Yesterday, it seemed many people’s spirits were broken by the midterm elections, but we were happy to receive this uplifting email from Green America. So we decided to re-post it here, feel free to leave your comments on how you are staying hopeful!

Re-posted from Green America:


No matter what your hopes were for Tuesday’s election, one outcome that we’re all too likely to see is political gridlock.

That makes the work we do together — advancing social justice and environmental responsibility through economic action — more important than ever. Here are just a few examples:

1. By working to close the filthiest coal-fired power plants, we can work to meet our climate goals — without one new piece of legislation.

2. By creating Clean Energy Victory Bonds, we can finance the next big wave of solar and wind — without one penny of taxpayer dollars.

3. By focusing on energy efficiency, we can help every American family save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year — better than a tax break, since it will happen year after year with no Congressional vote required.

4. By accelerating the transition to clean energy, we ensure the next big wave of good jobs.

5. By going local and organic with our food, and rebuilding local food systems, we can make sure there is healthy, affordable food for all.

6. By choosing Fair Trade, we can help families around the world lift themselves out of poverty.

7. By switching to community banks and credit unions, we can take support away from the mega-banks who were at the center of the global economic crisis – and invest in our local communities.

8. By supporting green businesses, we can rebuild our Main Streets and create new jobs. Recent studies confirm what you and I have known for years: According to the Kaufman Foundation, over the past 25 years, virtually all net new jobs in the US have been created by small, local and independent businesses that are less than five years old. The Pew Charitable Trust reported that green jobs in the U.S. grew more than twice as fast as the overall job market in the past ten years, and suffered fewer setbacks.

9. By choosing green products and services, people can improve their health, live better and save money when they go green.

10. By using our consumer and investing power, we can make real, lasting change. Steps forward include Home Depot shifting to sustainably-harvested wood and Ben & Jerry’s committing to be 100% Fair Trade with their flavors by 2012. Let’s keep up the pressure on Hershey’s to go Fair Trade!

Americans can and do come together for clean energy and jobs, healthy food, a fair deal for all, and financing systems that rebuild our Main Streets. As we work together on strengthening local businesses and local communities, we’re also building alliances across political divides, reknitting the fabric of our country. We have powerful tools at our fingertips for accelerating the shift to a just and sustainable economy.

Thanks for all you do for a better future for all,

Alisa Gravitz
Executive Director
Green America

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Looking back, I realize that my childhood school lunches were a sad affair- not only because my brown bag lunches usually consisted of a flattened sandwich that was a little more than lukewarm come lunchtime, but also because these home packed lunches were horrible for the environment. Between the individually wrapped fruit roll ups, the disposable brown bag and the one use sandwich baggie my lunches were essentially a giant middle finger to Mother Nature. It wasn’t intentional or malicious, but still if I had access to a time machine I may go back and inform my parents of the advantages of living an eco-friendly lifestyle–just after I travel back in time stop good ol’ Abe Lincoln from being assassinated  and right before I go forward in time to steal next week’s winning lottery numbers…space time continuum be damned!

In 2010 parents are not able to hide behind an ignorance of the negative effects a wasteful lifestyle has on the environment, we all are aware of global warming, even those naïve enough to not believe in it. Now that I have sufficiently guilted you, I can offer some very simple steps that you busy parents can take to ensure that your child’s lunch is delicious to both their and Mother’s Natures sensitive palates.

Reusable Snack Bag By Waste Free Lunch

1.) Black List Your Brown Paper Bag:

Brown paper lunch bags not only allow your child’s Sammie to get flattened under the weight of errant text books by lunch time, but they also are terrible for the environment. As with most items, something that is single use is not eco-friendly. Switching to a reusable bag or lunch box is your eco-friendly alternative. There are plenty of adorable options out there that will keep your child’s beautifully constructed sandwich in tact while keeping those brown bags out of  garbage cans and land fills.

If you are feeling extra ambitious, you can even make your own reusable sandwich wrap, perhaps a fun project that you are your offspring can tackle together!

2.) Go Organic, Vegan or Vegetarian:

Regardless of your stance on eco-friendly lunches –hopefully since you are reading it your stance is, “Yay! I love feeding my kid in the most ecological way possible!”– you definitely want to feed your child food that is not only nutritious but delicious as well. The good news is that being an eco-friendly lunch packer does not mean you have to sacrifice taste.

