Archive for August, 2010

Case Study: Online Store for Shoreline Cleanup T-Shirts

August 31, 2010

Flickr / Fiona of Zhadum


The world famous Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre –  a self-supporting, non-profit association dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life through display and interpretation, education, research, and direct action.


The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup – an annual event held across Canada (this year September 18-26th), the Shoreline Cleanup is a grassroots conservation program that aims to promote understanding and education about shoreline litter issues by engaging Canadians to rehabilitate shoreline areas through cleanups. Garbage on shorelines across the country is gathered during a week long event organized by volunteer Site Coordinators.

In 2009, over 1500 sites were registered for the Shoreline Cleanup and more than 160,000 kg  of waste was cleaned from our waterways.

Client Request:

In the past, individual cleanup sites coordinated the purchasing of team t-shirts on their own. This year, the Aquarium wanted to offer a t-shirt purchasing program for all the cleanup sites, allowing volunteer groups to take advantage of bulk purchasing rates and custom artwork options that otherwise wouldn’t be available to them.

Fairware Approach:

1. Online Survey: To start, Fairware conducted an online survey to gauge the level of interest from Site Coordinators in purchasing team t-shirts. We wanted to eliminate the risk of building a site for a program that didn’t have buy-in.

2. Online Store: Once it was established that Site Coordinators were interested in placing orders, Fairware developed a custom online store that made purchasing easy. The site allowed for upfront order payment, automated order status updates, artwork upload options and reporting features that simplified delivery of the program.

3. Product Selection: The Aquarium designed some fantastic “I heart my shoreline” artwork for the front of the t-shirts (pictured below) and recognized major sponsors on the t-shirt backs. They selected 100% cotton unisex styles in both adult and youth sizes which Fairware  sourced from a supplier that meets our Supplier Code of Conduct for social and environmental responsibility.

4. Customization: The online store allowed individual cleanup sites the option of uploading a distinct team name for printing on the back of the shirts. Through automated messaging, Site Coordinators were kept up to date on the status of their orders.

5. Program Promotion: To help spread the word Fairware coordinated an e-reminder campaign, alerting Site Coordinators of pending deadlines. The Shoreline Clean-up team promoted the t-shirts on their main site and among their network.

6. Customer Service: While use of the website brought efficiencies to both the Aquarium and Site Coordinators, there was great value in having a knowledgeable contact person at Fairware to deal with questions and concerns from site visitors as they arose.

Crazy Sustainable Commute – full length

August 30, 2010

On Friday we mentioned that the Fairware Team participated in the Crazy Sustainable Commute, a crazy fun event all about raising awareness on taking sustainable transportation to and from work. 5 of our staff participated by riding tiny bikes borrowed from some really cool kids we know (thanks guys!). Below is a video featuring clips from our trip.

Crazy Sustainable Commute – trailer

August 27, 2010

This morning Fairware participated in the Crazy Sustainable Commute, a crazy fun event all about raising awareness on taking sustainable transportation to and from work. We’re making a longer video documenting our team on tiny bikes, but for now here’s Nicole starting her commute.

Intern Insights: Part 5

August 20, 2010

Flickr / comedy_nose

This week Emily the intern shows us how to master Gmail.

Be a Gmail Genius
Remember when Gmail shook up the world of webmail with its near unlimited storage space, collapsed conversation threads and revolutionary email “labels” instead of trying to sort mail into inflexible email folders? In case you are behind on the times, since its launch in 2004, Gmail has developed even more features to keep you productive.

Keyboard Shortcuts
I am an advocate of avoiding use of a mouse. These shortcuts are guaranteed to make answering and organizing emails more efficient.

NOTE: To turn these case-sensitive shortcuts on or off, click Settings, and then pick an option next to Keyboard shortcuts once you’re logged into your account.

g then i Refreshes or returns you back to your inbox
c Composes new email
r Reply
a Reply all
f Forward
l Adds a label to the selected mail conversation
Shift then i Mark as “read”
Shift then u Mark as “unread”

For a full list of shortcuts, click HERE.

Multiple Inboxes
Have multiple addresses feeding into your Gmail? Want to see all your categorized mail in a “dashboard” type view? This function (accessible through Settings in Labs) splits your regular inbox into multiple customizable panes. Each pane can display mail of a particular category, such as starred or a specific label. It can gather all the to do lists you email to yourself, eBay item alert emails or any search category you can imagine. I split my inbox to show all “starred” emails at the top, like a running to do list, so I know which emails to take action on right away.

