June is the month to celebrate the Fathers in our lives and what better way to do this than give them an awesome green gift!  Holidays are the perfect time to live by your ethics and purchase that celebrates them. The great thing is, no matter what your Dad’s interests are, you will be able to give him an eco-friendly gift he is sure to enjoy. We have put together a little list of green gifts suited for any Father below. Happy Father’s Day!

2012 Eco-Friendly Father’s Day Gift Guide

The Green Newbie: Maybe your Pops is a little late to the party and living a green lifestyle is brand new to him. Never fear! We have the perfect idea for you: a green basket! Now this isn’t just any basket, as you can fill it with green basics such as light bulbs, books on going green, and green cleaning products. An even better idea is instead of using a basket, use a recycled bin instead.

The Outdoor Man: Whether it be hiking, canoeing, or running this Dad loves the Great Outdoors. We have a couple of great suggestions for this Dad. From upcycled sleeping bags to recycled tents you can find plenty of green gear your outdoor Dad will enjoy. Another awesome gift is a National Parks Pass which is good for one year and allows your Dad entrance to any National Park in the country. He’ll love getting into any National Park all year for free and hassle free.

The Wine Lover: If you Dad is a wine connoisseur, there are plenty of wonderful organic and even Fair Trade wines to choose from. Better yet, you can find organic wine in an eco friendly bag. You could also get him a set of recycled wine glasses, some even made from old wine bottles.  Or if your Dad needs a new wine rack, you could get him a cool recycled rack or make your own, like these made from FedEx materials or bike gears.

The Beer Guy: If your Father prefers to knock a few back rather than sip some wine, he might appreciate some delicious organic and micro-brewery beer. There are plenty to choose from including Brooklyn Brewery, Bison Brewing, and Peak Organic. If he has a favorite brewery, you could buy him one of these awesome mugs made from used beer bottles with the label still on it. If you Dad likes beer and baseball, buy him one of these bottle openers made from bats used in play from his favorite team.

The Workaholic: Some Fathers just don’t know when to take a break. If your Dad loves work more than anything else, we have a couple of great gift ideas. If his laptop never leaves his side give him one of these solar powered chargers. That way he will never have to worry about his battery dying! Another fabulous idea is these great ties made from recycled cassette tape.

The Sports Guru: Many, but not all men love sports. If your Dad is one that does, check out these ethical sports balls made of all natural FSC certified rubber and Fair Trade certified.  If he is a baseball fan, see the above bottle openers mentioned under the beer section. If he has a favorite team he can own a piece of baseball history by using parts of the bat to open his beer or soda.

On March 17th people all over the country will be sporting the color green in honor of St Patrick’s Day.  It’s not just the people, as bars begin serving green drinks, shamrock shaped anything sells in stores, and even the Chicago River runs green for the day. With all this green being thrown around one would think everyone was celebrating the environment. But in all actuality St Patrick’s Day can be the complete opposite. With many disposal decorations, often plastic, that end up littered on the street eventually rest in landfills. It’s not only the decorations that are harmful but massive amounts of beef is consumed as well as harmful chemical dyes added to drinks and food.

How do you avoid using this Irish themed holiday to be wasteful and make sure you turn your St Patrick’s Day thoroughly green? It’s actually easier than you think! By using the age-old wisdom of reduce, re-use, and make responsible choices. Here are a few of our suggestions to green your St Patty’s Day.

Re-purpose Decorations: This year, if you must walk around with shamrocks on your head or decorate your office in all shades of green, consider re-purposing items around your house. You may still have plenty of green items left over from Christmas laying around or perhaps from last year. It can be a fun family activity or craft party with your friends. You may also try hitting up your local thrift stores as many of the items not sold the previous year end up in their possession.

Re-use Clothing: Dying to wear green on St Patrick’s Day? Look through your closets for already existing items that you can use for the day rather than purchasing something new to wear. A thrift, vintage shop, or Etsy trip would be a great place to find previously worn green clothing to celebrate the big day.

Go Organic: Hold the dye and choose some organic brewskis for your festivities! There are plenty to choose from including Bison Brewery and Peak Organic. For a whole rundown of organic beer and your best choices, check out our old posts. You should also consider some eco-friendly breweries such as New Belgium and Brooklyn Brewery who are both run on wind power. If you are baking cupcakes or Irish favorites make sure all your produce choices are either local or organic.

