- Sep 1, 2018 12:00 pm
A love affair with the rare, odd, ugly and wild
By Becca Tucker
Photos by Michael Bloom
Martin Bernstein pulls...
TOP STORY :
Crafted by a homesteading seamstress-mom in Vermont, Bee's Wrap is the answer to that pernicious plastic wrap problem. Infused with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin, the organic cotton food wrapper is washable and ultimately compostable. We recommended them three years ago; now this young company has moved out of the founder's kitchen into a workshop that employs five local women. Stock up with the new variety pack, whose sheets' sizes correspond to different colors and patterns so you can grab what you need quickly, whether you're covering half a lemon or a fresh loaf of bread. The instructions recommend reusing for a year, but in our house, we've still got three-year-old sheets in the rotation. The minimal packaging is as thoughtfully sustainable as the product.
$42 for 7-sheet variety pack
beeswrap.com or Healthy Thymes Market, Vernon NJ
Sunshine Ferrara used to work in the cosmetics industry, but ordering truckloads of chemicals left her hating herself. Now she makes her own line of organic, eco-friendly, ethically sourced and fun beauty products from home in Wantage, NJ. She's a pro: her bath bombs fizz volcanically, even when you take them out of the water. The delightful line includes a slip-in-your-pocket hand and fingertip balm ($6) and her bestselling healing foot balm ($8) that would make perfect stocking stuffers. Or if you're going for something with a lot of personality, we were taken by her cookie dough sugar scrub, packed in a tiny reusable Mason jar. It smells like happiness because it contains many of the very ingredients, like brown sugar and cinnamon, she uses to bake cookies. The label says don't eat, but if the baby ends up slurping the bath water, you can rest easy cause there's nothing weird in any of her products. Oh and she includes a free gift with each order.
etsy.com, search 'SunshineUSA'
Founded in January by a pair of surfing millennial fishermen, 4Ocean now has eight boats out on the ocean every day, cleaning up trash. Their growing business is financed entirely by the sale of bracelets made of post-consumer glass and plastic bottles (what comes out the other end of those blue bins on street corners). Each bracelet funds the removal of a pound of trash. The plastic gyre is "more than eight boats could ever take care of, but the whole mission is also to kind of educate the public," said co-founder Alex Schulze. "We're trying to inspire them to stop their habits of using 15 single-use water bottles a day." The founders envisioned their blue bracelet as something that would be with you every day, that you could wear with any outfit, "subtle but big at the same time, showcasing your commitment to cleaner oceans." Adjustable by a slip knot, it works as a conversation piece, and a reminder to run back and grab those reusable bags.
The 1764 stone tavern on Warwick's Main Street is swinging open its doors once more. And as in the old days, tavern members can sip beer from their own custom pewter mugs engraved with their names. Made in Sheffield, England these mugs are the real deal; the Warwick Historical Society tracked an old one down in the original. Membership comes with other perks, too, like drink discounts and admission to parties. But mostly, your watering hole can be the very one where George Washington once drank a grog. Roughly half of proceeds from the mugs go to the historical society; the tavern itself is an innovative new money making model for the society.
$100 tavern membership
845-324-8750 or stop by Baird's Tavern, 103 Main St., Warwick NY after 4pm
This homesteading doula-mom started making booties after she discovered that her infant son instantly ripped all other footwear off his feet. "And they made him look like a little woodland elf of sorts, so that was a huge bonus," said Noelle Libby of Maine. In her kitchen, while the "beasts run amok" around her, Libby crafts each pair to order (any size from newborn to adult) using a quilting weight fabric for the outside and a soft bamboo fleece for the inside lining. Elastic in the ankle, plus a tall wrap around the snap section, doubles the stay-on factor, so you can rest easy knowing no feet are freezing on your watch.
She was seeking a crunchy, gluten-free cookie, made of simple ingredients and no refined sugars. "Which led me to the meringue," said Stefanie Jasper, co-owner of the new health food spot, Get Juiced. You'll want to keep popping these bite sized puffs in your mouth, and you won't feel bad about it, either. Made in small batches, with egg whites from friends' small flocks in Vernon, Wantage and Hamburg, these cookies are sweetened with Vermont maple sugar. "We want to use ingredients that are beneficial to most people — not everybody, but most," said Jasper. They use no corn in anything they make, for instance, to avoid the potential for GMO contamination.
