Thursday, September 3, 2015

Living In Style...In 200 Square Feet

Tiny homes are increasingly popular these days. Instead of going for a 4,000 square-foot megahouse, many creative and frugal people are investing in a home that's 500 square feet or smaller.

The key to a tiny home life is intrinsically rooted in environmentalism. By living in a very small space, you are forced to utilize every inch. Everything must have a purpose, and if you don't use something, you don't let it take up valuable space. Many homes are built and furnished with salvaged or repurposed materials. A smaller footprint automatically means smaller utility bills. What's not to love about that!? You can even go off the grid with solar panels on the roof.

Tiny homes come two ways - as a permanent structure, just like a regular house, or constructed on a trailer that can be pulled, just like an RV. Being able to move your tiny home provides many benefits. For people who travel often, or have a less stationary job, you can simply pack up and get on the road with your entire home behind you.

Additionally, tiny homes make great vacation places. Got some property at Toledo Bend, or False River, or wherever? Roll up with your 200 square-foot home and start relaxing!

Most homes are laid out pretty similar. There's a living space, small kitchen (with or without a small stove, and usually without an oven), toilet and shower, storage built into every nook and cranny, and most of the time, a loft bedroom, with space-saving stairs.

http://www.hgtv.com/remodel/interior-remodel/10-extreme-tiny-homes-pictures

Decorating is where you can vary wildly. Some homes have a sleek minimalist look, some have a wooden cabin feel, and some look like a salvaged junkyard, pieced together with scrap materials.


If you can't get enough of peeking at other people's tiny homes, there are TV shows and documentaries on Netflix to satisfy you: Tiny House Nation and Tiny House Hunters on HGTV, and Tiny: A Story About Living Small” and “Small Is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary.

Think tiny homes are just for wanderers out in the mountains? The movement has even hit New Orleans! Gambit recently wrote an article about tiny homes being a possible answer to skyrocketing home prices in the city. Two years ago, the Times Picayune featured a music teacher in Covington who lives in a 200 square-foot house made of mostly recycled materials.

http://www.nola.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2013/10/living_large_in_a_small_space.html

Curbed NOLA has a tag dedicated to tiny homes, and the main Curbed site has five impressive homes to drool over, along with a tag for tiny homes around the country.

My fiance and I are obsessed with different tiny home styles, and dream of one day being able to have one out in the mountains of Colorado. Bonus points for in the trees near a lake. We debate over just how many square feet we could live in (less for him, more for me, obviously.) We prefer a fixed home over a glorified RV. We love windows and a clean interior design, with space for our cats, of course!

My absolute favorite tiny home, may be on the larger end of the spectrum at 600 square feet, but is cozy and full of style. Located in Little Rock, Arkansas, the house uses the Tumbleweed Whidbey layout. Take a photo and video tour of Lyndsey's home, but don't blame me if you fall in love with it!

Check out some tiny home vendors:
More articles on the tiny home movement:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Water Rules!

Between back-to-school ads, changing clothing store inventory and football games starting up again, it would seem like fall is on its way here. And yet, the temperatures outside beg to differ. It is still hot, hot hot, and dry, dry, dry.

Back in the spring, I wrote about how to conserve water around your home, and one of the tips was to follow lawn-watering ordinances. Ordinances are found in cities all over the country, and are especially prevalent in California, which is facing one of the most extreme droughts on record.

Following our own spell of below-average rainfall, it's still important for all Lafayette Utilities System customers to continue to follow their lawn-watering ordinance until September 30. It applies to LUS residential, commercial and wholesale customers using automated watering systems and sprinklers. By following the set schedule, residents can help ensure sufficient water pressure for fighting fires.


As a refresher, LUS customers with addresses that end in an even number can use sprinklers and watering systems on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays between the midnight and 2p.m. Residents with odd-numbered addresses are permitted to water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during the same hours. You can still water by hand with a hose anytime. (TWSS?)
In addition, LUS recommends a thorough watering system-check up. This includes examining sprinkler heads for leaks, tightening irrigation hose and pipe connections, directing water spray onto landscaping instead of pavement (for the love...PLEASE don't water the street!), and choosing “water sense” irrigation products.
You can also take advantage of a rain barrel to water your lawn without having to tap into the city water supply. 

