August 2009

Bathrooms, although generally petite in stature, can have a surprisingly big impact on a person’s overall carbon footprint. With their plentiful modern conveniences and their ability to inspire an entire sub genre of comedy (oh potty humor, how you have gotten me through some hard times), bathrooms are a busy and important space in today’s home. Some estimates put the average American’s daily bathroom time at about half an hour a day. Over a life time these thirty minute intervals really start to add up, and with those minutes, gallons of water, fossil fuels used and harmful chemicals released tend to increase too.

Luckily for clever and adorable green-minded folks such as yourselves, the strain of your passion for showering, your talent for flossing, and need to powder your nose needn’t be sacrificed in the name of saving Mother Earth. A few simple steps can leave your bathroom and your life a little bit greener.

Decoration: Being considerate of the planet does not mean one has to sacrifice style. When decorating your Loo, make smart decisions, keeping in mind where the materials you are using come from.

  • Choose non-toxic paint for your walls, the lower in VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) the better!
  • When selecting linens, buy organic. Think organic cotton, bamboo or hemp for towels, face clothes, etc.
  • Avoid PVC in shower curtains, as it is unhealthy for both you and the environment. Again, you are looking for organic materials.

Cleaning: Step away foaming spray. I know, I know, old habits die hard and that handsome bald man in the ad campaign has such nice rippling biceps, but trust me, your wallet, your scrubbing arm, and the earth will thank you after you shelf that aluminum can of chemicals permanently.

  • *Make your own! Your new magic solution is comprised of two simple products you likely have in your kitchen cabinets at this very moment, vinegar and baking soda! This mixture has changed the way I scrub a porcelain fixture! Some people recommend a spray bottle to act as a beaker/ dispenser for your supernatural bathroom cleaner , but I personally do not bother with this step, possibly out of laziness, and definitely out of my inability to remember to purchase one. I simply sprinkle a bit of the powder onto the surface I am about to obliterate icky bathroom scum from, then dribble some white vinegar on top of the powder, as I watch in amazement as it hisses, fizzes and froths like an award-winning entry in a grade school science fair. Then I  proceed to scrub the surface with my preferred scrubbing device – a tub brush or a scrubbing sponge, depending on the job.

Water: Water usage is where a bathrooms carbon foot print begins to reach Sasquatch-like proportions. With some simple and affordable steps, you can shrink that imprint right on down to size.

  • Be mindful of time: Turn off the sink as you brush your pearly whites and shave a couple of minutes off your shower time. If you are really ambitious, brush your teeth in the shower, be an all star multi-tasker of water conservation.
  • Flushing: Some of the most dedicated among us may be able to abide by the old adage of letting “yellow mellow”, but for those among us who prefer not to skimp on our flushes, we can still do something to cut down on the gallons of water wasted with each and every flush. By inserting a half gallon container filled with water or sand (to weigh it down) in your toilet’s water tank, you can cheaply adapt your current toilet into an efficient lower flow version!

Other Bathroom Notes:

  • Toilet paper: Use toilet paper made from recycled paper. Avoid papers that are bleached.
  • Soap: Try to use the biodegradable options. Also, look for the most natural ingredients with the least amount of packaging.
  • Towel Racks: If you don’t have one already, a towel rack is a solid investment. Hang your used towels up to dry after you shower. Reuse it instead of laundering after every single usage. Throw it into the wash every few uses, or at your own discretion.
  • Finish what you’ve started! Use all of your products to completion. Remember to squeeze that tooth paste from the bottom!

Greening your bathroom does not have to be expensive or overwhelming experience. Taking any combination of these steps makes a positive difference in the negative impact your home can make on the environment. With a little help, your toilet, sink and tub can be transformed into environmental warriors, just like you!


As the summer is winding down and the leaves are just starting to change, its time for some comfort food! This week’s Vegan Recipe of the Week is Vegan Mac and Cheese! This delightful dish can be served along side end of summer BBQ’s such as Labor Day and can carry over to the cooler months as some nice warm comfort! So end this summer right with the classic American dish, gone vegan! Enjoy the last of the summer days.

