green home style I’ve seen is the earthship.  Mickey Z. of Planet Green writes

An earthship is a passive solar building with thermal mass. It is “made from natural and recycled materials, including earth-rammed tires and aluminum cans.” Powered by renewable energy and using rainwater for its water supply… earthship refers to a “concept, not a set design, and can be adapted for any climate worldwide.


The idea is to return to the construction habits of our species’ past.  Earths are built from local materials, so they don’t have to rely on manufacturing and shipping.  While these houses still have modern conveniences, such as electricity and running water, they can be completely off-the-grid.


Temperature is regulated by natural activities; the sun provides heating, while the earth provides cooling.  The energy needed for appliances and electronics is provided by windmills and solar panels.  Water is collected from precipitation and is recycled as much as possible.  The gray water from sinks and bathtubs is cleaned and piped to flush the toilets.  The water can then be re-used in botanical cells.

That brings us to one of my favorite features of earthships: fruits and vegetables can be grown throughout the year in attached greenhouses or “botanical cells.”


Independent housing makes financial sense, too.  Although earthships cost about the same as traditional houses to build, they will save money in the long run, since utility bills will be virtually nonexistent.

If you are interested in the concept of earthships, but have no clue about how to build them, you might enjoy browsing the website of Earthship Biotecture, a company that builds, rents and sells sustainable homes.

All images from