Just remember, we all need to share the city's water supply, including firefighters! Do your part and follow the watering schedule in order to conserve a valuable resource. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Better Ways to Get Rid of Pests

I always get a little excited when my friends tell me how they have been researching eco-friendly alternatives for themselves. Awhile back, my friend Liv mentioned she was looking into environmentally friendly pest control, something especially important for her now that she has a young son. 

Courtesy of Liv, these are some of the better alternatives for controlling pests at home.

http://gardenclub.homedepot.com/5-easy-eco-secrets-for-a-greener-lawn/

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is an off white talc-like powder of the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton, and it kills all bugs with exoskeletons.  When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton (such as bed bugs, ants or fleas) it compromises their waxy coating so that their innards turn into teeny tiny bug jerky, but it doesn't hurt mammals.  


If you use diatomaceous earth, it's important to remember to keep it dry. Even morning dew can make it ineffective.


Indoor and Outdoor Ants

  • A mixture of cornmeal and boric acid is an environmentally friendly solution to killing ants. Ants are attracted to cornmeal but it's not enough to kill them. Boric acid destroys ants' exoskeletons, similar to the way diatomaceous earth does. Just remember to keep boric acid away from children and pets, because it's not safe for consumption.
"Worker ants only feed on liquids. They take solid food back to the nests, where it is given to larvae. Then, the larvae convert it to liquid and feed it back to the worker ants. Straight boric acid or insecticide will kill ants, but the worker ants will eat it rather than taking it back to the nest because it is in liquid form. Making a paste ensures the poison will get to the nest. You may also lay a trail of straight cornmeal to lure the ants to the poison."
  • If you're dealing with an outdoor mound, try pouring boiling water on them. It kills the ants and destroys the mound.
  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth all over the mound.
  • Pour water with dish soap on the ants. The soap will suffocate them. 
  • Ants hate vinegar, so a 50/50 water/vinegar solution is a cheap and easy way to take them out. 
  • The citric acid in lemon juice works the same way as vinegar, except that lemon smells better to us. One part lemon juice to two parts water should work well.
WikiHow has more tips on ant alternatives. 
 

Cockroaches

First, gross. While I don't like any insects, these are by far my least favorite.
  • Diatomaceous earth is very effective at killing cockroaches.
  • Mix one part powdered (not granular) boric acid, one part white flour, one part powdered white sugar. The sugar and flour attracts the roaches, and the boric acid kills them. Sprinkle the powder in the backs of drawers and cabinets, under the refrigerator, under the stove, and so on. 
 

