February 2012

I must admit, although I am a fan of movies, my favorite part of the Oscars is watching the red carpet pre-show.  There is nothing quite like the glamourous fashion show that takes place on Oscar night.  Hollywood’s finest make their most important fashion decision of the year, as one wrong step could land you on the terrifying “Worst Dressed” list.  But what if a little more thought, or rather consciousness, was put into their decisions. Step through the door, Livia Firth.

Livia Firth has been working through a partnership with Vogue UK since 2010 to bring green and eco-friendly designs to the red carpet. However, this year the green challenge was expanded to pair top environmentally friendly designers including Stella McCartney, Sarah Burton, and Gucci with A-list actresses to strut green red carpet looks.

So which big names turned the red carpet green on Oscar night? Some of the biggest names in the industry were dressed eco consciously. Including, Best Actress nominee Viola Davis and Best Actress winner Meryl Streep. Also on the list were Livia herself and her husband Colin Firth, Kenneth Branagh and Damian Bichir. Here are our favorite ethical looks:

Well no one can deny Meryl Streep’s dress was gold class. Her stunning gold dress was Lavin’s first custom eco-friendly gown. Made with Eco Certified Gold fabric the gown became a winning look in more than just fashion. Livia Firth was delighted that one of the Green Challenge dresses was worn by the Best Actress winner. We love this look and so glad her eco dress could get some limelight.

But we can’t ignore Livia Firth’s amazing gown. Her red Valentino dress was made entirely out of recycled PET material and was gorgeous. And who can forget her best accessory, her husband actor Colin Firth, who was also sporting eco-friendly treads in his tux. We may be a sucker for red or maybe the fact that Livia Firth is the spearhead behind getting green on the red carpet, but we thought this was Oscar night’s winning look.

We can’t wait to see next year’s green looks and to see which big name actors will be dressing with ethics!

With the 2012 election fast approaching and the possibility of a party change in the White House becoming more real every day, we decided to take a closer look at the four Republican candidates and their views on the environment. As global climate change becomes a more imminent threat every day, it is crucial to put all candidates under a microscope. An overall understanding of how Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum have voted on and vocalized environmental policy in the past will reveal the potential outcomes for the future – and help shed light on the possible changes, adoptions, and dangers we may face through 2012 and beyond.

In a nutshell, here are the environmental policies of the 2012 Republican Candidates.

Mitt Romney is relatively moderate amongst some of his fellow GOP candidates. Although he acknowledges climate change as scientific fact, Romney is apparently confused about whether or not it’s human-related issue. He declared in June that he “believes the world is getting warmer” and that “humans contribute to that.” Yet in August, he said that he “didn’t know” if the “world getting hotter… is mostly caused by humans.” Unlike his fellow running mates, Romney has avoided bashing and demonizing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At the same time, as Massachusetts governor, Romney rejected cap-and-trade emissions programs, believing they would “rocket energy prices.” He seeks to reduce “the regulatory burden” on industry and energy producers. And in the 2007 Supreme Court case Massachusetts vs. EPA, Romney was against supporting EPA regulation of greenhouse gases. Romney does, however, support drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Western lands, the outer continental shelves, Alaska, and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He also supports to the use of fracking to obtain shale gas. Romney is critical of Obama’s handling of Solyndra, yet, as governor, selectively invested in alterative energy – overall favoring private investment in solar, wind, and nuclear energy.

Newt Gingrich, like Romney, has expressed varying opinions on the cause and origins of climate change, both accepting and denying the human role in it. Hailed by many environmentalists for his involvement in Al Gore’s much-circulated 2008 “We Can Solve It” campaign, Gingrich stated that the US “must take action to address global climate change.” However, three years later in a Fox interview, Gingrich deftly commented that the ad was “the dumbest thing [he’s] done in recent years.” Gingrich believes that the EPA is “job killing” and seeks to replace it with what he calls the “Environmental Solutions Agency” devoted to research, “more energy, more jobs, and a better environment simultaneously.” Like Romney, he opposes cap-and-trade regulations. Gingrich has flip-flopped in his support of carbon emission regulations and potential incentives for carbon-sequestering technology development, but overall appears to stand in support of some sort of CO2 regulation. Gingrich hopes to maximize oil, gas, and “clean coal” production, allowing oil/natural gas industries to drill offshore reserves blocked for development through federal royalties.With oil and gas royalties, Gingrich has promised to fund clean energy research, being primarily in support of nuclear and wind energies.

