Archive for the ‘green culture’ Category

Inhabitat is one of my favorite places to discover new and inspiring design ideas. Just a minute ago, I saw the Facebook Inhabitat group has announced that they’ve been nominated for a Cooper Hewitt People’s Design Award. This award was founded by the prestigious Cooper Hewitt Design Museum and the competition gives people a chance to vote for their favorite examples of good design.

Inhabitat says “We’re honored to be nominated and we think it’s important to spread the word that good design is green design.”

Vote here and see all nominees here.

“Meaningful design experience”. I had a good one the other day.

Do you ever have those? You’re going about your business and bam!–you encounter something (product or service) that you find works so well for you and you instantly feel happy? Maybe you even think to yourself, ‘Wow, why didn’t someone think of this a long time ago?’

The other day I decided to use one of the many bar soaps I have stocked in my linen closet. (Sometimes I use body wash, as bar soaps tend to dry my skin out. And as a side-note, I’m not necessarily a hoarder; I just like having options. Who doesn’t?) As I peered into my closet, I decided to break open the organic (and a bit expensive) Pangea Organics soap I had purchased a few months ago from World Market. (If you haven’t been to World Market yet, I recommend a visit. It is one of the best places in Minneapolis to explore ethnic snacks, furniture, homeware, jewelry, body care goodies, and more.)

The soap I chose, Malagasy Cinnamon Cassia with Cloves, is meant to ‘invigorate the mind and warm the body’. The packaging also told me that cinnamon acts as an astringent & antioxidant, and aphrodisiac. Cloves are supposedly antimicrobial & detoxifying and stimulating. Not automatically impressive as so many soaps claim to be these things. One of the main reasons I bought the soap was due to its aesthetics (simple, egg-carton-like packaging) and scent. The small circle cut-out on the top of the carton allows you to get a good whiff of the soap. The Malagasy must have yanked me out of my Sunday-shopping reverie because I recall it was fairly strong smelling and uplifting…

For some reason I did not read the label thoroughly before or immediately after purchasing. Usually I do this. So, it was only until the other day that I sat down and read the whole label. Now getting to the design ‘aha! moment’: The label told me that I can actually plant it. 

Is this a fairly new packaging effort by sustainable-minded companies? I’d never heard of this and was delighted — This company encourages consumers to be mindful of waste and actually gives us a small tool with which to take action versus giving us a top 10 ways to save the earth. Pangea Organics says “All of our product boxes are made using a new Zero Waste process with 100% post-consumer paper and organic seeds like sweet basil and amaranth. Simply slip off the label, soak the box in water for a minute and plant it in the earth. Ecocentric Bodycare: Always Beneficial, Never Artificial.”

I’m not sure what the general ecological benefits are associated with herbs or planting them, but it can’t be a bad thing. Maybe this would be trickier to produce and get consumers to act upon, but what if Pangea Organics (or others) made product packaging with vegetable seeds? Growing your own food is a small way to reduce your carbon footprint (think less driving time to buy veggies = less harmful emissions). 

Yesterday I told my parents about the soap and handed the package to my mom. Hopefully I’ll see some amaranth soon…



Lately I’ve been tempted to start posting links, as so many throw up ‘Links of the Day’ posts…but before I get addicted to that (as I’ve heard it is), let me today post a link to a new site I came across a few minutes ago:


A quick click through told me it’s a design site (online store with lots of goodies) geared for parents who wish to pass down values of sustainability to their children. Using organic fabrics, sustainable materials, and producing their creations in Earth-friendly ways, they aim to be “the starting point for parents to share the joys of good design with their children”.

Aside from offering cribs, strollers, lamps (adorable, in animal shapes and various colors), they also offer albums, featuring lullaby renditions of The Beatles, U2 and Coldplay most dreamy and gentle tunes. The albums’ descriptions sound so sweet, you may want to purchase some for yourself if you need help relaxing after a long day at work.

The Beatles lullaby renditionsColdplay lullaby renditions


I attended PSFK’s Conference last Tues. 9/18 (my first) and enjoyed soaking up all of the new (and not so new) ideas, thoughts, and questions that came up in the discussion.