Hold the Meat: Another great way to keep your St Patty’s Day feeling green is to cut back on the meat. Many traditional Irish recipes call for meat such as colcannon, corn beef, and shepherd’s pie. Alas, do not worry, there are great vegetarian and vegan versions of every favorite St Patty’s recipe. We have a terrific vegan Irish recipes including Irish Soda Bread and Stew, as well as Irish Coffee.

Re-usable Cups: Instead of spending the day and night drinking out of that plastic solo cup, use-reusable cups.  Yes the dishes can be annoying, but in the end you will feel better about not sending a stack of plastic cups into the landfill.  Another options is to choose recyclable or compostable cups.

With two days left until Christmas, the procrastinators of the world are coming out in full force. Perhaps you were too busy to go shopping, maybe you couldn’t decide what to get, or you might have just been plain putting it off.  Last minute gifts usually means long lines, fights, crowds and all at large chain stores. There will be very few choices left and you’ll end up purchasing whatever you can, rather than a meaningful gift. We understand this position and have been in it many a year. We also understand that giving something environmentally friendly is important to many of us. Just because you procrastinated, doesn’t mean you have to skip on eco gifts. So we have put together a helpful guide on some great last-minute eco-friendly gifts. Good luck out there!

Eco-friendly Starter Kit: You’re low on time, but you want to get your loved one a gift that introduces them to using eco-friendly products. This should be a pretty fast and easy gift to put together. You can run down to your local store, Whole Foods, or even Supermarket, grab a bucket or basket and purchase some eco cleaning such as soaps, detergent, recyclable paper towels, shampoo etc. You may even be able to snag a helpful tip book at your local co-op or Whole Foods.

Travel Mugs: Disposable coffee cups are terrible for the environment, yet super convenient, as many people still use them. However, for the coffee, tea, or cocoa lovers on your list, get them a responsibly made travel mug. You should be able to find some at any store or cafe. Just be sure not to purchase any that are made of plastic. For a better treat, add some coffee or tea to their gift!

Organic Goodie Basket: Places like Whole Foods and supermarkets are open late and are chock full of organic goodies. Grab a basket and fill it with all sorts of organic items. You can do a fruit and nut basket, add some organic chocolate and crackers. Better yet, if you happen to have a Farmer’s Market in the next couple of days, purchase some fruit from local farms or some gift items like organic kettle corn.

Eco Bath Set: Another easy and quick gift for your loved ones that love to pamper themselves. You can find many eco friendly bath goodies, such as fancy soaps, bath salts, natural sponges, and of course bubble bath. Just go to the natural foods section or bath products section of most stores. Of course if you are going to a local natural foods store or even Whole Foods, you’ll likely only find eco bath items!

Organic & Local Wine, Beer, & Spirits: Most people appreciate a nice bottle of wine, a frosty bottle of beer, or a warm spirit to enjoy on Christmas Eve or day. An easy eco fix is to purchase organic versions. You have a ton of options in the wine department, as there are many wineries going organic or at least using organic grapes. Here is a small list of organic wines, but you should be able to locate many others at your local store, just be sure to read the label.  For beer, we recommend you go with your local micro-breweries, but there are also great organic beer companies such as Bison Brewery or Peak Organics.  Spirits may be a little harder to find a few days before Christmas, however, you may be able to find some of the larger organic vodkas and rums at a large liquor store. Look for Square One Vodka, Greenbar Collective, Rain Vodka, and Crusoe Rum. These gifts will definitely add a little kick to the holiday spirit!

Organic Homemade Sweets: When you just can’t think of anything to buy, make some gifts of your own, just be sure to get all organic ingredients! Many of your favorite holiday recipes can be made organic and even vegan! Everything from the cocoa to the sugar can be purchased organic and in bulk(that way you cut down on waste).  Try out some of our great organic and vegan holiday recipes or try one of your own.

