“I think when a surfer becomes a surfer, it’s almost like an obligation to be an environmentalist at the same time.”
Like a lot of people, I have a fascination with living a mobile, off-grid life. I love watching YouTube videos of people who are living the van life – especially those who’ve made really cool and unique living spaces by refurbishing vans, trailers, and RVs. I’ve wanted to share some of my favorite van life stories on UniGuide for a while, but there are so many great one that it’s just too many for one blog post. So, I narrowed it down a little for this post, and I promise to share more later.
Here are some of my favorite videos, stories, and Instagram posts about a special kind of van life – and that’s the surf van life. I’ve always had a soft spot for surfers because so many of them are stewards of the sea: surfers care about the environment. They know what it feels like to be in harmony with the natural rhythm of the Earth – you could even say the Universe – and they want to protect its sanctity. So, in tribute to surfers and other nomadic souls, here are some really cool surf vans.
By far, @surfer_vans is one of my favorite Instagram profiles: a page dedicated entirely to surf vans! OK, it’s true that many of these are gas guzzling vehicles, but I want to believe the people who own them are making up for that environmental negative by living in a more environmentally conscious way in other areas of their lives. If the surf van is your only home, well, I think that does it.
One of my favorite YouTube channels is Living Big in a Tiny House with Bryce Langston. In this episode, he talks to a couple from the Czech Republic who convert an ambulance into an epic surf van to tour around in on a trip through New Zealand.
Here’s another couple living as working digital nomads in their converted surf van. This video is from Dylan Magaster.
And if you can’t have anything other than a Mercedes, check out this Sprinter remodel, presented by Sam Butement:
If you’re looking for the perfect doormat for your home, there are undoubtedly a lot of options available. The good news is – many of these options are also easy on our planet. I found a great selection of cool doormats that are made with eco-friendly materials, including many that are fully biodegradable. Coir doormats, for example, are made with natural coconut fibers. When a 100% coir doormat wears out, you can simply toss it into your compost bin.
And if you like to welcome your guests with a little fun – I found some laser engraved doormats by a company called Damn Good Doormats that puts hilarious slogans on their unique selection of funny welcome mats. I also found cool doormats made with recycled and upcycled materials, like reclaimed lobster ropes and flip flops. With so many cool, eco-friendly doormats available, there’s no reason to buy any other kind!
Cool Doormats in Coir and Natural Fibers
Doormats made from natural fibers are always a good bet. Once they’re worn out, they will eventually biodegrade and be less destructive to the environment. In some cases, if the doormat is made with 100% natural fibers, like coir doormats (which are made from coconut husks), they can be cut up and used as mulch for gardening, or, as mentioned above – tossed into your compost bin. Many of the welcome mats I present here are made of all natural coir. It’s an ideal eco-friendly material for doormats because you don’t feel badly about disposing of them once they wear out.
Kempf is a leader in providing a wide variety of both natural fiber and recycled doormats. This style is made from 100% natural coir coconut fibers. There are no plastics in its construction, and it’s totally biodegradable.
Materials: 100% coconut fibers
Multiple sizes from: 18″ x 30″ up to 36″ x 72″; and approximately 1″ thick
The Beware of Wife Doormat (with Shady Kids and Pets)
This is a popular one with UniGuide visitors!
Just because your doormat is eco-friendly, doesn’t mean it has to be serious! Damn Good Doormats are made with natural coconut, but they do have a little PVC plastic on them for a non-slip backing. Damn Good Doormats has so many funny doormats that you’ll just have to check out their store on Etsy to see them all. It will be hard to choose!
If you’ve got a barker in the house, this “Knock on the door and let me sing you a song of my people” doormat is a must have. Just contact Hand Crafted by Hayes in their Etsy store and give them the name of your dog or dogs. They also do other custom doormat orders.
How many times a week do you say or text, “Hey”? Why not express it with your doormat too? This welcome mat by Nickel Design Shop is also made with sustainable coir. And if you’re more of a “Hi,” “Hello,” or even a “Yo,” person, Nickel Design makes those mats too. They’ve got other fun styles, including a French bull dog, watermelons, California Bear Republic, and my personal positive affirmation favorite: “Good Vibes Only.” Check out their Etsy store to find yours.
