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.

This Saturday, May 14th is World Fair Trade Day!! What does that mean, you ask? Well, the Second Sunday in May, that doesn’t fall on Mother’s Day is used to celebrate and raise awareness for Fair Trade.  Every year there is an overall theme, this year’s being “TRADE FOR PEOPLE – Fair Trade your world.”  This theme largely rests on the idea that there is a human factor to producing goods and the best way to support ethical working conditions is to be a consumer of fair trade goods.  There a number of great ways to celebrate World Fair Trade Day as well as all year long.

We at Autonomie Project hosted a World Fair Trade Day Tee Design Contest, where we asked artists to submit their best t-shirt design that portrays fair trade. We had a wonderful response and have come up with Top Three Finalists. We are asking everyone to go and vote for their favorite design. The one with the most votes by midnight on May 13th will be declared the winner on World Fair Trade Day and have their tee made by us! 25% of the profits of the shirt will be donated to Fair Trade Resource Network and Fair Trade Boston. Check it out today and go vote!

But if you didn’t get a chance to be a part of our contest, check out these other ways to celebrate fair trade! Happy World Fair Trade Day!

Best Ways to Celebrate World Fair Trade Day 

1) Events: All around the world, local communities will be putting on fun events this weekend ranging from Fair Trade breakfasts to wine tastings and even trunk shows.  Some great events include the Fair Trade USA’s Wake up the World Brunch in San Francisco, Boulder, CO will be putting on a Fair Trade Crawl, and Los Angeles will be hosting a Fair Trade Bazaar. Autonomie will be celebrating World Fair Trade Day in style at two bike rides 3,000 miles apart. We will be handing out free fair trade goodies along the stops for both Boston’s Fair Trade Bike Ride and Berkeley’s Tour de Fair.   For events in your neck of the woods, check out this handy World Fair Trade Day Events Search.

2) Host a Breakfast: Fair Trade USA is promoting the idea of supporting fair trade and starting with breakfast. If you can’t make it or afford to attend their brunch, why not host your own? You can put together a fair trade breakfast using only fair trade ingredients for your family, friends, co-workers, or even classmates. This is a great way to challenge your cooking skills, eat delicious foods, and educated those you love. Almost every ingredient for breakfast can be found fair trade including coffee and tea. For ideas and recipes check out Fair Trade USA’s Wake Up the World website.

3) Toast to Fair Trade:  Since it is a Saturday, why not toast your glass to the efforts of fair trade with some fair trade liquor! Luckily there is now fair trade wine and vodka on the market. There are a few bars out there that serve these ethical indulgences, but if you can’t find a place near you, stay in! Get a group of friends together, fill your glasses with fair trade spirits and toast to World Fair Trade Day! We have a great fair trade and organic cocktail recipe backlog.

4) Get Artsy: If you have little one’s in your life, use this as a teaching moment. You can ask them to sit down and create a drawing that best describes fair trade to them. Here’s your chance to explain what fair trade is and why it is

important to celebrate it. You can then help them create some adorable art while learning a life lesson!

3) Purchase Fair Trade: In honor of World Fair Trade Day, why not keep it simple? The best way to celebrate fair trade is to support it! There are now hundreds of fair trade products including clothing, sugar, coffee, flowers, and even vodka. You can show your solidarity with the workers of the world by making sure every purchase you make this Saturday is in fact fair trade.

People all over the world will be celebrating World Fair Trade Day on Saturday May 14th, and the team at Autonomie Project will proudly be among them.  To kick off the celebrations, we are hosting a World Fair Trade DayT-Shirt Design Contest in partnership with the Fair Trade Resource Network!

We are looking for a fresh new design to print on a new adult tee promoting Fair Trade. We will be accepting submissions starting today, April 1st, through May 1st.


All designs will be posted on our facebook page and our flickr account and YOU will have a chance to vote for your favorites! The winning artwork, which best displays the values of fair trade and that the voting public chooses, will be announced on Saturday May 14th, World Fair Trade Day!

The lucky designer will see their shirt go into production and be launched as part of Autonomie’s summer collection. They will of course receive a free tee for themselves, as well as a free gift card for more of AP’s hip Eco-friendly and fair trade products.

And, to take it one step further, 20% of the proceeds from the sale of the tee you designed will be donated to the Fair Trade Resource Network, an informational fair trade hub who focus on education and awareness.

Submissions and any questions should be directed to contest@autonomieproject.com. Start brainstorming now; your design could be our next top seller!

With World Fair Trade Day behind us, and news that Fair Trade sales are still growing despite the global recession, evidently Fair Trade products are in demand! Fair Trade movements such as Fair Trade Towns, Fair Trade the White House, and Fair Trade Your Home have been growing with success and campaigns have been popping up all over the country. Green America has brought the Fair Trade world a new focus: Fair Trade Your Supermarket! Green America has some hefty partners in this campaign including Fair Trade Federation, Fair Trade Towns, Global Exchange and Fair Trade Resource Network. This sort of teamwork is what Fair Trade is all about!