Gift Cards: When in doubt, you can always purchase a gift card to an eco-friendly store or restaurant. There are plenty online stores, that you can just print or email your gift card. This gives you up until Christmas morning to purchase a gift! Try Autonomie Project, eco clothing & footwear, Greenheart, fair trade & eco gifts, and even Pangea Vegan Shop. Also, check out Pristine Planet for a whole host of eco gift cards.  If you have a local green or organic restaurant, consider stopping in and purchasing a gift certificate. For a list of Green Certified restaurants check here.

Donation Gifts: Another easy and quick online purchase, is to make a donation in your loved ones name. You can do everything from planting a tree to giving school supplies. You can even sponsor a rescued animal or adopt an endangered species. See our guide to Gifts that Keep on Giving for a great list of different donation options.

This weekend the backyard BBQ season begins! With Memorial Day just around the corner, everyone is spending the next couple of days gathering the ingredients for the delicious cookouts that are about to go down. When we think of Memorial Day Weekend, two things come to mind BBQ and beer (of course besides honoring those who have given their lives serving the country). Now, just as any good American, we love to knock a few cold ones back, especially if they are organic.

About a year ago, we did an article on why buying organic beer is so important. During our research for that article, we quickly learned that conventional beers largely use hops that have been treated with pesticides. These pesticides not only seep into the soil and groundwater surrounding the farm, but they end up in your beer bottle, only to be swallowed and ingested by you.  This doesn’t sound too appealing, especially when you are trying to get your party on.

Luckily, there is another delicious choice out there: organic beer. And the best part is there aren’t just a few choices but many! We thought in honor of our all American holiday coming in just a few days, we would discuss a few of our favorite organic beers. So here is your Autonomie Project guide to Organic Beer! 

First up on our list is the wonderful small craft beer company based in Maine, Peak Organic. This delicious brewery only uses the finest of organic hops. Their beers are USDA organic certified and they offer great flavors including basic IPAs, ales, and interesting flavors including Pomegranate Ale and Espresso Ale.

We also love Bison Brewing in Berkeley, CA. This awesome eco-friendly brewery is listed on the Top 15 Eco Friendly Breweries by USA Today. Not only is their beer organic, but they purchase carbon offsets and their packaging is made from recycled materials. They offer only a couple of options including an IPA, Chocolate Stout, and interesting single favorites such as Honey Basil Ale and Gingerbread Ale.

Going back to New England, Wolver’s Orgnic Brewing from Middlebury, Vermont provides some delicious organic brewskis.  Their yummy organic hops are actually grown right here in the US (many others use organic Hops from outside the country). Wolver’s not only provides tasty classic beers but they also have a line of organic ciders!

There are also several breweries that offer certain organic beers, but not all their beer is certified. One of our favorites is New Belgium Brewery which is worker owned and run on wind power. Although they currently offer only one organic beer, Mothership Wit Wheat Beer, according to emails we have exchanged with them, they plan to add more to their line in the near future. For other organic beers, look for North Coast Brewing Cru d’Or, Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager, and Lakefront Brewery’s Organic ESB.

For a full list of organic certified breweries and breweries who make some organic beers, check out this great list from Craft Beer. Happy Memorial Day and Cheers!!

This weekend is America’s birthday and people around the country will be celebrating in good ol’ American fashion: grilling, drinking, and blowing things up! The 4th of July is a joyous holiday spent celebrating our independence from the colonial power of England. Whether you spend the day soaking up history, being patriotic, or simply drinking and watching fireworks, this holiday can create a lot of waste. But never fear, we have compiled a quick list of helpful tips to “green” your 4th of July. However, you spend your holiday, enjoy your day and Happy Birthday America!!

How to Have An Eco-Friendly 4th:

1)Green Your Menu: Traditionally 4th of July is all about the BBQ, thus burgers and hot dogs. But there is a greener way to celebrate the day! Try and cut back on meats or turn to vegetarian options. If meat is a must try to only purchase local, sustainable, and organic types. However, there are plenty of vegan options out there including soy meats or bean burgers. For some ideas on recipes, check out our backlog. Also, purchase your veggies and fruit from local and organic venues such as Farmer’s Markets, CSAs, and Natural Foods Stores. Additionally, look into grilling with a greener grill, such as solar or hybrid models or even natural and organic charcoal.

