May 2012


You may have noticed that within our collection of USA-made, graphic tees, one tee is actually produced in India: our ‘Fair Trade’ tee — and you’ll see that through its impact on its workers and the environment, it certainly lives up to its name!

Our workers are treated respectfully: Our ‘Fair Trade’ tee is produced in conjunction with Hae Now, an organic, animal-friendly and Fair Trade manufacturer in southern India. In an industry that typically exploits its workers with meager wages and sweatshop-like conditions, Hae Now’s workers receive independently assessed fair living wages, safe working conditions, as well as medical, paid leave, retirement benefits, job training, and free education for their dependents. Additionally, our workers are paid pre-harvest with fair prices, which means reliable and steady income.

Organic cotton means no harmful chemicals: The cotton used to produce our ‘Fair Trade’ tee is farmed from a farmer-owned collective in central India. Cotton is considered the world’s ‘dirtiest’ crop due to its heavy use of pesticides — the pesticides used in cotton were originally developed as toxic nerve agents during World War II! Therefore you can imagine how harmful they can be to farmers and the environment: poisoning farm workers, drifting into neighboring communities, contaminating ground and surface water, and kill beneficial insects. The cotton we use in our Fair Trade tee is entirely organic: no pesticides means no ill-effects on workers, farmers, and the environment.

Sustainable farming is practiced throughout: Sustainable techniques like hand-farming, botanical pest control, and crop-rotation are practiced at our farms in India. Besides being better for the environment, crop-rotation gets rid of many costs associated with disease and pest control. Oftentimes Indian farmers rely heavily on expensive pesticides, which easily drags them into spiraling debt. Practices like crop-rotation uses no pesticides and keeps soil enriched and healthy. Because organic, sustainable farming is more labor-intensive, it’s become a powerful vehicle in worker empowerment by creating job opportunities at all levels.

Proceeds support our local community: For every ‘Fair Trade’ tee sold, $5 goes to Fair Trade Resource Network and Fair Trade Boston to help them continue to promote Fair Trade and grow the movement!

And an additional fun fact: the design on our ‘Fair Trade’ tee came from a t-shirt design contest we held last year! High schooler Cathi Schwemin from Hanover, Massachusetts produced this design after learning about the common exploitation of workers and discovering Fair Trade.

**In celebration of World Fair Trade Day, we’re excited to share that our ‘Fair Trade’ tee is 50% off! It’s on sale at www.autonomieproject.com. Know that with this tee, you’re not just looking good, but you’re also supporting so a very important movement of ethical, safe, and fair treatment.

Get your grills fired up because this weekend is the start of cookout season! Memorial Day often marks the start of backyard BBQs and with the first official one coming up, it’s time to bust out the BBQ recipes. We have a ton of favorite BBQ recipes ranging from tofu shish kabobs to veggie burgers and our personal favorite: sides! We seriously love us some potato salad, spinach dip, fruit salad and our personal favorite pasta salad! It is a simple and delicious side dish for any BBQ and can be made a number of ways. For this recipe we are making a Lemony-Dill Pasta Salad. Happy Memorial Day!

Organic Vegan Lemony-Dill Pasta Salad

Prep Time: 25 Minutes   Serves: 6 

  • 1 lb Organic Corkscrew Pasta
  • 1 Pint Organic Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Can Organic Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 Can Organic Kidney Beans
  • 1 Cup Organic Black Olives
  • 1/2 Cups Organic Green Bell Pepper Chopped
  • 1 Organic Clove of Garlic
  • 1 Organic Lemon
  • 1/4 Cup Organic Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Organic Chopped Dill
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Dijon Mustard
  • Black Pepper and Salt to Taste

In a large pot, boil water. Once boiling add in the pasta. Cook until soft or about 15 minutes. While the pasta is cooking mince the garlic, chop the bell pepper, and wash the tomatoes, garbanzo, and kidney beans. In a mixing bowl squeeze the juice from the lemon and whisk it with the olive oil, mustard, garlic, dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Once the pasta is down boiling, strain and run cold water over it. Let the pasta cool for about 10 minutes. Add the pasta, bell pepper, olives, garbanzos, tomatoes, and kidney beans to the sauce mixture and toss with salad tongs until everything is coated in the mixture. Cool in the fridge and serve.

