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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How to Geaux Green at Festival International

Lafayette is feeling a little more electric this week, because Festival International is just one short day away from kicking off! It's been a tough year for organizers, from trouble securing sponsors to having to cut one stage, so now it's time to come out in full force and show our support for Lafayette's keynote annual event (at least in my opinion!)

Make plans to come out, check out some bands, visit the vendor booths, eat a lot of food, and knock back a few drinks.

And when you do, be sure to do it all responsibly and sustainably. It's possible to reduce, reuse and recycle to leave a positive impact on Festival.

First, let's all thank the many workers and volunteers who clean up all of the Festival trash and recycling every year. It is not a fun or glamorous job, but it has a tremendous positive impact on our local environment, and keeps a lot of trash out of Bayou Vermilion.

Read my column in the Times of Acadiana on going green at Festival!

Packing the Essentials

If you plan on spending more than just a couple hours downtown, you're probably going to want to pack a backpack (unless you're one of those people who can spend an entire day needing only your cell phone and Chapstick, and if so, teach me your ways).

For the past few years, my husband and I have worked on perfecting our Festival backpacks, filled with anything we could need each of the days, especially during the weekend. If you plan to spend a good amount of time at Festival, the key is to pack reusable and strategic items.

  • Stay hydrated with a full reusable water bottle or Camelbak.
  • The usual weather essentials: sunscreen (and lots of it), sunglasses, hat, a portable fan (this year a new addition to our backpacks are cell phone-powered fans...I'm nerdily excited to use it!), and a rain jacket or poncho - leave the umbrellas at home and out of the crowds.
  • Pack a compact cloth shopping bag for your Festival finds.
  • Pack a to-go dining set with a fork, spoon, straw, and cloth napkin. If you can't avoid plastic utensils from food vendors, and you most likely won't be able to avoid them all weekend, just rinse and reuse them.
  • Official Festival app downloaded on your phone. (Of note, there are three LUS Fiber Wifi hotspots at JD Bank Pavillon de Cuisine, Scene LUS, and Scene TV5Monde.)
  • Portable backup cell phone charger.
  • A small towel can come in handy during extreme sun or rainy periods and work better than paper napkins.
  • Ziploc bag or waterproof case for your cell phone in case of rain.

Once you’ve got the perfect bag packed, you’ll need to figure out how to get downtown.


My personal favorite method is to skip the traffic and parking by riding your bicycle downtown. You get some exercise, fresh air, emissions-free traveling, and this year you get your own lane on Congress Street right on into Festival. Don’t forget your bike lock and a key. Make sure you lock your bike away from walkways or heavily trafficked area.

If bicycling isn't your thing, your group is too large, or you live too far, go for the free official Festival International shuttle to and from Cajun Field, which runs every 15 minutes. Shuttles drop off at Lee and Jefferson, and at Garfield and Buchanan. Check the Festival website or app for shuttle hours.

Carpool with family or friends instead of driving separately.

Sustainability at Festival

When you’re at Festival, try to reduce as much waste as you can.

Cut down on paper and use the Festival app to refer to band schedules and stage information instead of grabbing a handful of paper guides that will either end up at the bottom of your backpack, spilled on or left-behind.

While most drink vendors can't fill up the reusable bottle that you packed, those souvenir Festival cups are totally recyclable! Just save your cups to reuse at home or work. In 2015, I learned that New Orleans Daiquiris was selling a reusable daiquiri cup that would allow you to get refills for a small discount (if I remember correctly). I used it for that weekend, then brought it back in 2016 and reused it all weekend. You can bet that cup is getting packed again this year!

Don't forget to use your cloth napkin and utensils. Although many food vendors use styrofoam products, you can still reduce your trash by skipping plastic utensils and paper napkins. Don't be afraid to say you don't want a utensil when ordering your food.

The Scoop on Recycling

Here’s what’s accepted in recycling bins:
  • Aluminum cans
  • Plastic drink cups
  • Plastic drink bottles
  • Dry paper
  • Straws

Here’s what’s NOT accepted in Festival recycling bins:

  • Styrofoam
  • Wet paper
  • Plastic utensils
  • Napkins
  • Anything with grease
  • Food
  • Any paper or cardboard contaminated with food remnants

Leave the glass at home. It's super dangerous for all the sandal-clad feet!



When you’re shopping, carry your purchases in a cloth bag. Stop by the official merchandise tent to get a cloth bag if you don't have one, and use it for all of your shopping. For the second year, Project Front Yard and CGI will be providing cloth bags for you to use instead of plastic.

