April 2009


Eggs of Many Colors Photo By woodleywonderworksA small victory has occurred in the animal rights world! That’s right, the first major egg supplier, Radlo Farms has announced it has cut ties from a Massachusetts farm that had gross mistreatment of their hens. They have also officially decided to go cage free within the next ten years. This may seem like a small feat, but this is actually an exciting step in phasing out the abuse of the egg industry.

Battery Cages Photo By Egg IndustryAs we highlighted in an earlier post, the egg industry is fraught with horrible abuses and unimaginable horrors that the hens endure., including having their beaks burnt off and forced starvation. As well, as plenty of hormones and unhealthy production of the eggs. And a lot of these abuses are caused by the use of battery cages.  That’s why it is especially encouraging to see a major egg distributor choose to make a change to cage free chickens. Although they have pledged to do so in ten years, which actually is a little too long. It seems they should be able to phase such changes sooner and we would certainly love to see them try!

Gallina [en. hen, fr. poule] (Gallus gallus domesticus) Photo By Cristóbal Alvarado MinicThe reason the subject of animal abuse came up at this farm was through a pretty impressive investigation conducted by Mercy for Animals, an animal rights non profit. Some members went undercover and were able to film the disgusting living conditions of the hens as well as video workers swinging the chickens around by the neck! The investigation spurred Radlo to cease all business with the particular farm and Massachusetts state agriculture inspectors have since investigated the farm to see if possible charges should be brought upon the farm. Once all of the abuses were brought to light, Randlo, with the encouragement of  its franchiser Eggland’s Best decided to stop all supplies from this farm and has then pledged to go completely cage free.

As we said  before, this may be a tiny victory in the scheme of things, its a step in the right direction. If this large of an egg supplier has made this move, then it is quite possible other large distributors and farms could follow suit. This is just the type of transition we need! So please, if you aren’t vegan, purchase from cage free farms and companies. It makes a world of difference for the life of the hens.

So your head is pounding, your body is aching, and your stomach is filled with pings of pain. What is this? Could it be a hangover? After last week’s bombardment of Earth Day, it very much feels like a hangover. Ok so maybe we are exaggerating a bit, you aren’t physically having a hangover. However, the constant Earth Day media coverage, fairs, and sales that occurred last week can leave one a bit mentally exhausted. Because of said exhaustion it may cause you to be fed up with the Green Movement in general.

Unfortunately, Americans love to over-expose ideas and tend to focus all their energy on celebrating something in one day and then its over. As if something as big as the place we live and survive on, can be summed up in one day… Last week a ton of hype went around about protecting the Earth and being green conscious, which is a terrific thing, however these ideas should be practiced 365 days a year, not just 1. I mean I know holidays such as Earth Day, bring awareness to the issue, but let us not forget that the issues are much larger than one day every April. The same thing will happen next week when we celebrate Mother’s Day. Everyone will shower all mothers with gifts and dinners, but shouldn’t we be appreciating our mothers all the time? Much as we should be treating our main Mother (Earth), with respect every single day of the year.

Don’t let the overexposure of last week stop you from the ultimate goal. And if you are wondering exactly how you stay green all year long, think about the small things such as recycling, public transportation, bicycling, unplugging your unused electronics, buying from green companies, installing solar panels, eating local….And the list goes on and on. But if you want to do more than just the daily greenie stuff, consider volunteering or donating to a number of great Eco-Friendly Organizations such as Green America, Trees For Change, Green Jobs Now, GreenPeace, and a whole host of others! Or get active in your own community, workplace, or school to make a difference. There are likely local organizations or just start your own committee!

So cure your Earth Day hangover blues, by remembering to respect our planet all year long. It is easier then you think!

dsc00771We had an absolute blast at last weekend’s Earth Fair in our (second) favorite city in the world, New York New York. After enjoying vegan meatball subs from Boston fave TJ Scallywaggle’s on our 4 hour drive down, we arrived at Grand Central smack dab in the middle of Thursday rush hour. Somehow, by 8 pm, our little corner of historic Vanderbilt Hall was set-up and ready to greet the crowds…that was of course after circling the block multiple times in search of 42nd Street (it’s UNDER the overpass duh); finding no “loading dock” as instructed; double parking along city buses on one of the busiest blocks in the world; getting harrassed by local commuters (seriously. they weren’t very nice.); navigating our tiny $20 Staples dolly with 4 cartons of sneakers piled high around hot dog carts and small dogs; and getting inspected by large bomb sniffing police dogs and very large, very scary, but very polite, NYPD.