Fab Habitat makes a number of biodegradable doormats from coir. They have a variety of designs, with dogs, cats, flowers, and more. These welcome mats are 1oo% biodegradable and compostable. Plus, they’re colored with eco-friendly dyes and water-based paint.
NJ East Coasters is a new brand I discovered that makes really cool home accessories with recycled rubber, recycled neoprene, and upcycled wetsuit scraps. Someone at NJ East Coasters is a huge music fan as you’ll see in their designs in their Etsy store. Here are some of my favorite recycled welcome mats that they create.
This doormat wins the “uber eco-friendly” award because it’s made with upcycled natural materials. Natural cork is a sustainable material to begin with. So, taking used wine corks and upcycling them into another useful item is sustainable product design in its finest form!
Here’s a classic doormat by Kempf that is made from recycled tires. Used tires are a huge environmental problem because they can take 80 years to decompose – and there are a lot of them. Americans alone go through 300 million tires every year. So, I love seeing them put to good use in this classic eco-friendly doormat.
Laser-engraved on the coasters are mistaken lyrics from assorted collections, including songs from the 80s and 90s, lyrics about animals and food, and my personal favorite – inappropriate mistaken lyrics.
Here’s a G-rated version from their collection:
she’s a good girl loves her mama loves cheez-its and america too –Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’
Producing handmade goods in Austin, Texas, the team at Bright Beam Goods “believes handmade things carry more meaning. They are special, unique, imbued with traces of the human hand, and bring about a sense of wonder and joy.”
Not to mention – they’ll give you and your guests a chuckle.
“Life throws challenges, and every challenge comes with rainbows and lights to conquer it.” ―Amit Ray
Crystal suncatchers, or hanging window crystals, have a way of bringing more joy and tranquility into your home. They also make wonderful housewarming gifts! You can find them in virtually every shape and style to suit your personal aesthetics and home décor. At UniGuide, we believe that every home should have some extra rainbow makers. (In addition to your radiant self, that is.) So, we went on a quest to find the world’s most beautiful hanging crystals.
But first, some rainbow lore…
Rainbow Symbolism and Spirituality
Rainbows are one of nature’s most beautiful gifts, and not surprisingly, they’ve had symbolic and spiritual meaning in virtually every culture throughout history. In Norse mythology, the rainbow serves as a bridge that connects Earth with “Asgard,” which is the home of the Norse Gods. To the Aboriginal people of Australia, the Creator is a rainbow snake. And in Judeo-Christian stories, the rainbow symbolizes God’s promise, dating back to the time of Noah’s Ark, when God promised that that the world would not be destroyed by another flood. And in Buddhism, the rainbow represents the highest state of consciousness before achieving Nirvana. (Wikipedia.)
The Rainbow Chakra Connection
In Hindu, Buddhist, and New Age philosophies, the seven chakras, which represent the energy systems in the body, match the colors of the rainbow. Just as “white” sun rays hit raindrops and bend in different angles, forming the colors of the rainbow, the theory behind chakra balancing or chakra tuning, and sometimes referred to as “rainbow healing,” is that it enables the light from a higher power to enter us, tone our chakras, and heal us.
But even if you don’t consider yourself a spiritual person, and you simply appreciate the science of how rainbows occur, in all likelihood – you’re willing to admit that rainbows are beautiful and that they make you feel good.
And this is why we are publishing this post. While the extraordinariness of rainbows in the sky makes them all the more special to us (even if you’re lucky enough to live in the South Pacific, where they can be quite plentiful), it’s still fun to get some extra rainbow energy into your home by putting suncatchers in your windows. Here are some of our favorites.
Swarovski Crystal Suncatchers
We’re starting this list with Swarovski crystal suncatchers because we’d like to give a shout out to Swarovski AG, the company that makes Swarovski crystal. You’ll see a number of suncatchers throughout this post that use Swarovski crystal.
