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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With reports issued today that the US economy is going to get much worse this year and even into 2010, the news and media paints a chilling picture for the New Year. While most of us might react with uncertainty and worry, there is one sector of the economy that remains hopeful: the Green Economy. Many Greenies are seeing this downturn as an opportunity to change and re shape the American economy. For example, with the American auto industry failing, it is an amazing chance for them to focus on electric, hybrid, and other new eco-friendly technologies. In fact a shift such as this could retool the entire industry.

The GreenBiz published a great article recently about Green economists optimistic view of 2009. It pushes the idea that many businesses are continuing green changes, yet  everyone is pulling in the reins on spending rather than expanding. Still as we mentioned above, this recession is a chance to incorporate real changes to business. The GreenBiz Blog has also announced they plan on featuring articles related to the recession. So keep up with the green take on the recession on their blog as well as ours!

Co-op America has now officially changed over to Green America and they have suggested a few ideas on how green can change the economy. Check out their recently published 7 Fixes from the Green Economy. Within this article, ecomomy240w1they focus on suggestions to revamping and saving the American economy. There are several suggestions we’ve heard before like creating new green jobs and supporting local and fair trade. But there are also some inventive new ideas such as instituting Clean Energy Victory Bonds similar to those instituted in World War II and Community investing. These are the types of articles that need to be pushed forth during these trying times. While the mainstream media pushes fear and negativity, the green world is suggesting real ideas and a focus on the positive. After all the best way to jump start the economy is all in the perception.

You may be wondering with all this talk about recession and economic changes, how will you survive? Green America once again published some great little tips on how to save money during these trying times: 4 Ways to Save Money! The tips they offer are: Cooperative Meals, Build a Community of your Neighbors and Pool Resources, Carpool with friends or neighbors, and Barter and Trade for your needs. While these are great ideas to keep money in your pocket, they aren’t the exact answer to our country’s economic woes as a whole. Green America plans on focusing on saving money through being green in 2009. So pay attention for more great saving ideas!

So remember even if the news won’t let you forget we are in a troubling economy, try to keep your heads up and focus on the new economy coming our way. Keep putting pressure on our politicians to promote a green economy through organizations like Power Vote and Green Jobs Now. Or keep the green economy in the public sphere, by posting on your blogs, Myspace, and Facebook. The more we talk about the ideas for a change in our economy, the better chance we have of accomplishing it!

Happy New Year from all of us at AP! 2008 was a long and transitional year for most of us. In this country we have seen positive changes and some tragic events. Yet we have to keep our heads up even in economic turmoil and look towards the next year. Hopefully 2009 will be a prosperous and healing time for all of us. We at AP want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and would like to make some quick suggestions for New Year’s Resolutions this coming year. The following list is our 2009 New Year’s Resolutions; which we all plan to implelement into our lives as much as possible. “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind…”

1) Support Fair Trade: In the next year, we hope more and more people will support fair trade. There are easy changes in your life to do so. Make sure several products that are easy to buy fair trade are done. Such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and even vanilla. These products can be found fair trade in most grocery store chains, as well as in local stores. But on top of that make a conscious effort to incomporate more fair trade items into your life such as clothing and jewlery and even wine! If you are unsure of where to purchase such items, check out the FTF’s list of fair trade stores or even our own AP site.

2) Buy Organic: Whenever possible we at AP buy organic produce and other items, including clothing! Not only is organic items good for your body, but they are great for the environment. Check out your local grocery store, co-op, or farmer’s market for organic produce. Pay attention for other organic products such as clothing, vanilla, chocolate, and coffee!

3) Eat Less Meat OR Go Vegetarian/Vegan: Eating meat is very very harmful to the environment, as well as to one’s health. This year think about switching to a meat free diet or at least significantly cutting back on your meat intake. If you have trouble letting meat go, please try to eat only organic, free range, and local farms. As these types of farms tend to have less harmful effects. If you would like to know more about switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet, check out Go Veg.com or order one of their starter kits.

4) Support Local: Supporting your local businesses and farms is not only great for your community but it cuts down on energy used in shipping items from all over the world. Check out your local farmer’s markets and coops for great locally grown produce. And every city, town, and neighborhood in the country has thousands of small and local cafes, restaurants, and clothing stores.