The craziness involved in getting there though was well worth it.   The New Yorkers we met were truly awesome and really showed us some love.  And we love them right back….of course it helps that our beloved Red Sox swept the Yankees that weekend!!  HA!  (Sorry.  We had to say it).

In all seriousness, the hard working people at the behind-the-scenes org Earth Day dsc00818New York did a fabulous job at throwing a great party full of education, music and fun and we can’t wait to do it all again next year.  Thousands upon thousands of people, young and old, streamed through the hall and out to the adjoining street fair to chat, shop, gaze and learn how they can make New York a greener apple.  In addition to all the fantastic supporters,  we also met great new friends at other new eco-friendly businesses Jade’s Toy Box, District Cotton, Multee Purpose, and Cardboardesign who we hope you’ll check out and support.

dsc00786While dirty and exhausted at the end of it all with only 1 minor injury thanks to our new rack, it hardly feels like ‘work’ when we met such awesome people doing such great things for the planet, danced with the crowds and overstuffed animals at the mainstage of the outdoor fest, and followed up the non-stop days with some serious non-stop nights with a little vegan restaurant hopping through Brooklyn by Gina and (just a few) martinis enjoyed by Anne in Manhattan.

If you missed us this past weekend, or just can’t get enough, we’ll be descending on NYC again on May 9th to celebrate World Fair Trade Day at Battery Park.  See you there!

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New York Skyline Photo By wwarbyTo celebrate Earth Day we are packing our bags and heading south to New York City for the EarthFair 2009! In celebration of planet Earth, Grand Central Station in New York is holding an EarthFair. Tons of great vendors and exhibitors, including yours truly will take over the station for 2 days: April 24th and 25th. There will also be fun live music and delicious food both days as well as children’s entertainment such as face painting. And they will be collecting cell phones for recycling. 

So if you are in the city this weekend please come by and celebrate the planet, eco issues, enjoy live music, eat some great food, and of course come by and see us! We will have a table set up selling our great eco-friendly clothing, footwear, and accessories AND come check out our new artist custom made sneakers! See you there and we wish you a Happy Earth Day!

WHEN: Friday April 24th 12pm-7pm   and   Saturday April 25th 11am-5pm

WHERE: New York Grand Central Terminal    

Inside: Vanderbilt Hall    Outside: 42nd-45th Streets

New York Earth Fair

Earth Day Flag, Planet Earth, Waving Wind Blowing Photo By BL1961The biggest day in the green world is upon us once more! That’s right tomorrow, April 22nd is Earth Day! The first Earth Day was held in 1970 to spread awareness to environmental issues as well as to celebrate our planet. Since then, Earth Day has been growing in popularity and is observed by millions. This year with the Green movement perhaps at its most popular, Earth Day is bound to be ultra exciting. So this year you are wondering, how you should celebrate the holiday?

Earth Day Expo Photo By greenbkThere are literally thousands of festivals, fairs, speakers, and expos going on around the country for Earth Day. Many of these are actually celebrated over the weekend so many can attend. For example, in Los Angeles they are celebrating Children’s Earth Day on April 26th or Boston’s Great Big Green Party held in the Harvard University area on April 24th. There are actually thousands of similar events going on throughout the country. Or how about the New York EarthFair  held in Grand Central Station (AP will be there) which will provide eco-friendly vendors from around the country. To find an event in your area, try checking out The Earth Day Network’s Earth Day Event Search. This database is an impressive list of all Earth Day events being held throughout the country.

Bike Sunday in Mexico City photo by becstarrIf you don’t have time to attend one of these big events, there are also thousands of smaller events. For instance  Chicago restaurants all over the city are serving special eco-friendly menus and Earth Day deals on April 22nd. That way you can celebrate Earth Day while having dinner!  Or how about in giving up your car for the day? In Los Angeles they are promoting Wilshire Center Earth Day–Car Free Day. They are asking residents to chuck the car for the day on Wilshire Boulevard between Western and Harvard from 10am to 5pm. And they are also accepting donations of electronics such as old TVs and computers to be recycled. Check out what’s happening in your city on the Earth Day Network.

spring-2009-cover By Indigenous DesignsAnd if you can’t make it to any event no matter how large or small, try celebrating by using your buying power. Many Green Companies are holding Earth Day Sales such as Indigenous Designs who is offering 40% off all eco friendly clothing and Seventh Generation who is offering special coupons for the holiday on all their green cleaning products. Mainstream companies are also celebrating the Earth this year by offering promotions. Amazon is having a huge sale all month long on eco-friendly products such as cleaners and solar chargers and the Discovery Channel Store has a sale starting April 22nd and running until May on all Earth related products including Planet Earth dvds. 