Silverfish

TheSoftLanding.com provides easy ways to get rid of silverfish:
  • Wrap a tall glass jar with masking tape or twine (this helps create a surface the bugs can crawl on) and then toss in some dry oatmeal or crackers to attract the silverfish.  They can crawl in, but they can’t get back out!  Check for critters in your trap, empty and repeat as needed
  • Try topping a cracker with a 1:1 mix of borax and flour or powdered sugar to lure them out of their hiding places. Borax is low on the toxic-to-humans totem pole, but do keep it out of reach of kiddos.  You could also go the convenient route and try BioCare’s pre-made spider and silverfish traps
  • Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth around floor boards and areas you see the silverfish moving around, making sure pets and children can’t get close enough inhale it.  DE is the fossilized remains of micro-organisms and hard-shelled algae.  It works by scratching the bugs exoskeletons using its microscopic shards so the bugs become dehydrated
  • Mix equal parts water, baking soda and honey, then apply it to small pieces of sturdy paper or cardboard.  This mixture will kill silverfish and is handy for tight spots behind the books on your bookshelf
  • Dilute cedar oil with water and apply to cracks and crevices with a sprayer. The oil emits a smell that is noxious to silverfish and other common household pests but pleasant to humans. Silverfish experience cedar the way humans experience ammonia (remember those awesome cedar-lined chests and closets?).  Regular application will create a barrier to re-entry
  • - See more at: http://thesoftlanding.com/5-natural-ways-get-rid-silverfish/#sthash.Q49Qg6AQ.O6GfEWvz.dpuf
  • Wrap a tall glass jar with masking tape or twine (this helps create a surface the bugs can crawl on) and then toss in some dry oatmeal or crackers to attract the silverfish.  They can crawl in, but they can’t get back out!  Check for critters in your trap, empty and repeat as needed
  • Try topping a cracker with a 1:1 mix of borax and flour or powdered sugar to lure them out of their hiding places. Borax is low on the toxic-to-humans totem pole, but do keep it out of reach of kiddos.  You could also go the convenient route and try BioCare’s pre-made spider and silverfish traps
  • Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth around floor boards and areas you see the silverfish moving around, making sure pets and children can’t get close enough inhale it.  DE is the fossilized remains of micro-organisms and hard-shelled algae.  It works by scratching the bugs exoskeletons using its microscopic shards so the bugs become dehydrated
  • Mix equal parts water, baking soda and honey, then apply it to small pieces of sturdy paper or cardboard.  This mixture will kill silverfish and is handy for tight spots behind the books on your bookshelf
  • Dilute cedar oil with water and apply to cracks and crevices with a sprayer. The oil emits a smell that is noxious to silverfish and other common household pests but pleasant to humans. Silverfish experience cedar the way humans experience ammonia (remember those awesome cedar-lined chests and closets?).  Regular application will create a barrier to re-entry
  • - See more at: http://thesoftlanding.com/5-natural-ways-get-rid-silverfish/#sthash.Q49Qg6AQ.O6GfEWvz.dpuf
  • Wrap a tall glass jar with masking tape or twine (this helps create a surface the bugs can crawl on) and then toss in some dry oatmeal or crackers to attract the silverfish.  They can crawl in, but they can’t get back out!  Check for critters in your trap, empty and repeat as needed
  • Try topping a cracker with a 1:1 mix of borax and flour or powdered sugar to lure them out of their hiding places. Borax is low on the toxic-to-humans totem pole, but do keep it out of reach of kiddos.  You could also go the convenient route and try BioCare’s pre-made spider and silverfish traps
  • Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth around floor boards and areas you see the silverfish moving around, making sure pets and children can’t get close enough inhale it.  DE is the fossilized remains of micro-organisms and hard-shelled algae.  It works by scratching the bugs exoskeletons using its microscopic shards so the bugs become dehydrated
  • Mix equal parts water, baking soda and honey, then apply it to small pieces of sturdy paper or cardboard.  This mixture will kill silverfish and is handy for tight spots behind the books on your bookshelf
  • Dilute cedar oil with water and apply to cracks and crevices with a sprayer. The oil emits a smell that is noxious to silverfish and other common household pests but pleasant to humans. Silverfish experience cedar the way humans experience ammonia (remember those awesome cedar-lined chests and closets?).  Regular application will create a barrier to re-entry
  • - See more at: http://thesoftlanding.com/5-natural-ways-get-rid-silverfish/#sthash.Q49Qg6AQ.O6GfEWvz.dpuf
    • Try topping a cracker with a 1:1 mix of borax and flour or powdered sugar to lure them out of their hiding places.
    • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around floorboards and areas you see the silverfish moving around, making sure pets and children can’t get close enough inhale i.
    • Mix equal parts water, baking soda and honey, then apply it to small pieces of sturdy paper or cardboard. This mixture will kill silverfish and is handy for tight spots behind the books on your bookshelf.
    • Dilute cedar oil with water and apply to cracks and crevices with a sprayer. The oil emits a smell that is noxious to silverfish and other common household pests but pleasant to humans. Silverfish experience cedar the way humans experience ammonia (remember those awesome cedar-lined chests and closets?). Regular application will create a barrier to reentry.
    • The smell of rosemary and cloves is a huge deterrent for silverfish.

