Here at Autonomie Project, we have made a valiant effort to support the planet and fight against Climate Change in the manufacturing of our products right down to the way we live personally.  We use organic cottons, all natural FSC certified rubber, plant based dyes in our tees and footwear. On top of this we use recycled materials for shipping and printing, as well as local wind energy and purchase only previously used furniture. We commute with public transportation, bicycles, and on foot.

Needless to say, we have made a commitment to the environment and we plan on continuing on that path. Recently, we took steps to carbon offset our shipping output.  We recently invested in Native Energy, a carbon offset program that funds a number of renewable energy projects throughout the country. Not only have they built 48 renewable energy projects, ranging from wind farms to biogas, but they encourage renewable energy to be built in Native American communities. This is really important because unfortunately, Native Americans are a vastly underrepresented and disenfranchised population within the US. The company is also largely Native American owned. Our recent investment kept a total of 17 tons of CO2 out of the air and your lungs!

Some of the amazing projects Native Energy has worked on recently include the Wewoka Biogas Project, which creates biogas via methane created by landfills and re-uses it in local brick kilns. They are also working toward wind farms in Iowa and Indiana and the NorthEast Farm Separation Project , which creates natural gas out of cow manure. The also boast a long list of previous and successful running projects including solar and hydro power! These are innovative and exciting projects and Autonomie is excited to be on board!

Native Energy is not just for businesses either. Individuals, including yourself can purchase offsets for any travel or daily energy you use. Keep up to date with Native Energy and their projects through their Twitter or Blog, they post great updates on their renewable projects as well as Climate Change news and information.

And know that every purchase you make with Autonomie is directly fighting Climate Change in every step of the process!

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As far back as my brain can remember, I patiently wait every four years for the magical, exhilarating and largest sporting event on the planet: THE WORLD CUP! I was raised in a football, ah well since this is the States I will say soccer, family. As a family we ate, breathed, and drank soccer. Myself,  siblings,  father, and mother all have played, refereed, and coached soccer through the years. I can remember where I watched every World Cup Final game for the last 22 years or so! Perhaps my favorite memory, is driving home from Oregon to California and stopping in a furniture store with my Dad to watch Brazil and France duke it out in 1998. Anyway, I am not alone in this sheer excitement and anticipation, as most of the world, sans the majority of the US, will be glued to any television available to catch all the matches in this year’s cup. That is right, 2010 is a World Cup Year and I am counting down the days( I have even downloaded the  World Cup Countdown App to be sure I keep on track)!

Ok so now you are probably wondering, why on Earth would Autonomie Project, a Fair Trade and Eco friendly Fashion company be discussing a sporting event? Well, not only am I a HUGE fan of the sport, but we recently were made aware of some interesting details. This year’s cup is hosted by South Africa and preparations for the tournament began long ago. Like many modern events, a focus on making the event carbon neutral was an early goal for South Africa. However, with a mass frenzy to build the infrastructure for the World Cup, there seems to be a bit of greenwashing going on.

It is true that South Africa has made serious efforts to keep the games Green, such as their carbon offset program, where they have planted over 800,000 trees in various cities. Many South African environmentalists aren’t quite buying it though. Bobby Peek of Friends of the Earth South Africa reiterated this point, “Once carbon is produced, claiming that offsetting is ‘neutralizing’ the carbon footprint is nothing more than ‘greenwash.'” We somewhat agree with this idea, however, planting trees is always a great improvement for a city. On top of carbon offsetting, South Africa has improved its public transportation for the event, making it easy and efficient to travel between stadiums.

When preparations first began, the country was toting itself as creating a Green World Cup. Environmentalists inside the country were frustrated when a new stadium was built, rather than using the old stadiums in Durban. Many were outraged that new construction materials were adding to the overall carbon footprint of the tournament. This definitely may be true, however construction on the new stadium is very eco-friendly. Not only did they re-use much of the concrete and o ther building materials from the demolished stadium, but the new stadium is also built with PTFE which provides natural light, has natural ventilation, energy efficient heat, and collects rainwater.  Even though we agree that keeping the old stadium would in large be more eco-friendly, at least the new stadium was built with some re-used materials and with green architecture in mind.

Beyond the country of South Africa, this year’s “World Cup 2010 Kits,” created by Nike, are claiming to be the most Environmentally friendly kits ever. The jerseys to be worn by the most famous players such as Ronaldo, and by the average soccer fans at home, are made from recycled plastic bottles. They say that they used enough plastic bottles to line the whole coast of South Africa into the uniforms. A Nike spokesperson told GreenMyStyle.com the kits are sustainable in other ways, “We use a variety of environmentally preferred materials such as PET, organic cotton, ‘green’ rubber, and many of our inputs into our shoes are recycled materials from factory production.” This sounds all well and good, however, GreenMyStyle and others are questioning Nike’s credentials, as they haven’t always been the most ethical company in the past and do not provide transparency into where the materials actually come from or provide certification. Also, recycling is great but probably not the most sustainable method of production, as the process itself emits pollution.  On another note, Nike has been the subject of labor rights issues, with sharp criticism from both the Fair Trade and Labor Rights movements.

Although, it seems serious steps are being made by the South African government and World Cup planners, as well as private industry to make the 2010 World Cup Green, there is still disappointment. It was reported that the 2010 World Cup has a carbon footprint 6 times larger than the 2006 World Cup, held in Germany. It should be noted the 2006 numbers did not include transportation and most qualifying teams are from Europe, cutting down the impact of distance traveling. It seems most environmentalists feel South Africa dropped the ball on making the event green and think bigger steps should have been made. However, there are a couple of great things that will come from this including more efficient public transportation, more green space, drawing attention to the environmental sector in the country, and encourage the next World Cup (held in Brazil) to go even more Green!