Student Teacher Photo By peiqianlongOne last great way to celebrate Earth Day is to bring awareness to your workplace or family. If you happen to be a teacher or work with children, consider having a lesson plan about the environment. Here are some great ideas for Earth Day lesson plans to get kids involved! These are also great activities to do with your children at home. If you work in an office setting check out these great green Earth Day office tips. Remember education is the best tool to spreading awareness for environmental issues.

We hope you can spend this year’s Earth Day with one of these many activities, we know we will! We want to wish you a Happy Earth Day and remember to celebrate the Earth all 365 days! 🙂

Sable Coat from Arpel Fur no 36 Photo by Fur Fashion ScansMuch to our dismay Fur seems to be making a comeback on the catwalk as well as on the street. It’s unfortunate that after years of animal rights campaigns to show the horrors of the fur industry, that people still find it a display of their wealth to wear tortured and dead animals on their backs. 2009 has been dubbed by many fashion experts as out with the faux fur and in with the real thing. Fashion trends are all well and good, but should trends like this exist and at what cost?

PETA and many other animal welfare organizations have spent decades trying to spread the message that fur is cruel and in fact, well its hard to say lightly but murder. Some fashion lovers may try to mislead you into believing its a humane practice but facts and studies prove otherwise. I will spare you the raunchy and heartbreaking pictures, but if you are interested in viewing the abuses, have at it! But be warned, they are not for the faint at heart. But beyond photographic evidence there has been many investigations into the horrible animal abuse that comes with fur. Currently there are absolutely NO federal regulations on the American fur industry and as we have all seen with the recent economic crisis, absolute deregulation is rarely a good thing. In fact without restrictions fur industry workers carry on incredible cruelty including, genital and anal electrocution, drowning, and keeping animals in unsanitary tight quarters.

Hundreds of animals, mainly minks and foxes, but also chinchillas, lynxes, and even tiny  hamsters are killed everyday and then horribly skinned in order to meet the fashion industries demands. Maybe for some these animals may not seem cute or cuddly. But what if this were your dog or cat being mistreated and then killed? Well, fur that is imported in from China is sometimes made from the fur of dogs and cats. For some really gut wrenching video of this practice click here. If you can’t bear to see it, as most of us can’t these poor domestic dogs and cats are kept several to a cage, without food or water, transported on the back of trucks and brutally killed for their fur!

So now that I’ve gotten you surrely depressed, I thought I would bring some hope! The Humane Society has an ongoing Fur Free Campaign where they pressure retailers and designers to give up the use of fur. Also, PETA has a few great campaigns out there fighting against the fur industry. In fact they even have a ton of celebrities pose naked for their Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur posters. They also have just announced their annual Worst Dressed List and topping 2009’s list was none other than Madonna followed closely by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen , Maggie Gyllenhaal and a few others. These campaigns are meant to use celebrity power to bring awareness about the fur campaign. And its not just PETA out there on the streets, some citizens have attempted to bring light to celebrities that use fur. Some animal activist had been vandalizing Hollywood’s Walk of Fame with the statement “Fur Hags.”

Costilla Jacket by loyale Photo By EquitaGiving up fur doesn’t mean you have to give up fashion as well. There are responsible ways to wear faux fur. Many propenents of fur will tell you that faux fur is more harmful to the environment, however this is false.  The raising of animals just to kill for fur is much more wasteful than creating faux fur materials. However, faux fur materials are not the greatest either. Recently there is some great new faux furs made out of organic cotton such as Loyale Jacket or Linda Loudermilk’s collection of eco faux furs. And if you are wondering where to find fur free stores, check out the Humane Society’s Fur Free Guide.

Coats for Cubs Photo By ms golightlyAnd some of you may still have fur laying around the house, but no longer want to wear it out in public.There are plenty of great places to donate your fur! PETA takes donations and gives the fur to the homeless and Coats for Cubs accepts fur donations which they use to help wildlife rehibilitators. And until Earth Day, Buffalo Exchange is accepting donations on behalf of Coats for Cubs.

