The Final Straw
Driven by a mission to cut the need for single-use, plastic drinking straws, Strawesome launched in 2009 with an eco-friendly material alternative: glass. The drinkware accessory, available in 200 colors and styles, is handmade by Strawesome founder Daedra Surowiec, who, while pregnant, realized she wanted a cleaner world for her son to grow up in. Surowiec, 41, learned torch work at The Glass Academy in Dearborn and soon after began crafting straws in the garage of her Milford home. Because they’re made of borosilicate glass, which was formerly used in Pyrex, the straws are durable enough to withstand a run through the dishwasher.
Clear Glass Straw, $6-$11 at Strawesome; strawesome.com.
State of Recycling
Last year, Berkley-based shop Peninsulas partnered with Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources to create state park merchandise. Ten percent of every purchase goes towards park maintenance and improvements. “It seems like a natural extension of celebrating the state of Michigan,” says Robert Jameson, 46, who owns Peninsulas with his wife, Sherri Lawton-Jameson, 49. The two share a love for camping, and recognized that durable, sustainable products are a perfect complement to the outdoors. Peninsulas’ DNR-licensed products boast eco-friendly qualities, as well. Their canvas tote bags are made from recovered cotton yarn and recycled plastic bottles, while water bottles are made from recycled aluminum.
Keep Michigan Green Water Bottle, $17.50, at Peninsulas; 3125 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; seasonally at 6370 N. Lake Shore Dr., Cross Village; shoppeninsulas.com.
From Backyards to Tabletops
In 2016, Mike Barger, owner of Mike’s Tree Surgeons, channeled his drive to be environmentally responsible into a new family business venture. The company, called Live Edge Detroit, is dedicated to salvaging the urban trees Barger, 62, removes in metro Detroit and transforming them into long-lasting kitchenware. “This is the ultimate way of giving it new life instead of letting it become waste,” says 32-year-old co-founder Jenny Barger, Mike’s daughter. The Troy company transforms lumber into cutting and serving boards. Other logs, from cherry to black walnut, are shipped to western Michigan’s Holland Bowl Mill to be carved into serving bowls.
Ebonized Oak Bowls, $17-$150 each, at Live Edge Detroit; 241 Park St., Troy; liveedgedetroit.com.
A Sandwich Bag to Smile About
Anita Harthorn began stitching together reusable snack bags and selling them through her business, Sweet Pea Purse Company in 2015. The Warren company’s pouches are often made of fabric scraps from Harthorn’s previous sewing projects as well as vintage cloth found at thrift stores and estate sales, making many of the shop’s prints limited edition. “I like to say that it makes your workday lunch feel like a picnic,” says Harthorn, 51, who attributes her thrifty mindset to her mother. With a water-resistant nylon lining and a Velcro-like closure to prevent spillage, the bags are ideal for carrying both wet and dry snacks.
Reusable Snack Bag, $6+ each, at Sweet Pea Purse Company; select Michigan retailers; etsy.com/shop/sweetpeapursecompany.
A Buzzworthy Wrap
Crafted from sustainably procured pine resin, jojoba oil, and local beeswax, Vicksburg-based Bee Joyful Shop’s wraps are an environmentally conscious solution to keeping produce fresh. After their one-year lifespan is up, the wraps can even be shredded and placed in compost bins or used as fire starters. By helping others find alternatives to disposable containers and plastic wraps, owner Jessica VanderVere, who was raised in a western Michigan cabin, hopes she can create a better environment for her future grandchildren. “I want to make a difference,” says VanderVere, 44. “Maybe it’s just in our small community, or maybe it’s in Michigan, but that’s OK.”
Reusable Food Wrap, $5 each and $16 for a set, at Bee Joyful Shop; select Michigan retailers; beejoyfulshop.com.
Reviving the Wreckage
While in school for graphic design, Shawn Degen began transforming thousands of worn-down and broken skateboards into rolling pins, ice cream scoops, cutting boards, and even coffee tables. Within three years, his creative hobby became a Clarkston-based business and his full-time job. Degen, 30, visits local skate shops and meets with other skateboarders to collect decks that would’ve been tossed in the trash to fuel 2nd Chance Skateboard Art’s Supply. To create each item, he removes the skateboard’s grip tape, sands away the glue and graphic elements, cuts it into strips, then re-glues the wood with the stripes facing upward.
Recycled Skateboard Rolling Pin, $35, Recycled Skateboard Bottle Opener, $15, Recycled Skateboard Ice Cream Scoop, $15, at 2nd Chance Skateboard Art; etsy.com/shop/2cskateboardart.