Sustainable Living: The Dirt on Footwear

sustainable living - OAT

When we talk about our carbon footprint maybe its time to get a little more literal, or, as OAT Shoes would argue, a lot more literal.  OAT Shoes is the force that is taking earth-friendly footwear to a whole new level: the soil.  Their shoes are made from 100% biodegradable materials which means that when you are done with your pair you compost them or even bury them in your garden!  But they don’t just hit the mark when it comes to sustainable living and materials, these shoes are hot.

OAT shoes

sustainable living

The simple, elegant and yet playful design is a departure from many style-sacrificing eco brands. Not here. Their fashion shows have even featured scantily clad models maneuvering wheelbarrows down the catwalk.  The centerpiece? A plant sprouting out of blooming shoe, pretty impressive. OAT is so fashionable in fact that the company walked away with the second prize at the Green Fashion Awards at Amsterdam International Fashion Week and have now branched out into bags and totes.

Blooming shoe - sustainable living

If, like most of us, you are just discovering the world of biodegradable shoes chances are you might have some footwear kicking around that just simply isn’t plantable but that doesn’t mean that you can’t recycle it.  For your fancy lady shoes you might consider transforming the prom experience of a girl in need by donating a pair to the Cinderella Project.  This non-profit aims to let girls in undeserved communities know “that they are not bound by personal or financial circumstances, and that the possibilities are endless for them.”

Cinderella project - sustainable living

For more practical, everyday shoes you might consider Soles 4 Souls.  The Nashville-based charity that has delivered over 19 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes to people in over 125 countries including Kenya, Thailand, Nepal and the United States. The non-profit also has a very strong disaster-relief force and coordinated efforts for the Asian Tsunami and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

At ExchangeMyPhone we love the idea of eco-equality for all which is why we admire organizations like the Cinderella Project and Soles 4 Souls and also why we make it our personal mission to provide free cell phone recycling for everyone!  At ExchangeMyPhone recycling is a right, plain and simple, and we are always humbled to find ourselves in such great company in the world of reuse.

ExchangeMyPhone Holiday Gift Guide: From Our Staff, With Love

At ExchangeMyPhone we know when it comes to gift giving it can be a jungle out there!  Which is why we have been busy putting our heads together to make things a little easier and take some of the guess work out of gift giving.  Whether you are shopping for the entrepreneur, the environmentalist, the creator or the tech type on your list, our gift guide is EMP-employee-certified to bring smiles all round.

Jeremy’s Pick
Jeremy - the Lean Startup

A few business books stand out as actually changing the way that we do things at ExchangeMyPhone. The Lean Startup was one of the books that I turned to again and again (it still takes pride of place on the shelf next to my desk). Eric Ries’ tome was given to me as a Christmas present years ago and I have always been so grateful for my family’s insight in giving it.

The book is a great gift for any budding entrepreneur and, even better, it could be given in combo with one of the business classes taught by those who have been in the trenches, or are still there. Skillshare is one of our favorite places to take and teach classes and we think Rafael Balbi’s class on Lean Startup style entrepreneurship would make an incredibly thoughtful gift to anyone on your list who has dreams of launching and developing a business in 2013.

Katherine’s Pick
Katherine - Brook's Green Silences sneakers

We are passionate about keeping toxic materials out of the landfill and we’re always excited to come across other companies who share our commitment. With New Year’s resolutions creeping up on us, we know a few people on our holiday list who would love a new pair of running shoes to kick off a healthy 2013. Problem is, running shoes are typically built of tenacious materials. So we did our research and found an amazing biodegradable alternative: meet the Brooks Green Silence sneakers.

Made with roughly half as many parts as comparable shoes, each piece of these performance racing flats has a sustainable element. In fact, their biodegradable components degrade 50 times faster than standard shoes in anaerobic conditions and are predicted to save 29.9 million pounds of landfill waste in roughly 20 to 25 years. All in all, these sneakers make the perfect sustainable gift for anyone who is trying to start a great new habit in 2013.

Maggie’s Pick
Maggie - Brooklyn makers

At ExchangeMyPhone we love our Brooklyn community. Though none of us are Brooklyn natives, it is definitely what we mean when we say home. From biking to our favorite pizza spots in Bushwick to townhouse admiring in Carroll Gardens to getting lost in Prospect Park, we are grateful to live and work in a beautiful place full of so many interesting people doing interesting things.

