greener festivals

This past weekend was Lafayette's biggest festival, Festival International.

Now, Lafayette is not the most eco-forward city around, so I wasn't expecting anything from the Festival. But next to every trash can in the area was a cardboard box dedicated to recycling.
And people did actually use the bins. Lots of people in a small area for one weekend - that's the potential for a lot of waste. And these bins went a long way to reducing that waste.

Turning to another festival (one that I long to go to one day), Austin City Limits has an entire eco-program in the works, the Rock & Recycle. Basically, you participate by doing something on the green list (such as riding the free shuttle, riding your bike or purchasing carbon offsets) and you receive stamps, then get entered to win a hybrid car. It's a great idea to bring some environmental awareness to a huge music festival. Plus, I'm in love with the guitar recycling symbol.


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plastic bags

I came across a slideshow about the dangers and negative effects of plastic bags that I think is extremely worthwhile. It is from the Pocono Record and makes you realize what happens to plastic bags after they carry your milk and frozen pizza home once.

Reviewing the slide show makes me feel renewed in my fight against plastic bags and store cashiers who make sure I notice I'm interrupting their pattern. It can annoy me but it won't stop me.

Cloth bags, unite!
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10 ways to save the planet

I was sent this link last week on Earth Day and thought it was a change of pace from the standard group of "How to go green" tips.


1. ELIMINATE NUCLEAR WEAPONS
2. STABILIZE THE BOTTOM BILLION
3. CREATE A GLOBALLY TRANSPARENT SOCIETY
4. BE PREPARED, GLOBALLY
5. EMPOWER WOMEN
6. ENABLE A FUTURE FORWARD DIET
7. DOCUMENT ALL LIFE
8. NEGOTIATE AN EFFECTIVE CLIMATE TREATY
9. BUILD BRIGHT GREEN CITIES
10. BUILD NO NEW HIGHWAYS


The link goes into detail on each point. So, there aren't easy solutions to these points, but they do present something to think about.


I was a bit curious on why empowering women was a way to save the world, and it says that "by giving women equal rights we also help create a more sustainable world. Research shows that women who have access to education and rights over their own bodies choose to have fewer children, who they can give more to. Overpopulation is a serious issue, with huge implications for problems like climate change."


While there are many reasons I choose to stay away from motherhood, this is one that kind of surprises me. I think I harp enough on it without bringing "I'm saving the planet" into the mix. But it's a good point - overpopulation does exhaust the planet of its resources.

The tip about a future-forward diet is also timely. "We can greatly decrease our environmental and social footprints by eating locally, organically and mostly meat and dairy free (according to the U.N. report Livestock’s Long Shadow, livestock produce more greenhouse gases than all of the world's transport combined)." My post on vegetarianism is as yet unwritten, but one of these days it'll come around. But anyway, with all of this swine flu business going around, it again brings to the surface how animals are treated in order to get meat meant for consumption.

The list is definitely a thought-provoking one, so please check it out.
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beyond the product

When I find great green products while out shopping, I like to mention them here as a way of showing there are green options to just about anything.


Over the weekend I had to buy some baking sheets so I can actually bake cookies in my apartment. I was at Wal-Mart (sigh) looking at their selection. I took notice of the sheets by NordicWare and made the decision to buy them over the Wal-Mart brand, even though they were more expensive.


What really sold me on the baking sheets was not just the natural aluminum, but that the company practices sustainable methods. They focus not just on green products, but green production also. They have won green awards, use Energy Star appliances in their facility, recycle scrap metal, require distribution trucks to not idle at the dock and reuse whatever material they can. They've been doing so for years, which shows they have been committed and don't just flaunt green products because it's now popular.

And I'm happy that companies like these are able to sell their products in mainstream stores. It's becoming easier now to support both green products and green companies. I need to do some research and find other companies that have green practices. And since it doesn't look like I'll stop shopping anytime soon, at least I can be green while doing so.
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still working

I recently wrote on my personal blog about how in the past week I bought physical CDs for the first time in awhile. I normally download music these days, but just wanted something tangible lately.

