Next week marks the beginning of World Fair Trade Day! It’s a day to celebrate and bring awareness to the issues of labor rights and Fair Trade. Only a few days after International Worker’s Rights Day, World Fair Trade Day is just as important when it comes to labor issues. It is a day to draw attention to a different way to do commerce, a responsible way.  Although there are many ways to support Fair Trade in your daily life, but to celebrate the movement in one day across the world is pretty exciting!

What’s more exciting is we are participating in Fair Trade Boston’s World Fair Trade Day Scavenger Hunt! We have teamed up with Fair Trade Boston and Cambridge’s Sudo Shoes to participate in this awesome fair trade party. The Scavenger Hunt will take place all over the cities of Boston, Cambridge and Brookline on Saturday May 12th from noon to 3pm.  People wanting to participate are encouraged to RSVP and download the free SCVNR app.

All day on Saturday, participants will be visiting many locations including Ten Thousand Villages, Ben & Jerry’s, and Sudo Shoes. The best part is you can win a Fair Trade prize at every location you visit! The more locations you visit, the more likely you will win one of the Grand Prizes from awesome Fair Trade companies including yours truly (Autonomie Project), Ten Thousand Villages, Equal Exchange, Haley House, Ben &
Jerry’s, and City Feed and Supply.

But the fun doesn’t end there! After the Scavenger Hunt ends, everyone is invited to a Fair Trade Ice Cream Social! All are asked to meet at the Equal Exchange Cafe to have delicious Fair Trade ice cream floats from Ben & Jerry’s, Maine Root, and Equal Exchange.

We are super excited to be participating in such a unique and fun event for Boston area residents! If you are in the area, please join us for the Fair Trade Scavenger Hunt on May 12th and win some awesome Fair Trade goodies. Why not go?

March is finally upon us! And you know what that means… cherry blossoms, picnics in the Boston Common, abundant sunshine…and of course, fun and flirty spring fashion! Feze Fair Trade recently published a fantastic blog post about some key fair trade fashion trends for this spring:

#1: Sophisticated Inspiration— 70’s Glamour

  • High-waisted, wide-leg belted pants
  • Bell bottom jeans
  • Silk or satin bow-blouses
  • Ruffled neckline under a blazer or tuxedo jacket
  • Long slim gowns with draping, low necklines, or dress slits

#2: Hot Biker

  • Classic biker jacket (Inhabitat is currently having a giveaway for a reclaimed leather biker jacket worth $856!)
  • Tight leather pants or skirt (neoprene works as an alternative to leather, but better yet—look for recycled faux leather)
  • Biker boots

#3: MAD Women

  • Full, below-the-knee circle skirts, cinched in waist
  • Granny Skirts (think Peggy Olson) paired with a fitted top or a sheer blouse
  • Straight cut sheaf or pencil skirts
  • Fitted sheath dresses
  • Peg-top skirts

#4: Bold—Block, Print & Stripes

  • Bright bold colors paired together
  • Animal prints
  • Take a look at some great examples of stripe outfits here

#5: Lace & Crochet

  • Classic lace clothing and antique-style fabrics
  • Boho lux lace and crochet dresses
  • Crochet tops and vests

One brand that’s really on top of these trends is Urban Outfitters’ line from Philadelphia called Urban Renewal. Just take a look at this striped zipper dress! Urban Renewal’s clothes are made in the USA from vintage, deadstock and surplus materials, so every piece is unique and exclusive!

All of us at Autonomie Project are also very excited for the spring season because we have new awesome products coming our way! This spring, be on the lookout for new rainboots and flip flops from Ethleticrecycled jewelry made by Proxy Apparel, and two new tees—another one for Farm Sanctuary and one that supports the Northeast Organic Farming Association. All organic, all fair trade, and all vegan like always!

But unfortunately as most of you New Englanders and many around the country, have probably noticed, the winter cold is still lingering around. So until it starts to warm up and you can actually enjoy all this awesome spring fashion, we recommend the following to get through the rest of this chilly season:

Knitted scarves, earmuffs, beanies, and headbands from Lowie are fashionable and fair trade—benefitting villagers in Eastern China.

Brooklyn-based Rocks and Salt also has some very fashionable, sustainable, and warm headwear. I recently purchased the Rita and I love it! It keeps my head very warm, and I’ve received so many compliments on it. It’s all handmade by the designers in Brooklyn.

Also, the cold isn’t that bad when you’re enjoying a warm cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate—especially from our friends at Equal Exchange. They serve some of the best coffee I’ve ever had, and it’s all fair trade.

So until it’s officially spring… stay warm and cozy with these wonderful fair trade fashions and treats and get ready for some awesome spring fashion just on the horizon!

