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.

Startup world – The Quirkiest Kickstarters of the Year

Posted on January 14, 2013 | Amazing tech, Fundraising, makers, Start-up

In many ways Kickstarter is a digital world of the unexpected, where startup dreams are realized (well, at least funded) and the underdog is given a shot at making it big. Since the it’s launch in April 2009 the site has facilitated more than 30,000 creative, grassroots projects and over $350 million dollars has been pledged by more than 2.5 million people. But as the funding platform matures it is becoming more and more evident that the runaway success stories are anything but predictable. Here is a look back at some of the most head-scratching, logic defying and awesomely strange Kickstarter darlings of the past year.

The Ostrich Pillow: Home of the power nap.

Ostrich Pillow

Wait, what? The Ostrich Pillow’s unique design instantly creates a micro environment in which to easily take a relaxing, restful power nap in public. According to the pillow’s founders “Its soothing soft interior shelters and isolates your head and hands (mind and body) for a short break, without needing to leave your desk, chair, bench or wherever you may be.”

Amount raised: $200,000 from 1,846 backers in 30 days.

Where are they now? The pillow is currently being sold by Studio Banana Things for $99, though the extra shut-eye you stand to gain from comfortable public napping could be priceless.

Ostrich Pillow packaging

The 5 O’clock Shadow: When a coat collar isn’t enough.

Wait, what? This functional beard face mask began as a ski accessory but quickly became a winter necessity for all activities. All 5 O’clock Shadow beards are hand knitted in Salt Lake City with a cotton-polyester backing for comfort and two elastic straps for stability.

Beard face-mask startup

Amount raised: $3, 911 (Which we think is pretty good for knitted facial hair)

Where are they now? Apparently anywhere people have cold faces! And, it’s not just for men, as you can see on the in the product’s photo gallery many women are now embracing the comforts of bearded living.

The Griz Coat: It’s not a costume. It’s a lifestyle.

Wait, what? The Griz Coat called is the calf-length, faux-fur, toothy, clawed, brainchild of a pair of 30-year-old twin brothers. Karl Reichstetter, a graduate of the Dartmouth Tuck School of Business, who first conceived of the idea, decided to move forward with it because of what he saw as “a hole in the bear-coat market.”

Griz Coat

Amount raised: $14,000

Where are they now? Griz Coats are alive and roaring.  A single coat costs around $200 and there are a variety of styles to choose from. Apparently many people agree with the coat’s Kickstarter page that claims that “… the Griz Coat is highly appropriate for: Halloween, Bay to Breakers, Monday morning meetings, most weddings, Tuesday morning meetings, high school reunions, and first dates.”

TGT: Big Isn’t Always Better

TGT micro wallet

Wait, What? Perhaps not as silly as the other items on our list, the TGT micro wallet, made from fine Italian leather, aims to eliminate the discomfort experienced when carrying bulky wallets in pant pockets.

Amount Raised: $317,424

Where are they now? More than 7,000 people crowdfunded TGT and thousands more have purchased the product since. So, what’s the secret to mega success of this tiny wallet? We can’t be sure but we would venture a guess it has something to do with the noble goal to “respect the silhouette of the butt.”

TGT micro wallet design

It seems that men’s accessories, odd as they may be, dominated crowd-funding last year. What trends will top the list for 2013? We’d love to hear your wild predictions!

Use your old phones to help those hit hardest by Sandy!

Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast on Monday, leaving towns and cities flooded and millions without power.

Here in New York, we’ve been humbled and awed by the city’s response – everyone has been doing their bit to help by offering shelter, food, transport and volunteering around the city.

Want to help? Wherever you are in the country, we have one easy way that you can support those in need:

Donate the value of your old phones to one of our featured charities, Team Rubicon, and support their efforts to serve those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Your donation to Team Rubicon will help them purchase supplies, such as chainsaws and gasoline, so that response teams can save those who are stranded and clear debris.

How does it work?

1) Collect old cell phones from your home, co-workers, family, friends etc

2) Get an instant price quote on our website (you can also call us up on (212) 804-7270 or email us at to arrange sending in a large collection).

3) At checkout choose to donate the value of your cell phones to Team Rubicon.

100% of your donations will go to supporting Team Rubicon’s six response teams stretching from D.C. to New York.

Want to know more about Team Rubicon?

Team Rubicon bridges the critical time gap between large humanitarian disasters and conventional aid response. They provide vanguard medical care by fielding small, self-sustaining, mobile teams of military veterans and medical professionals. Since its creation in January 2010, TR has saved and helped thousands of lives in Haiti, Chile, Burma, Pakistan, Sudan and here in the US. TR reaches victims outside the scope of traditional aid organizations, victims on the fringe. One of our favorite parts about Team Rubicon is that 100% of every dollar you donate goes directly to their missions – no salaries, no overhead, no exceptions! We’re proud to support them.

Turn your cell phones into vehicles for good and donate to support the Hurricane Sandy relief effort today!

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The new look at ExchangeMyPhone

If you have cruised by this week then you’ve already noticed the huge changes that have been taking shape.  Not only have we been sprucing up the appearances of things but we’ve also been hard at work making the site even easier to use and enhancing the capabilities of cell phone recycling.

