Crafty Smartphone

We are big fans of Etsy. Not only does their marketplace introduce us to some of the most ingenious small businesses around the world, but they are also our neighbours in Brooklyn (just down the road in DUMBO).

For today’s #techtip we checked out what products their sellers have come up with to enhance our smartphone experience. As always, we were drawn to personalized pieces and those that use repurposed materials to make something beautiful.

iPhone stand – $12

Tysonn Silva made this stunning iPhone holder from repurposed Bolivian rosewood and Baltic birch wood in his Scottsdale design studio. The stand is small, light, and easy to adjust. It is designed for the newest version of the iPhone and we can imagine it being used for turning your phone into a perfect alarm clock, speaker phone or miniature movie player. The unobtrusive design means that your phone can easily be charged while using it.

Vintage Linen smartphone sleeve – $18

A Londoner who has always had a taste for natural beauty, Heidi designed these rustic slip covers from 100 year old vintage linen. The cover is custom-made to fit snuggly around any phone so there is no need for any buttons, elastic or Velcro. Adding to their re-use appeal, they are padded with protective wadding made from eco-friendly recycled plastic bottles. The cover also has two pockets, one on the front and one on the back, to store travel cards or credit cards.

Acoustic Smartphone Trombone Dock – $167

Having grown up around music, Ryan Boase found an incredible way to combine his woodworking talents with the instruments he loved to play as a kid. His business, ReAcoustic, is inspired by the distinguished sound of old phonographs. This incredible acoustic smartphone speaker uses a vintage trombone that has been salvaged for parts. The speaker requires no batteries or cords – you simply place the rear-facing speaker of your Android or iPhone over the hole leading to the acoustic channel and listen to the vintage sound of anything in your playlist.

Tan bridle smartphone case – $60

After years working in the corporate world, Alexandra and Raf decide to focus on creating goods that brighten people’s lives from their studio in Warsaw. Their beautiful, hand cut and polished case is made from Italian vegetable tanned bridle leather. The case is custom-made to fit any smartphone you have (iPhone, Blackberry, Galaxy etc) and the high quality leather will last you far beyond your next upgrade.

Chevron cell phone case – $40

Elizabeth runs her business, Swanky Press, from the city of Nashville, TN. This slim, ultra-light cell phone case covers the back and sides can be used on all iPhone models, the iPod Touch, Blackberry (8250, 9700, & 9900), Samsung Galaxy Nexus (CMDA) and Motorola Droid RAZR. We love the aqua and white design chevron design with the coral monogram and Swanky Press is happy to customize the case however you want. Elizabeth doesn’t charge a penny extra, so you can have any design you fancy.

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Recycle-A-Bicycle

Last year the wheels really started turning for New York’s sustainable cycling movement, with 51,000 New Yorkers making the switch to bicycling which means it is now the fastest growing method of transport.  At the front lines of this wave is the non-profit Recycle-A-Bicycle a youth-centric, community-minded non-profit with storefronts in Dumbo, Brooklyn as well as Manhattan. “This is an incredibly exciting moment in our city when it comes to biking and more options for viable, affordable, sustainable transportation,” says Pasqualina Azzarello, director of RAB.  On average, every year the program salvages 1,200 bicycles from the city’s waste stream, thus diverting of 36,000 pounds of waste from NYC landfills.

Recycle-A-Bicycle has an acutely local focus.  Their job-training program instructs more than 100 teens each year in bicycle maintenance and repair through internships, workshops and school partnerships.  These trainees refurbish approximately 500 bikes a year, and receive a practical, tangible skill that they can use throughout their lives.  RAB’s Kids Ride Club cultivates healthy exercise habits among children and collectively pedal 10,000 miles per season.  Recycle-A-Bicycle also equips 300 children annually with refurbished bikes who would not otherwise have access to a bicycle at their Bike Bonanzas.

Though New York is behind most other metropolises (such as San Francisco, London, Barcelona, Paris, Toronto) when it comes to providing a public bike share service for residents, Recycle-A-Bicycle is charging forward regardless of bureaucratic hang-ups.  The organization plans to launch a share of over 10,000 bikes at 600 locations this summer, which will provide refurbished bikes to New Yorkers 24/7 and continue to make Brooklyn, and beyond a better, more livable place.

Lights – Camera – Re(use)Action

Ever wonder what happens to a film sets once the lights go down? If you have a green conscience like Eva Radke perhaps is better if you don’t know. For years while working as a department coordinator, Radke witnessed the shocking amount of useable furniture, clothing and building materials tossed out by set designers and production companies alike, due simply to a lack of responsible alternatives.   She says, “The burden of throwing everything away was really starting to weigh heavily on me and I thought, ‘I’m not doing anything positive, and I don’t understand why it has to be this way.’ I just had to stop doing it.” In 2008 she not only stopped doing it herself, but also went about putting a stop to all the industry’s wasteful habits by launching Film Biz Recycling.

Radke thinks of FBR less as a non-profit and more as a creative reuse center.  The 11,000 square foot warehouse in Gowanus Brooklyn which stores the donated materials is also home to an RE-Gallery, a display space for any found-object-based creations, a workshop for shoestring productions looking for a place to layout plans, and classroom.  “As we develop” Radke explains, “we’re reusing these materials to teach people things. We’re organizing workshops right now, and that depends on our materials. If we get in great amounts of yarn, guess what? That means community knitting workshops!”  And best of all, all of these services are offered at no cost.

Another nifty corner of the warehouse is the BFR Prop Shop where 40% of donated materials are for sale, the proceeds of which make all the rest possible.  So whether you want a typewriter, a six foot flamingo, or a marching band uniform the this your one-stop-shop for must have eccentricities.  The other 60% of donated items, and the bulk of the organizations concentration, goes to eight Brooklyn charities.  And that’s a lot of stuff – in only four short years FBR has donated upwards of 200 tons of items to charities that repurpose them.  “What would have been garbage is now a revenue stream,” said says FBR’s Director of Outreach Jane Borock: FBR aims to be more than just a thrift shop, “We want to foster entrepreneurial skills and create jobs for people here in Brooklyn.”