June 2008

As you sit down in your favorite restaurant and before you can take that first bite, your mind wanders to the environmental factor of eating out. Is it green? Well, a non profit organization has made its mission to make your dining experience as eco-friendly as eating at home. Green Restaurant Association, has been active since 1990 and hopes to bring environmentally friendly
restaurant practices to the mainstream.

Their association focuses on certifying and assisting restaurants in providing an eco-friendly dining experience. As well as certifying restaurants, they also educate consumers on where they can find green eats in their areas.

So what classifies a place as a green restaurant? The Green Restaurant Association holds their certified restaurants to the following standards (the following list was posted originally on GRA’s website) :

  1. Use a comprehensive recycling system for all products that are accepted by local recycling companies.
  2. Free of polystyrene foam (“Styrofoam”) products.
  3. Commit to completing four Environmental Steps per year of membership (which range from composting, to offering vegan options, to only use hand dryers in the bathrooms. Refer to GRA’s Environmental Guidelines for a complete list).
  4. Complete at least one Environmental Step after joining the GRA
Once you find a restaurant you are interested in, GRA lists how many Environmental Steps each restaurant has completed. GRA also provides product resources for restaurants on how to make better green choices and a book titled, Dining Green: A Guide to Creating Environmentally Sustainable Restaurants and Kitchens.Next time you feel like eating out or are going on a date, be sure to check Green Restaurants Guide and enjoy your meal green and guilt free!
To change America’s dining environmental impact help GRA in other ways:

We recently found out about a new website called EcoFlip that conveniently provides the eco-conscious with free green classified ads! Launched on Earth Day 2008, the site is eerily similar to the uber popular Craigslist, although it pays a due diligence to Mother Earth and only lists ads for and about sustainable living. Brought to you by the guys behind BizzFlip.com, a free business classifieds website, EcoFlip allows browsers to search classified ads in their city, state, country, or even worldwide. So not only can you keep track of who’s green near you, but also in places as far flung as Lebanon, Croatia, the UAE and the Bahamas?!?!

On top of providing the conscious consumer with an ever-expanding green marketplace, the site boasts forums where people can discuss eco-ideas, an Eco-Friendly News Section, organic cotton EcoFlip apparel and totes, and a Green Blog, where you can keep up on the latest of all things green.

So if you’re a business looking to plant some green ads, or are a consumer looking to make your life a litte more sustainable, get to EcoFlip.com and check out local or worldwide ads!

Now that summer is here and grilling is becoming more and more commonplace, we thought we would share a summertime favorite of ours: Vegan Potato Salad! Add it as a side dish to any cookout or picnic in the park! Or even enjoy it as a main dish someday at the beach. Either way, you can never go wrong with this American Classic gone vegan!

Summer Potato Salad

Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Cool Time: 1 hour

  • 5-6 potatoes (red or yukon gold are the best!)
  • A small can of chopped black olives
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard of choice
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup or to taste Vegenaise

Begin by bowling a large pot of water until a rolling boil is reached. If you don’t like the skins, peel the potatoes, if you do, leave them on and cut into halves. Add the potatoes into the water and let boil for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft. While the potatoes are cooking, finely chop the olives, onions, and celery.

Poor the potatoes over a strainer and rinse with cool water. Next, cut the potatoes into smaller squares and place in a large mixing bowl. Add in the chopped vegetables, Vegenaise, mustard, and relish and stir until mixed well. Sprinkle in the salt, garlic, and pepper to taste and stir again. Once the mixture is well mixed, cover and let cool for 1 hour. Next, dig in!!

This weekend, Leafygreen.info, a website which promotes green living and lifestyles through product reviews, and Sweet Avenue Bake Shop, an all vegan family owned “cupcakery”, are hosting CUPCAKEFEST. Cupcakefest is a FREE event in Lincoln Park, Rutherford, NJ on June 21st from 12pm-5pm, featuring local bands and FREE VEGAN MINI CUPCAKES! There will also be prize giveaways including a cupcake recipe book from Peta2 and a gift certificate to Autonomie Project. So if you are in the area and want to win prizes, celebrate green living, good music, and vegan cupcakes, then come on down to the park and enjoy this Saturday!

This article was originally written for eCo Times, the new cutting edge online magazine brought to you by eConscious Market.

Image By Elaine At GreenpeaceThe term “greenwash” is what you get when you combine the words “green” and “whitewash,” or when a company uses environmental trends to its benefit by lying to or misleading its customers. First coined in the mid-1980’s when hotels started claiming that by reusing towels you could save the environment, greenwashing has hit the mainstream. The practice has grown exponentially in popularity as more and more companies are jumping on the environmental bandwagon and bombarding consumers in every way possible with advertisements of their “green” practices. As a result, greenwashing has become a household phrase and has been making appearances all over the media, from local TV newscasts to the Today Show to the new segment on American Public Media’s Marketplace called The Greenwashing Brigade. It’s even caught the attention of the Federal Trade Commission which is attempting to protect challenged consumers by updating its 1995 environmental advertising guidelines.

So what exactly is greenwashing and how can you prevent yourself from having it happen to you? Trust me, you’re not alone if you get duped. The power of advertising and multi-million dollar marketing budgets make companies’ green claims easy to believe. Just the other day, I found myself purchasing a shower curtain liner from Bed, Bath, and Beyond that I didn’t even need just because the packaging claimed the liner was eco-friendly and biodegradable. Turns out not a word of that was true – the liner is made from the same old vinyl as all of the others. The company flat-out lied in order to get my purchase!

