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!


Last week we were happy to attend San Francisco’s first annual Green Film Festival!  About a month ago the festival organizers gave us a ring and ordered custom fair trade tees from our wholesale department. We were honored and pretty excited they would choose us to make their festival tees. But we were also excited to attend the festival. Due to us always working hard at Autonomie and with so many new products coming in for Spring, we could only make it to one film!

This was a difficult choice as the festival was stocked with tons of great environmental documentaries from all over the world. Almost every film on the list was followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.  Many films were making their US or West Coast premiere, so we had a tough time choosing which film to attend. Titles included “They Came for the Gold, They Came for it All,” “In the Wake of the Flood,” and “Plato’s Cave,” just to name a few.

After some pondering, we finally decided on the film “Heavy Metal,” a submission from China which explored the issues of e-waste and documented people in China who have created their own “e-waste dismantling army.” It was going to be paired with the short “The Story of Electronics,” by the people who brought you the “The Story of Stuff.” Immediately following the film was the panel: E-Waste and Green Design. We were really looking forward to this panel, as it was going to be a discussion about the destruction caused by electronics and an exploration on ways to make the industry more sustainable.

So we hopped on the train and headed to the Embarcadero, but to our dismay, the film and panel had been cancelled. Apparently, the filmmakers were unable to make the trip from China. Luckily, one of our second choices was starting in only 15 minutes time. We decided to go see the movie “Soundtracker” with the short “The Coral Gardener.” Although initially disappointed about the cancellation of “Heavy Metal,” we were pleasantly surprised with our choice.

Before the film started, we made a pit stop to the cinema cafe, where we were delighted to find fair trade organic coffee as well as vegan cookies and vegan “sausages.” Well stocked on snacks and already in a good mood, we headed for our seats. The first film, “The Coral Gardener” was a quick eight minute short from the BBC about a passionate man working to replenish coral on the coast of Fiji. Corals are beginning to disappear from our seas due to coral bleaching caused by environmental stressors. There is a movement to grow healthy coral and re-plant them in hard hit areas.

The short was informative, inspiring, and made us want to get involved in the movement.  In fact, during the Q&A, we found out there is a whole organization: Corals For Conservation dedicated to this cause and they are always looking for volunteers. Snorkeling in tropical waters to help the Earth? We are there!  We also learned this short was made as a part of a BBC series on passionate people and may be turned into a full feature at some point. We will keep our eyes out for that!

The second, longer film: “Soundtracker” was actually a beautiful piece of filmmaking. Not only was it an interesting and largely ignored topic, but the cinematography and insight were truly a treat! The film follows Gordon Hempton, an Emmy award-winning sound recordist, as he travels through the Northwest on his search for the sounds of nature. Throughout the film you see Hempton attempt to record beautiful natural sounds, only to be interrupted by constant “noise pollution,” such as airplanes, helicopters, and cars. He points out that nature’s noise is disappearing at an alarming rate and man-made sounds are becoming the norm.

Hempton is an eccentric man, who has an obsession, much like a visual artist, to prefect sound. He seems to have made personal sacrifices and lives a fairly solitary life on his pursuit of the sound of nature. It may seem like an abstract concept and in reality it is, but Hempton has a point.  He is a very gripping person who almost turns his quest spiritual.  The film really drives home the lack of connection between humanity and the Earth. At one point in the film, he visits a large cedar tree that has been turned into a monument with the trunks of cut cedars all around it. He begins to get emotional and see it as almost a battle memorial to the fallen forest that once stood here.  To him, it is clear we have lost much of our connection as no one is “listening” and he even references the hum of electricity as “America’s mantra.”

By the end of the film, we felt connected to Hempton and  realized what a beautiful artist he really is. It also made you really, really think how little we get to hear complete natural sounds. We started to think of all the times we have had moments camping or out in the wilderness and how often we hear human noise pollution. It was definitely a different take on what is happening to our planet than other green films we have seen.

We also noticed that after the movie was complete, our ears were far more sensitive. We could hear our hands brush our hair, the sound of someone tapping their feet, and even people breathing. As we left the theater and walked through the rainy streets of San Francisco, we noticed we could hear the sounds of birds thundering over the horns, trains, and human voices. This deep film really is an abstract look on the destruction of our planet and will leave you seeing, or rather hearing nature in a different way.

We enjoyed both films immensely and certainly hope the Green Film Festival becomes an annual event in San Francisco! If you missed the festival, be sure to check out some of the films discussed above!

