Fair Trade


Awww there is nothing quite like a refreshing cocktail to cool down on those warm midsummer evenings. Even better, when that cocktail is made with Fair Trade and organic ingredients. One of our favorite drinks of all time are mojitos, however in the summer heat, the classic minty flavor just ins’t enough to cool down. In order to solve this we have added one of the newest in Fair Trade certified products and a delicious, refreshing fruit: mangoes!

Midsummer Mango Mojitos 

Peel the mango and cut into slices. Mush the mango in a bowl an set aside. In a sturdy cup, drop the mint leaves in and add 1 ounce of rum. Let the leaves soak for about a minute and muddle with a muddler or handle of a wooden spoon. Add in 1/4 cup of mushed mango and mix. Add in ice and pour the lemon lime soda. Mix and garnish with a sprig of mint or lime wedge.

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.

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?

Today is International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate the accomplishments of powerful gender of female. But also, it is a day to highlight the struggles that continue for women today. The theme of 2012 is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.”  We thing it is a perfect theme for Fair Trade to embrace, as Fair Trade is a viable and empowering alternative to conventional life for many women. In several countries around the world, Fair Trade is sometimes the only outlet woman have to find work to send their children to school and thus improving the lives of their families.

As a female owned and founded business, International Women’s Day is important to us. We thought in honor of the day, we would highlight some of our own Fair Trade woman warriors. One of our products that uses plenty of female Fair Trade power is our footwear. Ethletic sneakers, flip flops, and rain boots are all made from Fair Trade sourced rubber, tapped right out of a certified sustainable rubber forest. Many of the female workers here are Tamils, which have long been disenfranchised and oppressed by the ruling government. Many women in the region do not have many options available to them. But working at the Fair Trade Rubber Plantation is a viable option. The women who work there receive health care for themselves and their children, assistance with school, and they banded together to bring water and electricity to their villages. Society and the government does not give these women advancement or access to their needs, so they have empowered themselves and are working for Fair Trade ideals. Now that their children can go to school and electricity is running in their towns, the next generation will have even more opportunity then the last.

Another great female empowerment story is behind the Proxy Jewelry we carry. The jewelry is made by a women’s worker owned cooperative in Guatemala. The women live in a community outside Guatemala City and had very little opportunity to find work. That’s when they decided to take their lives into their own hands by starting a co-op. As owners, they have full control over their lives and work, in fact every member of their cooperative has an equal vote. Using their awesome jewlery making abilities and sewing skills together, they now run a cooperative where the children receive help with school, healthcare, and child care as well. They also now run a soy milk store and school through their cooperative. We are completely impressed with their story and find it inspiring. Since they could not find work through conventional means, they made work for themselves and have improved their own lives as well as their families and most important their children.

Both the female Fair Trade workers of Sri Lanka and Guatemala have met the theme of International Women’s Day by connecting each other and definitely inspiring the future. They have chosen to provide for their families and inspire their daughters to make an even better future for themselves. And every time you support the products they have made and other Fair Trade items like these, you are empowering them even further.

In celebration of all the awesome women behind our Fair Trade workers you can find the Ethletic Flip Flops on sale for only $5.50 (that’s a 75% savings) and all the Proxy Jewerly 10% off.  Both are great to add to your upcoming Spring wardrobe and even better you can tell their story every time someone compliments your style. So here is to all the female workers of the world: Happy International Women’s Day from the women workers at Autonomie Project. <3

Valentine’s Day is meant to spread love and devotion to those around you. So when you are choosing what to give your sweetie or loved one, think about the energy that was put into the product you buy. Purchasing something ethical, such as fair trade goods, will be made with love that you can pass on to your recipient. We enjoy buying ethically and are excited to choose Fair Trade for our Valentine’s Day needs. We have done a few gift guides for Fair Trade Valentine’s over the years, but this year we decided to choose our favorite Fair Trade V-Day gifts! Sending our fair love to you.

Sweet Earth Chocolates Heart Box

1) Sweet Earth Chocolates Heart Box: Who doesn’t love a good box of chocolates? We love Sweet Earth Chocolate’s Red or God Heart Box which are filled with 11 heart shaped chocolates. We prefer the Gold Box, filled with an assortment of vegan chocolates. All their sweets are Fair Trade and organic. Plus the traditional red and gold heart shaped box gives an old school feel to your Valentine’s Day. Also, you can’t beat the price, coming in around $22.50 for organic, fair trade, and gourmet chocolates.