Here’s how:

1) Easier checkout: You can now check out from any page on our site.  So, whether you are viewing our recycling credentials, or catching up with the world of reuse on our blog, you are only ever one click away from check-out, and that much closer to being paid!

2) Double The Good: We are now your one-stop-site for charitable donations. It is now possible to give the entire value of a phone exchange to any US registered charity of your choice.  That means access to more than 765,000 chances to support the causes that matter to you.

3) Sell your old iPads: We are also now accepting iPads so you can sell you old iPad or iPad2 before the iPad3 comes out and you are struck by iPad envy.

We would love to know what you think of the updates, so don’t hesitate to send your comments to

And just incase all the change is worrying you, never fear: some things never change like our free shipping for any phone, regardless of value!

Collective Conscience

Saturday night a wonderful group gathered at The Wooster Street Social Club (yes, also known as TLC’s New York Inc tattoo parlor) in support of Sophia Sunwoo and Josh Braunstein’s start-up/non-profit Water Collective. Water Collective is dedicated to picking up where many charities leave off when it comes to bringing fresh water sources to those without.  Growing light is being shed on the flaws in the existing water-aid system in that while various non-profits establish potable water sources they have neither the funds, nor the manpower to oversee long-term maintenance: without which, the solutions quickly dry up.  Water Collective wants to change this by making a lifetime guarantee to every community with which they partner to ensure access to drinking water is both reliable and permanent.

Sunwoo first conceived of the idea while working on her senior thesis at Parsons that focused on building a disaster-prevention program on a micro and macro scale for developing communities.  This is where she was confronted with the inefficiencies of many water charities and the extent to which global water technologies have been abandoned and broken.  Rather than starting from scratch Water Collective’s approach involves improving and repairing what is already there.  This means that each case is different and each community receives the specific and special attention they require to make a lasting, sustainable change.  Saturday’s fundraiser was the columniations of a two-month long Call to Action Campaign (the collective’s debut project) to raise $40,000 dollars for their efforts in Uganda and marked the realization of that goal.

ExchangeMyPhone was a proud sponsor of the event and very much agrees with Water Collective’s approach to reuse and refurbishment, physically in the restoration of water systems that already exist but also ideologically in their aim to redefine the scope of what a charity does.  We also admire the creativity of vision both co-founders share though they could not have come from more different backgrounds: Sunwoo has created and sold a successful clothing label while Braunstein focused on non-profit fundraising. This duo has a chemistry that defines Water Collective and was palpable on Wooster Street where friends, family, new supporters and other entrepreneurs exchanged ideas and offered support to a cause upon whose worth and urgency we can all agree.

One down, lots more to go….

We ran our first phone drive last Wednesday at the Eco-Rama put on by The Brooklyn New School.

It was boiling hot outside. Lots of kids came to peek in to our phone recycling box. Some amazing parents came to say hi and drop off their phones to be recycled. We handed out lots of pre-paid envelopes so everyone had the option to pop their phones in the postbox when they got home.

After school mayhem in Carroll Gardens

We were digging the poster that the kids made for us

We had loads of help from the one of the amazing mums, Amy Plattsmier, and our friend Mike who was on holiday in New York and got roped in to taking photos.

We are running the phone drive until the end of the school year. Then we’ll count up what the phones are worth and send the money raised to the school.

If you are interested in raising money for your school, hospital, charity, church etc let us know. We would love to work with you! Check out our fundraising page here. You can contact us via our website or send me an email at

Phone drives can be incredibly profitable for you and we think they’re much easier, and a lot less messy, than running a bake sale.

We’re going back to school!

Brooklyn New School to be exact (known as BNS by the cool kids).

Seeing as we are based in Brooklyn, we wanted to get involved with our local community. So we reached out to one of the elementary schools in our ‘hood.

BNS is a great place and a very green school. They even have a green committee who were granted funding to open an Eco-casita outdoor classroom next week. The parents talk about composting, share vegetable growing techniques and often cycle to school on their bikes. The kids are more environmentally conscious than most of the adults we know.

So we have partnered with their green committee to host a phone drive fundraiser for the school. The best part is that all of the money they raise from donating their used and broken cell phones to be recycled goes back into the school. What could be better?

The idea is really simple and refreshingly low-tech. There is a real life brown box (recycled, of course) in their main office, and posters throughout the school. The parents and teachers can drop their unwanted phones into the box any time in the next week (it has a hole cut out the top, small enough that nimble fingers can’t reach in). Then the school is hosting a sustainability fair next Wednesday (June 15th), called ‘Eco-Rama’, and we will be there to answer any questions and take in any final phones to be recycled.

Once the phone drive is finished we will take them back to our office, assess the value of the phones and send all of the money raised back to BNS to be used however they see fit.

The newer the phone models the more money they are worth but all the phones that are donated will be wiped of their data, and responsibly recycled or found a second home. Good for the environment and good for the community…win win.

We could not be more excited about our first fundraising phone drive. We are keen to expand into communities around New York and the rest of the country. So, if you want to raise money for your school, charity, church, hospital etc, just let us know and we’ll make it happen.