Why I’m focused on sustainable manufacturing in the U.S. that also gives back.
Matter is a product design and consulting studio based in the magic city of New Orleans, a city whose intimate and truly unique culture is beautifully intertwined of flavors from the Caribbean, Europe, and the South. It’s a city grounded in community and whose warmth, openness, and encouragement drew me in immediately. A common phrase that I hear is ‘the rising tide floats all boats’ regarding lending a helping hand. And a recent quote from the mayor also touches on the energy of the place: "You happen to be in the most exciting place in America right now because this is the place where hope hits the streets." ~Mitch Landrieu
It is also a city that is severely susceptible to the effects of climate change. How soon will it happen? Many say 2050 and others that it could be at the end of this century for a 3’ rise in sea levels, at either point it is 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 both the people and for the planet. As evidence of climate change, post Industrial Revolution becomes more and more concrete, the associated costs of the items that we purchase comes to mind regularly. What is the cost of no longer having precious wetlands, which protect during Hurricanes and are an essential balance for our eco-systems? Or, the full costs of manufacturing items too inexpensively, as seen in the recent garment factory collapse in Bangladesh? Or, the true cost of air pollution to our health? Sidenote: An unfortunate reality, there is a twitter feed for Beijing’s air quality, which regularly tweets ‘unhealthy’ levels and once dipped so far off their measurement scale, they called it ‘crazy bad’ for lack of a measurable level.
All of these side effects are not currently tallied in ‘cost of goods sold.’ As climate change increases, these costs will also rise. An article in the Guardian discussing flooding costs states that by 2050 these will rise to 1 Trillion Dollars per year. Considering the worst case scenario should be the gauge for decision-making making in city planning, manufacturing, and energy. The most hopeful case scenario or blind-eye scenario is what we have been using since the Industrial Revolution and the time to change that is now. There is no denying that 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. I founded Matter, the first Benefit Corporation in the state of Louisiana, to focus on creating sustainably made, daily-use products that create meaningful connections for our most important social and environmental problems. Matter aims to focus not only on the effects of decisions made now, but also for a healthy, sustainable future.
Matter’s launch product is BirdProject Soap, which I began in order to help raise funding for oil spill cleanup post BP’s Gulf disaster in 2010 (considered the largest accidental disaster in the history of the petroleum industry). 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. 50% of proceeds are donated to groups working on restoration post BP Oil Spill disaster, we are proud to have donated $18,000 to date.
Hope. Hope is what I try to achieve in each Matter product, a first step to help solve large & overwhelming problems. My title at Matter is Chief Eternal Optimist, but it’s one based in reality and much research. 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.
I am delighted to now introduce three new meaningful, community-based products that give back. These focus on building literacy, education in low-income neighborhoods, and rebuilding needed post Hurricane Sandy. Please watch our video to see them in action here & find out more about each one below. We are currently raising funds to create this new line of poetic products, please help us make them here on indiegogo.
The first is a series of letterpress notebooks, made of 100% recycled paper in New Orleans. A sketchbook is a trusted confidant and a place where dreams begin. As you fill these notebooks with your dreams, you also help students stay in school via donations of proceeds to the "I Have A Dream" Foundation.
Two, Rabbits for Reading is a child and adult sized flax linen napkin set. Once folded, a rabbit appears! This new reading toy builds upon the benefits of learning and play, fusing fun and reading. In our growing era of tech and gadgets, play and imagination with analog things is ever important. Donations go to S.T.A.I.R., a one-on-one tutoring group & First Book, who give books to schools in need.
Third, Inspired by the needs brought by Hurricane Sandy, this new blanket forms a heart upon your chest once wrapped around you, essentially giving a warm hug. Soon available in multiple sizes, we are beginning with the smallest size for infants (30" x 30") and then will work our way to a full, adult-sized throw blanket. These blankets bring you warmth while also raising funding for rebuilding communities that are still affected by Hurricane Sandy. We will give a percentage of proceeds to Architecture for Humanity who rebuild communities affected by disasters around the world. What makes them different is their focus on the long term & true consideration of each unique community.
Less than 48 hours left! Please help us get to 5K for our making-fundraiser (now at $4100) & Merci Beaucoup for your support!