Swarovski is a family-owned company based in Austria. Company founder Daniel Swarovski was born in northern Bohemia in 1862 and was the son of a glasscutter. According to Wikipedia, he patented an electric cutting machine that facilitated the production of crystal glass. Swarovski crystals are manmade, but utilize quartz, sand, and minerals. The exact proportion of these elements in the crystal is a company secret.
Swarovski crystal is special because it has the beauty and sparkle of a precious gemstone, but it’s created by a company that believes in maintaining ethical social and environmental standards. Daniel Swarovski is quoted as saying, “Supporting social and environmental projects is the obligation of any responsible company.”
Sparkles with Good Karma
Awareness has grown in recent years about the tolls that the precious gemstone trade, for diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and others, takes on workers who mine them as well as the environment. You’ve probably heard the term “blood diamonds,” which refers to this. (The film “Blood Diamond,” starring Djimon Hounsou and one of our environmental superheroes, Leo DiCaprio, is a great movie that’s set around this issue.) While there are organizations that are trying to build more accountability into this industry, we are still a ways off from ubiquitous fair trade and environmental sustainability certifications in the precious gemstone industry.
This is why we are fans of Swarovski crystal. While quartz, like precious gemstones, is a non-renewable resource, it is also one of the most commonly found minerals in the Earth’s crust. And we were happy to see that some of the artisans creating the window suncatchers we show here use recycled Swarovski crystals.
Serco Designs creates beautiful hanging window crystals in a variety of shapes. This oval-shaped suncatcher is large, over two inches, and hangs on a strand of aquamarine-colored light Azore crystals adorned with Swarovski crystal cubes.
Heartstrings by Morgan creates beautiful crystal rainbow makers in a variety of colors, shapes, and styles. This large Swarovski crystal ball sun catcher is strung on a strand of small, clear Swarovski crystal beads.
The crystal ball comes in a variety of sizes, including 70mm, 60mm, 50mm, 40mm, 30mm, and 20mm. (Heartstrings by Morgan will create custom designs.)
Lilli Heart Designs makes beautiful suncatchers. You’ll have to visit their shop on Etsy to see the variety of their designs. Lilli Heart uses rare, vintage Swarovski crystals in their designs. This little angel has a halo with extra-sparkly Swarovski Aurora Borealis bi-cone crystal beads.
The color combination in this crystal cluster makes it a standout and the perfect adornment for your window. Heartstrings by Morgan also makes a sunburst cluster that has all seven colors of the rainbow, as well as other color combinations. Be sure to check out her store on Etsy to see more.
In Buddhism, the lotus flower symbolizes spiritual evolution, as the lotus is a beautiful flower that grows out of the mud. These lotus flower suncatchers are handmade and throw off beautiful rainbow flares. They are just a reminder that you are a spiritual being having a human experience! You are on a path of divine evolution.
This heart suncatcher is handmade using Swarovski crystals. Lilli Heart Designs also creates window crystal hearts in other colors, like brilliant red and cobalt blue. These heart shaped Swarovski crystals are rare and hard to find.
A symbol of generosity and hospitality, the pineapple makes the perfect adornment for your home and a perfect housewarming gift. This crystal pineapple suncatcher is make with a Swarovski crystal ball, and its leaves are a cluster of emerald-green Swarovski crystal octagons. See more colors and sizes in Hearts by Morgan’s Etsy store.
This sweet daisy suncatcher is handmade with shimmering Aurora Borealis Swarovski crystals. The daisy is small enough that you can also wear it as a necklace pendant. It comes with a few different colors in the center, as well as a rainbow version.
Many of the suncatchers highlighted above have rainbow colored versions. The seven colors of the rainbow correspond with your seven energy chakras, as well as the seven notes in the major scale. Given this, we think listening to music, dancing, and inviting more rainbows into your life is always a good idea! We particularly love this crystal prism suncatcher by Heartstrings by Morgan, which hangs from a long strand of Swarovski crystal beads in 36 different colors.
Pyramid crystal prism: 1.4” x 1.4” and 0.6” deep at the base
And for those times when you just want to kick back and watch rainbows dance around your room (without having to get up to twirl your suncatcher), there is an “extra” solar-powered version by Kirkland Design.