Here at Autonomie Project, we have made a valiant effort to support the planet and fight against Climate Change in the manufacturing of our products right down to the way we live personally.  We use organic cottons, all natural FSC certified rubber, plant based dyes in our tees and footwear. On top of this we use recycled materials for shipping and printing, as well as local wind energy and purchase only previously used furniture. We commute with public transportation, bicycles, and on foot.

Needless to say, we have made a commitment to the environment and we plan on continuing on that path. Recently, we took steps to carbon offset our shipping output.  We recently invested in Native Energy, a carbon offset program that funds a number of renewable energy projects throughout the country. Not only have they built 48 renewable energy projects, ranging from wind farms to biogas, but they encourage renewable energy to be built in Native American communities. This is really important because unfortunately, Native Americans are a vastly underrepresented and disenfranchised population within the US. The company is also largely Native American owned. Our recent investment kept a total of 17 tons of CO2 out of the air and your lungs!

Some of the amazing projects Native Energy has worked on recently include the Wewoka Biogas Project, which creates biogas via methane created by landfills and re-uses it in local brick kilns. They are also working toward wind farms in Iowa and Indiana and the NorthEast Farm Separation Project , which creates natural gas out of cow manure. The also boast a long list of previous and successful running projects including solar and hydro power! These are innovative and exciting projects and Autonomie is excited to be on board!

Native Energy is not just for businesses either. Individuals, including yourself can purchase offsets for any travel or daily energy you use. Keep up to date with Native Energy and their projects through their Twitter or Blog, they post great updates on their renewable projects as well as Climate Change news and information.

And know that every purchase you make with Autonomie is directly fighting Climate Change in every step of the process!

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If all goes as planned in the next nine years, San Francisco will be able to claim that title! As Spring allowed the much needed sun to shine down on us, the sun sparked new ideas in the minds of the City by the Bay.  About a week ago, newly appointed mayor (who was nominated to take Gavin Newsom’s vacant spot after his Lt Governor win) announced the city’s plan to become 100% Renewable Energy by 2020. The push for renewable energy is going to rely on the instillation of new solar panels throughout the city.

The announcement came during a gathering of 800 solar industry enthusiasts. Currently the city is receiving 12% of it’s energy from renewable sources, mainly from the nearby hydroelectric plant. Although 12% seems small, it actually lands San Francisco in the number two spot on Top Ten Cities For Renewable Energy, second only  to it’s less famous neighbor across the Bay, Oakland who currently uses 17% Renewable Energy.

88% may seem like a lot of ground to gain, or should we say sun, in the next nine years. However, proponents of the announcement see it as a hopeful step in the right direction. The city already offers huge incentives to residents and businesses who install solar through their GoSolarSF program.  Even former Mayor Gavin Newsom points out the progress this program has already done: “GoSolarSF has more than doubled the number of solar installations in our City and created dozens of jobs. This program is literally transforming how our homes and businesses generate and consume electricity rooftop by rooftop.

With these incentives the city hopes to increase solar energy production, as well as hydroelectric and wind power. Many people say that trying to meet such a high goal is unrealistic, however as Grist explains, the city has far exceeded their goal to recycle 75% of waste, another goal that was deemed to ambitious. As this city has the history of meeting expectations, possibly setting the bar so high this time will be a great incentive. Plus, it would catapult San Francisco back on the top of the list of Top 10 Greenest Cities, as they were pushed to number two last year by green giant Portland, OR. Here’s to being on top again!

Unless you have been living under a rock or on an outer space adventure the past few weeks, you have undoubtedly heard about the tragic oil spill off of the Gulf of Mexico. 200,000 gallons of oil continue to flow into the sea as efforts to quell the flow of oil have been unsuccessful thus far.

In addition to the tragedy of the eleven men who lost their lives as the drill rig Deepwater Horizon sank into the Gulf on April 22nd,  worries continue to multiply about the long term negative effects this immense spill will have on the environment and its many inhabitants for weeks, months and years to come.

While history has taught us that oil spills such as this one come with dire consequences for the ecosystems surrounding the area of the spill, the long term damage created by this most recent spill remains to be seen. Immediate effects are beginning to become more crystallized, as Reuters is reporting that seven dolphins and over a hundred sea turtles have washed onto shore dead as what officials are assuming is a result of the oil spill.

Environmentalist, such as Aaron Viles of the Gulf Restoration Network, are quick to criticize the lack of information being offered about the damage being done to the environment as a result of this catastrophic spill.

