Ode to the Alternatives

Big Tree Farms has created products like the world’s first truly raw cacao butter by asking, “how can this be better?” In the spirit of offering game-changing alternatives, we share ideas spanning food to fashion that may inspire you to revise the norm.

Making fashion transparent

Why do your shoes cost what they do? What does the factory that made them look like? Aiming to “rethink the way retail works,” Everlane sets out to spark “radical transparency” in the fashion industry. Browse through its online-only store and you can see the price breakdown of each item (from materials, labor, duties, transport), the true cost of the item, and their retail price; juxtaposed with other retailers that mark up to 8 times the true cost of an item. Following a 16% cost decline in raw cashmere fibers earlier this year, they slashed prices off their cashmere pieces from $125 to $100. That’s just one aspect. As an assurance to ethical production, you can also click to “see the factory” when viewing a collection. Trace Everlane’s cashmere production from Dongguan, China to leather bags from Vicenza, Italy. Browse pictures of factory employees and their workspaces and information on the factory’s values—ultimately offering not just transparency in prices for customers, but fair conditions for workers.

Helping restaurants lessen their food waste

The London-based start up Winnow has developed “technology to cut your food waste in half.” How? It’s a little like Fitbit for your food bin. Using a tracker on your trashcan, daily data is collected and integrated with your menu, then reports are churned out on what food you’re wasting and how you can cut waste. Among their clients, Sofitel Bangkok testified that using Winnow saved their kitchen $60,000 in food costs per year.

Applying the slow food philosophy to flowers

The Los Angeles Times shares that “About 80% of the cut flowers used in florists' bouquets are imported, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.” Today, there are efforts to change that. A movement towards “slow flowers” in America encourages the purchase and production of more locally grown, sustainable flowers. Buying local means decreased carbon footprint, more income for local growers, and a mindfulness towards flowers similar to food. It’s about knowing where your flowers were grown and who grew them.

The movement is gaining steam. Look for the “Certified American Grown” label to distinguish local bouquets sold in establishments like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Visit Slow Flowers for a directory of American grown flowers. Ever heard of Field to Vase dinners? A series of these have been held in settings like a rose farm in California to 2017’s event amidst a field of peonies. The event page quips that they will be “celebrating the idea that the flowers at the center of the table should be as fresh, local and sustainable as the food on your plate.”

Offering urban farming as an apartment amenity

In Staten Island, potential residents are lured to live in New York’s least populated borough with residential development Urby‘s inclusion of an in-house organic farm. The 5,000 square foot farm (one of New York’s biggest) is built above an underground parking lot, has grown over 50 types of produce, includes a composting facility, and employs a resident farmer. The produce is used to supply some restaurants, a local food bank, and is sold via a weekend farm stand. To complement this, Urby also houses a communal kitchen, free gardening workshops, and a rooftop aviary supplying honey.