March 2008


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The team at Life Goggles launched an awesome contest today which includes a whole load of fun, unique (and of course eco-friendly) gadgets, gift certificates, clothes and other products from a whole range of the coolest ethical companies out there.  The value of the winnings is over $2,000 (!!), so you definitely want to check it out.

To enter the competition is super easy: all you have to do is sign up for the newsletter, or post a comment on their site, or write a blog about it.  You’ll probably want to do this anyway as Life Goggles is a valuable resource for all things green.

On top of their cool contests, Life Goggles reviews eco products and posts other very informative and helpful articles and interviews.  It’s truly a one-stop-shop in learning more on how you can go green.

Good luck, and let us know if you are a winner!

When we hosted a booth at the Going Green Expo in Boston last month, we found out, much to our surprise, that many people, green-educated and not, have absolutely no idea what the FSC is!?! Well, today we hope to help fix that problem and tell you all about our friends at the FSC.

FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council which is a an international non-profit organization that works to protect our world’s forests by promoting responsible and sustainable use and management of the trees. You all know how bad forestry practices can not only harm our natural eco-systems but also the indigenous peoples and wildlife that traditionally make the forest their home (clear cutting is bad!!). The FSC is here to rid the world of these bad practices and guide us to manage forests in a healthy, sustainable way.

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FSC Forest (where our tree products come from): 2097118175_093d1f499f_m.jpg

Any product bearing the FSC logo is a third party certification that the forest producers are managing their trees in a sustainable and environmentally-healthy way. The FSC accreditation is growing rapidly all over the world, so make sure you look out for it:

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You may have already noticed the FSC mark on many paper and wood products. For the first time, probably ever, I’ve been psyched to get marketing mailings from Comcast, the USPS and catalogues from Crate and Barrel in my mailbox. Why? Because they all now use FSC-certified paper and proudly stamp this mark on their mailings! You may also notice the plethora of FSC-certified wood offered at The Home Depot.

The FSC loves our shoes because the rubber that the sole is made of comes from an FSC sustainable forest. Not only is this ‘real deal’ latex all natural with no added man-made chemicals like rubber found in other shoe brands, but the trees the rubber is tapped from are cared for so that they will stand, tall and healthy in the future. That is definitely something we are excited about and we hope you are too! Here’s to walking with a real sustainable sole!

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As a child who dreamed about becoming a marine biologist and was completely obsessed with all things Little Mermaid, the news about the Gyre trash build-up in the Pacific has touched close to my heart.

I was getting my weekly video fix from my friends at ViroPop (those of you who don’t subscribe should. They give you important little tidbits about the environment and Green movement while still somehow being fun and sarcastic). This week’s video post was about the Gyre.

What is the Gyre? I didn’t know myself. Turns out, it’s a swirling vortex in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that has unfortunately gathered up the human world’s discarded plastic trash, including spills from cargo ships making their way out of China, like as ViroPop points out, 80,000 pairs of Nike shoes!! Yet another reason to boycott Nike….

The Gyre has grown to be almost twice the size of Texas and is a serious environmental hazard. According to the experts at Algalita Marine Research Foundation who have been traveling through and researching the Gyre, there are 3.5 million tons of plastic that are all broken into tiny pieces smaller than the size of a penny. The mass of plastic is 6 times heavier than the mass of marine life and the presence of these harmful plastics continues to increase ten fold. YUCK. That is NOT a nice day at the beach!

So what do we do?!? I immediately went into save-the-whale mode and was ready to put on my scuba gear when the experts gave the grave news that the Gyre has gotten so bad we simply cannot sweep up all of the plastic bits in a net and have a brand new beautiful ocean. In fact, pieces of plastic have already been found in over 300 marine species worldwide. That’s plastic IN the animals!!

If we can’t clean up the mess we’ve already made, then the only thing we can do is simply stop using single-use plastics. So for this week’s ultimate Green Tip of the Week, we encourage you to Reduce, Reduce, Reduce, reuse whenever you can, and of course, recycle.