Whenever possible, purchase organic and local ingredients. The closer the food is made to your home, the lower its carbon footprint! Even if you are a carnivore through and through, you may want to switch it up every so often by serving your child a vegan or vegetarian lunch! Meat comes with a huge carbon foot print- we are talking Big Foot proportions- between the fuel it takes to grow the grain to feed farm animals and the amount of methane cows  releases into the atmosphere via their gas, skipping on the meat and dairy will make your packed lunch an eco-friendly power house!

Your kids will not be missing out on flavor, there are many awesome vegan recipes online including delicious ones that can be found right here on the Autonomie Project Blog, such as this one for homemade fruit leather, a recipe that does not call for three layers of wasteful packaging.

3.) Just Say “No” To Juice Boxes:

We can all agree, while adorable in their pint-sized stature, juice boxes make for a ton of excess packaging. From the individually plastic wrapped straws to the box that houses a dozen smaller boxes, these wasteful extras put a strain on the environment.
By purchasing a thermos, your child can still indulge in all the delicious juice needed to quench their lunch time thirst. By purchasing a larger bottle, or making your own juice and filling this reusable thermos  you cut down on oodles of waste.

4.) Strut Out The Reusable Cutlery:

Sometimes what’s easiest- in this case tossing in a disposable fork or spoon in your child’s lunch- is not the right thing to do. Purchase reusable cutlery that will fit into your child’s adorable reusable lunch box. Notice a theme here? Good, you get a gold star! Reusable goods are the corner-stone to green lunch!

5.) Refuse To Purchase Individual Servings:

When faced with purchasing the already separated into individual serving sized snack and the larger, bulkier, not ready to grab and toss into your child’s lunch box snack you should always aim for the latter.

When purchasing snackables for your beloved little scholars, always seek out the path with the least amount of packaging. Fruit is delectable to taste buds and often comes wrapped in its own natural casing…bananas, I am looking at you pal, way to be a handy-dandy snack! Even when indulging your offspring with the occasional store-bought cookie, purchase the larger package and allot the appropriate serving in one of your child’s reusable lunch accessories!

If these five steps are a little too verbose, here is a cheat sheet to packing an eco-friendly school lunch: avoid excessive packaging, reuse whatever materials you can and be aware of where your ingredients come from. Got it? Good, there will be a pop quiz at a later date and time…and no, I can not tell you when, that is the point of the “pop” in the pop quiz.

Packing a school lunch with a mind for the environment takes minimal effort and shows that you not only care about your child’s present but also their future.

-Meghan Hurley

The earth is what we all have in common,” once stated the famed writer and farmer, Wendell Berry. And he is completely right. Historically speaking, humans and animals have found reasons to become intolerant and draw lines, but one thing we cannot deny is our commonality of Mother Earth. This message is imperative during these trying times of increasing Climate Change and after years of manmade pollution has plagued our planet. Today marks a particular day of importance for our planet, Earth Day and in particular Earth Day is celebrating its 40th year!

The very first Earth Day was planned by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 as a national teach-in for students and the country to call attention to the environmental movement and as a protest against current policies.  The idea sure stuck, as students around the country, some 20 million, gathered together to draw attention to the environment, mainly focusing on the pollution of air and water. Since that fateful day in the year of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Jimi Hendrix’s death, and the Kent State Shootings, Earth Day has continued to grow. In fact, many people point to this day as the onset of the modern environmentalist movement. The original Earth Day and the proceeding public outcry led the federal government to create the Environmental Protection Agency  that same year and influenced the passage of groundbreaking acts such as the Clean Air, Clean Water, an Endangered Species Act. It would be an understatement to call the first Earth Day a success. In fact, it is often highlighted that the original Earth Day gained the support of almost all Americans, something an issue can rarely do, from young to old, Democrats to Republicans, the rich and the well, not so rich…you get the point. It was one of those rare opportunities for the country to pull together.