-Michelle Thai

Yes, it is official! We can finally say it!! BOSTON IS AN OFFICIAL FAIR TRADE CITY! The Autonomie Project team has been committee members and incredibly active in the Fair Trade Boston organization since its inception a few years ago. You may all remember our excitement and volunteer work surrounding the Kick Off Event last year and the signing of the Fair Trade Resolution back in May, but now we have completed the ultimate goal of declaring the city of Boston a Fair Trade City. Not only are we the first major city in New England to declare, but also the first major city on the East Coast! This is an exciting, innovative, and historical announcement for our fair* city. *Pun fully intended.

Now you may be wondering what exactly is a Fair Trade city?  Transfair has a wonderful campaign entitled Fair Trade Towns, encouraging towns and cities to officially declare themselves Fair Trade friendly. To do so, towns must meet 5 basic criteria: local council must pass a resolution supporting fair trade and committing to serve fair trade products, a range and specific amount of fair trade products must be sold within the town (pubs, cafes, clothing stores etc), a percentage of  workplaces and community organizations (churches, hospitals, universities etc) must serve fair trade products, an active coalition must meet regularly, and garnish media coverage.  Boston is proud to say, me have met and surpassed all 5 requirements!

To celebrate our historical declaration, Fair Trade Boston, along with Autonomie Project, Ben & Jerry’s, Equal Exchange, and many others are hosting a Fair Trade Block Party on September 10th at the Prudential Center Plaza! Live music, fair trade giveaways, and free sampling are just a taste of what our celebration will offer. So please come to our free celebration and party for your city! Boston, it is a time to celebrate and be merry.

We are ecstatic to announce and it almost seems surreal, but we are proud of our little city and hope it springs inspiration around the country.  Find out if your community already has a Fair Trade Towns campaign or start one on your own! Congratulations, Boston!!!

-Team AP

As the end of summer fast approaches, everyone is out enjoying the last few weeks. The month of August is filled with vacations, trips to the beach, and camping. We all start to feel the weight of the summer winding down and try to fit every last-minute of outdoor activity into August.  Although summer doesn’t officially end until mid-September, Labor Day marks the end of the summer relaxation period. This year, Labor Day, which is September 6th, marks another end date. It is the end to Global Exchange’s “We Want More from Our S’mores” campaign.

Global Exchange is using S’mores to draw attention to the child labor and slave labor issues surrounding the chocolate industry. I mean, who doesn’t like to indulge the chochlately goodness of a s’mores and why not do it while making a statement? In fact, we can’t think of a better way to shed light on the situation. The campaign encourages all to make Fair Trade s’mores throughout the summer and keep track of how many are devoured. Once you have created your Fair Trade treats, you will want to enjoy their deliciousness, register your s’mores online, sign the petition and submit them to Global Exchange! Global Exchange will then send the entire petition to Hershey’s Chocolate, in an effort to convince them to become Fair Trade.

The 3rd Annual campaign is trying their hardest to gain 1500 or more Fair Trade summer snacks. They are encouraging those to create them at home, summer cookouts, and of course while camping out. We think a Fair Trade S’more party would be a blast! To find Fair Trade chocolate look no further than great companies such as Equal Exchange, Sweet Earth Chocolate, and Divine, just to name a few. For more ideas of how to throw a Fair Trade s’more party or bbq, check out Global Exchange’s step by step guide.

Global Exchange is hoping for a bigger turn out in 2010 than previous years, so let’s make it happen!  Make your Fair Trade statement today, while satisfying your sweet tooth. And act fast, as the deadline for submissions is September 6th–only about a month away! Enjoy your last days of summer and join the Fair Trade movement today!

It is rare that a day unites activists, environmentalists, consumers, farmers, and workers all over the globe. However, a day such as this will commence this Saturday, May 8th. World Fair Trade Day is celebrated every year on the second Saturday in May and always carries a theme. This year’s theme is titled A BIG DAY FOR THE PLANET, in hopes of melding the ideas of Fair Trade with sustainability. The founders hope this day will draw attention to Fair Trade and hopefully people will begin to ask questions about who makes their products, where they are made, and how they are made.  Fair Trade is a viable ethical alternative to conventional products that might not pass the ethics test of the previous questions.