Get yourself a reusable bag (www.ecobags.com) and say no to the plastic double-baggers at the grocery store.

Use biodegradable plates, cups and silverware for your next picnic or rendez-vous (check out these from Branch)

And bring your own reusable coffee mug to the shop (who needs Styrofoam anymore anyway?!?!).

Post a comment and let us know what other methods you are taking to rid your life of all things plastic!

It’s Friday! That means you get another simple and easy Green Tip of the Week:

This Week’s Tip: Team up with your neighbors

Get a group of 5-8 people together in your neighborhood to form an Eco Team. Then meet about once a month to discuss and implement ideas on how to make your households and neighborhood a little greener.

Simple ideas like revamping an empty plot into a community garden; planting flowers and restoring native trees at the neighborhood playground; or picking up litter at the local park are all fun and easy. You can also get local businesses involved to sponsor wider initiatives, such as the installation of solar panels on schools and homes.

This idea has actually become very popular over the past few years with more than 40,000 people around the world joining with their neighbors to make a difference in their communities. One of our favorite community groups is Conscious Consuming, started right here in our Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. Conscious Consuming grew from a few people meeting in a living room to discuss social and environmental issues to a global organization receiving grants to grow their presence and was even up for a myspace Impact Award. Conscious Consuming hosts monthly events, an annual holiday gift fair that raises money for non-profit organizations, and has become a valuable resource to everyone in our community.

So be inspired, call your neighbors, and start to make an impact in your community!

The world water crisis is one of the most pressing global health issues of today. More than 1 billion people around the world lack access to clean and safe water and over 2.6 billion lack adequate sanitation services.

Safe water supply is a matter that hits close to home for us at Autonomie. Our rubber producers in Sri Lanka did not have a reliable source of running water close to their homes and were forced to walk miles each day with heavy buckets just to get their daily supply of water for drinking, cooking, and laundry. Dysentery and other water-borne diseases were also a major issue for these workers and their families due to the lack of a safe and clean water supply.

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Recently, we’ve made great strides towards bringing these hard-working people better access to clean water. As part of every sneaker purchase you make, a Fair Trade premium goes directly to funding community projects that improve the standard of living for our workers, their families and their neighboring villagers.

The 2007 payments went to provide a clean piped water system bringing running water to 65 families living on the rubber plantation. While the funding we were able to provide was not enough to meet all of their needs, this is the first time in history that clean water is available from taps right in front of each house! The project was successfully completed with extra funding donated from the rubber estate, the workers own contributions, and the use of old and abandoned materials, such as an unused pump found on the estate.

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There are other worthy groups trying to help solve the world’s water issues. Just this morning, we found this video on YouTube about a new innovative bike that alleviates the burden of walking and carrying water long distances and even purifies the water on the ride home!

If you’re wondering what you can do to help, you can buy a pair of sneakers or a Fair Trade sports ball so that we can help raise more funds for even better community projects in 2008.

You can also get involved with the UN’s World Water Day coming up on March 22, join a virtual Walk for Water, or donate to one of the many non-profit organization’s and NGO’s, such as our favorites Water Aid and the Global Water Foundation, that are committed to ridding the world of inadequate water.

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We were thrilled to hear from our friends out in LA that last week’s Green is the New Black event was a huge success! Over 150 VIP’s attended the swanky event and helped raise over $5,000 for the Make It Right foundation. The Make It Right Foundation is dedicated to rebuilding a brighter, better and greener New Orleans.

The group is still accepting donations for the cause, so if you missed the show, feel free to visit the Green Girls’ website.

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So we just opened our first Etsy.com store and are already completely in love with this website! An online shopping portal similar in feel to ebay.com (but no bidding occurs), one can browse 1,000’s of selections of hand made items ranging from hand bags (like ours!), to pottery, to jewelry, to crafts, to vintage items…..to really anything you could possibly think of!