2) Keep the Party Outdoors: The weather is warm and the natural landscape is gorgeous, so why not party outside? Avoid partying inside, as to cut down on energy waste. If you are outside, you won’t have to worry about fans, lighting, or the air conditioner. Plus you can add more to your celebration such as outdoor games like boccie ball, badminton, or croquet. Why not spend your 4th soaking up the sun, instead of hiding in the air-conditioned house?! Here in New England, we only have a few months of warm weather, so be sure and take advantage of it.  If you really enjoy soaking up that sun near water, try to stay local.  If possible consider taking public transportation, buses, or even your bike to the beach, lake or river to celebrate the day. The less you drive or closer you stay to home, the less your 4th of July carbon footprint will be!

3) A Greener Firework Display: Although fireworks are beautiful and a 4th of July tradition, the truth is they are not so eco-friendly. Gun powder, accelerants, and heavy metals are thrown into the air when fireworks explode! These chemicals create poor air quality which affects our health and the environment. Instead of using fireworks at home, try decorating with recycled paper, re-used decor, or even newspaper. Since your city will likely put on a show using conventional fireworks, propose to the city or community that they use Sekon biodegradable or Disney’s gunpowder free fireworks instead.

4) Drink Responsibly: Alright we have to admit when celebrating our nation’s birthday, Americans LOVE to drink! What is a 4th celebration without the booze? Luckily, there are all sorts of great options out there. Local micro-breweries and organic beers are a great alternative to conventional types. If you are wondering why pay more for organic beer, check out our write-up on the benefits of organic beers. Organic and vegan wines are also readily available! But if you prefer the hard stuff, almost every type of liquor from tequila to vodka are now made sustainably and organic. We have compiled several tasty cocktail recipes which include organic spirits. Be sure this holiday that you not only be responsible and leave your car at home, but also drink with earth responsibility!

5) Re-Use, Re-Use, Re-Use: We know when throwing a party, washing dishes can be a pain. However, it is far less polluting and wasteful to use re-usable settings such as plates, cups, and silverware. Paper and plastics, even the recyclable kinds, take an incredible amount of resources to make and recycle. Therefore, it is best to use the dishes you have around the house. If you don’t have enough for your party guests, consider picking some extra settings up at your local thrift store or investing in sustainably made dinnerware. If you must use paper products, be sure you purchase biodegradable items such as corn or soy.

-Gina Williams

potomac bbq July 12 2008 Photo By chadmagieraIts late spring and as Memorial Day approaches many are firing up those grills. If there is one thing Americans love to do more than drinking, it would be grilling! Serving BBQ comes with pretty much every holiday from May to September. However, most people don’t realize BBQ-ing is actually quite polluting to air quality and toxic to one’s lungs. But grilling doesn’t mean you have to skip out on your eco-friendliness. And if you aren’t sure how to keep your BBQ as green as the Spring Trees, we have put together a quick guide on how to easily green your Memorial Day or any BBQ!

Using natural wood charcoal and hickory. Photo By cledry1) Natural Charcoal and Lighting Techniques: If you are using a charcoal grill be sure to use all natural and organic charcoal that does not contain the quick lighting chemicals. You can also use  wood briquettes which are all natural and will give your food that smokey taste. Either of these choices will leave your food without the burning of coal, petroleum products, sawdust, or limestone, which are all toxic. Also, since you won’t be using quick light charcoal, it may take extra time to light these. To combat this, try lightening your natural charcoal with a chimney starter.

 

 

Day 029 - 082408 Photo By remfan2) Opt for A Clean Burning Grill: Instead of using charcoal altogether, it is much more clean to use a natural gas, propane, or the best choice, an electric grill. All three of these style grills burn clean and do not add toxins to your foods. In fact, electric grills emit 99% less carbon monoxide and 91% less carbon dioxide than charcoal!! You can find these types of grills at any hardware or home store or of course online! However, if you miss that smokey BBQ taste of charcoal and wood, we suggest you look for the Hybrid Grill. You can cook with a combination of wood, charcoal, and gas. This will still provide your food with a smoke flavor but can switch over to natural gas! 

grilled veggies Photo By massdistraction3) Cut the Meat Out: Of course one of the easiest ways is to cut the meat out of your grill. There are plenty of great vegetarian and vegan options to grill. Including all sorts of veggie and soy meats like burgers, hot dogs, and ribs, but also marinated organic veggies and fruit! For a full guide to your vegan BBQ needs, including recipes and brand suggestions check out our Vegan BBQ Tips. And if you must have some meat, please purchase organic, free range light meats such as chicken or fish. Be sure and purchase all your veggies, fruit, and if you are using meat from local organic farms. 