You may have read in the Huffington Post a few weeks ago about the newest trends in American bars, restaurants, and clubs; they are becoming greener. Thanks to website,  www.ecodrinking.com, anyone can hop on the web and search their nearby city for the most ethical way to go out and hit the town when it comes to sustainability, organic options, energy efficiency, and other green initiatives. To find the greenest bars and clubs across the country, the website uses numerous factors to establish whether or not the establishment is worthy of being deemed green.

EcoDrinking describes how there are no clear standards for an establishment to be green seeing that there are innumerable ways to make green initiatives (which is why businesses should begin to think greener!). However, it is easy to compare the establishments to each other by noting the number of green initiatives they are making. Some of the most common initiatives the establishments on EcoDrinking are making are: offering organic beverages, implementing recycling programs, adding more organic ingredients to dishes, using recycled materials, and using local ingredients. Thanks to the Huffington Post, you can check out the ” 9 “greenest” bars in U.S.

If you are looking for a good, and green, time on the west coast, you can check out Temple in San Francisco. Paul Hemming established Temple in response to his frustration with the “wasteful nature” his industry participates in. Temple has made major strides to green up their business. Some of green accomplishments include diverting 89% of their waste away from landfills! Even their kitchen grease is donated in order to create bio-diesel fuel preparation. They also have an eclectic array of artists who perform there allowing you to “stimulate your senses”.

Looking to hit the town in the Mid-West? Check out Uncommon Ground‘s two locations in Chicago’s Wrigleyville and Edgewater neighborhoods. The Edgewater location was just ranked by the Green Restaurant Association as a 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant. Uncommon Ground achieved this by using local foods, low-flow spray valves, and completing the décor with reclaimed wood. All employees wear organic cotton uniforms!

And for those of you looking to have a sustainable night out on the East Coast, look no further than Cambridge’s Bambara just across the Charles from Boston. Recycled cane fiber makes up their take-out containers and employees use washable mugs and glasses when taking quick water breaks. Styrofoam has no home at Bambara and recycled paper and soy ink are both used to create new menus whenever possible.

Having a sustainable and ethical evening is easier than you think and can be loads of fun! Next time you head out for dinner after a hard day’s work or want to catch up with old friends over drinks, head over to these establishments. Who doesn’t enjoy an ethically justified night out? By keeping these businesses prospering, we can further spread the message of sustainability to more business across the U.S.

-Derek Rogers

If you are an avid AP blog reader, you will know that our staff is made up of vegetarians and vegans.  Everyone at AP has chosen this lifestyle for a variety of reasons ranging from environmental issues, animal rights, and health. Although we often encourage the lifestyle, including posting fun recipes, we understand the lifestyle is not for everyone. That’s why we are excited about a new campaign spreading throughout the country and world: Meat Free Mondays! Meat Free Monday is an organization spearheaded by Paul McCartney and his daughters. Yes, the Paul McCartney. He began the campaign to bring awareness about the meat industry’s effect on the environment and the fact that meat consumption is  simply not sustainable, with the hopes of educating the world on how we can cut back and make changes to our environment.

So why should you give up meat on a Monday or any day for that matter? Well there are a host of reasons, however, the movement largely focuses on environmental impact. It has been shown that 18% of greenhouse gases come from meat production. This is largely from  methane and nitrous oxide, which are actually more toxic than CO2. The amount of waste emitted from large scale meat production is shocking, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization reports that livestock production generates more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry! In fact, many studies show that meat production is more harmful for our environment than driving that gas guzzler! The National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan reports that the pollution emitted to produce 1kg of beef, for us Americans that is 2.2 pounds,  is the equivalent the same amount of  carbon dioxide emitted by driving a standard car a whopping 155 miles a day! Wow, that means for one person to eat one or two days worth of meat produces the same amount of pollution for one person to drive across the entire state of Massachusetts and into New York!

In a study published by the University of Chicago, they found that if Americans reduced their meat intake by at least 20%, it would have the same same impact on our environment as a person switching from a Camry to a Prius. Americans on average consume about 8 ounces of meat daily! If Americans cut out at least one day a week of meat consumption, they could reduce their meat intake at almost 20%. It is a small impact but it would be the equivalent to changing from a gas run car to a hybrid.