Viles  states, “There’s a lot of concern now about the marine impact and we’re not getting a truly transparent response from NOAA(the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Resulting criticism concerning this disaster are not limited to NOAA or other groups one likely has never heard of before, but are  also being directed at President Barack Obama and his Administration, who in recent months announced plans to expand offshore drilling efforts in the United States.

The President,  after resolving  to temporarily suspend the development of  new offshore drilling locations pending  a government safety review of the drilling process,  asserted, “Let me be clear, I continue to believe that domestic oil production is an important part of our overall strategy for energy security.” Even though this tragic oil spill highlights American unsustainable dependence on oil, it is not quite enough to move the administration to focus on weaning the country away from gas and petroleum based products.

Funnily enough -not so much in a “haha, this Garfield comic is a hoot!“ kind of way,  but in a more “Hmmm, that is an interesting coincidence” type  of way- on April 28th,  just days after the devastating Gulf spill,  the development of  the first wind farm offshore of the U.S was announced by Government officials.

This is not  to declare a massive, multi-tiered conspiracy is taking place.  The creation of this wind farm is a step in the right direction for the energy future of this country. Regardless of whether or not the timing of the announcement had anything to do with a skillful PR move in order to throw environmentalists a bone during this hugely criticized oil crisis, it still was a plan years in the making, so it is likely a happy coincidence. (She says as she reaches for the tinfoil to wrap around her over sized noggin’. I kid, I kid…or do I? DUN, DUN, DUN!)

Conspiracy theories aside, this wind farm alone will only act as a band aid on a gunshot wound, or a huge oil spill as it were. Halting offshore drilling until the oil slick clears is not enough.This tragic occurrence should not be swept under the table or downplayed.  This sinking oil rig may as well have been a huge blaring alarm clock- one that screeches endlessly and comes with a dangerous snooze button.

We can not afford any more snoozing;  putting off radical changes to the way we as a society treat the energy crisis for another 10 or 15 years because we are too lazy to think about it in the here and now. This is not a time to sleep in or to do what is easiest when we know what is right.

It is time to wake up and take action! We must roll out of bed and painfully pull ourselves into our reality. No matter what you think of driving or plastic bags, the truth is the planet simply does not contain enough oil to sustain the current culture’s lifestyle. We have to make some serious global changes in our energy, transportation, manufacturing and everyday lives. There is just no way around it and this oil spill is like a hotel wake up call to make these changes.

Sadly, like my affinity for stone-washed  jean chaps, the public at large does not appear to share in my opinion on the permanent halting of  the expansion  of offshore drilling efforts.  A recent telephone poll conducted by the Associated Press finds that American adults are unmoved by this latest tragedy in terms of their opinion of offshore drilling. A shocking 50 percent of those polled report still favoring offshore drilling, opposed to the 38 percent who disapprove.

I will be damned if I can not drive the three blocks to 7-11 for a Big Gulp, but it ain’t no skin off my back if a bunch of weirdo fish die.” – Some thirsty guy  driving a Hummer to 7-11. *(Quote may or may not be fictional.)

*It is.

Weaning ourselves off oil will not be an easy task. As a people we will need to learn to conserve energy- walk to 7-11 when that Big Gulp thirst hits you.  Heck, you can even roller blade- which, may I add, would look even cooler , if you sported some jean chaps on your stems while you bladed. Just sayin’.

As for the government, they need to take this alarm clock blaring in their ears as more than just a minor inconvenience that causes them to temporarily shelf foolish plans to expand offshore drilling  and make a real commitment to renewable energies that does not include amplifying our already gargantuan dependence on oil.

If real changes are not made the next alarm may start sounding on your shore and no amount of snooze buttons or delays are going to halt the reality that awaits us.

-Meghan Hurley

Regardless of whether or not you are an ardent fan of President Obama or among his harshest critics, you would be hard pressed to deny this man’s undeniable gifts as an orator. Last night’s State of the Union Address saw Obama doing what he does best, making an eloquent speech that not only outlined numerous policies but included a  firm scolding of both  the Democrats and Republicans seated before him. The President even squeezed in a few well-placed zingers to punctuate certain points and to take the wind out of the sails of certain naysayers,  stating, “I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.” as he addressed Environmental issues during his State of the Union Address.

