By Eric Capstick
Often it is the simple things in life that make the difference. The kitchen is such a central part of existence for civilized folks that the product choices we make there can bring a great deal of joy and satisfaction into our lives. In typically tiny NYC kitchens it is a matter of quality and functionality that primarily informs our choices for the products we choose to live with each day. It can also be gratifying if the company behind the products has some inspiration to offer its customers. One way for companies to accomplish this feat is to present a sustainable business model with the goal of creating products that are progressive in design, functionality and environmental impact alike. Below are examples of two such companies offering products that are not only of high quality and utility but also feature recycled materials and a commitment to reducing energy use and waste in the manufacturing process.
Architec’s EcoSmart™ line of Sustainable Houseware Products
The EcoSmart™ brand of houseware products from Architec is a wonderful and inspiring story about a company that not only seeks to design products to fill perceived gaps in the marketplace but is also committed to harnessing the innovative design that Architec is known for with a passion for creating beautiful, functional products with eco-friendly materials made in the USA. The company came about when company president Jenna Sellers Smith became inspired to create a line of smartly designed and formulated cutting boards that were made from recycled plastic and flax, to fill a niche in the market with a stunning eco-friendly offering. Legend has it that Jenna traveled the country is search of orders for the product carrying a bag of recycled plastic and flax. When one big retailer placed a large order, EcoSmart™ had four months to finalize the design, develop the patented materials, manufacture and deliver the product they hoped would not only be a boon to the bottom line but shake up the eco-friendly housewares market as well. The end result is a striking product made from recycled Polypropylene plastic with flax husk or cellulose suspended inside that creates unique design details with each individual set. EcoSmart™ products are now the #1 selling line for Architec, and has helped the company go from 3% Made in the USA to over 33% today. By 2014 Architec plans to make 50% of all their products in the USA.
The patented Polyflax™ Polypaper™ Serving Bowl and Serving Spoons – which I have enjoyed as a mainstay of our kitchen over the past couple of months – are a descendant of the original EcoSmart™ cutting boards and provide another example of the progressive resourcefulness of the brand. The large and elegant serving bowl ($24.99) and matching spoon set ($9.99) are lightweight, durable and supremely functional additions to our kitchen. Other recently introduced products that derive from the original concept include the GoodGranite™ cutting board ($19.99) which looks like granite but is made from recycled plastic containers and juice pouches. Each board is produced in a zero waste Eco facility in the USA and saves 40+ plastic containers and 5 juice pouches from landfills. Another inspiring product, PureLast™ Measuring Spoons and Cups, look great and are modestly priced while continuing the EcoSmart™ tradition of finding alternatives to traditional manufacturing processes. These strong and stylish offerings are made from 80% natural materials including rice hull, ground bamboo and sesame oil. Finally, with more and more culinary types printing recipes from the Internet, Architec Housewares came up with the Recipe Rock™ ($9.99), a 2” concave sculpted metallic “rock” that will hold up to 8 pages of recipes upright, with a removable metal ball, while you get to work in the kitchen. Both EcoSmart™ and Architec are women-run companies that offer a progressive vision for manufacturing sustainable products in the USA, with product lines distinguished by a sophisticated sense of design and long-lasting value. EcoSmart™ and Architec products can be found at major retailers such as Target, Crate & Barrel, Macy’s and Bed Bath & Beyond, as well as on their respective websites and various online outlets.
Available at http://www.architecproducts.com
Goodbye detergent!® Products Deliver Sustainable Cleaning Solutions
In our home we often buy nuts in the shell and crack ‘em open when we feel like enjoying a good, healthy snack. This habit eventually led me to contemplate the large number of nutshells that remained after a feeding frenzy for which I could think of no use. Having for years indulged myself in trying to figure out a good use for the jagged, sharp and extremely hard but natural waste product, I’d sadly come up empty. My fortune would not, as it turns out, be made from nutshell debris. So, it was with great joy and interest that I discovered an enterprising and practical line of products that were, in large part, made from the shells of nuts, or other natural recycled materials. Goodbye detergent!® produces a remarkable line of imaginative scrubbing products for the kitchen and home, as well as for outdoor use that are not only earth friendly but are also a pleasure to use around the home.
As the name implies, Goodbye detergent!® scrubs are designed to perform all sorts of specific cleaning tasks effectively without the use of detergents and soaps that contain toxins and chemicals. It is a laudable concept that is accomplished with tremendous ingenuity. Designed by the Japanese industrial designer Hiroki Hayashi, all of the Goodbye detergent!® scrubs are made from unusual natural materials like recycled corn cobs, peach pits and, yes, walnut shells. Each of these materials are processed to act as natural abrasives that are well-suited to the scrubbing chores of life. The company has formulated a wide array of options beginning with the Original Spaghetti Scrub, in Gentle and Coarse forms that are all you will need for dishes, wood, plastic and nonstick pots and pans, stemware and anything else you might use in the kitchen. The gentle Original Spaghetti Scrub is a durable stringy mass of scrubbing power in the color of a peach pit, from which it is partly constructed, and should be used for the lighter dishwashing chores including nonstick cookware, dishes and glasses. You will want to use the coarse scrub for heavier jobs like cleaning metal pots, kettles, sinks, grills and such. The company also recommends using the coarse scrub for, of all things, peeling vegetables! It’s a tough and stringy yellow scrub made with corncob powder, cotton and polyester, and like all of the Goodbye detergent™ products will last for months. The Original Spaghetti Scrubs are extremely pliable which makes them comfortable to hold in your hand and great for cleaning tights spots and hard to reach crevisses. I’ve found these scrubs to be a refreshing change from the yellow and green industrial-type scrubbers I’ve used in the past, and they really do work extremely well without adding detergent or soap. You could always add a drop of soap for some particularly greasy cases but I have found that it’s often not necessary. Another terrific feature of these scrubs is that they dry quickly and completely, eliminating mold, bacteria and smells that you might encounter with more traditional scrubbing products.
Goodbye detergent!® offers three categories of scrubs: Original Spaghetti, Kitchen and Outdoor. The Outdoor Scouring Pads are rugged and extremely useful for all sorts of tasks. The Soft, Hard and Heavy Duty pads are made with walnut shells, natural magnesia and natural alumina respectively to provide the sturdy abrasion surfaces of the scrubs. I recently used the hard Outdoor scrub for a cleanup of the entire bathroom and was amazed at how easily stains were removed from the bathtub tile and the floor, without the use of a powdered cleaning agent like Ajax. It was quite a revelation and the company recommends using the hard scrub to remove moss and mold on stone as well. The heavy duty Outdoor Scouring Pad can be used for cleaning concrete and brick as well as BBQ grills and, remarkably, the topcoat of paint when prepping for a painting job. Goodbye detergent suggests using the soft pad for general cleaning and removing minor stains on exterior walls, furniture, wooden deck and flower pots. Finally, the Kitchen Cleaning Pads offer four different formulations to handle heavy duty cleaning tasks as well as specialized pads for working with enamel, stainless steel and anodized aluminum. These Kitchen Pad varieties also incorporate natural and recycled materials including natural alumina, recycled plastic, pumice stones and walnut shells. After trying out several of the Goodbye detergent products over the past several months I can enthusiastically attest to the quality of their products. And, of course, I’m quite impressed with the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the company that succeeded in thinking outside of the box to incorporate waste products and other natural materials into the manufacturing process. Goodbye detergent products can be found at many major retailers and online outlets. Their website, http://www.goodbyedetergent.com, lists retailers in your local area and online sellers as well as product details. If you would like to shake up the cleaning routine in your kitchen, and want to support a progressive, green company, then you should check them out.