This is where Meat Free Mondays come in! It is now a worldwide idea and is spreading fast.  Some cities have even begun promoting it. Recently, ever progressive San Francisco recently passed a Meat Free Mondays Resolution encouraging city restaurants to serve meatless meals on Mondays throughout the city. The resolution states that the city will “encourage restaurants, grocery stores and schools to offer a greater variety of plant-based options to improve the health of San Francisco residents and visitors, and to increase the awareness of the impact a Green Diet would be on our planet.” We think this is a great step for the city of San Francisco and hope it will influence others around the country to get on board with Meat Free Mondays! If you want to be a part the Meat Free Monday movement, check out their website or fan them on Facebook.

If you are willing to commit to at least one day a week meat free, your impact on the world would be greater than giving up your car for the day. And think how great of an influence it would have if the entire country did the same. So please, if you aren’t already vegetarian, think about refraining from meat on Mondays, weekdays, everyday or at least cutting back. Environmental issues can seem daunting and it may feel there is little you can do. But by adjusting your lifestyle just a smidgen, you can make a huge influence on the world. It is one area where you can have some control in an out of control world.

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!

Golden Gate Photo by aslakrSan Francisco, home of the Golden Gate, the Giants, Sourdough Bread, and an environmentalist’s dream! The city has been known for years as a progressive haven and for its dedication to the environmental movement. In the past few months they have certainly been living up to their name!  A few months ago they  passed the first Do NOT Mail Resolution and a few days ago they instituted the harshest recycling laws in the country. This is incredibly inspiring and exciting to see such great moves in this great city. Hopefully their moves will come as an example for the rest of the country and for their own state.

At least my junk mail is sophisticated Photo by orphumThe Do Not Mail Resolution, as we mentioned above, is the first of its kind in the country. Back in March, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution that urges the state of California to create a Do Not Mail List, similar to the Do Not Call List. This list would allow residents to sign up and stop annoying junk mail from ending up in their mailboxes. Even though this is merely a resolution, if put into action people can choose to end the annoyance of junk mail and cut down on paper use. The environmental impact of such a bill would be tremendous as the majority of Californians would likely sign up. Several other states have attempted similar resolutions only to find them fail at the urgency of advertising companies and the Post Office. For the city to pass the resolution not only makes history, but it is a small step in cutting down useless waste of paper.

At least my junk mail is sophisticated Photo by orphumAnd just last week San Francisco, took their recycling and composting laws a step further. The new bill states that one can be fined up to $1,000 for not properly separating their trash, recycling, and compost. Residents will now be given bins for all three requirements. Although the fines are meant to be an incentive to cut down on trash in landfills, some residents are annoyed at the Big Brother tactics. Although installing fines is a like a little police state, the city says that it will help them reach their zero waste to landfills goal by 2020. Currently the city diverts 72% of waste away from landfills and much of the compost is taken to the wine vineyards in Napa. Hopefully these harsher fines will help San Francisco meet their zero waste goals and also encourage other cities and states to follow in their footsteps!

San Francisco should be looked upon as an inspiration for the state of California and for every city in our nation. It is great to hear of change in the positive direction and we hope other cities will adopt their high standards soon. Its no wonder San Francisco tops the list of the Greenest Cities.

dscn05441Last month, we had a blast at Coop America’s San Francisco Green Festival! As usual, this event was amazing. 3 days chock full of excellent speakers, great friends to network with, and tons of excellent shopping. And check out these crowds…. even with tempting beautiful weather all weekend, thousands of you made it over to the Concourse Center to go green and support ethical companies like Autonomie.

This weekend, we’re psyched to head back out to the West Coast to hang out in the Villa at the Eco Gift Festival!  This Santa Monica festival’s mission is to provide an uplifting and ethical holiday experience as well as a solution to the difficult emotions, inconveniences and terrible waste associated with the holidays and holiday shopping.


We’re sure this weekend will be a hit with hundreds of captivating exhibitors, top notch musical acts like The Luminaries and Tom Freund, and inspirational speakers like keynote Arianna Huffington.

The event takes place at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Main Street THIS Friday, Saturday and Sunday December 12-14. So if you’re in the LA-area, we hope you’ll take the time to stop by and say hi.  Tickets are only $10, or $20 for the entire weekend!  We’ll be in booth 438 located in the tent just outside the Auditorium selling our sneaks, tees and bags and bringing some good old-fashioned Fair Trade lovin’ to Southern California.  Hope to see you there!

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