$5.50 per 2.75 oz bag
Our perennial favorite sipping whiskey remains Black Dirt Bourbon, made primarily of corn grown in these very mucklands, and distilled in a towering red barn smack in the middle of the black dirt fields. Now we can add another regional standout. Coppersea is a relative newcomer, but they call themselves a heritage distiller and mean it. They are one of a handful of distillers in the country that age their grain the ancient way, right on the floor. Spent grain goes to feed their Gloucestershire Old Spot heritage pigs. Their Excelsior Bourbon is 100 percent made in New York; even the barrel was specially made from New York State white oak. Based on a bottle's appearance in a recent episode of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Excelsior (named for New York State's motto, meaning "ever upward") is indeed headed that direction.
Black Dirt Bourbon,
Warwick Valley Winery, Warwick NY
This parent team — "Mr. Designer and Ms. Perfectionist" — use their life with three kids as their R&D lab. In a barn on their property in Westtown, NY, Dylan Akinrele designs and builds eco-friendly rustic pieces, a business that has evolved from a side gig to a full time job for both of them. It was years ago that Monika Vokoun asked her partner to make spice jars that would stick to their fridge. When new fridges lost their magnetic powers, Vokoun realized: "Huh, there's a product idea." Akinrele came up with a magnetic spice board, whose wooden frame is reclaimed from upstate barns, to hold the spice jars and whatever else, like a recipe or photos, you want to get off the kitchen counter. Spices, it turns out, have their own subtle beauty when you put them on display. You can also write on the metal with dry erase markers. The board is mounted with a super simple velcro system, and the finish is a nontoxic made-in-Vermont coating that uses whey, a byproduct of cheese making, as a bonding agent.
Spice rack from $115
Jars: 8 for $20
At home we just use a stainless steel bowl for kitchen scraps, but we splurged for a pail for our office, where we recently started composting. With its sleek looks and odor-cutting carbon filter, this sturdy little pail may be all you need to change hearts and minds. It turns composting into an elegant enough operation that it can pass muster in the most persnickety of kitchens, or a more buttoned-up setting like an office. These pails come in all sorts of styles and materials, from bamboo to ceramic, so poke around to find a style to suit.
This is how we do our laundry now and it's first on the list for a reason. "Soap nuts" are actually dried berries that grow wild in the Himalayas and contain saponin, a natural soap. Stick "nuts" in the cloth bag and throw them in with clothes. When they get worn out, compost and replace. Ciao
plastic bottles and harsh detergents.
$9.99 for 100 load pack
Beacon Natural Market, Beacon, NY or econutssoap.com
A New Jersey family founded Poofy Organics in 2006 after a matriarch got breast cancer. Everything of theirs we've tried is delicious. This face cream, made of clean ingredients like shea butter, borage oil and kimchi seaweed, quenches winter skin and protects from the sun. A little goes a long way.
Warwick artist Gary Genetti scavenges busted safety glass from junkyards and turns it into nightlights, plates, soap dishes and clocks. The serving bowls are made using Genetti's open source model that can be replicated anywhere.
Studio: 74 Walling Rd., Warwick NY, 845-492-1935
Bowl $148 on amazon.com, search "Junkyard Glass"
You've got a loved one with a weakness for single serve coffee. We can't all be perfect, but "more perfect?" Yes. This funky Michigan roaster came up with the first compostable K-Cup. Because the water filters out the sides instead of going straight through, it also brews a much stronger cup.
$10 for 10-pack, uncommoncoffeeroasters.com
Turn nighttime into outside time instead of TV time. Whether it's gardening or camping, you can do more with two free hands. It doesn't really
matter which headlamp. We recommend going with a brand name; they've gotten quite durable and the LEDs have a long battery life. We like the Black Diamond Spot Headlamp's strap that can be adjusted while wearing.
$39.95 Campmor, Paramus, NJ
These totes look wicker, but on closer examination you can see that they're in fact made of that ubiquitous scourge: thin film plastic bags. Amelia Bunzey, of Goshen, collects used bags, cuts them into strips, strings them together and uses this "plarn" to crochet handbags and straps to hold yoga
mats. She started doing it to cheer up her young daughter who was "verklempt" at the sight of so much trash out the car window.
$18 and up, etsy.com, search "bunzeybagdesigns"
Finally, you can stop saying, "eh, it's kinda upstate" and point to your chest when people ask where you live. This cozy t-shirt or tank top is
screenprinted by hand in Albany.
$20 etsy.com, search "MW neighborhoods"
Turn your rain or mud boots into all-winter boots with these alpaca inserts, which keep your feet so toasty you might just ditch your socks. Made by hand in upstate NY of alpaca fiber and wool.