World Fair Trade Day events are occurring all over the world and we are really excited about this year! This year we have conquered a milestone in Boston. Our Fair Trade Boston coalition, of which Autonomie Project serves on the committee, is very close to declaring Boston an official Fair Trade City! Yesterday, May 5th, Boston City Council passed an official Fair Trade Resolution!!! This is groundbreaking and historical for our little city on a hill and we are not only excited and inspired, but proud to be directly involved in the efforts. However, we still have a little more work to do, as we need only 40 more institutions providing Fair Trade products to meet the Fair Trade Towns criteria. We are on a race to beat New York, and hope to accomplish it! If you your church, organization, school, or hospital has Fair Trade products, please contact us directly or Fair Trade Boston!

On top of this wonderful achievement with the Boston City Council, here in Boston we have a pretty exciting event planned. Fair Trade Boston is hosting a Fair Trade Crawl! Businesses all over Boston are holding separate events including some with live music, henna tattoos, Fair Trade giveaways, and scavenger hunts. There is a Fair Trade Crawl card highlighting all the participating businesses and each business you visit, you get a punch on your card. If you get four or more punches you receive a gift of discounts and are automatically entered into a raffle where you have the chance to win amazing prizes donated by Equal Exchange, Ben & Jerry’s, and of course AP!

To no one’s surprise Autonomie Project is participating in the crawl. We have partnered with Ben & Jerry’s on 174 Newbury Street. There will be live music, Fair Trade ice cream samples, and if you buy a pair of our NEW Fair Trade Flip Flops you will receive a free Fair Trade ice cream cone! We are really excited, so if you are in the Boston area, please stop by from 10-3.

So what if you are not in Boston? Don’t worry there are plenty of local events happening all over the country and world. You can find an event in your neck of the woods on the World Fair Trade Day site. Whether you are in Boston or not, we hope that you are able to participate in the 2010 World Fair Trade Day! It is important to bring awareness to the standards and ideas of Fair Trade as well show the world the demand for such products! As consumers we have the power to make sure our choices are better for the people and for the world. Together, we can do it!

Halloween Tree Photo By H_EliseTrick or Treat?! It’s the phrase that is about to be on every child’s lips in a couple of weeks. Halloween is the time for dress up, self expression, scary stories, and of course delightful candy! Is there a way to indulge in this American holiday without going against your ethics? Yes there are ways to have a truly ethical Halloween! And we at AP have put together a sweet little guide to help you make sure your Halloween meets all socially conscious standards. Stay safe and Happy Halloween!! Mwahahaha

1) Costumes: Costumes sold on the mainstream market are often made of harsh materials such as cheap plastics and harmful dyes. Unfortunately, people often buy these costumes only to throw them out after one use. This is a very wasteful practice. The most Green way to make a costume is by making one! Going through yours and your friend’s closets is the best way to through together a costume (it saves you money too)! But if you can’t find exactly what you need for your outfit, try the local thrift stores. Thrift stores are teeming with great pieces perfect for nearly any costume. If thrifting just isn’t your thing there are a number of organic costumes for both adults and children. Please remember if you do purchase a costume from any source be sure and donate it once you are finished.

Jokerz Vegan Candy Bar by Go Max Go

Jokerz Vegan Candy Bar by Go Max Go

2) Vegan Treats: It is possible to hold to your Green and Vegan roots when handing out trick or treat candy. When you are choosing what candy you would like to hand out this year, keep in mind which candies are vegan. PETA has a nice list of mainstream candy which is vegan by default. Or if you would like to support vegan business, Go Max Go, based in Portland OR makes delicious all vegan candy bars styled much like your old favorites such as Almond Joy and 3 Musketeers. They are a new company but you can already find them in many health food stores. Pangea, the online vegan store also offers Halloween style goodies such as ghost marshmallows, Halloween themed cookies, and chocolate bites. All great ideas to hand out! Also, if you are feeling healthy you can always hand out packaged dried fruit or nuts. If you are throwing a get together, here are some terrific Halloween themed vegan recipes.

3) Fair Trade Chocolate: Fair Trade Chocolate is easy to come by these days and make great Halloween giveaways. In fact, October is Fair Trade Month, so what better way to end the month then to hand out Fair Trade Chocolates? Global Exchange has put together a great list of  Fair Trade chocolate companies such as Equal Exchange and Divine Chocolate. You can also find cute Halloween themed organic and Fair Trade chocolates. Global Exchange is also promoting Reverse Trick or Treating, where they have asked fair traders to hand out Fair Trade chocolate with information to houses they might be trick or treating at. Print out these informational cards and attach them to your Fair Trade chocolates! One quick tip, if you are Trick or Treating this year be sure to use a re-usable bag rather than plastics (a pillow case always does the job)!