Brooklyn Makers by blogger, photographer and breakfast aficionado Jennifer Causey is a celebration of Brooklyn’s unique creativity and takes you inside the workshops of 30 of the borough’s artisans. From chocolate making to metal work to pottery and whiskey distilling there is something for everyone! Plus, each profile is complete with beautiful photographs and an in-depth Q and A. This homage to handcrafts is perfect for any maker on your list, not to mention the Brooklynites or those you are convincing to come for a visit!

Seth’s Pick
Seth - AR.Drone2.0

Tech gadgets make great gifts during the holidays and at ExchangeMyPhone we are definitely into technology. One of the coolest devices we’ve come across is the AR.Drone2.0. The AR.Drone2.0 is a drone quadcopter (a helicopter with four blades) that can be controlled remotely by your iPhone or Android device. The drone has an HD camera and can do some impressive aerial maneuvering.

However, what makes the AR.Drone2.0 so interesting is that users can reprogram the device to fly by itself. Controlling a helicopter with your iPad is cool- but programing a helicopter to fly circles around the cat is *awesome*.

The AD.Drone2.0 is the perfect gift for someone who is interested in hacking or a parent who wants to give their children a really exciting technical opportunity.

Happy Recycling Day, America

Posted on November 15, 2011 | CSR, e-waste, going green, Recycling, sustainable living, Waste less

Today is America Recycles Day and all over the country initiatives are taking place through the Keep America Beautiful Campaign.  One of the main focuses this year has been reducing e-waste.  What was once a day dedicated namely to the proper disposal of packaging plastics has, in the past few years, become an opportunity to promote the responsible recycling of electronic items large and small.

Recycling education campaigns about food-waste and plastics have been extremely effective and our habits have changed as a result.  However, there is now a huge gap in knowledge when it comes to electronics because we have simply never had so such an abundance of them.  President Obama is very aware of the growing predicament and, earlier this year, launched the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship, designed to provide a framework for the responsible design, management and recycling of electronics.

But it’s not only good for the environment. What is also significant about e-recycling is that is supports and stimulates a job market that 1.1 million people depend upon.  When your dad’s old word processor sits in your closet it doesn’t do any one any good, but proper disposal of such an item stands benefit both you and your community.  And there’s room to grow, Americans currently recycle only 33% recyclable items and a new report “More Jobs, Less Pollution” demonstrates how, by reaching the 75% mark, we could create 1.5 million jobs and reduce carbon emissions by 276 million metric tons by 2030.

In his America Recycles Day address the President reminded citizens that his administration is continuously, “forging new partnerships with the private sector that will advance electronics recycling across our country… we are protecting public health, preserving environmental quality, and laying the foundation for a 21st century economy.”

So, how are we celebrating at ExchangeMyPhone? By recycling cell phones of course, and we think you should too, take this opportunity to dust off an old device and send it our way.

Come and join our recycling community

With our soft launch completed, we wanted to thank you for your thumbs up, comments and feedback. We appreciate everything and we have taken it all on board. As much as we would like no-one to think that our baby is ugly, we appreciate the constructive criticism as much as the compliments. Your suggested changes were brilliant and we are doing our best to make the improvements that fit with our vision…and our budget. Thank you and please keep checking up on the site as our updates take shape.

So, we are now ready to start creating a community of people who want to get involved in cell phone recycling. We are reaching out to all of our lovely friends and family and asking them to keep spreading the word. Any ideas are very welcome indeed!

Our amazing friend Danya taught a great class at SkillShare on Monday night about the ins and outs of community building. We took so many scribbled notes that our hands ached afterwards and we met lots of good people involved in some very impressive start-ups in the city.

There were lots of big thoughts but these are two of the main points that we are hoping to bring to the ExchangeMyPhone community:

1) Trust and openness – we are an open company and we want you to be totally honest with us. Feel free to start the conversation however you like. You can tell us the good and the bad on facebook, twitter or in a personal email to us. All our discussion forums are open to your feedback.

2) Collaboration – If you have a school, church, or business that you want to fundraise for, we want to work with you to raise money with a phone drive. We are also always looking for new literacy initiatives to support so give us a heads up if you know of a local charity or library that needs a book donation.

Above all else we are tech junkies who believe in doing good for our communities and the environment. We love meeting people who share our passions!

If you have 3 minutes, and want to learn more about community-building check out this TED video…we hope you like it as much as we do.