Recycling Challenge: All the Stuff You Never Knew Could Go in the Blue Bin

story by Samantha WittchenFact: Aluminum foil and bottle caps are recyclable curbside in Philly.

Problem: You’ve just hosted a rockin’ holiday party, complete with the best local, seasonal brews, as well as several platters of Grandma’s famous holiday cookies. As you survey the party wreckage, you notice there’s a bunch of stray bottle caps littering your house, and the aluminum foil from Grandma’s cookies is now strewn across the dining room table. You’re not sure what to do with this stuff, but more importantly, why is your dog wearing a lampshade?

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Upper Crust: Delicious meals in the pie of the beholder

story and photo by Marisa McClellan WE'VE ARRIVED AT THE TIME OF YEAR I fondly refer to as pie season. There’s truly no better winter dessert than a flaky pastry filled with something sweetened and spiced. When I bake a pie—especially one that isn’t going to hang around my kitchen—I’ll always make a bit more crust; the scraps make for great little filled pastries. Sometimes I’ll stuff them with leftovers from the previous night’s dinner to make a meaty turnover, other times I’ll quick cook some fruit in a little sugar and butter.
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Cheese of the Month: Full Nettle Jack

story and photo by Tenaya DarlingtonIN THE WORLD OF FLAVORED CHEESES, Full Nettle Jack (a nod to Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam film, Full Metal Jacket) is a special character. Even if you’re the sort of person who bristles at the mere mention of “nettles”—they do sting, after all—you ought to reserve judgment. This bright-tasting cheese is both vegetal and herbaceous with a kick of vinegary acidity.  ¶  The taste evokes dill pickles, and would do well as slices on a Cubano sandwich. Full Nettle Jack is also a great cheese for melting. In fact, cheesemaker Sam Kennedy swears by Nettle Jack macaroni and cheese.
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A Steady Glaze: Arresting art from a ceramic education center

story by Jaclyn HardgroveFounded in 1974 by five artists who needed workspace, The Clay Studio opened with the goal of providing affordable equipment and a shared space for recent art school graduates. Soon though, the founders shifted their mission to focus on education and community outreach. By 1979, the Clay Studio had evolved into a nonprofit educational institution.
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Paper Chase: Art torn from the pages of yesterday's books

story by Liz PachecoTwo years ago, Liddy Russo challenged herself to craft gifts for friends and family without buying new materials. Her solution: Make paper ornaments from old book pages. The spherical origami was so well-received that she started a business, Made by Liddy, and began selling the pieces. “I think it’s really important to use what’s around us instead of having to go out and purchase stuff… [and] I really enjoy working with my hands,” says Russo, who is also a freelance graphic designer.
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Rocking Horse Winner: An industrial design career takes an unexpected turn

story by Samantha Wittchen | photos by Albert Yee WHILE PURSUING an industrial design degree at the University of Cincinnati, Carrie Collins had an epiphany: She was making waste. “You’re being trained to design trash,” says Collins, acknowledging that industrial designers are often employed to create short-lived consumer products destined for the landfill. The realization caused a career crisis for Collins, and she decided to take time off from school to reconsider her future.

Three months later she returned to enroll in a new sustainable design course being offered by her favorite professor. The class changed everything for Collins. She finished her degree, and for her senior thesis created a business model for Fabric Horse—a business that would connect design with her passions for sustainability and sewing.

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Bird Calling: Salvage homes for our fine-feathered friends

story by Jaclyn Hardgrove“The first time we tried to sell our [bird]houses in public, the customers knew more about birdhouses than we did,” admits Matthew Borgen, co-founder of Recycled Rowhouse. Borgen and his partner Monica Giacomucci started cobbling birdhouses from found wood as gifts for friends and family. But after that initial attempt to sell them, Borgen—a professional artist and gallery technician—decided to take the projects more seriously, visiting the library to learn about local birds. The result is functional birdhouses with a unique aesthetic.
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Ring Leaders: Bario-Neal creates a new gold standard

story by Liz Pacheco | photos by Alyssa Robb

When college friends Anna Bario and Page Neal reconnected at a wedding a few years ago, the pair discovered they shared an interest in creating sustainable jewelry. At the time, each had an independent jewelry label, but in 2007, decided to forgo those to launch a collaborative line, Bario-Neal, which features handmade pieces crafted from reclaimed metals and ethically-sourced gems.

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Storybook Ending: A couple's romance with the past yields timeless pieces

story by Molly O'Neill | portrait by Chris Crisman AT PEG AND AWL, stories bring products to life. Every découpaged candleholder, leather book necklace and sturdy wooden caddy proudly reveals the source of its reclaimed materials. A chalkboard tablet is reborn from oak bleachers of the century-old Liberty High School in Bethlehem, Pa., and finished with a leather pencil loop that first served as a World War II gun holster. A scrap of leather from the drawer of an 1835 summer kitchen finds new purpose as a journal cover, sheltering hand-sewn, archival-quality pages.

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Merchants of Cool: Grid's 2012 Holiday Gift Guide

Finding that special holiday gift that won’t be tossed aside with the wrapping paper can be a challenge. So, here’s our advice: Buy gifts that are totally cool. What does that mean exactly? Consider these criteria before opening your billfold:  1 Is the gift homemade? 2 Is the design thoughtful? 3 Are the materials salvaged or sustainable? 4 Is the item useful? 5 Is it made right here in Philadelphia? We’ve featured a handful of local businesses we think score really high in the cool department. All the products—the jewelry, candy, birdhouses, ceramic goods and housewares—possess quality and style, just like you. And that’s what cool is all about.

The issue will be on stands this week, but for a peak inside check out the full gift guide in the digital edition, available here.