Original Kermit the Frog Photo By adamfarnsworth“It’s not easy being green”, or so a famous frog puppet once asserted. Perhaps that statement could be reshaped today to read “it ain’t easy understanding just what the heck ‘green’ precisely means in a more environmentally aware society”. In our modern world, terms like “green” and “organic” are sometimes tossed around like any “It” word of the day. They have been uttered so often and written about so much that they somehow they tend to lose meaning in the hustle and bustle of day to day life.

In the 80’s something that was “bad” was suddenly “good”. In the 90’s “Phat” no longer referred only to the girth of one’s waistline, but to the amount of coolness a person or object possessed. Each new bit of jargon caused the mass confusion of parents world wide. Are “green” and “organic” contemporary examples of vernacular that leave not only moms and dads scratching their heads, but also saddle young and old alike with the question, just what does it mean to be green?

Earth (my favorite planet) Photo By woodleywonderworksWe as a society are lead to believe that by purchasing something that is labeled “green” or “organic” that we are somehow doing something good, or “bad” for you children of the 1980’s, without perhaps thinking about the meaning behind the terms. It can not be denied that these words can be used as advertising ploys, as environmentalism has become a hot issue, surely some greedy people and companies will use that trend to their advantage. Slapping a buzz word on to a product in an effort to cash in on its trendiness is not a new practice in consumerism. Only few years back, as Atkins diet mania hit entered the publics collective consciousness, a “carb-free” label meant sudden financial success for an array of barely edible products.

Appleofmyeye Photo By Bludgeoner86So if Green no longer just refers to the color of money, or popular fictional frogs with a penchant for dating pigs, then what does it mean? My own understanding is that for something to be Green, it should exemplify both social and environmental consciousness in action. This is not to say that my understanding is completely correct. There are still the seemingly unanswerable questions, such as what if somethings production is good for the earth but bad for the people producing the product? Or vice versa? Is the environmentally sound option always the most socially aware choice? Is it always worth shelling out extra money for organic food when one can not always be certain what “organic” means, let alone if the product at hand is actually organic? For a person with a fair amount of Catholic guilt, this endless stream of moral queries can become maddening, trust me.

Stacks of books, Seattle, Washington, USA Photo By WonderlanePerhaps the only truth is that life is not easy. Even things that are supposed to be made simpler by the advent of such modern conveniences, such as grocery stores and online shopping, are not as easy as they appear to be on the surface. Of course, they can be simple, one can thoughtlessly buy things and only think of the immediate results, and let’s be honest, most people make purchases or perform actions based on immediate gratification from time to time, and I for one am not here to judge you for things I am myself guilty of. Maybe we should look at the Green movement as a reminder– a reminder to not be lazy just because it is an option, a reminder that sometimes research is required in making our own informed decisions, a reminder to not blindly trust simplistic labels to make our decisions for us, and a reminder that we, like Mr. Kemit the frog himself, must accept that it is not always easy being Green, but most worthwhile things in this life tend not to be effortless.

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Harvard Dorm Room Photo By jonssonAh, September, a bitter sweet time wherein we bid farewell to summer and slowly begin to accept the impending crispness of Autumn air. For school bound boys and girls of all ages, it marks the age old tradition of back to school time. To many college bound folk, this means a move into a dormitory, a rite of passage that involves finding new and inventive ways to block out your new roommate’s snoring, wearing flip flops to shower and finding sheets that fit your freakishly long, dorm-style mattress. While we can’t stop your roommate from raiding your mini-fridge in the middle of the night, we can offer you fine people some tips on making your transition into dorm life a little more ethical and a lot more green… and no, we don’t mean the type of green growing on your roommate’s stack of one month old unwashed dishes.