4) Decorations: Halloween is an exciting time and most people celebrate by decorating their homes and businesses, whether it is for parties or just to be festive! Unfortunately, much like costumes many Halloween decorations are made of cheap plastic and are thrown out after one use. Once again a great place to find decorations is at a thrift store, plus they will save you money! You can also choose to decorate with natural decorations such as corn husks, straw, and pumpkins.  Another great activity is to create your own crafts using recycled materials such as the soda bottle pumpkin or the egg crate bat. Not only will this be Earth friendly but kid friendly as well! Also, when you are ready to choose that pumpkin to carve, be sure to go to a local and organic local pumpkin patch instead of purchasing an imported pumpkin from a main grocery store. A fun little activity would include a Fair Trade, Organic, Green, or Vegan themed Jack-O-Latern. Why not spread the word through pumpkins?!

5) Aftermath: On November 1st with the streets quiet, the clean up begins! Many of the costumes and decor for Halloween is tossed in the trash. Be sure to save your items to use again the following year or donate them to your local thrift store. Old Jack-o-lanterns, straw used for decor, and fallen leaves will letter the streets in early November. Be sure to either compost these items in your own composting or through your city if they provide it. If you are throwing a Halloween shindig, be sure you recycle all bottles and cans used.

Lane's first "Trick or treat" Photo By tomeppyBefore long we will all hear that age old adage of “Trick or Treat?” as the small ones dressed in their best witch and pirate costumes will hold out a pillowcase in hopes of receiving chocolate. But what if we mixed it up a bit this year?! Global Exchange is promoting a new way to celebrate Halloween, while promoting a great idea: Reverse Trick or Treating. The idea is to have each Trick or Treater hand out Fair Trade Chocolate with an informational card about Fair Trade to each house they visit on Halloween. What a great way to spread the message, and really who is going to turn down a piece of Fair Trade Chocolate? 

Fair Trade Chocolate for Saint Valentine's Day Photo By jetaloneGlobal Exchange was providing kits for free, however, due to the popularity of the idea they have run out! Never fear though, you can request the informational cards from them and buy some delicious Fair Trade chocolate from Equal Exchange or other Fair Trade Chocolate companies. Also, Equal Exchange has posted the informational cards online in English and Spanish and you can order chocolates to hand out.  Also, Global Exchange sells a Halloween themed Fair Trade Action Kit which includes mini Fair Trade chocolates, postcards, Eco-friendly trick or treating bag, and a Fair Trade poster to hang up!

Whether you are taking your littlest family members out to gather sweets or if you are at home passing out candy, please consider spreading the Fair Trade message. Unfortunately, conventional chocolate companies are known for various labor and environmental abuses. Seriously, there is no better way to educate others on the perks of Fair Trade chocolate than to give them out on an American holiday now centered around candy. Enjoy your Fair Trade Halloween!

Photo of Smores Bars Photo By foodistablogOne of the best things about summer is the good old fashioned camping trips. For children, and some fun loving adults their favorite camping activity is around the campfire, cooking delicious and sweet s’mores!  This summer, Global Exchange is promoting a new campaign: We Want More from Our S’mores! They are using the summer s’mores to help convince Hershey’s in to switch to Fair Trade chocolate. The chocolate industry is known for its labor abuses both in the farming and production of chocolate. Boycotting Hershey’s, which is the number one chocolate producer in the US, will bring awareness to Fair Trade in general and other smaller Fair Trade companies. This year’s goal is to register 1,500 names on a petition to send to Hershey’s headquarters.

Smores for All! Photo By cortneymartin82So how do you get involved?! Well Global Exchange is asking all Fair Traders to get involved by holding s’mores events to collect signatures. Anytime you hold a public event such as a festival, summer camp, BBQ, or even with with your family: make some s’mores and bring some awareness to the cause. Global Exchange has put together a nice checklist on how to put together an event as well as provide you with a mock flyer to post up and hand out. Once you have completed your event, please send the signatures to Global Exchange who is compiling them and sending them off to Hershey’s!

Even if you can not plan an actual event, please support Fair Trade chocolate when you are buying your s’mores supplies. Fair Trade chocolate is easier to find than you think. Check out companies such as Equal Exchange, Divine Chocolate, and Alter Eco. And for all the vegans out there, if you are looking for vegan marshmallows to complete your s’more, check out Sweet & Sara.

smores [girls camping trip] Photo By: woodleywonderworksAlso, for those that live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Global Exchange is hosting a Fair Trade S’mores Happy Hour! They ask you to bring your own s’mores ingredients, except for the chocolate, it will be provided for free. Along with the indulgence in campground favorites, there will also be free chocolate taste testing, pinatas, and live music. If you are in the area, come support and eat chocolate! It takes place this Wednesday, July 29th from 6:00-8:00 pm in Speedway Meadow at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.