5) Small Eco Choices: Make a commitment to make small green changes in your daily life. Some easy ones are changing all your light bulbs over to energy efficient ones (it saves you money too!), using eco friendly cleaning products, and recycling! You can also choose to car pool, use public transit, walk, or bike to work. These choices may seem small, but they have a large impact on the world around us. If each person cut back on the little things, we could use less energy together!

For those of you that do not follow suit of this guy…

Or this gal…..

and you realize now that you totally missed Bike-to-Work-Week last week and were amongst the few that actually showed up with a car, do not fret. The entire month of May just happens to be the official National Bike Month! You now have 9 business days and counting to make peace with our planet and your co-workers, so get peddling.

National Bike Month was actually founded way back in 1956 (who knew?) and is now one of the most popular community events across the nation. Of course that’s no thanks to the ridiculously high and scarily rising gas prices these days 😦

National Bike Month is sponsored by the Washington-DC based League of American Bicyclists, an organization that YOU can become a member of that works tirelessly to promote cycling for fun, fitness, and (our favorite) an alternative form of transportation.

The league was formerly founded by a whole bunch of “wheelmen” in 1880 and has blossomed ever since to now provide America with a Bicycle Friendly Neighborhood program; National, State and local bicycle advocacy; bicycle education and safety; and even a magazine for real enthusiasts, the American Bicyclist.

If the thought of being outdoors, getting some exercise, and having some fun is not enough temptation for you to get off the couch and onto a bike, then check out their “50 Ways To Celebrate Bike Month” and start the countdown!  The list is from 2006, but it is even more relevant today.

Some of our favorites include riding with your child to school as a way to teach them that biking is healthy and good for their community; writing a letter to thank your local advocacy group for their work on making our world more bike-friendly (that will go MUCH further than you think); and asking your employer to install bike racks at work to encourage fellow colleagues to join the bike-to-work movement.

OR…if you really want a challenge…invite your local representative to take a bike ride with you and let the community watch as you ride off into the sunset….




Today marks the internationally celebrated Earth Day (though at Autonomie we encourage you to be earthy friendly every day of the year 🙂 )

For this Earth Day, we thought we’d share some tips from the good people at Ideal Bite, a daily e-newsletter that offers easy ideas on how to live green. They put together a phenomenal list on how to turn your office green, and what better day than today to actually do it!

Happy Greening and Happy Earth Day!

  • Get a Water Cooler: every year 1.5 million barrels of oil are used to make plastic bottles, and over 75% of those end up in landfills. Do your part, join the efforts of San Francisco, and ban plastic water bottles from your office.
  • Be Computer Savvy: set your office’s computers to sleep mode so that they shut down after 5 minutes of idle use. Also make sure to shut them all down completely at the end of the day and watch the energy savings come in.
  • Get Inked: ink cartridges take eons to decompose and are just filled with terrible toxins. Make sure to recycle your used cartridges and buy the refillable ones instead (which also cost about 75% less so if you have a cranky boss, you know how to spin it!).
  • Quit Bagging it for Lunch: pack your lunch in reusable containers rather than zip lock bags. Yeah, you have to do more dishes at the end of the day, but little plastic baggies are a major landfill problem and usually contain toxins that you really don’t want touching your food!

For the rest of the top 10 ways your office can go green, and other fun and cool ways you can help save the environment, make sure to check out and sign up forIdeal Bite.

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The team at Life Goggles launched an awesome contest today which includes a whole load of fun, unique (and of course eco-friendly) gadgets, gift certificates, clothes and other products from a whole range of the coolest ethical companies out there.  The value of the winnings is over $2,000 (!!), so you definitely want to check it out.

To enter the competition is super easy: all you have to do is sign up for the newsletter, or post a comment on their site, or write a blog about it.  You’ll probably want to do this anyway as Life Goggles is a valuable resource for all things green.

On top of their cool contests, Life Goggles reviews eco products and posts other very informative and helpful articles and interviews.  It’s truly a one-stop-shop in learning more on how you can go green.

Good luck, and let us know if you are a winner!

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