What We Make Matters: My Efforts to Help those Affected by Climate Change
Matter is a product design and consulting studio based in the magic city of New Orleans, a place whose intimate and truly unique culture is beautifully intertwined with flavors from the Caribbean, Europe, and the South. It is a city grounded in community and its warmth, openness, and encouragement drew me in immediately.
It is also a city that is severely susceptible to the effects of climate change. How soon will it happen? Many say 2050, others say it could be at the end of this century—both predictions feel too close. We, as a society, have chosen not to believe in science for too long on this.
It is part of Matter’s mission to establish sustainable manufacturing jobs in the area, creating work that is healthy for the both people and the planet. As evidence of climate change becomes more concrete, the associated costs of the items that we purchase come to mind regularly. What is the cost of no longer having precious wetlands, which offer protection during hurricanes and are an essential balance for our eco-systems? Or, the full costs of manufacturing items inexpensively, as seen in the recent garment factory collapse in Bangladesh? Or, the true cost of air pollution to our health?
All of these side effects are not currently tallied in “cost of goods sold.” As climate change increases, these costs will also rise. TIME Magazine estimated that global flooding expenses will average $6 billion a year. Considering the worst case scenario should be the gauge for decision-making in city planning, manufacturing, and energy. The most hopeful consequence or blind-eye scenario is what we have been using since the birth of the Industrial Revolution and the time is now. Our over-use society is creating climate change.
Sustainable decision-making is at the forefront of what we need at every level. Sustainable = able to be maintained at a certain rate or level. Matter, the first Benefit Corporation in the state of Louisiana, is dedicated to creating sustainably made, daily-use products that foster meaningful connections for our most important social and environmental problems. We aim to focus not only on the effects of decisions made now, but also for a healthy, sustainable future.
Matter’s launch product was BirdProject Soap, which I began to produce in order to raise funds for the oil spill cleanup after BP’s Gulf disaster. Each all-natural black, bird-shaped soap contains a white, ceramic bird, which remains as a keepsake once the outer soap has washed away. Through the daily act of washing, you will eventually free the clean, white, ceramic birds inside—potent symbols of restoration and recovery. Fifty percent of proceeds are donated to groups working on restoration after the BP oil spill disaster. We are proud to have donated $18,000 to date.
Now I’m launching three additional community-based products that give back and focus on building literacy. We have a series of letterpress notebooks with proceeds going to the “I Have A Dream" Foundation. Rabbits for Reading, a flax linen napkin set—once folded, a rabbit appears— will help raise funds for S.T.A.I.R., a one-on-one tutoring group and First Book, which gives books to schools in need. The last product is a blanket, inspired by the needs brought by Hurricane Sandy, which forms a heart upon your chest once wrapped around you—it's essentially giving a warm hug. These blankets bring you warmth while also raising funds for rebuilding communities that are still affected by Hurricane Sandy, with a percentage of proceeds going to Architecture for Humanity for their efforts to rebuild communities affected by disasters around the world.
We are currently raising funds to create these new products; please help us make them here on indiegogo. We can create change and make a significant difference in our communities, but we do have to take the steps to make realistic, often seemingly daring, sustainable decisions to do so.
This project is featured in GOOD's series Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.
A New Olympics Just For Nomads Playing polo with a 100-pound goat carcass to save nomadic culture and build national pride in Kyrgyzstan.
New Detroit Program Trades Houses for Literary Excellence Write a House names Brooklyn poet Casey Rocheteau as first recipient of free home in Detroit
A Chance in Hell Yaks, America, and The Apocalypse Up against an $88 billion beef industry, it takes a leap of faith to raise yak in the United States.
Specialty Coffee Retailers Try to Prove They're Good to the Last Drop Searching for the perfect cup of sustainable and ethically produced joe. #NationalCoffeeDay
Metalhead Ballerinas Rock the U.K. Brutal Ballet slayed U.K. audiences last week with the debut of original choreography set to a metal cover of the Game of Thrones themesong.
You’re Now a Two-Minute Video Away from Getting into College
Goucher College will accept video applications in lieu of the traditional essays and test scores.
3 Epic Racial Profiling Blunders from History
Racial profiling not only harms innocent people of color, it can cause law enforcement to lose crucial time in pursuing the true criminals.
10 Overlooked Issues That People are Protesting This Week at the U.N.
The U.N. General Assembly is a magnet for protest from every race, color, and creed. Meet some of the people behind the picketing.
Why We Still Need the Nation State Overshadowed by international organizations, global commerce, and even individual cities, the nation state still has a vital role to play.
Flip-Flopping on Fats Health and sustainability concerns drive the two largest donut chains to change their policies on palm oil.
The Challenge of Branding a Life-Threatening Disease Can mitochondrial disease go mainstream? There are promising developments for mitochondrial disease in genetics and cellular therapies—now, if only it could get some buzz.
A Headdress Ban Disqualified Qatar’s Entire Women’s Basketball Team from International Competition
If the Asian Games really want to be a place where diversity shines, they should’ve opposed International Basketball’s ban on religious headwear.