Over the years Earth Day has grown into almost a national holiday with celebrations and promotions taking place all over the country.  It may have lost its ability to bring commonality to polar opposites, as it is often looked at as a “Hippie Day.” However, Earth Day still meets its original goal of educating the people and drawing awareness to environmental issues. But it doesn’t have to lose the weight it once held with politicos. In this world of human pollution denial, environmental policy drawn on party lines, and growing evidence of climate change, Earth Day and its message are even more urgent.

Today should be utilized, as it always has, to continue to bring attention to the environmental issues our world faces, but also to remind ourselves the importance of our environment everyday. Let Earth Day serve as a reminder to live an eco-friendly life and to continue to support positive environmental policy. You can begin by celebrating Earth Day in a number of ways. Please see last year’s post on How to Celebrate Earth Day for ideas and check the Earth Resource Network for a local event near you. As for us, we will be celebrating in New York City’s Earthfair outside Grand Central Station! If you are nearby, come say hello.

Today, this week, this month, this year, and the rest of our lives should continue with the world on our minds. We owe it to ourselves, our future generations, the animals, and of course our Mother Earth. Today marks the 40th Anniversary of Earth day and it is time we allow it to get back to its roots; to bring our nation and world together in a common goal: protecting the world around us. Just as Berry stated, the Earth really is the one thing we really have in common, so let us use Earth Day to bridge the gaps between us. As the old adage says “we are all in this together,” so let’s work at it together.

-Gina Williams

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.

O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties and… ever growing Urban Sprawl?

Urban Sprawl Photo By keepwaddling1
The outward spread of both city and suburban landscapes has become a harsh truth of modern life. While the lyrics to “America the Beautiful” have yet to be altered, the evidence of this sprawl is apparent to the most novice of Environmentalists. Driving through the suburbs, from state to state, coast to coast, one can not help but to note the formerly varying landscapes of the United States have taken on a more homogeneous aesthetic over the past half century or so. As strip malls and the chain stores spread their outreach, it is hard to know whether one is in the suburbs of New York state or California when parking lots and carbon copies of the same chain stores are all that are left to mark your surroundings. Even the suburban standby, of using regional coffee chains as a compass in deciding where the strip mall in question is likely located, such as: Coffee Shop A suggesting a Northeast area versus Coffee chain B suggesting a West Coast one, is becoming obsolete as these caffeinated chains spread their jittery wings to pepper the country with new, “convenient” locations.

Dead End in the Burbs Photo By √oхέƒx™

The ultimate staple of success in the U.S; the home in a quiet neighborhood with a large yard featuring a two car garage to house your families numerous vehicles, has become the main trapping of a modern life that encourages this sprawl. The reality of a life lived in the sprawl is one that entails longer commutes, often with one person per one vehicle sitting in traffic on a highway for long spans of time. In addition to, and largely because of these increased solitary vehicle commutes, pollution increases in these areas, which has serious impacts on the health of its citizens. Low air quality stimulates respiratory ailments. The lack of exercise, due to the lack of walk ways and bike ways available in these areas, which make driving a mandatory means of transportation, cause a rise in obesity and in turn, an increase the abundance of negative health effects that are associated with such weight increases. Not to mention the financial burden of needing to purchase new and larger slacks every few months or so. (Which may not be a problem when one can get a twelve pack of pants at their local Sprawl-Mart for the low, low price of $9.99.)

Deer Crossing Photo By shouldbecleaning

The improper allotment of land Urban Sprawl calls for leaves less and less area for natural environments to be maintained or developed. This burden weighs not only on the physical health of humans, with less space to be physically active, but the mental health as well, as decreased activity sees an increase in depression. Humans are not the only ones blue over these harmful uses of land, wild life is being squeezed out of modern America. Many species have become extinct and many of those who fight for survival must adapt the world we have created, even seeking food and shelter in our neighborhoods, invading the landscapes of our American dreams due to their dreams of survival. When one wonders why a coyote is wandering through their neighbor’s yard, the answer probably lies within the reality of Urban Sprawl. Wild animals would much rather be frolicking in the forest than running across our highways and sorting through our old issues of Life magazine as they search for food in a Hefty bag.