Please enjoy your summer camping and cookouts but be sure if you are making any s’mores to please use Fair Trade chocolate. And if you are serious about bringing change, consider hosting an event to gather signatures and bring awareness to the problems in the chocolate industry. Mmm….all this talk of s’mores has me salivating, I think I’ll go roast one at the park!

With the election of Obama to the White House many groups are hoping he brings real change. Shortly after the election, Change.org  hosted a contest for ten ideas for Obama to change in America. Online viewers were asked to vote on their favorite ideas! Winners included legalizing medicinal and recreational marijuana use, making the grid green, and a repeal of the Patriot Act. But before voting ended one idea gained many votes and caught our eye: “Declare the White House a Fair Trade Zone.”

1208885597_4795-300x194Even though this idea didn’t win the contest of the top ten ideas, its still a thought to keep in mind. And really transitioning the White House into a Fair Trade Zone may be easier than you think. The residence already has Starbucks coffee served at official events. What if they switched it out to Equal Exchange or Grounds for Change?  According to Fair Trade LA, Obama already has an affinity for Honest Tea, Equal Exchange, and Just Coffee. It would be a pretty simple change! On top of coffee we would love to see change over to fair trade chocolate, sugar, olive oil, and even bananas!

Could Fair Trade make its way into the most famous house on the hill? Maybe not right now.  But we shouldn’t give up the cause even though the idea didn’t win the competition. Keep spreading the word about fair trade products to your friends and family or join a fair trade campaign! Keep placing pressure on our leaders and the Obama administration and maybe we will see some real change!

Similar to our Eco-Friendly and Vegan Gift Guides, we put together some websites and suggestions for the Fair Trade enthusiast on your list! Or use the guide to purchase gifts for your friends and family who you would love to introduce Fair Trade to!

Like our other guides, we thought we would list some helpful websites to find Fair Trade gifts and products. Some great places are Global Exchange, Revive, Traditions Fair Trade, World of Good, Equita, Ten Thousand Villages, Taraluna, and Garuda International. At these sites you can find all your Fair Trade needs ranging from coffee and tea to clothing and beauty products! You can also purchase gift directly from our website at Autonomie Project, as all our products are Fair Trade! If you aren’t sure what your friend and family member would like all of the above sites, including ours sell gift certificates!

On top of these websites, you may be able to locate a Fair Trade store in your area. Check out the Fair Trade Federation website to locate stores in your area.

The following list is some great holiday fair trade gift ideas we suggest:

gift_ftharvest501091) Fair Trade Gift Packs: Put together a gift basket of fair trade goodies such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and cocoa(even your basket can be fair trade!). Maybe even add in fair trade dishes to go along. You should be able to find these products at your local food co-op or natural foods store. You can also find pre-made baskets at many of the websites above or directly through fair trade coffee vendors such as Equal Exchange, Grounds For Change, or Dean’s Beans. Also, Grounds for Change offers a Coffee a Month gift. So your loved one can enjoy fair trade coffee all year long!

fd_image_resizephp2) Fair Trade Wine: There is a new and great Fair Trade wine company called Etica. Their wines are all Fair Trade certified and you can find them on their website or in your local area. Or you can purchase a pre-made wine basket from Eco-Express. Fair Trade wine is hard to come by, so you are sure to impress the fair trade enthusiast on your list. Plus everyone loves a great bottle of wine!

additional_69078103) Hand Made Artisan Crafts: One of the great items of Fair Trade, is handmade artisan gifts. Several great websites and organizations sell handmade gifts from scarves to mugs and even jewelery. All these items make great gifts! Check out the websites above for more ideas. The time and love that goes into these products is sure to make a lasting impression on the craftsmanship of the product as well as the receiver! 

yhst-32031163094313_2029_463497794) Fair Trade Books and Guides: Books about Fair Trade and the economy behind it can make great gifts, especially for someone who is new to the idea. We suggest Business Unusual, No Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade, Fair Trade: A Beginner’s Guide, and The Conscious Consumer. For a more seasoned fair trader, you might want to give a fair trade shopping guide! This will allow your loved one to know which companies to support and which to avoid. Check out the The Better World Shopping Guide for the most comprehensive guide. 

5) Donate in their Name: Like all our other guides, we promote donations as gifts. You can give the gift of Fair Trade in honor of your loved one through several organizations such as Fair Trade Resource NetworkTransfair, Catholic Relief Services, and Fair Labeling Organization. Or you can make a more specific donation to help out fair trade workers such as helping buy new machines for farmers in Ecuador or help fair trade honey farmers learn their craft. Also you can give the gift of a Global Exchange membership!

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