Vegan Mac and Cheese Vegan mac n cheese with broccoli Photo By wonderyort

1 Package of Organic Macaroni Pasta
2 Cups of Soy Milk (or other non dairy milk)
1 Cup Nutritional Yeast
1 Cup of Water
1/4 Cup Flour
2 Tbls Soy Sauce
1 Tbl Garlic Powder
1 Tbl Paprika
1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Black Pepper

First, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot, bring water to boil and cook pasta completely. While the pasta is cooking, place all other ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix completely. Drain the pasta and in a large casserole dish place the pasta in and pour the cheese sauce over it. Mix all ingredients together and bake for about 15 minutes or until the top of the dish is a little browned and crispy. If you would like to make the dish a little healthier try adding veggies such as broccoli, spinach, peas, or corn. If you’d like to add a little protein,  add some crumbled tofu or garbanzo beans. To top it off for that old fashioned feel, sprinkle vegan bread crumbs on top before baking. And finally to convert it into a “hamburger helper” style meal, add a package of Ground Round and BBQ sauce.

Maine Logging Truck Photo By Tony the MisfitThey’re comin’ outta the woodwork, we tell ya! In light of the impending crash of most of the fuel types that keep our modern lives chugging along, energy and manufacturing companies high and low seem to be gearing up for profit-bearing alternatives. The Agence France-Presse recently posted on that a number of logging operations throughout Europe and North America are being severely affected by the downturn in new housing construction and are expanding into the burgeoning wood pellet market.

img_0057 Photo By jhritzSo, what the hell is a wood pellet?  According to, wood pellets are pill-sized, generally made from compacted sawdust from manufacturing waste, produce more heat than raw wood and can be used as a fuel for boilers and domestic heating stoves.  The Pellet Fuels Institute  mentions that the pellet fuel industry has also entered into large-scale commercial applications, providing heat and energy (via boilers) to schools, theaters, prisons, manufacturing facilities and farms.  Both sites explain that wood pellets are almost carbon-neutral (98% emissions-free), thus having a trivial impact on the greenhouse effect.

Deforestation - Backcountry Mad-7256-22A Photo By World Resources Institute StaffSounds pretty good!  However, there always seems to be a seedier side to every exciting alternative fuel. references a study from The Nature Conservancy, claiming that the destruction of grassland, rainforests, peatlands or savannas in countries like Brazil and the U.S., for purposes of general biofuel harvesting, released 17-420 times more carbon dioxide emissions than the fuels they replace.  Such staggering numbers might point to various players in the industry striving only to make a buck, turning a blind eye to environmental impact.  Looking at timber logging specifically, a more obvious problem must be assessed, that of large-scale clear-cutting.  This destructive method of tree harvesting, still practiced by some of the biggest names in the lumber industry, not only lends creedence to the above-mentioned statistics but also suggests that if lumber for the housing industry, as well as various paper and wood products, declines enough, the material used to create wood pellets might step up from the factory floors and become the entire trees themselves, perpetuating this questionable system.

Dying Amwell Corn Stalks Photo By aturkusBut interestingly, the Pellet Fuels Institute also briefly mentions that fuel pellets can also be made from various biomass alternatives other than wood, such as cornstalks, straw, wastepaper and even animal waste.  Perhaps methods to efficiently collect said products might spring up and, combined with a lower percentage of fuel made of wood (preferably harvested ethically), a system of using biofuel pellets might become as sustainable as they are practicle to burn.  Plus they just look so neat!  Who wouldn’t wanna pick up a handful of these lil’ buggers and throw them on the fire?

headerFor all you New Englanders this weekend is the time to celebrate Green living in style! That’s right, the 2009 Boston GreenFest is this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday on the City Hall Plaza right in front of the Green Line Government Center T Stop. The festival is put on annually by the  Foundation for a Green Future, Inc. This year’s event starts off with a Kick Off Concert on Thursday night. The three day event will include highlights such as Lucero, Mamadou, and many other performances, a Time Tunnel, “Project Recycle Runway” Fashion Show, Yo Yo Show, Vendor Fair (including an Autonomie Project booth), delicious local food, and fun activities for the whole family.

This weekend’s festival should be a blast and full of education! The event is meant to inspire and bring awareness to the Green Lifestyle as well as promote and discuss ways to make Boston a more environmentally friendly city. So please come and join the discussion! Or just come and enjoy the music, food, and festivities. Make sure you stop by and say hello to your friendly Autonomie Project gang and check out our new Children’s Sneakers! See you there.

Where: Boston City Hall Plaza, next to the Green Line Government Center T Stop

When: Thursday August 20th: 5pm to 10pm;   Friday-Saturday August 21-22   10am to 10pm

MoBikeFed retreat in West Plains Photo By MoBikeFedA great awakening is occurring in regard to making a positive impact on humanity and specifically the environment. People have begun to realize that little things we can do in our daily life can make a difference. Shopping locally, purchasing Fair Trade and union made goods, supporting local organic farmers, making conscious decisions about the food we eat, volunteering, riding bicycles more frequently, even carrying your own reusable totes to the grocery store. All of these are important and empowering tools in our quest to leave the world a little better than it was left us. However, beneath all of that important work done on the individual level, there are also a strong desires amongst us new age environmentalists for all-encompassing, worldwide solutions.