Gmail Offline
Yes, you read that right. Webmail OFFLINE. The requirement of needing an internet connection to access your email is no longer a crippling factor for Gmail. You can work on replies to email that will be sent off the next time you become connected to the internet again. For times when you need to buckle down and clear off a backlog of email, Gmail Offline will let you turn off your wireless and work in peace, without arrival of new email taking your focus away from the task at hand.

The introduction of worm composting to Fairware

August 18, 2010

We have some new pets at Fairware. 500 red wiggler worms! They’re living in a sweet little compost bin next to our bicycles. Yes, we’re now a vermicomposting workplace.

In the beginning we had names for each of the worms. We even named a few after ourselves (Leah Jr. was so cute!). But quickly we worked through our naming repertoire. We discussed getting one of those baby naming books, but no one actually felt motivated to go get one. So we decided to move on to numbers instead (Worm 323, Worm 324, Worm 325…). But at this point we’ve forgotten all but about 7 of the names. They’re now referred to as The Worms. Learning point: There are some serious challenges to naming the little guys.

First, they have few distinguishing features that we can recognize. They all look like this:

And even though they don’t have eyes or ears they’re sensitive to light and vibration, so they scurry to the bottom of the bin whenever we try to find them.

Also, in perfect conditions, they can multiply each week! The worms just need the right balance of moisture, ventilation, temperature and acidity in the compost bin.

But beyond our challenges with naming, things are going great. Starting out the worms can eat about 1L of raw fruit and (more…)

Introducing ethicalDeal

August 13, 2010

Daily deals from local green companies

Vancouver based social entrepreneur, Annalea Krebs, recently launched ethicalDeal. Dubbed as the “Green Groupon” ethicalDeal offers discounts on eco-products and services in Vancouver through the power of group purchasing. Visit the ethicalDeal website to register and receive notice of daily deals from local green companies offering 50-90% off. We’ve also heard that if you sign-up now you’ll be entered to win a $500 Green Shopping Spree. You can read more about ethicalDeal in this Vancouver Observer article.

ethicalDeal is powered by TheChange, an online hub featuring local organizations committed to sustainability. Fairware is a member and you can find out how we’re participating in the change HERE.

Intern Insights: Part 4

August 5, 2010

YES! Opportunity to post a shark picture taken! (Flickr/hermanusbackpackers)

Emily the intern is back from a month long vacation. “What?!? Interns get vacations?” you’re asking. I know! Geez.

Anyway, Emily’s back at Fairware and well-rested. She has a new intern insight for this week focused on free music on the internet. Read on.

Grooveshark gives itunes a run for its money

If you’ve been relying on YouTube to get your music fix, it is time to start swimming with Grooveshark.

Grooveshark in three words? Sharp. Clean. Impressive.

The music streaming website focus on music is spot on with its ocean-predator namesake. It will no doubt get you groovin’ quickly with its “millions of songs” and savable playlists. And yes – it’s free.

Although free online music streaming sites like Pandora or Slacker have been around for a while, Grooveshark’s interface is much more intuitive and straight to the point. There is no need to search for genre “stations” or spend a lot of time customizing to get to the specific songs you like. The genius of the site is that, you can start playing songs right away, even without registration. It allows detailed search of songs or albums by the same artist. You can drag and drop to reorder songs and modify playlists. iTunes enthusiasts will find the similarity useful.

For the music experience connoisseur, the automatic “radio” option is available, allowing Grooveshark to create a playlist for you based on similarities to music you like.

Although free, Grooveshark is not bogged down with clunky ads asking you to go premium and you barely notice the banner ad on the far right of the music player.

The music database is powered by users uploading their own music on to the online library and allowing other users to stream it.

Share links to your playlists with your friends via email/facebook/twitter with no requirements for them to sign up. You can also create a music widget on your website from your Grooveshark playlist. Additional options for paid premium VIP users can stream for free with the smartphone Grooveshark app, as well as a quick launch desktop version ($3/month).

Drawbacks: Few, if any. The only issue is if Grooveshark will face any legal issues in the near future. Unfortunately, like much of the nifty free content on the internet, if you want your songs offline, it is back to the download route.

Yay sharks! (Flickr / Erik Charlton)

Grooveshark gaives iTunes a run for its mone

Meet Leah, Fairware’s Online Communications and Project Manager

August 3, 2010

Leah in Clayoquot Sound

nickname: samples sheriff

job: online communications and projects

established: 2008

before fairware: environmental non-profit

spare time: friends, cycling, crafts and attempts at hobby electronics

ambition: to be creative

bicycle: bright orange (i mean really bright orange!) jake the snake

words of wisdom: things don’t change, we change – henry david thoreau

what animal would you be: i’m not sure…what does that say about me?

fave fairware product: bicycle tire levers

fave fairware project: david suzuki foundation’s online store

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