    Pantry Moths

    • Bay leaves keep moths away from your food. 
    • Scrubbing your shelves and walls with a water/vinegar mixture helps to repel moths from coming back.
     
    And now that I have the heebie jeebies, I am going to go take a few showers.
     
    Thanks, Liv, for the awesome research!
     
    Have you tried any of these eco-friendly methods when it comes to household pests?

    Friday, August 21, 2015

    LOVE for LAFFY Latest News

    Are you keeping up with LOVE for LAFFY developments? We're just under two weeks away from the big concert, I mean concertS! Because we are adding so many bands, the show is expanding to the brand-new Warehouse 535 in Freetown. Located right by the railroad tracks on Garfield St., the concert and event venue looks incredible, and I cannot wait to check it out!



    New to the lineup and joining headliner Social Circle, we've got:
    • Gabe Broussard
    • Alex Smith
    • Hunter DeBlanc
    • Ray Boudreaux
    • Pine Leaf Boys
    • The Vettes
    More tickets will be released very soon on Eventbrite, so get on the waitlist now to get priority tickets.

    What else are you doing on a Wednesday night? Come on out with your friends, listen to the best of Lafayette music and support a great cause!

    Sunday, August 16, 2015

    Using Essential Oils


    Last year around this time, I wrote about my transition to more natural remedies. From drinking more water, to green tea instead of coffee, to arnica for healing bruises, I wanted to focus on taking care of myself without medicine. I've taken up yoga and quickly become obsessed.

    After returning from our Hawaii vacation last summer, I found myself having more trouble than usual falling asleep. It happened more than a few times where I resorted to catching up on Pretty Little Liars OnDemand to help me fall asleep, or to keep me occupied when I'd be wide awake at 5am.

    Around the same time, one of my sweet friends, photographer, Hanson fan, mom of five, current Nashvillian Laura, started sharing her journey of using essential oils with her family. She shared more than once how doTERRA's Serenity blend helped her children and her 'turn off' at night and sleep better. I started thinking about trying essential oils myself.


    When Laura came home to visit and organized a class on essential oils, I was curious enough to check it out. Admittedly, I didn't do much research on different brands, but I did learn about the levels of quality in oils. If I was going to try any, I wanted to make sure they were certified therapeutic grade.

    One thing Laura said resonated with me and helped convince me to try using essential oils. One bottle of essential oil can last over a year, in that you won't need to use so many drops to get your desired result, and that it won't expire quickly. Therefore, the cost per use is significantly less than using over the counter medications or remedies.

    There is literally an oil or blend for almost every ailment or issue you can think of, from mental to physical. I started with my own bottle of Serenity, blended with lavender, sweet marjoram, roman chamomile, ylang ylang, and hawaiian sandalwood, and noticed I was falling asleep a bit easier within a few nights. The smell quickly started to soothe me instantly and I used it each night, especially when I could feel myself still wound up from the day.


    Since then, I've gotten other blends and single oils; my favorite being Balance to calm my anxiety, Elevation for the rougher days and for the cheerful smell, InTune for focus at work (accompanied by a good Explosions in the Sky mix in my earbuds), and white fir for the woodsy smell.

    Different essential oils work in different ways. Most of them can simply be rubbed onto different pressure points, from the bottom of your feet to the back of your neck, behind your ears, or on your chest. Others can be diluted in water for drinking. I can't drink my morning green tea without a drop or two of OnGuard (a blend of wild orange, clove bud, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary) or lemon.


    And others work well diffused into the room. Once I got a small diffuser, I started using it every night to give the whole room a calming effect. Sometimes, I would go a little crazy and make essential oil cocktails. A couple drops of Serenity, a drop of ylang ylang, a drop or two of white fir, or a drop of Elevation. Unfortunately, I haven't used it much lately, since my sweet (asshole) Milo chewed the power cord for it and prevented me from keeping it close to my side of the bed.