Deluxe Mini Fridge/Warmer Photo By majortk

Mini Fridge: One of the most classic among dorm room accessories/ necessities is the mini fridge. While some dorm rooms may already come equipped with these miniature appliances, many students are left to obtain their own. A savvy, green-minded student may forgo this tiny fridge all together, choosing instead to house their edibles in the normal sized refrigerator in the common Kitchen area of their dorm. If the idea of leaving last night’s pizza exposed to a floor full of hungry students currently working on their freshmen fifteen puts you into a mild panic, fret not. One can simply choose a fridge that is both teeny and energy efficient. Looking for an Energy Star rating is an easy way to decipher what is the best purchase.

Paper Plates + Plastic Forks= An Unhappy Planet: An easy way of cutting down on waste is to forgo the simplicity of disposable dinnerware. Purchase reusable plates, utensils and cups. Don’t let the additional chore of washing these dishes get you down, just remind yourself, when you are elbow deep in dish soap, that you are doing the world a favor. Plus, using a little elbow grease builds character.

Steel Water Bottle Photo By Robert Couse-Baker

Just Say “No” to Bottled Water: Your mom’s membership to the Super Saver’s Club Warehouse may make it tempting to load up on hundreds of bottles of water for your new school year home. Heck, you probably will need to hydrate after a long night of party hopping, hydration is a key part of dodging a gnarly hangover, but a glass of tap water will do the same thirst-quenching job. Fill up a jug or table top filtration system in your dorm’s kitchen area, as needed, to keep in your room. The environment and your mom’s wallet will thank you in the long run.

Your Power Strip can Make the Dean’s List: College life in the modern age is marked by a tangle of wires and electronics. One of your first dorm room purchases very well may be a power strip. When selecting one of these plug multipliers, look for a smart version. That’s right, just like you, your power strip can be smart and ecologically minded. While still protecting your electronics from harmful power surges, these smart versions also sense when these items are shut down and cuts off the energy fully, preventing phantom energy drains. Me thinks these smart power strips must have graduated Power Strip University (PSU) with honors.

Energy Saving Lightbulb Photo By MuffetLight Bulbs: Replace your overhead and desk lamp’s light bulbs with energy-saving bulbs. Before replacing, hold the light bulb over your head and declare that you just had a great idea before performing this green-ifying task to the delight/ disgust of your new roommate. Be careful, if they are not a fan of corny jokes they may kick the foot ladder out from underneath you…on second thought, skip the joke and get right to the light changing task at hand. Safety First!

Toys. Lots of toys. Photo By Brent and MariLynnDecorations: You are probably going to want your dorm to be a reflection of your superb sense of style. No worries, you can be a master of interior design while being conscious of the environment! Try finding products that are made of recycled goods, organic materials or better yet, buy second hand. There are plenty of lightly used furnishings, decorations and even clothing available at your local Goodwill-type store and of course, the internet has an abundance of used goods for sale. Don’t be afraid of thrift shopping, even if your item belonged to a deceased person, your dorm could use a little haunting for future late night Ouji board sessions.

Fashion: College is a time for exploring new things. Belief systems, musical tastes and fashion all go through an evolution as students pass through the four to ten years they will spend at their university. Your ever-changing wardrobe will however need some staples, regardless of whether you choose to ultimately choose to embrace hippie, rastah, or khaki influenced duds. A pair of timeless sneakers and a few adorable t-shirts are a must for any wardrobe. These items can be easily obtained if you mosey on over to Autonomieproject.com for your dorm life fashion needs. Both ethical and stylish, these threads will win you compliments and possible new pals at freshmen orientation!

With a Greener mind and ethical outlook to dorm room life, you won’t be able to help but feel like one smart cookie. You may even become so euphoric that you will become magically able to block out the chainsaw-like sounds that are emitting from your slumbering roommate…at least for the night.

