August 2008

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!

Now until August 31st, VegNews is accepting ballots for their annual Veggie Awards.. Every ballot cast puts you in the running for amazing prizes including an all inclusive vegan NEW YORK CITY URBAN GETAWAY, GLAM GIRL GOODIE BAG, MARSHMALLOW MADNESS GIFT PACK, and VEGAN COOKIE SMORGASBORD!

As well as entering in the contest for awesome prizes, you can support great independent vegan companies. Please take the time to vote for some our friends Bleeding Heart Bakery for Favorite Bakery, Humanitaire or Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe or Sidecar For Pigs Peace for Favorite Vegan Online or Store Front, and Alternative Baking Company or Boston Cookies for Favorite Vegan Cookie!

Have your say in the 2008 Veggie Awards and place your VOTE today!!! Act quickly because the last day to cast your ballots is this Sunday AUGUST 31st!

Ok so we have all heard of white collar and blue collar jobs, but what is all this about green collars? In the rough times of economic downturn, its important to keep focused on the next wave now hitting the marketplace: Green Collar Jobs!

Economic forecasters are seeing the “Green Collar Job” market on the horizon and expect it to fuel our economy as the manufacturing and service industry is falling.  So perk up all you college students out there and start doing your research.  You could be the next leaders of this exciting and revolutionary industry!

So what exactly is a Green Job and how do you even begin to define something so vague and so broad?  Well, America is making changes (hopefully) to move away from our dependency on oil and as we do companies are starting to catch on. From urban planning to eco-friendly operations, companies are looking for engineers, architects, consultants, contractors, marketing professionals, etc. (the list goes on forever) that have an eye and expertise for all things green that make a positive impact on our planet.  A recent study by American Solar Energy Society reported that there were a shockingly huge 8.5 million jobs created by the growing environmental trends in 2006 and another 40 million will be created by 2030.  So seriously kids, even if you’re not an environmentalist, you should strongly consider joining the movement just for the employment opportunities!  Our world is a transitioning into a Green World and with it we need people like you to fill the expanding job market.

So where do you find these types of jobs? Well there are a number of job search sites that focus on eco like the Environmental Career Opportunities website.  They update their site every two weeks and have over 500 green jobs listed – so make sure to check it out.   There’s also the Environmental Career Center and Green Engineering Jobs. Another great way to find Green Jobs is through local universities and the Federal, State, and local governments.  Schools and governments are also expanding their employment pool to include jobs considered to be a part of the Green Collar Market!
On September 27th there will be a national day of action to bring more attention to the growing green job market organized by a movement called Green Jobs Now. The day will be filled with grassroots events throughout the country aiming to draw attention to the need for more Green Jobs and funding so that environmentalism can more easily become a part of our daily lives.  Even YOU can sign the Green Jobs petition, participate in an event near you or even host your own event in your neighborhood!

This is a very exciting time for our ever-changing world, as well as for small eco-minded companies like ourselves!  We really hope Green Jobs Now and other events like it will draw the attention of both political candidates and the general public to keep environmental issues at the forefront.  With all the negativity about the recession, its certainly refreshing to focus on the dawning of a new and hopeful era!

San Francisco is known as one of the most liberal and unique cities in the world! People from all over the world and from every background roam these streets. Personally we have spent a lot of time in this city, as one of us from AP grew up in Northern California. This place is brimming with vegan friendly food and pretty much every restaurant has an option! Or at least they will know what the word vegan is and accommodate you!

Most people talk about Millennium (as it is often rated the Best Vegan Restaurant in the US) and Herbivore (always wins for Best Brunch) as top vegan destinations within San Francisco. Both these restaurants are fantastic and some of our favorites, however we at AP would like to highlight a restaurant a little more off the beaten path. So for San Francisco’s restaurant pick, we have chosen Golden Era.

Golden Era is located in between the juxtaposing neighborhoods of the Tenderloin and Union Square. The Tenderloin can be a bit sketchy, but the restaurant is on the outskirts of the neighborhood. We have dined here over the course of 6 years and have never encountered any problem! Golden Era’s menu is pan Asian based and all vegetarian. There are a few items that are not vegan, but like most restaurants the staff will advise you.