Ron Paul’s stance on environmental policy may be one of the most misunderstood and confusing topics on the agenda. The main reason why? He says that global warming is “the greatest hoax I think that has been around for many, many years.” Ultimately Paul seeks to eliminate all environmental protections. As a libertarian, he believes that anyone who suffers personal or property damage from pollution should attack the company responsible, answering “directly to property owners in court for the damages, not Washington.” We all know that it is neither this simple nor this easy, and his plan to dismantle the EPA would likely have irreparable individual and large-scale damages with no one to clean up after them. Paul, like his fellow candidates, has voted against cap-and-trade, being both against regulations and of the belief that such regulations would destroy American jobs. Among the stranger elements of Paul’s environmental agenda is the plan to repeal the federal tax on gasoline, creating a major gap in funding for roads and infrastructure (as well as ultimately serving to perpetuate American reliance on oil). He also hopes to lift “government roadblocks” on nuclear power development, favoring tax incentives over subsidies for alternative energy purchase/production. Paul aims to remove federal restrictions and regulations on drilling and coal, prompting what would likely turn out to be a corporate free-for-all on domestic drilling.

Rick Santorum may just out-extreme Ron Paul. He has called the research linking humans to global warming “junk science” that is “patently absurd.” He once eloquently said that climate change is “a beautifully concocted scheme” that is “just an excuse for more government control of your life.” Santorum also plans to abolish the EPA and its “job-killing radical regulatory approaches,” subsequently repealing all Obama-era EPA regulations. He has stated that he wants to “refocus [the EPA’s] mission on safe and clean water and air and commonsense conservation.” However, Santorum has consistently voted against an increase in renewable energy and regulations for cleaner air. Santorum has also supported a limit increase on mercury emissions from power plants, pushing heavily for nuclear energy. He has stated his hope to “put aside our dreams of ‘green jobs,” believing that we should instead focus on the “great domestic resources at our disposal.” Santorum plans to eliminate all agriculture and energy subsidies within four years, thereby cutting subsidies for solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources. He wants an “all of the above” energy policy, calling on the pursuit of oil, coal, natural gas, and anything else we can get our hands on – this would include drilling in his preferred location, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Santorum has, however, proposed scaling back on all “oppressive regulation” that prohibits drilling in other locations.

Hopefully this summary has made navigating the complicated views of the Republican candidates a little more simple. Environmental policy itself is not a simple thing, regardless of party lines. Fortunately it appears to be at the forefront of 2012’s election (or, at least,not on the back burner). While public discussion of these complicated issues is in itself a positive sign of progression toward federal policy, we cannot lose sight of the embedded danger in some of these words and policies. This election falls at a critical juncture for the planet, with the proverbial clock ticking: The next president of the United States will have some major environmental decisions to make, ones that will forever change the safety, serenity, and sanity of our Earth. Inform yourself as the election nears.

Ask yourself if any of the above candidates seem prepared to take on these enormous challenges. Educate yourself, educate others, and make sure to vote in November 2012 – not just for a president, but for the planet, as well. Tell us your take on the Republican candidates and the environment.

-Jessica Nicholson 

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and maybe you forgot to pick up a box of chocolates or perhaps you just want to make your sweetie or friends something delicious to celebrate. We have the perfect recipe for you: vegan truffles! These tasty treats will make a great and unique Valentine’s as well as just because. We have put together a basic recipe for the truffles, but adding different flavorings and toppings will really personalize these romantic chocolates.

Vegan Romantic Truffles

  • 1 8oz Container of Vegan Cream Cheese (we recommend Follow Your Heart)
  • 2 Cups Organic Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Cups Vegan Chocolate Chips
Flavor Ideas
  • Vanilla Bean Extract
  • Hazelnut Extract
  • Raspberry Flavoring
  • Peanut Butter
  • Almond Flavoring
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Peppermint

Possible Toppings

  • Coconut Shavings
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Crushed nuts (almonds, peanuts etc)
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Crushed Mint Candy

In a mixing bowl, whip the vegan cream cheese and powdered sugar and set aside. In a double boiler, stovetop or microwave melt the chocolate chips until smooth. Add the chocolate chips to the cream cheese mixture and blend until smooth. You may want to add more chocolate depending on your preference. If you are making a multitude of flavors, you should set aside different amounts in smaller bowls. Add in the desired flavor such as raspberry, peanut butter, or cayenne pepper. Mix the flavoring in and refrigerate for one hour. If you are making basic chocolate truffles, refrigerate for one hour right after mixing in the melted chocolate.

Once refrigerated, roll into small balls. For simple truffles roll in either cocoa powder or powdered sugar and set aside. For more exciting toppings, such as crushed nuts, candies, salt, or cinnamon also roll and set aside. We think this recipe works best with a number of different flavors or toppings. That way you can make your own unique box of vegan chocolates!