Bring back your Project Front Yard bag from last year, or pick one up this year and reuse it when you purchase Festival merch, and get 5% off your purchase.

Photo via Festival International

Support the Artists and Vendors

Many vendors sell green products, whether they use recycled or repurposed materials, source local materials or make their wares by hand. Support these vendors and show them you support sustainability! There are some truly great recycled things to find, and they are beautifully unique. I've found some of my all-time favorite jewelry at Festival International over the past few years, and I love meeting the artists who creatively repurpose and recycle.

This year, you can also purchase eco-friendly Festival aprons that are made from recycled material at the merchandise tents.


Help make Festival greener by volunteering for the recycling crew. Visit the Festival website to sign up for a shift.

Bayou Vermilion District's Greg Guidroz on recycling duty in 2016

Or, join the Project Front Yard trash mob on the Saturday afternoon and donate an hour of your afternoon to join others in cleaning up trash around Festival grounds. Keep up with Project Front Yard on Facebook for the most current updates on the event.

Festival International 2016 Project Front Yard Trash Mob participants, via Project Front Yard

If You Don't Do Anything Else I Suggest, Do This

No matter what, remember that the ground is not where your trash belongs! There will be approximately 300 dedicated recycling bins located all over downtown, so recycle everything that’s acceptable, and throw your other trash in one of the hundreds of trash cans.

There’s no excuse for littering.

Geaux Green and Happy Festival, y’all!

Visit Festival International:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday, April 21, 2017

Photo Friday | Earth Day

With tomorrow being Earth Day, I'm actually having a bit more trouble deciding on what to feature for today's Photo Friday. There are so many aspects of environmentalism and so many niches that I could easily share 30 photos to encompass the Earth Day spirit!

From litter cleanups to litter reduction and education, to zero-waste living, to sustainable and ethical style, to secondhand shopping, to energy efficiency and alternative power, to minimalism, to going off-grid, to nature preservation, to recycling, to repurposing, to upcycling...there are so many areas you can choose to focus on.

And as I always try to reiterate here on the blog, start with one and make some habit changes. Take small steps and get bigger as you go. I didn't get where I am today in a short amount of time. I'm still learning new habits and making changes at home.

But all of the greener habits make a difference. They matter. We're the Hustle Gang (HT to that littered clothing tag above for my new phrase!)

These two photos are from last Saturday's Earth Day Preamble, which you may have seen on my Instagram (and soon will see on Facebook!). Volunteers kicked off the event with a litter cleanup in Downtown Lafayette, which was expected to be fruitful the morning after a night out at bars.

My friends Simon, Skyra and I tackled a nearby parking lot that had a lot of litter strewn about, and we came across the above shrub. While it may look nice from this distance, it was actually chock full of liquor bottles, beer bottles, a plastic bag filled with unidentified objects, chip bags, Styrofoam cups and go cups. We sure had a hell of a time fishing items out from between the twisted branches, but we were determined! The three of us probably filled up almost two bags just from this one spot.

Earth Day is about celebrating Earth as the resource it is. Everything we have comes from this Earth, and everything on this Earth is not just for us, but for the generations that came before us and will come after us too. Let's respect and protect this one planet that we have! We don't get any do-overs.

How do you plan to celebrate Earth Day this weekend? I'm very much looking forward to a few local events - check out Eco Cajun on Facebook for a roundup everything happening around Louisiana. I'm especially looking forward to Bayou Vermilion District's Earth Day Festival on Sunday, where I can combine my treehugger and yogi sides with my friend Erin's first yoga class since becoming teacher certified in India!

And come back next week for my annual Guide to a Green Festival. Don't forget to visit yesterday's post on Sustainable Festival Style for your chance to win a bottle of Native Polish.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sustainable Festival Style (+ a giveaway!)

Festival season is in full swing here in Louisiana, and we're one week out from Festival International in Lafayette and the first weekend of Jazz Fest in New Orleans.

Festival style, especially around the country, has become synonymous with girls in flower crowns and boho everything. I personally like to go for cool, colorful and comfortable when putting together outfits for our weekend at Festival International, and this year will be no exception. And yes, I'm already mentally putting together outfits, and just may be eager enough to take pictures of the complete outfit plans.

This is a perfect opportunity to really focus on my 2017 sustainable fashion goals, and I plan to make eco-fashion the key to my looks for the weekend. Although I don't typically buy a lot of new clothing each year, the pieces I have bought this year are either made of sustainable materials or are secondhand.

Next week, I'll be sharing my annual Guide to a Green Festival to kick off Festival International week, but today, let's focus on sustainable festival looks!