 

Organic Style Crown Majesty Roses

2) Organic Style Crown Majesty Roses: Not usually a fan of pink, but this beautiful light pink rose bouquet is one of our favorites. Organic Style is a great eco and socially conscious flower company that we have used on many occasions. These beautiful, antique looking roses are Fair Trade and have high labor standards. On top of that, the flowers are EcoBlooms certified, certified sustainable, the vase is made from recycled glass, all packaging is recycled, and shipping is green using carbon offsets. All around this bouquet and many like it on Organic Style’s website is all around ethical!

Ten Thousand Villages Valentine Banner Card

3) Ten Thousand Villages Be Mine Banner: If you are looking to make a big statement this Valentine’s Day, consider Ten Thousand Villages Be Mine Banner Card. The card states “Be Mine, I’m Yours” on a handmade Fair Trade card from Bangladesh. The red and pink card is made from Water Hyacinth paper and comes with it’s own envelope. You could give it as a card or hang it as a banner to spice things up! Plus you can’t beat the price at $7.00!

 

Ten Thousand Villages Hearts Afloat Candles

4) Ten Thousand Villages Hearts Afloat Candles: Spice up your night with these lovely floating Fair Trade candles. These lovely candles are handmade in India and would really get the romantic vibe right in a bath for two or set the tone for dinner by floating in a centerpiece. They come in a nice box which states “Melt My Heart” so they are already gift wrapped for those on the go.  You can’t miss with these thoughtful and sweet Fair Trade candles.

 

World of Good Cupcake Set

5) World of Good Cupcake Set: If you want to show your cupcake just what you think of her, here is the perfect gift! The matching handmade and Fair Trade cupcake earrings and necklace are made in Mexico. This adorable set is perfect for any cupcake in your life including your daughter, friend, wife, girlfriend, or even mother. We love the simple and cutesy look of this set and would be proud to wear it ourselves.

 

Autonomie Project Fair Trade Jewelry Sale

6) Last But Not Least:  We couldn’t help but take the time to announce our own lovely Fair Trade Valentine’s Gifts at Autonomie.While some of our items are unconventional gifts such as red sneakers and flip flops, we do have beautiful Fair Trade Jewelry from our friends at Proxy Apparel.  And just because we love our customers so much, we have a Valentine’s Sale going now of up to 50% off and an additional 15% off when you purchase two pairs of sneakers.

In mid December a groundbreaking law was quietly approved in Albany, NY. Not even a month later the same exciting law went into effect in Sacramento, CA, with people in line to sign up. So what could this new innovative law be? It is the beginning of a new era in responsible companies! Both California and New York were the first to enact a law that would include conscious corporations as a type of business. Not only will these new laws benefit the corporations who are certified, but society.

Companies who will be classified as “Benefit Corporations” will be held accountable for how their business impact the environment, their workers, and their community. They will be required to publicly publish environmental and social performance which will be monitored by third parties. Basically, this is going to provide a new frontier of transparency for the consumer and a new era of corporate responsibility. The New York law was largely written and sponsored by B-Corp, which has spearheaded the idea of the benefit corporation for a while now. Their co-founder, Andrew Kassay, urged the importance of this law taking effect, “The benefit corporation bill will unlock billions of dollars in impact investment capital and enable entrepreneurs across [NY] to start businesses that solve some of society’s greatest challenges.

The real question is, will corporations and businesses make this move? Will they want to become a Benefit Corp? It seems likely, especially in the wake of California’s inauguration of the bill. Classification of Benefit Corporation began on January 3rd, 2012, with twelve eager companies ready to sign up! The first and possibly the largest to sign up was the clothing company, Patagonia, which has long lead the way in environmental outdoor clothing. They had championed the bill and wanted to show their support by being the first company to file in 2012. Founder and CEO, Yvon Chouinard, released a statement about the historic day: “Patagonia is trying to build a company that could last 100 years. Benefit corporation legislation creates the legal framework to enable mission-driven companies like Patagonia to stay mission-driven through succession, capital raises, and even changes in ownership.” Some other companies who signed up this year were Give Something Back Office Supplies, Green Retirement Plans, and Thinkshift Communication to name a few.

