February 2009

We found this hilarious video by comedian John Oliver, you may have seen him on the Daily Show or Comedy Central, and we had share it with you!  The video is about “Unfair Trade” and is from his special on Comedy Central, Terrifying Times. We find it funny, as well as has some great insights on fair trade and human rights! We especially love his idea about a symbol for unfair trade. But I won’t bore you anymore with my commentary, I’ll let him speak for himself. Enjoy and hope you find it as funny as we did!

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Ok….so what does one say to all that?

My initial reaction was: “Wow, what a wonderful initiative!” Having worked in microfinance with indigenous Quechua women of Peru, I definitely understand the focus on girls because I witnessed it. Women are a segment of the population that remain invisible in the developing world. However, due to the inherent nature of being women (i.e.; future mothers, wives and caretakers), it is exactly this segment of the population that has the greatest potential to create change.

The girl effect makes its case of “why women,” powerfully. Don’t just take it from me, but check out some of the statistics they share:

•70% of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth are girls
•75% of HIV-infected youth in Africa are girls
•When girls and women earn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their families, as compared to 30-40% for a man
•An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ future wage by 10-20%



In a nutshell, the girl effect is making the case that girls have a special role in the developing world. They become mothers and if a girl has no self worth and few skills, she will pass on her bad health and challenging financial situation to her children and hence the cyclical nature of poverty.

To keep this blog short and sweet, I would like to share two comments:

1) Although this video oversimplifies poverty, it has worth in its ability to reach everyone. You do not have to be a development scholar to understand the main point: girls overwhelmingly suffer from the effects of poverty and we must do something to change this.

I believe the girl effect is not saying: “hey, let’s give all girls in the developing world a cow and we will save the world.” I believe it is saying: let’s give girls access to capital, to the ability to labor for themselves as their own bosses, to manage, to make their own decisions and to choose their own paths and then….and only then can we create change. I cannot stress this word enough: choice. Let’s give them a choice because power lies in the ability to choose.

Choice and the success that can be attained from one making choices for oneself creates higher self-esteem and the acquisition of credibility within one’s community. This is the way these girls will become leaders and eventually “get invited to town councils.” This experience is what will change the way they interact with the world.

2) I love the fact that the girl effect is raising awareness on the plight women face around the world but I do have some concerns. My biggest concern is that it’s run by a large multinational which has a less than stellar history with human rights. I know, I know, how unforgiving of me. What if this multinational has gotten its act together, right?

Well, what I will say is that I have qualms with living within a system that oppresses women and then creates a foundation to try to help alleviate the problems it created. 90% of sweatshop laborers are women (ages 16-25…do you see any age alignment).  Here’s an idea: how about we lean towards business models that don’t oppress women so that they can be empowered everyday! I just think that not creating the problem may be a more successful way of solving it versus allowing businesses partake in the creation of the problem and then fundraising to combat it.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think this initiative is amazing, I just think that we cannot overlook the way we do business in the world and then feel better about foundations that address many of the problems created by these dominant business models. If we are serious about change, isn’t it our obligation to look at the big picture?


Aoife City Womanchile

Best Actress Academy Award Photo By cliff1066This week Hollywood’s rich and famous will gather for the biggest celebration all year, the Academy Awards. Since the Oscars seem to be lacking an overall eco-friendly theme, SustainLane held their own Green Oscar Awards titled Green Film Awards 2009. The films nominated were not all made in 2008, but they have 5 main catagories including Film Most Likely To Make You a  Complete Treehugger. Nominees ranged from documenteries like An Inconvenient Truth and the End of Suburbia to hollywood productions like Syriana and even old classics like Chinatown. The awards were voted on by a makeshift academy, the public! It would be a very different scene if the actual oscars were chosen by the public. The following is the list of categories, click on the links to see the nominations and winners!:

Film to Most Likely Make You Ditch Your Gas Guzzler, nominations and the winner…

Film Most Likely to Change Your Eating Habits,  nominations and the winner…

Best Film Exposé of Today’s Environmental Issues, nominations and the winner…

Best Film to Inspire the Next Generation of Environmentalists, nominations and the winner…

Film Most Likely to Make You A Complete Treehugger, nominations and the winner…

My new Wall-E & Eva Mini Robots Photo By Tasslehoff BurrfootAs far as the actual Mainstream Oscars, it is true they are lacking on the Green front . Zaproot has put together their newest video which includes an intro about the Oscars (see below). They focus on how this year’s Oscar noms are lacking in green themes, with the exception of Wall-E and some of this year’s greatest documentaries such as The Garden. However, none of these films, including Wall-E have not been nominated for Best Picture, much to the dismay of many environmentalists. To check out Zaproot’s newest video below, which includes the Green Oscar intro as well as review of the newest hybrids hitting the market. Enjoy! 


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CO: Obama signs economic recovery bill in Denver Photo By aflcio2008Just days after the huge economic recovery stimulus bill was passed and Obama signed it into law, critics on both sides put it their two cents. Economists and regular Joes can’t seem to agree whether the stimulus is a great move or a bad decision. However, there is one group of people who are celebrating the passage. The Green Movement seems to be one of the winners of the bill. The bill sets aside millions of funding for green development. From mass transit to solar energy, the bill definitely is a win for a growing industry.

Wind Power Photo By Luis AlvesImmediately following the passage several green groups celebrated in the news, including Green America.  They have released a great list of the “5 best stimulus provisions for a greener America.” And their list is full of hopeful parts of the stimulus plan including: 9.5 billion for energy efficient revitalization of federal buildings, 6 billion towards in loans for solar and wind projects, 11 million to modernize the electricity grid, and 17.5 billion for public transportation including high speed rail. Green America also celebrated that 50 million in funding of new nuclear and coal plants was cut out of the bill.

Green Jobs Now Sarasota - Sarasota, FL Photo By greenforall.orgThese are major victories in the green economy and we can only hope that this really will stimulate the economy as well convince the majority of America to switch to a greener lifestyle. This bill has potential to create millions of new jobs as well as jumpstart a move to a greener America! So we say congratulations to all of us who have been working to bring the green movement into the forefront! Even though a huge victory has happened, it doesn’t mean we can stop pushing. Stay involved with organizations like Green America and Green Jobs Now. And most of all try to to stay green in your daily life.

Since the winter is upon us, its time we all start craving comfort foods. What better way to pass the long winter than with warm delicious food?! This week’s vegan recipe is the great winter warmer: chili! This recipe is easy and relatively quick compared to some chili recipes. Don’t be scared away by the long list of ingredients (most are veggies and spices)!  So take a break from the frigid weather and warm your body as well as your soul.

Chili and Cornbread Photo By: serenejournalVegan Winter Warmer Chili

Prep Time: 10 Minutes   Cook Time: 30 Minutes   Serves: 6 People

1 3/4 Cups Canned Kidney Beans
3/4 Cup Canned Black Beans
1 Can Cooked Corn
1 14oz Can of Tomatoes
1 6oz Can of Tomato Paste
3 Tbls Soy Sauce
2 Tbls Olive Oil
1 Onion, Chopped

1 Green Bell Pepper Chopped
1 Zucchini, Chopped
2 tsps C
hili Powder,
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Coriander
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Thyme
Cayenne Pepper to taste

First chop the onion, green pepper, and zucchini and cook the veggies in olive oil in a skillet. Saute the veggies until soft or the onions turn translucent.  In a large pot add the tomato paste, tomatoes, corn, kidney beans, and black beans. Keep on medium and stir in the sauteed veggies, soy sauce, and all spices. Let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally for 25 minutes. Ready to serve immediately. A great way to top it off is with a dollop of Tofutti Vegan Sour Supreme and some shredded Follow Your Heart Cheddar Cheese.  Also, its great idea to serve with some delicious vegan cornbread or over tortilla chips.