This panel talked about the issue of transportation in L.A. I’d heard that driving in L.A. is horrible, so this was interesting to hear about people who’ve given up their cars and how they navigate around town. Here’re my notes and thoughts.

Roberto Espinosa & Michael Powers of Refreshment, led the discussion. Siel of the blog greenLAgirl. Frederick Dennstedt, designer and creator of blog MetroRider LA. Kymberleigh Richards of the San Fernando Valley Transit Insider.

This was a fairly energetic discussion, which almost got a bit heated at times (much like I’m sure those cars on the PCH get sitting in traffic). Car-lessness is doable. Siel has been without for the last 6 months, Fred 3 yrs, and Kymberleigh for 15 yrs. Impressive.

On being car-less and the “car culture” of L.A.:
Siel: lives in Santa Monica where the bus system is great. Navigates using this, in addition to biking it, walking, and using Flexcar. Her choice (like everyone else) to go car-less, requires adjustments, such as planning ahead and making sure you have enough time to get to Point B from Point A.
Kymberleigh: Notes that the Metro ridership increases when its service is extended. (I saw an article on L.A. public transportation in the airplane magazine and saw it only goes so far. Not sure of their future plans, but hopefully in 10 yrs, this will be greatly extended to all areas of L.A.) Sees the main challenge (with Fred agreeing) is to change people’s mindset – getting them to take the Metro is difficult.
Fred: His blog aims to promote what he calls “The Los Angeles Public Transit Lifestyle”. Strongly believes you can survive without a car and was pushed to go car-less after becoming fed up with the hassles of car ownership, sitting in traffic, gas trips, etc. He and Kymberleigh talked about the “car culture” madness. Kymberleigh says that people (drivers) are adamant in their demands for being able to drive, and they don’t want to give up ‘their’ lanes (for buses), and their right to be there. (I sometimes get annoyed with the buses in downtown Minneapolis, but as it’s a much smaller place, I rarely notice the space the buses take up. How haughty some of these “car culture” people sound…)
Fred: Believes society prejudices are a huge barrier in getting people to use public transportation more often. He stressed the many upsides of going car-less: the gain in freedom, save $, a renewed sense of freedom to explore your city, and last but certainly not least, learning to relax.

Having lived in the suburbs for the past 26 yrs, and having used public transportation for various Minneapolis jobs, I’ve learned to really appreciate the bus (and lightrail). Coming from the suburbs (going directly downtown), you don’t ride with ‘city’ people. It’s mostly white, middle-class professionals. People who come in from the suburbs are probably very appreciative that they can take the bus, read, relax, and save gas money. Minneapolis isn’t as large as L.A., Chicago, or NY, but if it were, I doubt there would be this “car culture” that permeates L.A. I understand how some people may snub their noses at the bus/train rider. They may wonder why they can’t afford to drive, or if they’re coming in from poorer areas.

Which gets me thinking about mass public transportation and how it brings people together and mashes them up. Apparently, ‘the more the merrier’ isn’t a good thing for the Car Culture of L.A. Public transportation could bring in ‘undesirables’ I suppose, but would these people really want to shop Rodeo Drive? Would they be eating at Mr.Chow? Doubt it. It’s not fair to exclude people from access. Everyone should have a right to explore and utilize resources. NYC, though not as spread out and possibly better suited for the subway, sees a plethora of the masses come in and out every day. The mashing of diversity, lifestyles, flavors, and culture is what makes this city buzz and grow. Cutting people off from these possibilities is stupid for any city that wants to stand out as a great place to live, think, and play.

On the future of transportation:
Kymberleigh: Part of the reason why the Metro doesn’t go further is due to the discovery of a methane pocket underground. There is a possibility that expansion will happen, but this depends on a certain bill (if I remember correctly) passing.
Margaret Kemp: Representing Flexcar. Car-sharing service. Last yr they had 40 cars, this year 160ish. Says it’s interesting that people are opening up to the idea of car-sharing. This month they’ve seen 350 new members join. How it works in a nutshell: you rent at any time increment, you do no maintenance on the car, pick it up at location nearest you, return it to where you got it. Fee covers gas, insurance, and 150 free miles. 1/3 of their cars are hybrids. (A great way to use alternative transportation, promotes using local grocers/stores, etc.)


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