Golden Forest Photo By *MickyThis seemingly endless unfurling of Urban sprawl occurring in our nation is on the radar of even our most powerful of citizens, with President Obama recently asserting, “For too long federal policy has actually encouraged sprawl and congestion and pollution, rather than quality public transportation and smart sustainable development” and further stating, “And we’ve been keeping communities isolated when we should have been bringing them together.” Sentiments that are a clear call for change in our Nation’s Urban policy. These strong words will hopefully, for the sake of the preservation of our nation, heed aggressive action. For as cliché as it may sound, actions speak louder than words, no matter how eloquent and truthful those words may be.

The Town of Middleburg Photo By La Citta VitaOur actions as citizens of this country are equally as important as that of our leaders. We need to encourage our leaders to change, supporting candidates who will support the legislature we need to prevent future harm to our nation, those who will seek preservation of natural habitats and encourage the development of public transportation, walkways and bike ways. Financially we can shop locally and shut out super store giants that push out small business owners, those slacks may be dirt cheap, but at what cost to our fellow man and our environment? We can even make simple choices, such as walking places when it is possible, or car pooling when it is not.

We owe it to ourselves, to our spacious skies, to our amber waves of grain, to our purple mountain’s majesty….and to that coyote out back rummaging through your rubbish.

-Meghan Hurley

button_red_signpetition1

More and more bad news keeps coming out about the state of our economy. With fourth quarter retail sales low, real estate continuing to plummet, and job loss at its highest since the last recession in 1993. This news may be staggering but don’t let it get you down! Let it mobilize you! Sign the petition to push this package through Congress today!

08obama2-500On January 8th, President Elect Obama urged Congress to push forth is economic stimulus plan. This plan is not just money being thrown at a problem. It has real hope for a move to the green economy. Some of the details of this plan include, doubling the production of alternative energy in the next 3 years, having medical records go electronic: saving energy and jobs, modernizing and weatherizing 75% of federal buildings, improve energy efficiency in millions of homes, updating thousands of schools, colleges, and universities, investing in science and technology, and creating millions of new GREEN JOBS! 

This stimulus package may get out economy back on its feet and its no question it will create a shift in our current economic practices. The only problem now is getting Congress to act! Obama had hoped the bill would be sitting on his new desk ready to sign on January 20th, but it looks unlikely at this point. Of course conservatives and lobbyists for big energy are attacking the bill. Some conservatives in Congress want to see tax breaks rather than investment. Which may seem like a great idea, but their current plan has breaks for the super rich and hardly benefits the middle and working classes. The lobbyists for big energy are trying to stop the bill from passing in order to stop green energy and jobs from being created!

Never worry though, because YOU can take action! MoveOn.org has created a petition to urge Congress members not to listen to lobbyists and to take action on this package. The petition states: “Congress should quickly pass Obama’s plan to invest in clean energy, green jobs, health care, and relief for struggling states. No more tax cuts for the rich.”

button_red_signpetition2So please if you believe in a shift to a green economy or hope to help our US economy, take the few seconds to sign the petition! Its a quick and easy way to be involved in your country’s actions. Because our responsibilities as citizens doesn’t stop on election day! We all took a second to sign, so we are urging you to do the same. PLEASE SIGN! And if you want to be involved even more, organize an event in your area or re-post this on your blogs or social sites!

Hello AP Gang!

Organic Fair Trade 'Fight Global' TeeOur website has gone through a major make-over and we invite you to check it out and let us know what you think! We’ve got tons more info, easier navigation, store locations, plus lots of opportunities on how you guys can help Autonomie spread its wings. Go to www.autonomieproject.com and happy browsing 😉

And, is if you could forget, the holiday season is here! While checking out our new digs, make sure to visit our Shop pages and pick up a few things for everyone on your list. Autonomie’s products make excellent gifts and are the best way to help your friends and family support Fair Trade and make a positive change in today’s increasingly challenging world. Stocks are selling out FAST, so don’t hesitate and shop now!

Organic Fair Trade 'Fight Global' TeeNot sure what to get or what size they wear? Make sure to check out our selection of Gift Cards! Our gift cards come in a variety of dollar amounts from $10 to $250 and can be sent electronically, making this holiday a little more stress-free, especially for all you procrastinators out there!

Cheers,
The AP Team

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