08 Storm Brisbane Photo By Burning ImageEnter Cap and Trade. The Cap and Trade scheme has been put forth in the climate of disaster and doom and want for real change. There is only one problem. It won’t change anything. In fact it will make our problems worse. The two creators of the Cap and Trade concept stated in a recent interview that their original intentions weren’t global in nature at all, but rather solutions to specific local pollution scenarios. David Morris of the Institute for Local Self Reliance wrote an amazing article for Alternet in 2007, laying out the conflict between local and global solutions. This helps explain the differences between both points. 

Shelbyville Smoke Stacks Photo By Paul J EverettIt is easy to see how carbon trading legislation would only serve to enhance globalization, thus moving more industries to countries that have zero labor and environmental laws. The end result of this course will be not only disastrous for the rights of workers in these countries, ultimately leading to the building of more sweatshops for our goods.  Ironically, the environment will also suffer. It is already estimated that 50% of the mercury falling on North America is from Chinese power plants. This corresponds with other major industrial airborne pollutants. The results of more industry moving to China would not only raise carbon dioxide emissions, but more deadly and dangerous chemicals ending up back on the U.S. 

Stack of Money - Scraped from the Net Photo By purpleslogHowever, even in the United States, under cap and trade the major polluters will be able to operate business as usual. By simply buying the cheapest carbon credits, they can continue to to run dirty operations. Basically, the bigger the corporation, the more credits can be bought. There is no provision that requires local or regional offsets, so credits can be purchased anywhere in the world, while the actual costs are passed on to the consumer the worker and the communities down wind and down stream from the factories and power plants. This is a major reason why, many environmental groups actually oppose the idea of carbon trading.  

A national and international carbon trading scheme is also ripe for corruption and has the opportunity (almost the guarantee) to create an economic bubble the world has never seen. One commentator called this the “white collar crime wave of the future.” In that vein, it is telling who some of the proponents of cap and trade legislation are. An Enron executive said carbon trading, “will do more to promote Enron’s business than will almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring of the energy and natural-gas industries in Europe and the United States.” It must also be noted that Goldman Sachs and the rest of Wall Street financial firms are chomping at the bit for any mandatory cap and trade system.

San Sebastian Open Air Market Photo By topgoldSo is Cap and Trade really helpful? It doesn’t seem that it is an actual solution to a serious pollution and environmental problem. If anything it seems to be the same solution America has used for past issues, a way to make money. It is also important to note that hope does not always equal reality. It is nearly impossible to be a proponent of Fair Trade and of real environmentalism and still support Cap and Trade. What is important, however is to continue doing whatever you can locally to improve the environment of your community and your region. We can not only accomplish more on the local and regional level through our actions, we can truly affect the world in a positive way. 

That’s right, we all want to save the world. But is it possible to satisfy your need for fun, while doing something positive?! Why of course it is! In fact there are a number of different ways you can satisfy your itch to do something great in this world, while still creating a fun filled time for you! There are so many causes and struggles to work for that finding something to focus on can be daunting. However, when choosing what you should put your effort towards, why not find something you will enjoy? I mean, they always say there is no act that isn’t selfish. So indulge yourself a little, and why not? You obviously have a conscious to save the world, live a little while you are doing it! Below we have included a few ideas and examples for you:

1) Marathons and Races: A great way to get involved is to volunteer or be sponsored in a race. There are a number of great causes you could help while toning up your body. One great example is the Action Against Hunger Race Against Hunger. Another great marathon to get involved with is the Race for the Cure, done all over the US and world to bring awareness about Breast Cancer. Recently, some friends of ours, who we met through our work with Fair Trade Boston are getting involved in the Great Urban Race in New York City. This part race, part scavenger hunt is partnered with the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. Jeff and Jessica are very excited about the race and are a great inspiration for others to get involved. Here is a little bit of information on their efforts:

Hi, we’re Jeff and Jessica, siblings who’ve got our heads on crooked according to conventional wisdom. In between watching the Amazing Race, traveling, our normal jobs and school, we strive to fight global poverty. While Jeff recently completed his MBA in marketing and volunteers with the Boston Faith & Justice Network, campaigning for Fair Trade, Jessica has traversed the globe volunteering in places such as Thailand, Bulgaria, and Jamaica and is starting her MPH in Global Health at George Washington University this fall, hoping to specialize in nutrition and hunger. We ran the Great Urban Race in Boston earlier this year, and we had so much fun that we decided to do it all over again in NYC – this time for a worthy cause.