There are not a ton of Appetizers to choose from on the menu, but the quality is superb! The Drumsticks and Steamed Veggie Bun are mouth watering and will leave you craving more! Both the Golden Rolls and Spring Rolls are delicious classics and the Vegetable Fu Young is scrumptious!
Spinach Tofu Soup

They offer both Salads and Soups to start your meal off healthy and are quite tasty themselves. We recommend the Tofu Salad and the Spinach Tofu Soup! These are meals within themselves.
Spicy Mongolian Chicken

There are tons of Entrees on this menu to choose from! They offer Noodle Dishes, Rice Plates, Regular Entrees, Claypot Choices, and Specialties. It must be said that most of these dishes are not run of the mill asian style! They are creative and of course delicious. For instance the menu offers dishes such as Caramelized Chicken, Pineapple Salmon, Vegetarian Lamb Claypot, and Sautéed Jalapeno Tofu. If you are looking for a little more classic dishes, fear not, as you can order Sweet & Sour Chicken, Lemon Chicken, Gourmet Fried Rice, and Pho Noodles. Trust us, dinner here will not be an ordinary event, because even their typical dishes are satisfying with a unique flavor.
Caramelized Chicken

Desserts here are just as exciting as their dishes! There are a couple non vegan desserts, but they are marked clearly on the menu. You can order anything from Vegan Caramel Flan to Egg-Less Cheesecake and our personal favorite Fried Banana w/ Vegan Ice Cream. And don’t forget to order a Vegan Thai Iced Tea to make your meal complete!
Fried Banana & Ice Cream

So if you are a local looking for some unique and creative asian style vegan dishes, hop on over to Golden Era! And if you are visiting, this is a MUST on your trip through the city.

Golden Era is located at:
572 O’Farrell Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Tel: 415-673-3136

Wed-Mon 11am-9pm
Closed Tuesday

It’s the season and wedding fever is spreading (even one of us at Autonomie is planning a wedding soon)! Lately as everything is going green, weddings are too! There are a number of great websites and companies that  help out with keeping the most special day of your life friendly to the earth.  So we have compiled a few sites and companies that will help you on your day, as well as some quick helpful tips to keeping your wedding day on the green side.

A couple of websites that compile all you need to plan an eco-friendly bash include Green Weddings and Green Elegance Weddings. Both these websites provide guides and links to Eco-friendly wedding companies to find items like Green favors, wedding and engagement rings, invitations, flowers, and much more! There are also blogs such as Great Green Wedding and Blue Planet Weddings to help you with ideas on how to green your wedding! Speaking of Blue Planet Weddings, they have compiled a very helpful list of 95 Ideas To Make Your Wedding More Environmentally-Friendly

Besides websites you can find books with great ideas and tips such as Green Weddings That Don’t Cost the Earth, Eco-Chic Weddings, Organic Weddings Everything Green Wedding Book, and the Green Bride Guide.

With all the companies and advice, plus the stress of planning a wedding, these sites can become overwhelming. So we here at AP have compiled a short list of 5 Quick Tips to Help Green Your Wedding:

  1. Cut Down Travel: Try to keep the guest list down to people who are local and can attend without burning too much fuel. If some of your most important guests are out of towners consider having a few small parties in a couple locations so that only the two of you are traveling around. Or try offsetting your guests carbon emissions! If you really want to cut down on travel, elope! You can have a romantic and private ceremony with just the two of you, but make sure its alright with your family first, as you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
  2. Re-Use Apparel: Thousands of wedding gowns are purchased each year, only to be worn once and discarded. Vintage or previously worn gowns not only save you money, but are using less resources. You can find great vintage gowns at thrift or vintage stores or even online. Also, another great resource is your relative’s closets. Most of your female relatives hang on to their gown and you can borrow it, saving a ton of costs and helping the earth (plus you can knock that “something borrowed” off your list). The same goes for bridesmaids dresses. This is of course, much easier if you don’t want them to be exact matches. Finally, the groom’s attire, is pretty easy to be green. Most groom’s rent their tuxes and don’t have the same impact their counterparts do. Or you can always go the vintage route there as well!!
  3. Stay Local: When choosing caterers, wine, and beer companies try to stay local. This will also help out with cutting expenses as well as fuel usage. Also, its always great to support local restaurants, wineries, and breweries! You can also try to only work with Green Restaurants, check out the Green Restaurant Association for suggestions on where to find a local restaurant.
  4. DIY It Up: Another great cost and pollution cutting tip is to Do It Yourself whenever possible! There are a number of wedding details which can be done by yourself and/or family members. Check out some of the DIY sites that might come in handy for great ideas: The Do It Yourself Wedding Guide and the DIY Network. Also, doing it yourself will put a special charm and touch to your event that no company could ever do!
  5. Eco-Honeymoon: Eco travel and tourism is a booming business, so why not end your event with the perfect green retreat! You can always stay locally to cut down travel or you can book with a number of different eco tours, hotels, or bed and breakfasts. See our Eco-tourism post for more ideas!