Buying gifts this Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you’ll have to sacrifice your conscious! There are a number of Fair Trade alternatives to standard Valentine’s gifts including flowers, chocolates, and jewelry!  So we at AP have put together some suggestions on how to make your Valentine’s fairly traded. Be sure to impress your socially conscious honey with these great fair trade gifts:

Probably the most common gift during the Vday season is flowers. No matter gal or guy, your partner will likely expect this display of affection. So this year why not please them with fair trade flowers? Fair trade flowers can be found online at exclusively fair trade sites such as Better Earth Flowers or One World Flowers. You can also order them online at more mainstream sites like 1-800 Flowers and Sam’s Club Online. Fair Trade flowers can also be found at many grocery chains including Whole Foods, King’s Supermarkets, Roche Brothers, and New Season’s Markets. For a full list of stores in your area that carry fair trade flowers, choose your zip code and check the flowers box on the Transfair site. So if you plan to surprise your honey this year with a bouquet, be sure it meets the fair trade standard!

Besides flowers, the next most often Valentine’s gifts has got to be chocolate! Of course chocolate is one of the oldest fair trade certified products and many companies sell it! In honor of St Valentine, purchase your lover a V day box of fair trade chocolates. You can find all sorts of gift baskets and chocolate bars at World of Good. But if you are looking for something a little more festive, check out Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates‘ special Fair Trade Valentine’s Boxes or Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates’ Valentine’s Gifts. You can also put together your own fair trade chocolate boxes or baskets by going to Whole Foods markets or your local co-op/natural food store. Look for great fair trade chocolate brands like Equal Exchange or Dagoba. Whatever chocolate you decide upon just be sure to look for the Fair Trade certified label.

What goes best with chocolate and romance? Wine of course! There are a couple of great fair trade wine companies that have just emerged on the market. Last year we highlighted the introduction of a new fair trade wine company, Etica. This brand is only available in Minnesota in retail stores, however you can purchase bottles on their online store. Etica isn’t the only fair trade wine on the market, there is also the first fair trade wine company, Melania. Look on their website for a list of retailers carrying the wine. So cozy up to your sweetie this year with a great bottle of fair trade wine and end the night right!

Another common Valentine’s gift is jewelry! Everyone loves to get jewelry, especially if its socially conscious. Fair trade jewelry comes in many great designs and you can find everything from earrings to necklaces and even toe rings. There are many places to find great, handmade fair trade jewelry online such as World of Good, Global Exchange, Taraluna, and Wedge Worldwide. If buying in person is more your thing or if you are in a time crunch go to the nearest Ten Thousand Villages (a nationwide fair trade store) or to the gift section at Whole Foods. Wherever you purchase your fair trade certified jewelry, you’ll be sure to dazzle your honey this year!

Happy Valentine's Day Photo By LallHave a vegan sweetheart this year? Make sure your Valentine’s Day is vegan proof ! On top of the typical flowers, you can wow the vegan in your life by making a few great choices! We have quickly put together some great Valentine’s Gift Ideas for your vegan sweetie. Single this Valentine’s Day? Don’t let it get to you! Why not treat yourself to any of the  suggestions below and indulge in your freedom?!

1) Vegan Chocolates and Sweets: You can never go wrong with great and delicious chocolate. There are many companies that make vegan chocolate, however in the spirit of the holiday, why not go all out? You don’t have to stick to the regular chocolate bar. There are tons of great heart shaped boxed candies filled with vegan chocolates including strawberry cream, coffee flavored, and and even vegan truffles! Check out the gift boxes from Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe, Pangea (they’re having a sale), Vegan Essentials, and Rose City. If your lover isn’t into to chocolate, consider getting them a vegan cookie basket instead. There are gift sets at the above sites, as well as at Vegan Karma, This Chick Bakes, and Allison’s Gourmet.

