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%

girl_effect

hoyasmeg

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?

happy_girl

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!

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