Happy St Patrick's Day Photo By Artsi~AnnieOn March 17th, the whole world will “go green,” but not the eco-friendly type. However, celebrating the Irish holiday doesn’t have to mean you have to give up your true going green convictions! There are a bunch of great ways you can spend this year’s holiday and still promote the GO GREEN message. You can be sure that this year wearing green might mean a little more than just a social requirement to avoid a pinch. So in the spirit We have pulled together a few helpful hints on to celebrate a truly green and eco-friendly St Patrick’s Day!

New Belgium Beers Photo By fitchactionDrink Local and/or Organic Beer: Besides wearing green, the biggest St Patty’s Day tradition is a visit to the good ol’ pub!  This year celebrate in an eco-friendly style by ideally ordering an organic local beer on tap and in a re-usuable glass. But if this ideal is not attainable near you, check out some of these eco friendly and organic breweries: New Belgium Beers (a worker owned co-op run by wind power, Brooklyn Brewery (also run by wind power in NYC), Peak Organic, or North Coast Brewing Company. And remember if you must drink out of the bottle, be sure to recycle!

Eat Irish favorites Vegan Style: Another St Patty’s Day favorite is eating delicious Irish meals. So this year try to make your Irish favorites with organic, local veggies. By not eating meat on this holiday you are lessing your impact on the environment and sooth your conscious. It is pretty easy to make all your favorites vegan. Try out some of these favorite recipes of ours including our very own Vegan Irish Stew, Vegan Irish Soda Bread, and Vegan Irish Colcannon. So serve up your favorite vegan Irish recipes before you hit the bars.

Day 268/365 - happy st. patrick's day! Photo By ~*erin*~Avoid Plastic Decorations: It seems like everyone is out to make a buck during St Patrick’s Day and several cheap plastic gadgets such as beads and plastic shamrock rings. These cheap and disposable decorations are made out of plastic, a no no to greenies, and are usually thrown out the next day, only to end up in landfills. So this year be sure to avoid these unnecessary  accessories. And if you must have some shamrock snazz try making your own decorations for your party or purchase items you will actually re-use. And finally try some face paint to wear out on the town!

Organic Kiss Me I'm Irish By CafePress.comWear Organic/Promote Green: Instead of just wearing any old green T shirt or Irish slogan, wear organic T Shirts! That way your green tees really can BE Green! These days Organic Tees aren’t hard to come by, even major brands carry them. But many are still manufactured in sweatshops. So be sure to look out for the labels when you purchase them. If you want a little more St Patrick’s Day Cafe Press has a great “Kiss Me I’m Irish” Organic Tee. Also, you might want to take the opportunity to promote green issues on this day. Check out the New Green Deal Organic Tee or our very own Declare Your Autonomie Organic Tee. If you wear your green slogans out and about, just maybe your tee will start a conversation with someone at the bar and you can really promote green!

Hello AP Gang!

Organic Fair Trade 'Fight Global' TeeWhat better way to kick off a New Year than with a fabulous store-wide sale! Find discounts up to 30%off on everything from our popular sneaker line, to our organic t-shirts, to our new organic cotton handbags. But act fast, stocks are running low and we don’t expect much to last very long.Organic Fair Trade 'Declare' Tee

Make sure to definitely check out our organic cotton winter accessories! Now 20% off,once these items are gone, they’ll be gone until next year! So get ‘em while you can, and sport ‘em until spring comes.

And to help sweeten the deal a bit further, for a limited time we’re offering free domestic shipping on all orders over $75 (down from $100)!  

Happy Shopping! 
The AP Team

As a follow up to last week’s, Top Veggie Friendly Colleges post we wanted to also suggest eco-friendly colleges. Many Universities are making changes not only to improve the environmental impact of the college itself, but also prepare a new generation to fill the Green Collar Market. So we have put together a list of Top Green Colleges! There are several different sources that have ranked Green Colleges based on their sustainable campus life, school policies, and green curriculum. We found four main rankings: Princeton Review, Grist, Sierra Club, and The Daily Green. We have used these lists as a guide and have come up with the following list (and we are proud that both our Alma Maters made the cut!):

Top Green Colleges

#1 Warren Wilson College: Amazingly this school has worked in the Green life into every aspect of the school. Not only do they have an amazing recycling program, but the school is self sufficient (sustainable farms and forest), and they even have soy fueled chainsaws and bio-diesel fuels!!

