Her Green Prefab Business, and How It Once Grew

Entrepreneur Michelle Kaufman’s green prefab home business didn’t survive the economic downturn. Reading between the lines, it seems that supply chain problems and undervaluing the product might have been larger factors in her company’s failure than the bad economy. I’ve heard that entrepreneurs are often busy until the day they shut down…sad, though. The world needs mid-priced, green alternatives to suburban McMansions.

No More Ziplocs: snackTaxi for Green Food Transport

I bring my lunch to work every day, plus two snacks. It drives me nuts to grab a plastic bag from the box only to toss it hours later. Not very green, and a money-waster as well. And I won’t even go into the BPA-leaching properties of plastics (when an organization as slow-moving as the FDA expresses concern, you know you’ve got a problem on your hands).

snack taxi reusable bags

Enter snackTaxi. They can be forgiven for their trendy camel case name because their products are pretty cool–fabric bags that you can wash and re-use, made in a home-based workshop by local sewers.

SnackTaxi’s founders noticed that there was a steady stream of Ziplocs flowing from their home into the landfills and saw an opportunity. Their website says, “We are committed to keeping our business local, and will never outsource our labor.” I love when people, planet and profit come together in one entrepreneurial venture. Thanks to my awesome co-worker Chris who turned me on to them.

Bike to work? But it’s WINTER.

First, I would like to take a moment to kvetch about my commute this morning. I dropped my bike off for a tune-up yesterday (more on that below), so I had to find an alternate way to get to work. There was too much snow on the ground to bike, anyway. I took the T out to Riverside, only to discover that the campus shuttle had stopped running for the holiday break. None of my car-commuting coworkers were in the office; there was no one who could come get me. I even called a cab company but they said they didn’t have any cabs in the area, so I turned around and went home.

Back to my bike! First of all, when I went into International Bicycle, the guy who had originally sold me my bike came over and said he remembered me. He asked all about my bike, how I like it, and how the commuting is going. I was duly impressed that he remembered a customer from six months ago.

There were about four guys in the shop and it seemed like none of them had much to do so we all swapped stories and advice. The employees at International are so fun and nice! It reminded me a bit of the camaraderie you see in a ski shop. Just a bunch of people who are genuinely interested in the products they sell.

One guy was a fellow winter biker, and he explained to me that he likes to use the smallest tires possible to try to cut through the snow, rather than huge knobby tires. I got a flat a couple of months ago and the shop I went to didn’t have the most knowledgeable staff. They sold me a big huge mountain biking tire, probably relying completely on guesswork.

Long story short, I was sold on the slick new ones, so I got two and replaced both the front and rear. The best part about the new tires is that they are appropriate for year-round use; I thought I would have to switch out my tires every spring and fall. Hmm, I wonder if these babies will make me faster?

Bontrager Satellite Elite Hardcase

Bontrager Satellite Elite Hardcase

The conversation then turned to parts and wear, and I calculated the mileage I’ve done since June–nearly 2000 miles! Wow. If I can only make it through January, February is a short month, and then it’s March and spring. Right?

Perfect day for a bike ride!

Yesterday’s weather was not bike-commute friendly at all, and the forecast for tomorrow is scary too (Weather Channel is calling it a “Winter Bonanza”, whatever that means). But today! It was just brisk enough to put some color in my cheeks, but not enough wind to make me contemplate my balaclava.

The weather & what I looked like (feel free to point and laugh):



What I was wearing:

  • helmet
  • Sugoi hoodie
  • Sugoi jacket
  • Sugoi gloves
  • Canari tights
  • Smart wool socks
  • Lake cycling shoes
  • Louis Garneau shoe covers

This was the perfect combination of gear. The booties kept my feet toasty and my legs were warm the whole way. My torso was a little chilly during the first ten minutes or so, but I warmed up quickly and didn’t overheat. Overheating is a problem for me because I hate to be cold and often put on too many layers. Not this morning!