Spoiler Alert

There's a giveaway at the bottom of this post, if you insist on skipping the rest of the post content. 😉Scroll down to get the details and to enter!


Backpacks are the key to comfort and efficiently carrying around everything you'll need to properly spend full days at festivals. (I'll talk about the best eco supplies next week!) A few years ago, I picked up this Baggu backpack, which is made of recycled cotton. It's extremely durable, comfortable and spacious, so it's perfect for cramming all of my goods. For the cost-conscious, check thrift stores or secondhand shops for a backpack.


Secondhand reigns supreme when it comes to festival time. You can find unique pieces and save money at the same time!

The blue maxi dress below was secondhand from Plato's Closet for an amazing price, the necklace was locally made and purchased at a local shop, the earrings are my grandmother's, and my TOMS sunglasses purchase helped someone in need receive care in the form of prescription glasses, medical treatment and/or sight-saving surgery.

One of the tops I'm most excited to wear for Festival International this year is this navy and white striped linen tank top from sustainable brand Amour Vert. The company uses responsible fabrics, nontoxic dyes, and American manufacturing.

The red top below is made of an organic cotton and modal blend, and the white and navy striped modal and spandex top is very possibly the softest piece of clothing I own. Modal is engineered from fast growing and renewable beech trees.


Sustainable sunglasses are becoming more popular, especially brands following the TOMS model of giving back with each purchase. Sustainably Chic featured the brand Pala recently, who gives back to help those in need, along with providing a recycled glasses case with each pair.

Blue Planet Eyewear uses recycled plastic, metal, wood and bamboo in their sunglasses and eyeglasses.

Eco Warrior Princess has a roundup of other eco-friendly eye wear companies.


Sustainable jewelry and accessories are pretty easy to come by these days, and if you don't have any pieces now, you may find something your style at Festival! Look for pieces made locally, with recycled metal, or that are vintage.

This necklace from Adorn & Conquer was made in New Orleans with recycled metal and is still one of my favorites.

I've worn my Pimelia earrings (a prize from a Sustainably Chic contest!) SO. MANY. TIMES since I got them in the mail. Her pieces are made with sustainably harvested birch wood and the lasercutting and design processes are waste-conscious.


Don't forget your footwear as well. Look for secondhand or vintage shoes and sandals, or browse for ones made with sustainable or vegan materials. Once again, check out Sustainably Chic's shoe roundup for a starting point on brands.


Another one of my favorite things about sustainable Festival style is the ability to let my hair run natural. My very thick hair is naturally curly/wavy, so when I'm going to be spending hours outside in the sun (and sometimes rain and always humidity), I don't bother with my flat iron. Instead, I save a lot of time and some electricity by air drying my hair and letting the natural waves do their thing.


Keep the makeup light, and use chemical-free brands, which is better for your skin and health in the long run! In my wedding post series from last year, I talk more about the brands I've switched to and why they're more natural.

Nails (+ a giveaway!)

Continue the eco-friendly flair on your nails by using a chemical-free, vegan-friendly nail polish. So many conventional nail polish formulas include dozens of chemicals, so alternative brands formulate their polish without formaldehyde, toulene, DBP, formaldehyde resin and camphor.

Your nails are a great canvas to show off your personality, so why not take care of your nails and your long-term health with that manicure?

Last year, I discovered the New Orleans-based brand Native Polish, who formulates their line of polish without formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, camphor, DBP, xylenes and parabens. The colors are all vegan-friendly and have unique New Orleans culture names (I'm currently wearing Spicy or Mild on my toes, and I wore Ladies Who Lunch for our engagement party.)

Native Polish is available in retailers throughout New Orleans and online.

In honor of Festival season, I'm working with the awesome ladies behind Native Polish, Allison and Julie, to bring you a giveaway! Today through 5 p.m. (central time) on Tuesday, April 25, enter to win a free bottle of Blues Breakdown! I'll draw a winner Tuesday evening. This gorgeous shade of deep blue is sure to bring out your true Festival style.

Photo via Native Polish

Enter by leaving a comment on this blog post telling me what your must-have festival fashion element is. Then follow myself (@ecocajun) and Native Polish (@nativepolish) on Instagram. You must verify all of your entries in the box below in order to be qualified. We WILL be checking to see if you follow us on Instagram!

Photo via Native Polish

Photo via Native Polish

Native Polish giveaway

Good luck, and let's get ready for Festival season!
Eco Cajun | The Earth Just Wants To Be Loved Ba-You! All posts, content, graphics and photographs copyright 2009- 2016 Eco Cajun, unless otherwise credited. BLOG DESIGN BY Labinastudio.