It just so happens that Mother’s Day lands on the same weekend we are celebrating World Fair Trade Day! It also comes a few weeks after Earth Day and some are even suggesting celebrating Mother Earth Day. The great thing about all these holidays falling so near each other is that you can purchase your Mother’s Day gift while celebrating Fair Trade and the Earth. We have come up with a fun list of ethical gifts to give your mom, whether they be Fair Trade or eco-friendly, they’re sure to bring a smile to any Mother’s face.

Mother’s Day Ethical Gift Guide

Re-cycled Cards: Every Mom loves a card that expresses her child’s love. Rather than spending $5 on a store-bought card, make one out of old cards and paper around the house. This is an especially fun project with small children, as they will enjoy making something for Mom. There are tons of great sites online that will give you ideas. Here are a few we like: Recycled Items, e-How, and Mother’s Day Cards.

Organic Herbs: If your Mother has a green thumb, check out some of these great gift ides. We love the Growbottle, which are indoor hydro-gardens. The look is modern and sleek and you can choose from organic chives, basil, oregano, mint, and parsley. Just pick out your gardening Mom’s favorite herb or buy her the whole set. Another great idea is to give her a set of organic seeds which she can grow in her outdoor garden. Seeds of Change is a wonderful resource and you should be able to find organic seed packets at any local hardware/garden store.

Fair Trade Goodies:  No mother can so no to a goodie basket! Try putting together your own basket of Fair Trade treats. Chocolate is a great place to start. Fortunately, Fair Trade chocolate is made in many forms from bars to truffles. You can also add  Fair Trade wine or vodka to eat with the candies. If your Mom doesn’t drink, check for Fair Trade soda, tea, or coffee.

Fair Trade Scarves:  No Mom can deny a good scarf, especially if it comes with an ethical background. Luckily Fair Trade scarves are fairly easy to find.  There are a lot of lovely scarves to be found at Fair Trade stores such as Ten Thousand Villages, World of Good, and Global Good Partners, all who carry Fair Trade products. We especially love the”Block Printed Scarf” from Global Good Partners.

Green Jewelry: And we don’t mean the color here. There are plenty of great eco-friendly jewelry on the market. If you are looking for something to really dazzle your Mother, check out Green Karat. They use recycled gold, silver, and gems and never use diamond mining in their jewelry. If you are looking for something a little less fancy, check World of Good and Etsy for recycled or eco jewelry. We personally love these Fair Trade and eco bracelets from the Andean Collection. They are made with the  Tagua nut, harvested from the forest floor.

Fair Trade/Organic Flowers: We know our Mothers love getting flowers for Mother’s Day, so if you want to go this route, you have an ethical choice. Take a look at Organic Style.  Not only are many of their flowers organic with high labor standards, their vases and packaging are recycled and they purchase carbon offsets. You can choose from beautiful roses to Spring mixed bouquets.

Fair Trade/Organic Tee: If your Mom is the laid back type that likes to wear her heart on her sleeve. Why not get her this organic, Fair Trade certified tee from Autonomie Project. When she wears it, she can promote her and your philosophy of Fair Trade. She’ll not only think of you while wearing it, but spread the values of Fair Trade.

Next week marks the beginning of World Fair Trade Day! It’s a day to celebrate and bring awareness to the issues of labor rights and Fair Trade. Only a few days after International Worker’s Rights Day, World Fair Trade Day is just as important when it comes to labor issues. It is a day to draw attention to a different way to do commerce, a responsible way.  Although there are many ways to support Fair Trade in your daily life, but to celebrate the movement in one day across the world is pretty exciting!