Major corporations such as Patagonia and smaller green/socially conscious businesses signing up means good news for the consumer and new Benefit Corporation classification. This could also mean good news for states like NY and CA who adopt this legislation. With the economy causing businesses to flee these states due to high taxes, bureaucracy, and expensive property, this could be a useful for drawing in new business or keeping other socially conscious businesses in state.

A new way of business has begun and we are happy to see it happen. Even better news, in both NY and CA, the bills were able to pass without much object. This means the political and social climate is accepting of transparent business tactics and changes like these could take hold in other states. Now if only more states could come on board, Benefit corporations could flourish in our nation. 

There are only a few more shopping days until Christmas and time to buckle down and pick up those stocking stuffers! The holidays are a perfect time to celebrate fair trade, as it is a time for reflection and thanks.  Fair Trade is the epitome of what the holidays represent, so when you are picking up your stocking stuffers this year, why not make them fairly traded? You can feel good about your ethical decision and spread fair trade cheer throughout the land. There are number of great places to pick up Fair Trade goodies including your local fair trade store, Ten Thousand Villages, natural food stores, co-ops, and even Whole Foods. We have provided a quick list of some great ideas to use as stocking stuffers or even Hanukkah gifts!  So when you are out getting your last minute stocking stuffers, think fair trade!

Chocolates: This is probably the most readily available fair trade gift, even major supermarkets carry some fair trade chocolate. You can go for the big bars made by companies such as Alter Eco or Equal Exchange, or you can go the gourmet route such as Sjaak’s, who offer everything from peanut butter cups to truffles. Or better yet, how about some fair trade fudge, some of it’s even vegan friendly!

Mints: That’s right fair trade isn’t just for chocolate anymore! You can actually find fair trade mints Vermints.  These organic Canadian mints are made with  fair trade coffee, tea, and chocolate in their flavoring. Keep your breathe socially conscious and minty fresh!

Homemade Goodies: If you can’t quite find what you are looking for in the sweets department, make your favorite recipe using fair trade ingredients! Some great ideas are Fair Trade Banana Bread made with fair trade bananas and sugar, or how about Fair Trade Chocolate Chip Cookies made with fair trade chocolate chips and sugar. Check out the Fairtrade Foundation’s recipe recommendations for great ideas.

Jewelry:  Another great fair trade item is jewelry. And as you know, you can never go wrong there. You can find anything from earrings to necklaces, and even rings. We love these Daphne bracelets made by displaces women in Uganda. Also, the bike enthusiast in us adores these recycled bike chain bracelets from Ten Thousand Villages. You can find a whole host of great stocking stuffers in beautiful jewelry from at Ten Thousand Villages and other fair trade shops.

Ornaments: Give them something to hang on the tree for next year. Flavours For Life has a wide variety of fair trade ornaments, including our favorite, the holiday gift bag that states “Shop Fair Trade.” Nothing like spreading a little fair trade message! Pristine Planet and Ten Thousand Villages also have great holiday ornaments.

Little Toys: For those youngsters on your list, go for the fun stuff! There isn’t a huge selection of fair trade toys and you aren’t going to find any fair trade legos any time soon (maybe!) but you can find a few sweet fair trade toys. Try Down to Earth Toys such as these cute veggie stuffed animals. For those musically inclined children, we love these wooden egg shakers made in Bali.

Autonomie: Our fair trade store is a one stop shop for great stocking stuffers and we just happen to be having a Holiday Moving Sale which includes some great deals on stocking stuffers. We have our new fair trade earrings and bracelets, made from recycled soda can tabs and bar codes. There are also matching soda can belts! But the best deal of all is our fabulous flip flips, made with FSC Certified sustainable rubber. They are currently on sale for $5.50 (regular $22). Also, if you are shopping for your other needs and spend up to $100 you receive a free stocking stuffer of your choice, including an Autonomie Gift Card.

Gift Card: Which brings us to our last fair trade stocking stuffer idea. The Gift Card. You seriously can’t go wrong here, letting someone pick out their own gift! There are a lot of great places to give an ethical gift card to, including Ten Thousand Villages, Autonomie Project, your local fair trade store, and  Greenheart Shop. For a full list check the Fair Trade Federation.