While knowing that the biggest way the World Cup could cut their carbon footprint is to lessen world travel, it sort of defeats the heart of the  cup. Much like the Olympics, the World Cup is seen as a time for harmony and for the world to come together. There may come a time when the matches may need to be played in a more central location and possibly only the finals in distant lands. Whatever the future holds the environmentalist in me is happy to see some changes and is hoping for more, but the soccer lover in me is anxiously awaiting June 11th. In fact, as we speak my  World Cup Countdown App says we have 7 days, 21 hours, 44 minutes, and 41, 40, 39, 38 seconds…

-Gina Williams

“I’ll be home for Christmas…if I only in my dreams,” croons Bing Crosby on this classic holiday song staple.For many of us getting home for the holidays may be more of nightmare than a dream,  often times including headache-inducing travel.  Whether you take to the sky, the rails or the highway to get to your loved ones, there is no denying that the holiday season can send the ‘ol carbon footprint soaring higher than Santa Clause on Christmas Eve.

While one could make the environmentally friendly choice of forgoing the trip home altogether, that would likely result in enduring an avalanche of guilt brought on by e-mails and phone calls from a disappointed mom for weeks and months to come.  Trust me, “I am worried about my carbon emissions” is not an adequate excuse for skipping out on the holiday festivities unless your Dad happens to be Captain Planet.

So, you suck it up, and travel the hours and miles that it will take to make your family happy, and if you are lucky, you are glad to do so. So what can one do to assuage the gnawing green guilt over the amount of fossil fuels your holiday trek will release into the environment?

One option to easing this guilty conscious is purchasing a Carbon Offset, which is a financial instrument aimed at a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In simpler terms,  you  give money towards projects whose aim is to reduce Green House Emissions. At first glance this practice appears to be the perfect solution to the sometimes unavoidable toll our day-to-day actions, such as that cross-country flight home for the holidays, take on the environment.

Critics and cynics alike, however, are quick to point out the flaws to this seemingly positive system. While regulations for this field do exist, some say they are not strenuous enough, allowing certain greedy individuals the opportunity to scam money off well-meaning environmentally minded individuals. It is also argued that a program that allows people to feel better about their less-than environmentally friendly habits only encourages people to continue to make poor choices.

It seems clear that this industry, like many, is far from perfect.  And although it is not without its faults, one could argue that any money put towards a thoroughly investigated Carbon Offset is money well spent.  As long as you, as with any purchase, know who you are buying from- check credentials and check how funds are allocated towards benefiting the environment. It is also important for people to remember that while it is nearly impossible to keep your carbon footprint at zero, one should try to make as many environmentally responsible choices as you can possibly make.

While a trip home for the holidays may be good for the soul and for a mother’s happiness, it does end up costing a little more than the plane ticket or gas for your car. Try making environmentally responsible choices in your day-to-day life,  choose to travel for only one holiday- spend Thanksgiving locally and Christmas with the folks, or vice versa.

Nothing clears a guilty conscience as much as living well, and if you try your hardest, you can keep both your mother and Mother  Nature happy as clams.

-Meghan Hurley

We went to the beach Photo By SanyamStudioWe are now in the middle of July and summer is finally here! Summer is the time for vacations, and in this modern era most of us tend to travel via jet plane. So you may be wondering with all the air travel, is this really environmentally sound? Ok, so we love to travel all over the world and take great pleasure in riding the skies, so we don’t want to sound anti-travel. But the truth is jet fuel is extremely toxic for the environment and puts off a tremendous amount of carbon emissions. So much so that it has been shown that going vegan or vegetarian for an entire year cuts as much carbon as skipping a 5 hour flight!!! As Planet Green reports “5 hours on a place going across the country has roughly the same impact as 8,765 hours of making green food decisions.”

Airplane over the Autobahn Photo By poolieThat being said it is really important to understand how much emissions your summer flight plans will cause. There are a few easy ways to do this including CNN’s Carbon Calculator that simply allows you to plug in your airport origin and destination. It will then spit out 3 facts for you: distance traveled, how many tons of CO2 produced, and how much of the rainforest it would take to absorb this pollution. For instance if you took a roundtrip flight from New York to San Francisco, you will have traveled 8310 km, produced 1.001 tons of CO2, and it would require 1.001 hectares of the rainforest a year to consume the CO2!  Although this calculator is very simple and does not take into account the size of plane, amount of people on board, and exact flight route: it is a quick and simple way to get an estimate of your impact when traveling. 

Corbett national park forest Photo by netlancer2006Now that you know how much you are polluting due to your travel plans, there is a couple things you can do about it! Purchasing carbon offsets is a great way to go, as they put your money towards funding a reduction in greenhouse gases. There are several companies that will do this for you including Climate Friendly, Atmofair, and Native Energy. If you want a breakdown of several companies comparing price and projects, check out this Carbon Emissions Survey. Be sure that you also consider radiative forcing when purchasing your carbon offset. Carbon offsets are a great way to make an impact while globetrotting, but are there alternatives to plane travel? You can choose to take a bus or train across the country, however these require time and patience. And you could carpool with several friends in an alternative fuel car or ride a bicycle! But if you are traveling overseas, besides sailing across the oceans there isn’t really an alternative at this moment. 

Enjoy the summer and all your globetrotting you may have planned. Just remember that every time you fly, you are adding to a rise in greenhouse gases. Be conscious of this factor and please do something about it! Either fly less (which we know is difficult) or purchase those carbon offsets, or better yet do both. Bon Voyage!

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