I am sure to the fashion industry it may seem stylish to use fur, but when you think about how hurtful and harmful, what is the point? To kill an animal just to look hip, doesn’t exactly register to me. So I hope this fur fad of 2009 fizzles out fast!

To  learn more about the fur industry and to get involved check out the website Fur is Dead or Fur Free.

In a previous post, we blogged about an event we did in partnership with an organization called Artists for Humanity. In this post we want to tell you a little more about them, their mission and why we are partnering with them so deeply.

Artists for Humanity (AFH) is an amazing organization whose mission is to bridge economic, social and racial divisions by providing underserved youth with the keys to self sufficiency through self employment in the arts. And they are housed in one of Boston’s Greenest Building!! Ok, so what exactly does this mean? Well, they are located in a facility that is LEED Platinum certified– the highest honor for sustainable architecture. In fact it was Boston’s first LEED Platinum building. If you ever visit their building you will see that it is solar powered, and even uses salvaged car windshields from New England junkyards as balcony banisters!!! It has such a unique, eclectic feel!

Other than in what they do, AFH is really cool in how they do it. They not only empower urban youth to use their artistic skills, but they show them how to do it in an environmentally friendly way,  using recycled and reused materials. We had the joy of working with youth mentor: Cassandra Lattimore and 6 AFH youth at Design Hive a few week ago. The youth artists included: Maggie Krylova, Richard Bevans, Brudnoy Marcelin, Jerome Shelton, Wendy Michel, and Jeff Marseilles. The youth designed really awesome shoes which will be up for auction to benefit Artists for Humanity.

Stay tuned for future collaborations with AFH. We admire what they do because we believe that uniting both of our organizations is a complete synthesis of missions: they eradicate poverty cycles in the US and we address these economic and social gaps in developing countries. Together, we use local talent to redistribute income from underprivileged sectors locally, in Boston and abroad.

If you want to learn more about them, check out their website.

GREATEST PARTY ON EARTH

AFH Greatest Party on EarthThey are having an insane party this Saturday, 4/18/09 called the “Greatest Party on Earth” in honor of our 2 greatest natural resources: the Earth and their young people!!! At this party, there will be  Non-stop entertainment on two floors of the EpiCenter featuring 3 live bands—Booty Vortex; “Divercity” from Zumix; and Samba Tremeterra; Hip Hop by United Roots; Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band sky-high duo acrobatic performance; Ten 31AFH Greatest Party on Earth Productions Earth Day-inspired living statues.

If you are interested in going, contact AFH: 617.268.7620

$125 and $250 (VIP) Tickets at

**Remember, the proceeds go to AFH and this is such a great way to invest your money while supporting a unique and inspirational organization

See you there!

sweatfree-logoOur allies at SweatFree Communities, a local New England-based grassroots organizing campaign, are calling on all Massachusetts residents to make a statement against sweatshops tomorrow: our official tax day!  The NGO’s report Subsidizing Sweatshops I, released on July 1 of last year, found that U.S. tax dollars are STILL being spent on sweatshops, child labor, forced and unpaid overtime, and toxic conditions in government contractor facilities.

Elected officials, clergy, business owners and labor leaders will gather at State Houses and Post Offices in at least 12 U.S. cities on Tax Day (that’s tomorrow – April 15th!) to release a new report by SweatFree Communities revealing that U.S. states and cities, and the Federal government, continue to use taxpayer money to purchase goods from companies engaged in serious human rights and labor rights violations.

workersSubsidizing Sweatshops II is a follow-up to the groundbreaking first edition and includes in-depth interviews with workers in eight factories spanning five countries who produce uniforms for public employees such as police officers and parks service employees for nine major uniform brands. Six companies named in the report supply products to approved apparel vendors of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Sweatfree Campaign is calling on Governor Deval Patrick to join the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, which would stop tax dollar support for sweatshop abuses and level the playing field for ethical U.S. businesses. Since the report’s first edition was published in July 2008, more states and cities have committed to join the Consortium, including the State of Pennsylvania, the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the City of Portland, Oregon, and the City of Olympia, Washington.

HELP MASSACHUSETTS BECOME A SWEAT FREE STATE!