The idea behind the campaign is that although demand for Fair Trade products is high and continuity growing, many Supermarkets throughout the country do not carry ANY Fair Trade products. This grassroots movements asks consumers and people like you to get involved and help persuade their local Supermarkets to carry Fair Trade certified products. They have an easy link to give suggestions on exactly how you can convince your market to carry Fair Trade items, beginning with taking stock of what they already carry. They have also set up a map showing where campaigns are taking place, tips on what to say and who to talk to, ask you to share your stories and pictures, and provide information on Fair Trade.

This new project is encouraging and it is exciting to see Fair Trade products enter the mainstream stage. Although we mostly support local Co-ops and independent markets, we think bringing Fair Trade to as many consumers as possible is a step in the right direction. The more products available, the more people will buy, and the more we will support fair labor and environmental practices throughout the world. Having supermarkets carry Fair Trade products will allow millions of Americans to support the workers of the world. We are really excited about this campaign and hope it spreads Fair Trade to all the corners of the country. Please, consider getting involved or at least letting others in your community know about the campaign.   Take the stand today and Fair Trade Your Supermarket!

Labor Day weekend is upon us…the ‘official’ end to summer.  The pending First Day of School undoubtedly has inspired a collective groan from the nation’s school children.  Sorry kids – but you must, once again, put your swimsuit away and hit the books.

But why not make this year special by introducing your school to Fair Trade?  There are plenty of cool, fun and educational ways to help your school trade fair, so rather than spending your last few days of summer catching up on tv re-runs, get a group of friends together and check out these ideas on how to spread the word about economic justice and human rights to your peers!

The good people at Catholic Relief Services have developed comprehensive educational resources for those that are new to Fair Trade and even for those that already consider themselves experts. While these tools are meant for the classroom, we believe they’re worthy for anyone to study. The group offers beautiful and informative flyers and brochures about Fair Trade that you can opt to download yourself or order online for free! They also offer a variety of teaching modules, an action guide, multi-media presentations, fund raising tools, and games that integrate the concepts of human rights, social justice and stewardship right into your teacher’s lesson plan.

Last fall, Autonomie Project was honored to be featured in CSR’s back-to-school guide which encourages educators and students alike to promote the following ways your school can easily support Fair Trade:

A) Wear economic justice on your sleeve!
Support marginalized communities through your uniform purchase. Fair Trade Uniforms offers a wide variety of items made to your school’s specifications, including school uniforms, gym clothes and T-shirts.  All uniforms are made fairly by workers in the developing world.

B) Teach with Fair Trade Lesson Plans!
In addition to the resources from CRS already mentioned above, check out Global Exchange’s clever, multi-dimensional classroom resource that can be adapted to satisfy a variety of curricula standards.  The Fair Trade Resource Network also offers a clearinghouse of Fair Trade curricula for teachers including “Win-Win Solutions” from Equal Exchange for grades 4 through 9 and TransFair USA’s “Focus on Fair Trade” for grades K through 12.

C) Play Fair During Recess and Gym with Fair Trade Sports Balls!
How could any Fair Trade back-to-school guide be complete without our brother company Fair Trade Sports! A full line of sports balls certified Fair Trade and eco-friendly are now available online, including balls for soccer, football, basketball, volleyball, rugby, and futsal.  Also, make sure to check out this really cool game developed by Oxfam that uses the game of soccer to teach students, young and old, the principles of Fair Trade.

D) Fundraise While Supporting Communities in the Developing World!
Participants in the Raise Money Right project know how fun and rewarding it is to use Fair Trade products to raise funds for special projects (rather than the usual blah and conventional candies and wrapping papers!). Global Goods Partners offers an educational, socially responsible, and Fair Trade fundraising tool as well.  Using ethical products for fund raising is not only a great way to teach kids about Fair Trade, but also about social entrepreneurship and how helping others can also help ourselves! And don’t forget, that school cafeterias across the country could always use a little encouragement to switch their coffee, tea, chocolate, fruit and sugar purchases to Fair Trade brands.

E) Put Your Best Foot Forward with Fair Trade Sneakers!
As all you readers should know by now, we’re proud to bring the Ethletic sneaker collection to the students of America!  The ultimate in ethical footwear, we now offer all 10 styles of the popular Fair Trade and eco-certified shoe brand.  This year, you can head back to school in style without having to sacrifice your values!

So what are you waiting for???  You have your assignment and the first bell has rung….so hurry on your mission and help us spread the word of Fair Trade to YOUR school!

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