2) Vegan Restaurants: On top of the flowers and chocolates, most couples spend their Valentine’s night with a nice dinner out. There are plenty of romantic vegan restaurants to choose from. In fact we have done many restaurant reviews in cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, New York and DC. But also check Moo Cow for a listing of vegan restaurants near you. And don’t forget to make reservations, as that night is busy busy! We suggest chosing somewhere with a romantic atmosphere, like San Francisco’s Millenium or New York’s Candle Cafe.

3) A Vegan’s Night In-Wine and Candles: Instead of heading out for dinner, what’s more romantic than a candle lite dinner with wine? Well, why not do it vegan style?! Fix a great vegan meal, there are thousands of delicious recipes out there, including some of our own.  Get you and your honey a great bottle of vegan wine from companies such as Frey or Organic Wine Company. Check out this great Vegan Wine Guide, you can search by variety, color, country, and company. Don’t forget the candles to set the mood! Soy based candles are carried at many health food stores including Whole Foods and most local co-ops. You can buy soy candles online at the websites mentioned on vegan chocolates.

4) Vegan Romantic Getaways: Maybe you want to do a little more than one night of romance. There are plenty of great weekend getaways that a vegan can enjoy. There are a few fantastic all vegan bed and breakfasts spread throughout the country including The Ginger Cat in New York, The Shady Hallow Inn in Massachusetts, The White Pig in Virginia and The Jewel Box in California. These are just a couple, there are several throughout the US, find the closest one to you!  If you can’t locate an all vegan b and b in your area, try calling or emailing any bed and breakfast in your desired area! Most places are family owned and willing to accommodate any diet, as long as you plan ahead.

5) Vegan Late Night: And no matter if you are staying in, going out, or leaving for a long weekend: remember to end your night safely. Give your lover a vamped up VDay by giving them a pack of all vegan condoms and vegan/organic lubricant. Even if you don’t give them as a gift, bring them along for a fun way to end the night! We are sure your vegan lover will be impressed with you choice of vegan lubricant and condoms! Now hang that DO NOT DISTURB sign and enjoy the night!

With the election of Obama to the White House many groups are hoping he brings real change. Shortly after the election, Change.org  hosted a contest for ten ideas for Obama to change in America. Online viewers were asked to vote on their favorite ideas! Winners included legalizing medicinal and recreational marijuana use, making the grid green, and a repeal of the Patriot Act. But before voting ended one idea gained many votes and caught our eye: “Declare the White House a Fair Trade Zone.”

1208885597_4795-300x194Even though this idea didn’t win the contest of the top ten ideas, its still a thought to keep in mind. And really transitioning the White House into a Fair Trade Zone may be easier than you think. The residence already has Starbucks coffee served at official events. What if they switched it out to Equal Exchange or Grounds for Change?  According to Fair Trade LA, Obama already has an affinity for Honest Tea, Equal Exchange, and Just Coffee. It would be a pretty simple change! On top of coffee we would love to see change over to fair trade chocolate, sugar, olive oil, and even bananas!

Could Fair Trade make its way into the most famous house on the hill? Maybe not right now.  But we shouldn’t give up the cause even though the idea didn’t win the competition. Keep spreading the word about fair trade products to your friends and family or join a fair trade campaign! Keep placing pressure on our leaders and the Obama administration and maybe we will see some real change!

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Global Exchange has announced their new Fair Trade teaching curriculum!  And they want to get the word out before Valentine’s Day! By helping out you have the chance to win Fair Trade gifts and chocolate!! So check out their new curriculum at the Second Annual National Valentine’s Day of Action and pass on the information. Global Exchange asks that you:

Take just 5 minutes to copy this info and email to all the educators you know (including administrators, teachers, youth group leaders, faith-based school teachers, etc), and you might win Fair Trade gifts and chocolate!

New Fair Trade curriculum!  Features:

* ready-to-use lesson plans
* inquiry- and experiential-based learning consistent with best practices in teaching
* satisfies state teaching standards in every discipline
*receive real Fair Trade Organic cocoa beans….only while our limited supplies last, so sign up soon!
* kids learn they have the power to make a global impact AND
* it’s fun!