#2 Oberlin College: Oberlin college boasts a slew of Green programs and has made an active effort to reduce waste as well as educate. The campus has a car sharing program, supports locally produced food in its cafeteria, uses a ton of solar electricity, and their graduation ceremonies are completely eco-friendly including bio-degradable utensils and programs.

#3 Middlebury College: Not only does the Green activist Bill McKibben teach here, but this school has been very active in climate change. They have even put forth a plan to make the school carbon-neutral by 2016 as well as a state of the art recycling center. They even have energy saving competitions between dorms!!

#4 Harvard University: Harvard usually tops everyone’s academic and sports lists, but now they can add Green rankings to their impressive resume. Harvard has recently changed all school vehicles over to veggie fuel from the cafeteria, they have the MOST eco-friendly buildings certified by US Green Building Council, and is one of the largest purchaser of Green and Renewable energy.

#5 Duke University: Duke has now required all new buildings to be certified by the US Green Building Council and is making an active effort to improve their green energy through wind and hydro-power projects. They are also pushing a biking campaign and discouraging its students to use cars.

#6 University of New Hampshire: UNH located in Durham, NH boasts an Office of Sustainability and in 2009 80-85% of their energy will come from a landfill source. They have also developed an organic dairy farm and a Sustainable Horticulture department, where they work with children in the area on developing a new Green Generation.

#7 Tufts University: Tufts was the first university in the country to pass a green initiative and won the US Climate Change award in 2005. They are committed to meeting the demands of the Kyoto target for emmissions and continue to develop solar panels! Also, this is one of our Alma Maters!

#8 Universities of California: Ok. We realize this includes 10 schools, but if we evaluated all ten separately they may have taken over the list! Every campus in this system has made efforts to use renewable power by 2014, increase use of low- to zero-emission vehicles by at least 50 percent, and achieve zero waste by 2020!! Also each campus has their own initiatives they are focusing on: UC Davis (our other Alma Mater) has sustainable and organic agriculture programs, UC Berkeley has an all organic cafeteria, and UCLA has really pushed the bicycling movement.

#9 Yale University: Yale has developed a superior alternative energy plan including: solar, wind, and geothermal energy produced on campus. They also promote using biofuels in cars and have incentives to employees who use a carpool system. And lastly they have developed a new school of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

#10 Evergreen State College: This public school hosts a large organic farm complete with composting facility. On top of this, the school purchases only 100% clean power, is in the process of switching to electric cars, and is building Green Buildings for future use.

Bummed that your school didn’t make the cut??  Well then take matters into your own hands!  It is after all the power of the student body itself that can have the most influence over university administration, so start talking to your professors and university staff and start making positive changes on your campus today!

Hey all you Autonomie Fans and Supporters, Anne and Matt were interviewed at Lollapalooza Green Street in August of 2008 by the Consumer Trend News! Watch the video below or online to learn more about our company, our Ethletic Sneakers and hear AP talk in person!! Let us know what you think.

As some of you may know, Congress is on summer break and they did not address the current energy and climate crisis at hand. Not only did they not address gas prices, but they also failed to renew the clean energy tax cuts that will expire soon. These cuts fund solar, wind, and other renewable energy. Job loss and wasted time could be the result of this inaction by Congress. However, there is something, we the people can do!

The We Campaign is encouraging people to take the time to write a quick letter to the editor of your local paper. These letters are often published and may be viewed by representatives in their vacation months. So please take a moment and send a letter. Let’s work together and let Congress and the public know we do want CHANGE

If you would like to learn more about The We Campaign and how to get involved, please check them out at WeCanSolveIt.org

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