The weather is certainly frightful and the only cure is to curl up in a blanket at relax with something warm to drink. When you are finished with your shopping and traveling, try cozying up with a hot glass of spiced apple cider. The holidays can be tense and stressful, but don’t let them get the better of you. Make sure you take a few moments to warm your soul, body, and RELAX! We have a special recipe for you that can be enjoyed quietly alone or served at your holiday party. You can serve with or without rum. Just remember, to put your feet up.

Organic Spiced Apple Cider

7 Cups of Organic Apple Cider
1/3 Cup Organic, Fair Trade Evaporated Cane Juice
1/2 Cup Organic Orange Juice
4 Organic, Fair Trade Cinnamon Sticks
1 Tbsp Whole Organic Nutmeg
1 Tbsp Whole Organic  Cloves
1 Tbsp Whole Organic  Allspice
Juice from one Organic Lemon
Orange and Lemon Peels for Zest
Organic, Fair Trade Cinnamon Sticks

1 Shot Organic Spiced Rum (optional)

In a large pot, warm the cider, lemon juice, orange juice on medium heat. Make sure not to boil the mixture. Add in the cane juice, while constantly stirring. Add all the spices, sans one cinnamon stick into a cheesecloth and tie off. Submerge the mixture into the cider and let simmer for about ten minutes. Meanwhile, peel the orange and lemon for a few pieces of zest. Remove the cheesecloth and set aside. If you are adding rum, put a shot into your mug and mix before garnishing. Garnish each glass with one cinnamon stick and a few zest peels of lemon and orange and serve warm!

Today is December 1st and the holiday season is now upon us. One of the great traditions of Christmas in the United States is the Christmas Card, where people send special holiday cards and updates to their loved ones near and far. The tradition actually began in England during the 19th Century and gained popularity on our side of the pond during the 20th Century.  Now living in the 21st Century, the use of snail mail and the waste of cards has slowed the Christmas Card mailings.  On top of this, many cards are made in China with questionable labor practices. However, there are ways to keep the Christmas Card dream alive and responsibly spread holiday cheer! Below we have outlined a few great ideas for ethical

E-Card: Aww the good ol’e e-card. This is probably the most environmentally friendly replacement for the traditional Christmas card. Plus there are so many great options, you can even send your own audio message.  You can even find great Hanukkah e-cards as well! All you have to do is gather you email addresses and hit send! Far more faster and environmentally responsible than purchasing physical cards.

Recycled: Even though e-cards may be easier in some respects, nothing quite beats the romanticism of receiving a card in the mail. When you go to purchase your cards, try to buy those made with recycled paper.  You can find many options online and even at your local store. Check out Cards with a Cause, recycled FSC certified cards that benefit charity.

Fair Trade: Believe it or not, there are fair trade holiday cards out there! A great source for fair trade cards is through Ten Thousand Villages, who have a wide variety of choices for the holidays. Another great place to look is your local fair trade store such as Global Exchange or try Cards from Africa, which benefits families affected by AIDS living in Rwanda.

Handmade: You can also purchase local handmade cards at Farmer’s Markets and street fairs in your area. If the weather is too chilly for that, try sites such as Etsy for unique handmade cards. It’s always great to support your local artisans, especially around the holidays.

Thrift: It may seem odd, but you would be surprised how many un-used holiday cards end up at thrift stores. You can find whole packs of them around the holidays! Also, some thrift stores normally carry bins of old un-used cards, perfect for the eco-responsible shopper. Plus you have the added bonus of finding some odd ones from the 70′s and 80′s, nothing beats vintage kitch!

Make Your Own: A fun holiday project for the family would be to make your own cards. You can use stamps, old Christmas cards, old wrapping paper, and just about anything you have laying around the house. There are some great ideas online on handmaking cards!

Photos: Another somewhat responsible way to go, is to print out a family or fun photo on your own printer. You can use recycled paper to do so! You can just print out your photo and slap a stamp on the back, as photos can be used as postcards and cost less than sending a card in an envelope. Plus this can be a fun and whacky way to update your loved ones on your family adventures of the year.

Recycle and Re-use the Cards You Receive:  After all the month of December is said and done and you have a pile of cards you’ve received, be sure not to just through them out. You have a few eco-friendly options including recycling them. But if you want to do something a little more fun, keep the cards around to make your own handmade cards next year. You can also use them to make a collage, ornaments, wrapping paper, or even gift boxes! Here are some other fantastic re-use ideas!

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