    I've also experimented with making my own reed diffusers for my cubicle. One repurposed jar, some small reeds, some almond oil, and some drops of essential oil, and you'll notice it within minutes! If you want to make your own as well, look for small jars around your house. The one above held vitamins before, and I've also used a spice jar and a tiny jar from bath oil. They all work great, though the smaller the neck, the better.


    My latest obsession is my essential oil necklace from Mimosa by ME. Baton Rouge-based and a staple vendor at Festival International, Madeline creates these necklaces from terra cotta and porcelain. I chose one made of terra cotta for its ability to absorb the oil and emit a wonderful scent all day. I love being able to have my oil nearby without rubbing it on my skin.

    While I don't believe essential oils work as magically as some claim (although I wish they did), I have no doubt that they do work. In the past year, I have noticed that I take Unisom, melatonin and ibuprofen much less often. I've had a few colds, but the OnGuard has helped when I feel one coming on. And the scents are just soothing and pleasant.

    Overall, I'm happy with oils as part of my transition to a more natural lifestyle. I love my small collection, and keep some in a keychain case for when I'm on the go. And as my bottles run out, I can save and reuse them!



    This post not sponsored!

    Thursday, August 13, 2015

    How Do I: Get Rid of These Batteries?

    The topic of recycling batteries may not necessarily be exciting, but it's certainly important! There are many ways to get rid of batteries responsibly, without having to add them to a landfill pile.

    Why should you avoid throwing dead batteries in the trash? Electronics and electrical components contain heavy metals and toxic chemicals that can leak out, seep into the ground or water sources, and cause pollution and illness. Polluted water already causes enough problems - why would you want to add to the issues?


    So, how to recycle batteries.

    Your local Best Buy accepts old rechargeable batteries in their kiosks at the front of the store. In Louisiana specifically, you can drop off rechargeable batteries, laptop batteries, battery backups and cell phone batteries. They do not accept single-use batteries, rechargeable batteries more than 11 pounds, car batteries and lithium ion batteries. Check Best Buy's recycling page for information on your own state.

    RecycleNation provides a directory guiding you where to recycle many different products, including single-use and lithium ion batteries. A quick search for single-use battery recycling near my zip code tells me that Radio Shack accepts them. A word of advice: Call the place where you want to go and confirm they do accept the items for recycling, BEFORE you drive out there. (Save you some gas!)

    The Louisiana DEQ website breaks down e-cycling dropoff locations by city, and their definition of electronics covers rechargeable batteries.

    Call2Recycle is a rechargeable battery and cell phone collection program that has collection sites all over the country. A search around Lafayette tells me there are collection sites at Home Depot, Lowes, Sears and Office Depot.

    Some household e-waste and chemical collection days in cities will accept single-use batteries; just check with your city before your bring your stash.

    Battery Solutions is a company that recycles a wide assortment of battery types, and they have instructions on how you can recycle with them.

    Energizer has a new EcoAdvanced battery that contains 4% recycled batteries. Their claim is that the eco batteries require less mining of virgin material and reduce the amount of batteries consumers need to power their devices resulting in less waste.

    http://www.energizer.com/docs/default-source/pdf/energizer-ecoadvanced-infographic-final.pdf 


    Rethink Recycling and Duracell both maintain that it's safe to throw away single-use batteries manufactured after 1993, when the Lead Battery Recycling Incentives Act amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act. As Duracell says, they discontinued the use of mercury as well in 1993. However, it's better to err on the safe side, and dispose of batteries without dumping them in a landfill. California even requires that batteries be recycled.

    Larger or specialty batteries may require separate treatment. Auto batteries should be recycled by the store that changes it for you; if you change your own battery, contact an auto parts store to see if they can recycle it for you.

    Looking into how to recycle old cell phones and their batteries? Check out this Eco Cajun blog post!

    Read up on general electronics recycling in another blog post.

    Monday, August 10, 2015

    Back to School... Back to Realityyy

    If you hear a giant, collective groan this week, it's probably the thousands of students (and teachers) heading back to school. If you hear another giant, collective groan, it's probably the rest of us remembering how crappy school-year commutes are.