We invite you to be a part of the good work we are doing. Throughout the day we will be interacting with the public at large, decked out in Autonomie Project apparel. The New York race will take us to the Upper West Side, TriBeCa, and Midtown. We will be shooting tons of photographs and meeting all kinds of interesting people along the way. We’ll also complete challenges and share why we believe it is time for Americans to consider changing the way we consume. Please follow us on Twitter (@jeffandjessica) to track our progress, help us with clues, and view live pictures from the New York City leg of the Great Urban Race.Partnering with Autonomie Project just makes sense. Like us, they’re committed to seeing the eradication of global poverty. Like us, they want fair wages and environmentally- safe products. Like us, they want to save the world – and have fun doing it.”

2) Cocktail Parties: What a better way to do something great for the world, then to have a few drinks? There are many a cocktail party you can attend to not only get your drink on but help bring change to our world. A great example is the Women’s Safe House Cocktail Party in St Louis, where guests are asked to bring items to be donated to the women’s and children’s shelter such as clothing school supplies  while having cocktails on the plaza.  Another terrific example is the Cat’s Alive! Cocktail Party in Cranston, RI. This event is a cocktail party and silent auction to raise money for the PawsWatch Feral Cat Shelter in Cranston, all proceeds will be used for veterinary care, food, and shelter for their cats. And on the pet note, if you want to help out animal shelters but aren’t in the drinking mood, why not take your dog for the drink instead? Yes, you read that right, the Animal Rescue League of Boston is hosting a K-9 and Cocktails party where dogs can come and satiate their desire to have a human style drink. They will be offering cocktails such as the Beeftini, the Veggie Mary, and the Tail Wagger. And of course all proceeds will benefit the Animal Rescue League. Finally if you want to learn a little while you throw back that drink, check out an event such as the Shea Yaleen International Cocktail Party with a Purpose hosted in Washington DC. Shea Yaleen International is a Fair Trade Shae Butter producer who works with assisting the creation of cooperatives, business training, and brings products to the US. Their cocktail party is meant to bring awareness and educate people about Fair Trade and fair business practices. To find events in your area check out Charity Happenings.

3) Alternative Shopping: Perhaps the easiest way to do good for the world while still enjoying yourself is to use your money in a positive way. Consumers have so much power in what they choose to buy and your dollar can make a real difference in the world. By solely shopping at companies that are Fair Trade, Eco-Friendly, and Vegan you can make a huge impact. You can not only demand socially and environmentally conscious products, but you can help benefit the people who make your products and the environment they come from. Luckily Fair Trade and Green items are on the rise. In fact its pretty easy to find most products using fair practices. For some great ideas check out the Fair Trade Federation or Green America’s Green Pages. Also, some great websites to shop on include yours truly Autonomie Project, Global ExchangeE-Conscious Market, World of Good, and Pangea just to name a few! So next time you want to satisfy your consumer craving, make sure you do it with your conscious in mind. Your buying power is stronger than you think!

We vegans get a bad rap for only eating salads, but in the summertime it feels like salad is the only way to go! However, they don’t always have to consist of just cold veggies (not that we don’t love that too)! This week’s recipe is one of those salads that is not only filled with tasty ingredients, but it makes a whole meal! You can make it with only beans or add some soy “meat” to give it that authentic feel.  It’s perfect for a nice cool summer meal. So indulge your inner vegan and enjoy this delicious taco salad.

Vegan Taco Salad

½ Head of Lettuce, shredded (iceburg is less nutritious, but crispier. I prefer romaine)
1 Can of Black Beans
1 Can of Pinto Beans
1 Can of Kidney Beans (If you want the real meat taste, you can add in a package of Ground Round instead of the Kidney and Pinto Beans)
1 Avocado, sliced
1 Tomato, chopped
1/2 Cup of Chives or Green Onion, chopped
1/3 Cup of Salsa
Half a Big Bag of Tortilla Chips (Blue Tortilla Chips work really well and give extra color)
1-2 Cups Shredded Vegan Cheese (optional)
Dressing is optional

Slice and shred all veggies and vegan cheese if you are using it. Drain the cans of beans and rinse them in a strainer. Mix all 3 types of beans together in the strainer. In a large bowl add in the lettuce, veggies, cheese, and bean medley or Ground Round, mix thoroughly. Crush up the Tortilla Chips  and add into the salad. Toss the entire salad. Now add the salsa or dressing of your choice. Some suggestions for dressing is Catalina, Vinaigrette, or French. Serve immediately and try to it all, as the chips won’t keep well!

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