Indeed, it’s easy for companies to look good and make you feel good just by using terminology such as “100% natural” or “certified organic.” It’s true that the ingredients of certain products may be natural, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are healthy or eco-friendly when so many “natural” chemicals are toxic in nature. And “certified organic” doesn’t always mean that the product was actually certified and properly labeled by an organization such as the USDA. In fact, there is no certification standard for many of the products that claim to be certified.

Take Fiji water, for example, and their new Fiji Green campaign. While making promises to help save the rain forest, help the recycling effort, and reduce their carbon footprint, Fiji’s manufacturing process is an environmental debacle. This bottled water travels 5,820 miles per trip from Fiji to Seattle (the closest Fiji Water destination point in the US), uses 46 million gallons of fossil fuel and 1.3 billion gallons of water, and emits 216,000,000 lbs. of greenhouse gases in a single year. Not to mention that their PET plastic bottles leach Bisphenol A and have a recycle rate of only 12%. Regardless, Fiji enjoyed a 40% increase in sales last year from the Fiji Green campaign and expects to do so again in 2008.

Check out this ad for Shell petroleum that shows pretty little flowers spewing out of a factory rather than the true smog and pollutants. What exactly are they trying to say here-don’t put anything in the garbage ever again and magic flowers will spill from every smokestack?

Greenwashing is so prevalent these days that the environmental marketing company TerraChoice found in a recent study that 99% of the green labels they examined were false or misleading.

TerraChoice is best known for it’s report on the “Six Sins of Greenwashing” which helps consumers wade through the advertising and discover which green campaigns are actually legit.

Other than keeping these “six sins” in mind, what can a responsible consumer do in order to fend off greenwashing? The best advice is to read the label, do your research, fact check any claim that seems too good to be true, and contact the company with questions and comments. If there is enough consumer pressure, companies will make their marketing more truthful and hopefully we can see greenwashing become a thing of the past.

Do you want to join the fight against greenwashing? Take action!

  • Learn how to fight greenwashing from the experts at Greenpeace
  • Rate your favorite (and not-so-favorite) greenwashing examples at The Greenwashing Index
  • Check out the regular post Greenwash of the Week on the official blog of the Rainforest Action Network
  • Share your stories of companies who greenwash, and those that absolutely don’t, in the Comments section of this post

Father’s Day is right around the corner, and if you haven’t splurged on a gift yet, avoid the belated e-card procrastinator’s special and check out these really cool eco-friendly and Fair Trade Gifts!

1. What dad doesn’t love football, or any sport for that matter?? For the active dad, check out our friends at Fair Trade Sports and pick up any one of their footballs, soccer balls, or volleyballs. There’s nothing like a special Father’s Day kicking around in the yard with dear old Dad.

2. For the fashionista Dad, browse Fair Indigo’s menswear collection for a wide selection of stylish and affordable dress shirts, t-shirts, cashmere sweaters, and shorts. Go above and beyond and pick up Dad a new pair of jeans from their organic cotton collection. Not to mention they currently have selected products on sale, so you could save yourself a few bucks while teaching Dad to love Fair Trade.

3. For the Dad who loves the outdoors, check out this ultra cool solar-powered lantern from Gaiam! Just what Dad needs to keep his summer camping nights warm and bright, the lantern looks cool, is not too expensive, and helps Dad save the planet. Pick up a reusable water bottle from Klean Kanteen and Dad’s all set to go.

4. If Dad’s a gardener, then he’ll just have to have one of these earth-friendly composting tumblers for the yard! Check out Green Culture for an impressive selection of composters, tumblers, rain barrels, eco-friendly lawn mowers, and a wide array of garden accessories and supplies.

5. Finally, get Dad any number of neat, Fair Trade, sustainable gifts from the socially conscious online shopper’s paradise at eConscious Market.com and make a donation to Dad’s favorite charity at checkout. From books, to furniture, to art, to wallets and backpacks, the shop at eConscious Market truly has anything and everything you could ever need for Dad. Plus, eConscious Market has a unique business model in which 50% of their profits are donated directly to charity. That means, a portion of your order is automatically sent over to the non-profit or charity of your choice like The Hunger Project, the eConscious team’s pick of the week! What better gift to Dad than giving in his name.

So now that you have a plethora of ethical and sustainable shopping ideas, stop procrastinating and show Dad how much you care…happy shopping!

This year, Autonomie Project has been approved as a vendor for the 2008 Lollapalooza concert event August 1st-3rd in Chicago’s Grant Park. Our booth will be located on the “Green Street” section of the festival, which is going to be filled with like-minded, eco-friendly companies!

We are really honored and psyched to be a part of this year’s festival, especially since they are making a huge effort to lessen their environmental impact through an initiative called Green Lolla. The Green portion of their website explains, “Lollapalooza is committed to lightening our load on the earth, and using our giant ‘microphone’ to communicate the green message.” They have promised to do this by focusing on making the entire production of the event eco-friendly, as well as spreading the ‘go green’ message to fans and engaging the artists who play! Read more about Green Lolla and all of the great eco initiatives at Eco-Palooza.

Along with the Green movement, there will be other fun activities including a Rock the Vote voter registration area and a battle of the bands dubbed Last Band Standing. And, like every year, there are a ton of great artists including: Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Mason Jennings, Mates of State, Kanye West, Bloc Party, Broken Social Scene, and Explosions in the Sky, just to name a few. For a full list of the lineup, check the Lollapalooza website frequently as its updated constantly with new artists.

So if you are coming to this year’s festivities, please make sure to stop by the Green Street and check out our booth and make sure to buy your carbon offsets for the trip. Hope to see you there and more updates to come!

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