The thing that makes it so wonderful is that you (usually) are buying direct from the designer/artist and are truly getting a unique product. And of course everything is hand made. So rather than going to the mall and supporting a sweatshop-made product, take a minute to browse this site and support these independent entrepreneurs. If you’re a sewer, collector, or artist yourself, we highly recommend opening an Etsy site and seeing what happens!

Check out our new hand crocheted bags from Peru on Etsy: www.autonomie.etsy.com; and make sure to watch the time. Etsy can be addicting and fill up a whole day when you should be working 😉

Every Friday, Autonomie is dedicated to bringing you one simple and easy step you can do every day that will help make our planet greener.

This week’s tip: turn off the sink while brushing your teeth!

By just lifting a finger and turning off the water while brushing between rinses, you can save at least two gallons of water in just one brushing session! If you’re good to your dentist, that means 6 gallons a day from just one person’s efforts. Not only will your indoor water consumption be cut in half, but you’ll save a chunk of change on your water bill (which is always a bonus!).

So don’t check your email, pet the cat, or wave to a neighbor while brushing your teeth – pay close attention to your faucet, give it a rest every now and then, and make sure it’s completely turned off and not leaking when you’re finished.

Happy brushing!

We are so excited to announce our second product line: a collection of hand made, fairly traded hand bags from Peru! After a few months of hard work, the bags are now available , so visit us and shop today!

The bags are beautiful and functional, but most important, fairly traded. We’re proud to introduce you to the people behind the bags: the talented women of Northern Creations knitting cooperative of Peru. The cooperative is made up of 25 women who just formed their collective this past fall. Located in rural Piura, a hot, desert-like area north of Lima, steady employment is hard to come by – especially for women. The mothers of Northern Creations took matters into their own hands, did what they know best (knitting and crocheting), and decided to start their own business. We at Autonomie just LOVE that type of initiative ;).

They started to meet informally about a year ago. The women now collectively own their business, are legally recognized, and are busy filling orders. We’re thrilled to help them reach their dreams and we hope you are too. Our rep told us that when we placed our first order the women literally screamed on the phone with excitement! She told us that this was the first time in their lives that these women could dream about their future, be employed (let alone self-employed!), and have hope for their children. Now if that’s not Fair Trade, then we don’t know what is!

To get to know these women better, check out the photos below:

We’re guessing that you were as disturbed as we were with the meat recalls all over the news last month. While there was no known related illness in the meat, the endless videos and photos of the animal abuse that spawned the recall were scary, outrageous, and oh-so-revealing. We had all heard about the horrors of slaughterhouses, but to see it streaming through cnn.com is an entirely different story.

Our favorite coverage of this story BY FAR is the satirist cartoon The Meatrix. Brought to you by our friends at Sustainable Table, The Meatrix features 3 funny vignettes whose underlying message is a point-blank and gritty portrayal of factory farming.

So what’s a person to do other than chuckle at a 3 minute cartoon? While we advocate vegetarian lifestyles, we know it’s not for everyone and that some of us just can’t give up summer BBQ’s!

Here are some quick tips on how you can support a better life for these animals:

  • Buy Local: supporting your local, family farms and participating in CSA (“community supported agriculture”) is not only better for the environment, but it prevents slaughterhouse conditions and strengthens your local economy.
  • Buy Organic: animals are raised without any antibiotics on a natural, grass-fed diet and are not pumped with artificial hormones. Unlike their factory farm relatives that are genetically modified or fed GM food.
  • Read the Labels: meat that is classified as “free range” and poultry that is “cage free” usually means that the animals are raised in healthier, more natural environments were they are allowed to be outside, exercise and graze in a pasture.
  • Connect with Others: become a part of the sustainable food movement and help educate other consumers on food related issues.
  • Buy Vegan: even if you love meat, you can make other vegan purchases. Our Ethletic footwear collection is 100% vegan, which means there are no animal by-products in the materials, including wool, leather, suede, and the not-so-obvious glue. Many glues used in shoe production are actually made with a material from horse hooves. One can only imagine what they do to the horses in order to get it!

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