Valentine’s Day is meant to spread love and devotion to those around you. So when you are choosing what to give your sweetie or loved one, think about the energy that was put into the product you buy. Purchasing something ethical, such as fair trade goods, will be made with love that you can pass on to your recipient. We enjoy buying ethically and are excited to choose Fair Trade for our Valentine’s Day needs. We have done a few gift guides for Fair Trade Valentine’s over the years, but this year we decided to choose our favorite Fair Trade V-Day gifts! Sending our fair love to you.

Sweet Earth Chocolates Heart Box

1) Sweet Earth Chocolates Heart Box: Who doesn’t love a good box of chocolates? We love Sweet Earth Chocolate’s Red or God Heart Box which are filled with 11 heart shaped chocolates. We prefer the Gold Box, filled with an assortment of vegan chocolates. All their sweets are Fair Trade and organic. Plus the traditional red and gold heart shaped box gives an old school feel to your Valentine’s Day. Also, you can’t beat the price, coming in around $22.50 for organic, fair trade, and gourmet chocolates.


Organic Style Crown Majesty Roses

2) Organic Style Crown Majesty Roses: Not usually a fan of pink, but this beautiful light pink rose bouquet is one of our favorites. Organic Style is a great eco and socially conscious flower company that we have used on many occasions. These beautiful, antique looking roses are Fair Trade and have high labor standards. On top of that, the flowers are EcoBlooms certified, certified sustainable, the vase is made from recycled glass, all packaging is recycled, and shipping is green using carbon offsets. All around this bouquet and many like it on Organic Style’s website is all around ethical!

Ten Thousand Villages Valentine Banner Card

3) Ten Thousand Villages Be Mine Banner: If you are looking to make a big statement this Valentine’s Day, consider Ten Thousand Villages Be Mine Banner Card. The card states “Be Mine, I’m Yours” on a handmade Fair Trade card from Bangladesh. The red and pink card is made from Water Hyacinth paper and comes with it’s own envelope. You could give it as a card or hang it as a banner to spice things up! Plus you can’t beat the price at $7.00!


Ten Thousand Villages Hearts Afloat Candles

4) Ten Thousand Villages Hearts Afloat Candles: Spice up your night with these lovely floating Fair Trade candles. These lovely candles are handmade in India and would really get the romantic vibe right in a bath for two or set the tone for dinner by floating in a centerpiece. They come in a nice box which states “Melt My Heart” so they are already gift wrapped for those on the go.  You can’t miss with these thoughtful and sweet Fair Trade candles.


World of Good Cupcake Set

5) World of Good Cupcake Set: If you want to show your cupcake just what you think of her, here is the perfect gift! The matching handmade and Fair Trade cupcake earrings and necklace are made in Mexico. This adorable set is perfect for any cupcake in your life including your daughter, friend, wife, girlfriend, or even mother. We love the simple and cutesy look of this set and would be proud to wear it ourselves.


Autonomie Project Fair Trade Jewelry Sale

6) Last But Not Least:  We couldn’t help but take the time to announce our own lovely Fair Trade Valentine’s Gifts at Autonomie.While some of our items are unconventional gifts such as red sneakers and flip flops, we do have beautiful Fair Trade Jewelry from our friends at Proxy Apparel.  And just because we love our customers so much, we have a Valentine’s Sale going now of up to 50% off and an additional 15% off when you purchase two pairs of sneakers.

Super Bowl Sunday is this weekend and everyone is waiting in anticipation for the food…er…I mean game. Besides the game, halftime show, and commercials, everyone is looking forward to the Super Bowl snacks. Unfortunately, for us vegans out there, this means lots of meat and cheese. But never fear, we have a tasty traditional Super Bowl Sunday vegan treat for you! Try out our tasty Vegan Tofu Buffalo Wings and Ranch Dressing. It is sure to be a delight for your party or just for an anytime treat.

Vegan Ranch Dressing

1 1/2 Cup Organic Vegenaise
1/4 Cup Organic Soy Milk
1 Tsp Organic Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Onion Powder
1 Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Tsp Organic Dill
1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
1/4 Tsp Salt

In a food processor or blender, blend all ingredients together until smooth and refrigerate.

Vegan Tofu Buffalo Wings

12 oz package of Organic Extra Firm Pressed Tofu
1/4 Cup Organic Earth Balance
1/4 Cup Organic Hot Sauce or your favorite
1/4 tsp Organic Cayenne Pepper
1/4 tsp Organic Paprika
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Organic Garlic
1/4 tsp Organic Black Pepper

Olive Oil for Cooking

Cut the tofu into strips and set aside. In a large frying pan, add in the olive and begin warming on the stovetop. In a large bowl, mix together melted butter, hot sauce, all spices and set aside. Fry the tofu strips until golden brown on each side. Mix the tofu with the buffalo sauce. Serve with cut organic carrots and celery and vegan ranch dressing.

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