What’s more exciting is we are participating in Fair Trade Boston’s World Fair Trade Day Scavenger Hunt! We have teamed up with Fair Trade Boston and Cambridge’s Sudo Shoes to participate in this awesome fair trade party. The Scavenger Hunt will take place all over the cities of Boston, Cambridge and Brookline on Saturday May 12th from noon to 3pm.  People wanting to participate are encouraged to RSVP and download the free SCVNR app.

All day on Saturday, participants will be visiting many locations including Ten Thousand Villages, Ben & Jerry’s, and Sudo Shoes. The best part is you can win a Fair Trade prize at every location you visit! The more locations you visit, the more likely you will win one of the Grand Prizes from awesome Fair Trade companies including yours truly (Autonomie Project), Ten Thousand Villages, Equal Exchange, Haley House, Ben &
Jerry’s, and City Feed and Supply.

But the fun doesn’t end there! After the Scavenger Hunt ends, everyone is invited to a Fair Trade Ice Cream Social! All are asked to meet at the Equal Exchange Cafe to have delicious Fair Trade ice cream floats from Ben & Jerry’s, Maine Root, and Equal Exchange.

We are super excited to be participating in such a unique and fun event for Boston area residents! If you are in the area, please join us for the Fair Trade Scavenger Hunt on May 12th and win some awesome Fair Trade goodies. Why not go?

It’s May 1st and to many that means a day of Spring flowers and Maypoles, but today stands for so much more. May 1st is also International Worker’s Day and while that may sound like a far cry from an American holiday, the history and meaning of May Day is just that: American.  The origins of this day date back to 1886 in Chicago, IL.  During this time, there were no laws regulating the work day, meaning employers could force their employees to work long hours and there was little employees could do. No 8-hour comforts existed as we have in this century.  But the labor movement was making motions.  They had set May 1st, 1886 as the day in which the 8-hour work day would be set by law.

Tensions ran high as a general strike was called in Chicago. Tens of thousands of workers took to the streets in a mostly peaceful protest. But like many protests, police were quickly on the scene and an unidentified person through a bomb into the chaos. The blast and resulting police gunfire ended the lives of eleven and wounded countless others. What followed was a Nineteenth Century witch hunt where eight labor organizers and labeled “anarchists” were convicted, seven sentenced to death.  In the years that followed, they were pardoned as there was not enough evidence to connect them and the investigation and trials were seen as questionable.

You may recall this historic event as the Haymarket Affair. Not only was it a historical moment in labor rights history but it directly affects your personal every day life, as you enjoy the perks of an eight-hour work day without the threat of loss of life. In 1890, demonstrations were called to commemorate the lives lost that fateful day in Chicago. It is a way to remember the struggles workers have endured over the years.  For over a hundred years, May Day has become the official holiday in many countries around the world.  In the US, it is an unofficial holiday but is still of top importance for workers around the country.

About six years ago, I participated in my first May Day protest in Sacramento, CA (capital of California).  There were hundreds of thousands, largely farm workers, marching for Immigrant Rights. For far too long, slavery has existed in our country under the guise of cheap food. I was there, in the thick of it. Seeing first-hand how organizing can make a difference and that May Day can still have an impact. Although we are still struggling to protect farm workers under the same laws that many of us take for granted: eight-hour work days, five-day work weeks, and basic needs, the demonstration shone light on the issue.

And now as I write this from Oakland, CA, I can hear the helicopters circling hundreds of Occupy and labor union strikers standing up for financial and social reform in our country.  It doesn’t take much to see that a growing disparity is happening in the US. As the economy continues to tank, the people who are baring the weight are the workers.  The struggle still continues for farm workers, for factory workers, for nurses, teachers, police officers, and others carrying the load.  So while purchasing union-made, Fair Trade, and supporting UFW and the likes is important in our day-to-day lives, don’t forget the struggles the existed before and still continue to this day. Use May Day as a platform for your voice to be heard. Thousands of workers and students are going on strike and marching through the streets to demand reform today. Will you join them?

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