Finding the perfect physical gift for someone can be hard so don’t do it. Instead you can gift someone an experience through UnWrapIt. A friend of mine (clearly I’m biased) created the company to make it easier to gift experiences to one another. The goal is to reduce the amount of shipping of goods while providing more meaningful gifts. It’s a very neat service which also works with traditional gift giving.
“We had someone from Sioux Lookout build a scavenger hunt for a family member in Newfoundland. It had him going around St. John’s to eventually reveal what the gift was: dinner at his favourite restaurant,” says UnWrapIt founder Peter Deitz.
“A lot of people reported anxiety about picking out the right kind of gift,” he says. Other stressful factors included the actual wrapping of the gift and, if ordered by mail, worrying if the gift would arrive on time — a pressing concern this year given Canada Post’s cancellation of its holiday delivery guarantees.
The flexibility of experience gifts can minimize that stress. By gifting dinner at a restaurant of the recipient’s choice, instead of a meal at a specific location, “They won’t worry about whether they picked out the right restaurant,” Deitz says.
Firefighters are making cities harder places to live in, this might seem like an odd thing to read. It’s counterintuitive since we’re used to thinking blindly that the firefighters (and EMS as a whole) have our best interests at mind. In North America, fire fighters are blocking initiatives to make cities more livable because of the size of their trucks. Places want to add bike lanes, widen sidewalks, add housing, and other civic enhancements but this makes it harder for massive trucks to navigate streets. The solution: make fire fighters buy smaller vehicles. Smaller response vehicles can also help with life saving too!
Another potential safety improvement: Don’t send a truck unless you have to. In the U.S., only 3 to 5 percent of fire department calls nationally are related to building fires, according to the report. Dispatching a 80-ton fire-fighting vehicle to respond to a possible heart attack doesn’t necessarily make sense. American cities could take a page from international peers that use smaller vehicles—even motorcycles and bikes—to respond to less-urgent medical calls. (And perhaps to those poor kittens caught in trees.)
Professional conferences which suffer from being described as boring try to appeal to people using consumerism in the form of a “swag bag”. A swag bag handed out to conference attendees usually contains useless gizmos like stress balls to appeal to a basic human tendency: acquiring stuff. Going to one conference and getting a single swag bag might not seem like much, but when you realize the scope of the swag industry the numbers grow exponentially. This is why people are pushing back and rejecting bags of useless marketing trash.
Ensuring an ethical supply chain and materials with the smallest carbon footprint, of course, tends to increase costs. We see a parallel here with the fast fashion industry, which also focuses on making things as inexpensively as possible, so you can buy a T-shirt for a few bucks at H&M or Forever21. But over the last few years, reporting on these practices has drawn attention to their enormously damaging environmental footprint, which includes producing water pollution, toxic chemicals, and terrible waste. The human impact is just as terrifying: Workers at low-cost factories that make fast fashion products often labor under inhumane conditions, and many have died because of a lack of workplace safety standards.
We could get rid of cheap swag altogether. What if you left your next conference or trade show without heaps of notepads, pens, and USB drives stuffed in a cheap tote bag, all of which will eventually end up in the trash?
There are many fans of oysters who eat them for their failure; however, I’m a fan of oysters because of what they eat. Back in 2011 we looked at the idea of using oysters to clean waters while harbouring other species – with the bonus impact that the oysters then get served at local restaurants. Since 2011 the concept has grown around New York City so much so that the oysters have basically saved the city from some effects of climate change. Go oysters!
Then, the oysters begin doing what oysters do — which, it turns out, is quite a lot. Oysters are natural water filters; each one cleans 30 to 50 gallons of water a day. They also provide food and shelter for all sorts of marine creatures, supporting biodiversity. “Oyster reefs provide great marine habitat, similar to coral reefs, with nooks and crannies to protect juvenile fish, and are active food for some species. They help to create a thriving ecosystem,” Wachtel says.
But the biggest draw for many coastal states such as New York, especially in an era of rising sea temperatures and eviscerating hurricanes, is that oysters can provide natural breakwaters. Oyster reefs can protect against a hurricane’s wave velocity, which can destroy a city’s infrastructure. The New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery has partnered with Billion Oyster Project to install oysters on its $74 million Living Breakwaters Project, which aims to reduce and reverse erosion and damage from storm waves, improve the ecosystem health of Raritan Bay and encourage environmentally conscious stewardship of nearshore waters.
The Hindi term jugaad roughly translates to “a type of frugal innovation or creative hack” and can be found throughout India. It’s not so much one thing as it is a conceptual approach to problem solving which stems from years of poverty and maltreatment of the lower classes (and castes) in the country. With that in mind, it hasn’t stopped wealthy corporations from seeing the benefits to such creative thinking and quick, iterative, approaches to addressing everyday problems. It’s proof that even those stuck on the fringes of society can contribute valuable knowledge (so let’s educate them more so their genius can further flourish)!
Travel through rural India and jugaad is everywhere. It’s the rickety truck powering an entire village’s electricity, or the makeshift TV aerials fashioned from coat hangers. It’s seen in the country’s garishly painted trikes, also called ‘jugaads’, that sometimes carry 20 people despite often being powered by a noisy water-pump motor and patched together from spare parts like old motorbike pieces and wooden planks.
The can-do approach is also personified by the thousands of white-capped dabbawallahs who somehow wheel precarious stacks of stainless-steel tiffin boxes safely through the chaos of Mumbai’s streets each day to deliver hot lunches and afternoon tea to the city’s 200,000 office-workers. Their estimated error rate is one delivery in 16 million, so it is little wonder FedEx has visited them to discover the secrets of their phenomenal reliability.