    Oh well, we can't avoid the inevitable! The new school year is upon us, and just in case you haven't stocked up on school supplies yet, now is the time to go green for school!

    https://olioboard.com/items/263680-kids-bags-and-backpacks-kids-eco-friendly-recycle-symbol-backpack-recycle-eco-backpack

    Save some money and a lot of resources by reusing where possible and buying environmentally friendly supplies - from paper, pencils/pens and binders to backpacks, lunchtime supplies and art supplies.


    PAPER, NOTEBOOKS, FOLDERS AND BINDERS

    Start your supply be reusing what you may already have! If you've got some clean paper or folders in good condition left over from last year, use them again instead of stashing away to buy new.

    When shopping for looseleaf, notebooks or computer paper, choose recycled! Recycled notebooks and reams of computer paper are very common and easy-to-find.

    Expert tip: There are two kinds of recycled content: 'pre-consumer' means the material was recycled within the plant (from scraps) before going out for retail purchase, and 'post-consumer' means the material was previously used by a consumer and deposited at a recycling facility, then used by the factory.

    Need a traditional composition book for class? Be unique with a decomposition book! Made of recycled paper, printed with soy ink and not processed with chlorine, decomposition books are available in stores as well as online.

    Teach your children to make the best use out of their paper supply. Get them in the habit of taking notes using both sides of the paper and recycling any paper they don't need anymore.

    As a parent, recycle any take-home papers you don't need to keep or return.

    Once you have the recycled paper, it's important to have something eco-friendly to store it in. Naked Binders are one brand of eco-friendly binders; made of FSC-certified recycled cardboard. Earth Binders are another brand made of recycled materials, and they sell pocket folders and index tabs.

    Oxford makes EarthWise pocket folders as well, made with 100% post-consumer recycled fiber. AND they come in more colors than just brown!


    WRITING

    Pens and pencils made with recycled materials are becoming increasingly available. Some pencils are made of recycled newspaper and some are made with reforested wood.

    Many pens are made with recycled and/or biodegradable materials. Papermate sells pens made of recycled and biodegradable materials. Their biodegradable pens actually write really well. They also partner with TerraCycle to upcycle pens you collect and donate. Pilot makes an ink pen made from water and soft drink bottles.

    If your children are using ink pens (whether recycled or not), teach them to conserve ink by always recapping or retracting the pen when they aren't writing with it.

    BACKPACKS

    Backpacks are available in recycled PET (soft drink bottles). They may be available in more specialty-type shops, but are definitely available online. Prices vary, depending on the backpack. Recycled backpacks are as strong as regular backpacks as well.

    Timbuk2 uses recycled PET fabric and even recycled foam padding left over from other products in their backpacks.
     
    If your child is allowed to bring a lunch to school, do it the green way! Skip the paper bags in favor of insulated reusable lunch bags, stainless steel cases or bento box-type kits, put drinks in a reusable mug instead of single-use juice boxes, and place sandwiches and snacks in reusable bags.

    ARTS & CRAFTS

    Crayons, sidewalk chalk, modeling clay, paint, glue and colored pencils all come in nontoxic alternatives. Eco Kids is a company dedicated to providing eco-friendly, nontoxic art supplies. Stubby Pencil Studio sells soy-based crayons, drawing books made from recycled paper and scissors made with recycled plastics.



    Because school supplies cover so many products, there are tons of options for anything you could want or need to buy. The brands mentioned are by far not the only ones who sell sustainable and environmentally friendly school and office supplies. When you're shopping for supplies, take the time to do a little research beforehand so you can figure out which brands to look for and where to find them. You'd be surprised how many options are available at your local office supply store.

    And don't forget to take the opportunity to educate your children on how their supplies help the planet and why being eco-friendly is so important for planet and for people. If children make sustainability a habit at a younger age, they're much more likely to advocate for sustainability as they grow up!

    eco cajun [the earth just wants to be loved ba-you!]. All posts, content, graphics and photographs copyright 2009- Eco Cajun, unless otherwise credited. BLOG DESIGN BY Blogdessert.