Global Exchange Valentine's Kit

Fair Trade cocoa will stimulate students’ interest in learning! The curriculum is the outcome of a unique partnership between Global Exchange and teacher candidates at Evergreen State College’s Master in Teaching program who authored inventive lesson plans. Book and unit downloadable at  Second Annual National Valentine’s Day of Action: 3,000 for Fair Trade!!!

Last year, educators nationwide educated nearly 2,000 kids about Fair Trade through Global Exchange’s National Valentine’s Day of Action. This year, will you help us reach 3,000? Win a fabulous Fair Trade chocolate prize! To win copy and paste this email to every educator you know today, while teachers are planning their spring lessons. Be sure to ask the educator to enter your name as the person who referred them when they download the curriculum by February 13! This action will enter you into a prize drawing to win over $40 worth of Fair Trade gifts.

And the teachers/educators have a chance to win too! Educators: Teach the curriculum in your classroom anytime between now and Valentine’s Day and you will be entered into a prize drawing to win over $75 worth of Fair Trade chocolate and educational materials!

So please help out and copy, paste, and send this email out to all your teacher/educator friends!!!

superbowlxl1Sunday’s big Super Bowl game boasted the second highest number of viewers in television history.  Clocking in at a whopping 95.4 million football fans, this viewership was only second to last year’s game.  So it’s safe for us to assume, that you were one of the many that spent last Sunday evening cheering on the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers or mourning for the constant underdog Arizona Cardinals.  If you watched all the way to the end of the game, then you may have a heard the announcer excitedly belt out that this year’s commemorative Super Bowl  tee is….(drum roll please)….for the first time EVER….eco-friendly!   Huh?  Through all the cheers and chatter and munching and beer bottles clinking, it certainly caught our attention and made us think “Could this possibly be true??  Has the NFL gone green?”

So we did a little investigation and found out that the 43rd Super Bowl Tee honoring the champion Steelers is indeed legit.  Made by Reebok, who has notably made steps towards being kinder to our environment, the tee is 100% organic cotton.  Not 10% or even 50%!  They even added a little explanation behind what it means to be organic.  No info on WHERE it’s made, but still, it was a pleasant surprise and a great step in the right direction for both Reebok and the NFL.

But then we thought…what happened to all of those Champion Arizona Cardinal t-shirts?  The NFL can’t predict the end of the game and when the champions are sporting specialty screen printed tees within a minute of winning, they must have had a stock pile of tees for both teams just in case.  By order of the National Football League, the losing team’s printed t-shirts are never to be seen on television, or on eBay, or anywhere on American soil.  With that knowledge, it’s hard not to assume that the losing teams tees are all a waste (and thus a horrible environmental practice).

But upon further investigation, we were pleasantly surprised that these unwanted, forbidden tees are actually donated to people in impoverished nations who don’t have the luxuries of television, electricity, or even running water.  They have no concept of who actually won the Super Bowl, or even what the Super Bowl is in some cases, and are just as psyched to receive a brand new trendy designer tee.  The gear is flown along with school books and medical supplies usually to Africa, by World Vision, a Washington-based international humanitarian organization

Still, the NFL’s champion t-shirt production isn’t totally perfect.  As soon as the clock hits 00:00 and a winner is official, screen printers work through the night churning out millions of tees that are then flown at the light of dawn to sporting goods stores all over the country so that the beloved merchandise can be available *instantly* to the American public.  If a super star football player is wearing HIS tee on Sunday night, then the American people have the right to wear THEIR tees first thing Monday morning.  Or…couldn’t we all just wait one more day and let the clothing manufacturers enjoy the big game in peace and get a goods night’s rest?

But even with the chaotic production schedule of the tees, we’re still pretty happy to see the NFL make such great strides towards being a better organization to both our planet and the people who inhabit it.  If only all the sports leagues would follow suit and become just as global and forward thinking!

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