Even with a peppering of comic relief, Obama’s discussing of his future approach towards clean energy left many environmentalist without a smile on their face. The State of the Environmental Union was a mixed bag at best. Here are the highlights, lowlights and “What?“ lights of the President’s speech, from an environmental perspective.

The Good:

“We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities–and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy-efficient–which supports clean energy jobs.” 

“…it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America. I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year,. And this year I am eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate.” 

President Obama smartly outlined  the importance of green energy through the lens of economic recovery. Touting Green Energy as an industry that could create jobs, and therefore an industry that should be encouraged,  Obama touches on how these changes could be implemented through tactics such as rebates to encourage energy efficiency among American Citizens. Obama’s praise of congress for passing the Clean Energy and Security Act in 2009 and gentle encouragement of both parties in the Senate to follow suit, highlights actual action that is being taken towards this environmentally responsible behavior. While the bill, which focuses on a cap and trade system wherein limits are set for greenhouse emissions, is supported by many environmentalists, it also has its fair share of critics, ranging from those who claim that the bill is not radical enough to those who believe that it is too radical. 

 I believe that at the very least, this shows that this administration is being proactive when it comes to addressing environmental issues, but what has myself and others worried is the amount of concessions that seem to be filtering into these policies under the guise of promoting bipartisan politics. Which brings us to…

The Not So Good:

“But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives” 

So far so good, I can get behind incentives and jobs and green energy, continue, Mr. President.

“And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means  making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.”

(Record screeching)… “Say what!?”, me.

(Enthusiastic applause)- Congress.

What happened to harnessing the awesome power of the wind? Nuclear power  has never been so directly addressed by President Obama as a viable option for renewable energy as it was last night.  There is much debate over the nuclear power’s qualifications as a renewable energy source, with critics pointing out that from the harnessing of uranium to the construction of nuclear power sites, that this form of energy is hardly carbon neutral. This mention coupled with the shout out to offshore drilling seem to paint a picture of a President willing to make concessions in order to encourage bipartisan participation on the creation of a economically beneficial green economy. 

Whether or not these concessions will result in an end that justifies the means remains to be seen. President Obama, in one short statement ,seems to have leaned even further towards the middle. These compromises may backfire-alienating eco-minded individuals wondering if the environment is really the best area to make compromises on and could also lead  republicans to believe that  they can make Obama bend to their insistences as fast as they can utter, “Tea Party!”

Despite the bitter sweetness of President Obama’s State of the Green Union, one can only hope that he knows what he is doing and that his gamble will pay off. Hopefully, the Green economy the President foresees will become a reality throughout the remainder of his term as Commander-in-Chief.. As he said, “The nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. American must be that nation.”  The economy and the environment are both suffering and perhaps the president is correct, their futures are intertwined and the only way either can flourish is with the help of the other. As sad as it may be, if Green energy is not profitable it will not be embraced by the majority of American citizens or its politicians. 

-Meghan Hurley

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

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

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

Fenway Park, home of the famed Red Sox, which rests in the middle of bustling Boston is a national and local attraction. The green walls of the park have come to symbolize America’s national pastime. But now the park can boast the green shade is more than symbolic.

Earlier this month, Fenway Park revealed newly installed solar panels. They have installed enough solar panels to heat a third of the park’s hot water. The solar panels were installed by one of the city’s green projects. The city of Boston and energy companies have been funding this initiative, called Solar Boston.

Boston who was rated 3rd on the Popular Science’s America’s 50 Greenest Cities, hopes to increase the city’s overall solar output by 2015. They have set a reachable goal to increase solar energy 50 fold. In 2007, Boston also became one of the Solar America Cities, an initiative to increase the national solar output by the US Department of Energy.

Solar power is a great renewable energy source, but it isn’t the only one the city of Boston is instituting . Beginning this July, NStar, electricity supplier to Boston, is offering customers the option to have half or all of their electricity supply come from wind power. For just $4 (for half) or $7 (for all) extra a month, every household can switch to a renewable energy source. That’s the cost of a lunchtime sandwich!! So, please, if you are local, consider signing up for NStar’s Green Program.

It is inspiring to see Boston, America’s oldest city and one of the largest metropolises in the country taking renewable energy to the mainstream! If you live in Boston or would like to keep updated on the city’s Green projects, check out The Green Blog hosted by the Boston Globe. Hopefully, Boston and other Green cities such as San Francisco and Portland, OR will set a new trend that will take hold over cities and towns across the nation!!

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