Join the action tomorrow:

–BOSTON—
WHEN: Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 9:30-10:00 a.m.
WHERE: Steps of Massachusetts State Capitol, Beacon St. at Park St., Boston
WHO: Guillermo Cosajay, garment worker at Eagle Industries, New Bedford, MA Liana Foxvog, National Organizer, SweatFree Communities Paul Hannon, Interim Executive Secretary, Catholic Labor Guild George Noel, Director of Labor, Commonwealth of Massachusetts (invited)

—NORTHAMPTON—
WHEN: Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 8:30-9:30 a.m.
WHERE: Main Post Office, 37 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA
WHO: Massachusetts Sweatfree Campaign supporters

Or, if you’re a tax filing procrastinator or not in Massachusetts, you can always officially endorse the campaign, start a campaign of your own, or support Sweat Free Communities.

For a more in-depth and fascinating look behind the scenes of how governments are supporting sweatshops, check out this video about where our military uniforms are made:

With Easter fast approaching we wanted to highlight a traditional American Easter dish. But upon research we found that besides Ham and Lamb, there really isn’t a traditional side dish. So we surveyed a few friends and found that many people eat some form of potato dish for Easter. Since mashed potatoes are pretty simple (just add vegan margarine and soy milk) we thought we would share our recipe for Vegan Scalloped Potatoes. These make a great side dish or main attraction. However, we also have some great ideas for Meatless Easter Main Dishes:

And since it seems most Americans choose to eat meats on this holiday, here are a few suggestions to replace the roast! Instead of serving ham, try one of these great grain roasts by Field Roast Grain Meat. They make a terrific substitute to Ham Roasts that are traditionally served at American Easter dinners. Or for an even closer version to Ham, check out May Wah’s Vegan Ham. There aren’t very many substitutes for Lamb, but you could always serve a Tofurkey Roast. Any reason to serve Tofurkey sounds like a great idea to us! Or you can always combine a number of great side dishes to create a feast. Check out our Recipe backblog for more ideas.

And we encourage you to shy away from Easter Eggs and suggest you check out these Fair Trade, Vegan Divine Chocolate Easter Eggs. These will make any “egg” hunt just as fun! So we want to wish everyone a Happy Easter and Welcome Spring! Start the season off with some delicious Scalloped Potatoes!

Vegan Scalloped Potatoes

2 Cups Soy Milk
1/4 Cup Earth Balance Margarine
6 Potatoes (Yukon Golds are the best)
1 Onion
6 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp pepper
Paprika to Taste
Parsley (optional)
2 Tsp Nurtitional Yeast (optional-for cheesy-ness)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the potatoes into thin slices and finely chop the onions. Arrange a layer of potato slices and onions on the bottom of a medium to large casserole dish(about 1/3). Melt the margarine and pour about a 1/3 of it over the layer. Next, sift the flour, salt and pepper (and nutritional yeast if you are using it) together. And also sprinkle about a third of this mixture over the layer. Continue to do this until all the ingredients are used up. Next pour all of the soy milk over the layers and make sure the top layer is very saturated. Sprinkle paprika to taste over the top and bake for 1 1/2 hours or until the milk has thickened and the potatoes are soft enough to eat. Garnish the top with parsley and dig in!

Last Sunday, 4/5/09 we were happy to partake in the Earth Day Design Hive in Cambridge Mass. It was a nice and bustling marketplace with awesome local arts, crafts, and fashions. We met a lot of cool local people and were able to catch the fashion show which featured local designers and Fashion with Impact. Everyone seemed in high spirits and there were items ranging from homemade magnets to recycled jewelery, to vintage clothes.

mail-132We also enjoyed spending time at our booth where we had a paint your own corner. We had all sorts of cool fabric paints for everyone to paint their AP tees. We had a couple of takers and they made some really unique and personal AP products. Check out one happy customer’s hand painted tee to the right! She did that all herself! The paint your own corner seemed to be a hit and many people were very excited about it!

mail-10But we also had some employed artists to help out and paint some custom one-of-a-kind all day! We at Autonomie partnered with Artists for Humanity for this event and a few other to come. If you don’t know about Artists for Humanity, they are a great organization that works with underprivileged youth in the Boston area to provide the paid employment through the arts. Seriously they are wonderful organization and you should definitely check them out. We look forward to working and supporting them in the future. The AFH kids that came out did some really great artwork on the sneakers and the shoes they created will be available at the upcoming Fair Trade Boston event, which will be at the AFH studios. Check back here at our blog for more info coming soon!

We want to thank everyone for coming out and a special thanks to Artists for Humanity and Val for the great event. We certainly enjoyed our Design Hive experience and look forward to attending and shopping at many more! To check out more Design Hives, come out every 1st Sunday of every month and check the Design Hive website for updates and upcoming themes. Enjoy the pics of the event below:

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