  6. Planning a wedding is a very exciting time (we should know!), but don’t forget about Mother Earth when you are putting it all together. There are so many ways to cut down the impact on the environment when celebrating, that even the smallest effort makes a difference! Feel free to leave any advice or tips if you’ve hosted or are in the process of planning a Green Wedding! Congratulations!!

OK, so you already have a mental image in place but there’s no going back now. After all, the thought of living with your own ‘leftovers’ is not readily settling. Since the invention of fire, humans have figured out that it’s a fairly good goal, if not wholly hygienic, to separate your ‘befores ‘ from your ‘afters’. But give me a second…

Stay with me here…

Try this scenario on for size, it may a little easier to stomach:

Imagine a great, big furniture factory pumping out a tremendous amount of cabinetry each day. At closing, janitors spend a tremendous amount of time and energy, sweeping up all the sawdust, packaging it, taking it to the dumpster and scheduling a pickup. Exhausting work, but hey… you have to keep the floors clean if you’re going to get stuff done the following day.

One day, as a worker, you realize all that sawdust could be mixed with some glue, put back onto the production line and used to make more cabinetry! Cut costs on both the ends and the means. “Brilliant!”, cry the Board…”You’re promoted!”

“But wait”, they say, “we’re not going to just pick it up and start it at the front of the assembly line again. We’ve got a process! We’re still going to package it up, take it to the dumpster, schedule a pickup. Then we’re going to send people back out to find the stuff we just got rid of, collect it in fragments, try to get some of the material workable again and put it back into production…”

“Brilliant?” you say….

Yea, it works… but, I mean…

Think about it. You have someone else ship your waste underground for hundreds of miles, wasting hundreds of gallons of drinkable water, paying hundreds for this apparent service. On top of that, you have to deal with broken pipes, wet ceilings, overflowing toilets. All this when there is already a free process to exploit in your backyard. Literally.

What nature does with leftovers…and humans deciding they can do it better.

“But what about…dare I say…bacteria! And that smell! Puuuhhlleease….you think I’m going to live with my own feces? “

Hmmm, not coming from there…what’s that smell?

YES! And here’s how. People have already considered this. The bacteria. The smell. The maintenance. The hygiene. No one is asking you to cut a hole in the floor and hold your breath. In the era of self-parking cars and I-phones, do you think we can do better that that?

A light at the end of the tunnel?

Enter the composting toilet. A culture shift in the way we start to re-align ourselves with process that have been in place much longer than we’ve existed. A leading expert in the field, Sun-Mar has a number of very practical solutions that promise quiet, odorless and hygienic waste conversion systems. While not the most stylish in the field, Sun-Mar has a very competitive price point.

Looking to really impress your growing throng of eco-yuppie friends? Check out Envirolet….with it’s starter kit and shock soil, you’ll be pushing up daises in a whole new light. While a little more high end, think about how much it’s going to be to replace that septic when it finally reaches maximum capacity.

Envirolet’s Brand of Composting

For more information on the wonderful world of composting toilets, take a look at Aside from a variety of products, you can find general information here about composting and health/odor concerns.

So, take a look and get over it…rather, get on it!

The August heat waves are now sweeping the country and although we normally post recipes for vegan food dishes, we thought we’d mix it up with something a bit more refreshing. What better way to beat the summer heat than with Sangria! Not only is it refreshing, it makes a great item to bring to parties and cookouts or to enjoy on your back porch. This recipe only takes a few moments to make, so get out of that sun and RELAX!

Peach-Raspberry Sangria

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

  • 2 (750 ml) bottles of organic and vegan Riesling wine
  • 1 cup Peach Schnapps or Peach Liquor 
  • 1/2 cup of Lemonade
  • 3 ripe peaches
  • 1 cup of fresh raspberries
  • 1 sliced orange
  • 1 sliced lemon
First slice up the peaches, orange, and lemon into slices. Next pour the liquid ingredients into a large pitcher. Add all of the fruit and mix thoroughly. Place in the fridge for at least an hour to let it cool or serve over ice. If raspberries are not in season, Granny Smith apples also work well! 

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