1554 in a Fat Tire Pint Photo By mfajardo4) Organic and Local Beers: Great food is always made better with great beer! There are a number of great organic beers out there such as Peak Organic, North Coast Brewing Company, Samuel Smith’s, and Bison Brewing. My very favorite beer is the New Belgium Brewery which is a worker-owned wind powered and sustainable brewery in Colorado. The Brooklyn Brewery is also a wind powered brewery located in Brooklyn, NY. And as always its always a great idea to buy from your local micro breweries. To find microbreweries near you check out this great guide

Recycled napkin and biodegradable fork from Native Foods in Westwood, Los Angeles Photo By greenlagirl5) Use Reusable Settings: If you are hosting your BBQ at home or in a local park, remember to use re-usable plates and silverware. There really is not reason to use disposable plastic or paper settings, as its just as easy to wash the dishes. However, if you are hosting a large shindig and you are not the dish washing type, we suggest you use biodegradable or recyclable dishes, plates, and forks. Either of these items can be found at Whole Foods or your local Natural Co-op. 

And one last final tip: Be sure to compost all your left over veggies and fruits and recycle your bottles! 

 

 

 

 

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!

This Sunday marks the most watched television event of the year: Superbowl Sunday! So as the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers face off in the warm Tampa sun, most Americans will gather around their televisions sets and indulge in snacks and beer. So is there a way to keep your Superbowl party green and vegan? Of course there is! We have put together a quick list of how to green and veganize your Superbowl Party! So sit back and enjoy your Sunday, root for your team, and keep your conscious satisfied. 

Biodegradable and Recyclable Party-ware

Most of the time when we through parties the last thing we want to deal with is washing dishes. So many people usually end up buying throw away plastic and paper silverware, plates, and napkins. Instead of going for the plastic, try out biodegradable plates, silverware, and napkins. There are many companies that make these items such as World Centric and  Nature Friendly. The eco friendly party supplies can also be found at most Whole Foods locations. Not only will this help green your Superbowl Bash, it will make cleaning up all that much easier. If you do use biodegradable supplies, be sure you compost the items rather than sending them out with the regular trash!

Vegan and Organic Snacks

Superbowl parties are usually filled with snacks like wings, pizza, and chips! But there is a way to enjoy your Sunday with healthy, organic, and vegan. Great healthy snacks to serve are organic salsa and chips, organic hummus and carrots, and organic veggies and fruit! But you can also use vegan appetizer substitute such as Health is Wealth Vegan Buffalo Wings, Health is Wealth Vegan Nuggets, Health is Wealth Vegan Egg Rolls, and Nate’s Meatless Meatballs. You can even serve several Toffuti Pizzas, Amy’s Cheese-less Pizza, or make your own! Finally you can serve some great dips and party foods. There are tons of great vegan recipes out there. Here are a few of our own: Vegan 7 Layer Bean Dip, Vegan Spinach Dip, and Vegan Potato Salad.

Green Refreshments

Watching football inevitably brings beer! There is one great company, New Belgium, which happens to be a favorite beer of AP’s! This is a worker owned co-op that makes great beers through wind power and are delivered in soy powered trucks. We suggest you try the Fat Tire or Trippel. If your guests would rather drink wine, consider serving vegan or organic wines. And finally if your loved ones choose not to drink, be sure to serve alternatives for them such as organic soda, like Blue Sky or sparkling cider

Clean Up!

After the new champion has been crowned and all the party goers have gone, the worst part of a get together starts: the dreaded clean up! Just a quick reminder to compost all left over food products and used biodegradable dishes and flatware. Also, be sure to recycle all beer bottles, soda cans, and wine bottles. You can use recycled trash bags and cleaning products. Check out Seventh Generation or Method for several of these products. Be sure your clean up is just as green as your party!

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