After relentless harassment from a coworker that included points about downloading music being greener than buying CDs, I watched the G Word on Planet Green (woohoo, digital channels!) tonight. The subject? Downloading music being better for the environment than CDs, because CDs don't biodegrade. But the story that followed was about a company that actually turns old CDs into CD cases. Here's where I would link to the company, but I cannot find anything on Planet Green's website and I don't remember the name. I'm terrible. A search of the site did turn up Greendisk, which does take all sorts of technological waste and recycles it.

At least years from now my Silversun Pickups and Tinted Windows CDs can find new life. And I'll be back to downloading music and enjoying the bonus tracks.
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earth day 2009

Tomorrow is Earth Day 2009. Planet Green has a great compilation of Earth Day information to help you make the most of it.

I am still sad about missing Vermilionville's Earth Day Festival Sunday, but I am determined to still pitch in tomorrow.

For Wednesday, April 22, 2009, I pledge to:
Use only my Klean Kanteen to drink out of.
Drink my organic milk.
Not eat meat.
Not use any plastic or styrofoam.
Turn on only the lights I need at that moment.
Wear my Go Green Boston t-shirt.
Check out the Disney Earth movie.
Take nature-y photographs and participate in Earth Mosaic 2009.

And of course, some of those have become standard practice, but I still want to focus on them tomorrow.

Oh, and I joined the Earth Day Network.

What do you all plan to do?
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alright, alright

I confess. I did not make it to this weekend's Earth Day festivities. Chalk it up to a Friday evening of stupidity. Sleep + contacts = Eye Infection Caitlin. I was somewhat like a vampire, not able to see in the sunlight, hence no driving or public outings.

But, I did receive my free T-shirt in the mail. Does this make up for anything?

My wicked awesome Go Green Boston (maybe I can tape a piece of paper with Lafayette over Boston) T-shirt and my "Allergic to Trash" postcard from the Logan airport can be friends. Massachusetts wants to be green, even if Louisiana doesn't.
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mais it's almost earth day, yeah

Earth Day 2009 is almost upon us, and community events are springing up all over the place. Don't have to celebrate alone!

For those of you in Lafayette, Vermilionville is hosting an Earth Day Family Festival on Sunday, April 19, from 10am-3pm. There will be all sorts of activities – fishing, fabric dyeing, guides on growing your own food and a recycle challenge. Since this is south Louisiana, there will of course be a couple bands playing.

I am excited for this, partly because I haven't been to Vermilionville since the last elementary school field trip. And it's Earth Day with a Cajun flair...what could be better? I plan to be there, camera ready.

Also on Sunday, there will be a joint Earth Day benefit concert at Artmosphere and Blue Moon Saloon.

Four Bands/Four Bucks Earth Day benefit. $4 for both venues:
• Artmosphere. 4 p.m. Drew Landry, followed by VoSteen at 6 p.m., Emily Guidry and the Picardy Birds at 8 p.m., and Langolier at 10 p.m. 902 Johnston St. 233-3331.
• Blue Moon Saloon. 4 p.m. The Cell, followed by The Moss Pickers at 5 p.m. and Mike Dean at 7 p.m. 215 E. Convent St. 234-2422.


Go to some, go to all, but do something to show your support for OUR Earth.
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one day without shoes

One Day Without Shoes April 16 2009
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see the light

I spent this weekend moving into my new apartment, being green whenever possible.

I was always planning to put CFL bulbs in my new bathroom, but was figuring I'd have to live with looking at five spiral bulbs every day. This weekend I found that GE makes CFL bulbs in the 'classic' light bulb shape. Still energy efficient, but more pleasing to look at. I made the investment and bought the bulbs. I don't regret it for a second, one because I'll be using less energy, and now that I'm the one paying the electric bill, I'm all about saving money. And two, the light is just better - softer and less yellow. I am all about flattering light in the bathroom.

After the bathroom lights were changed, I found some teardrop-shaped lightbulbs at Wal-Mart that are also covered CFLs. They fit perfectly into my overhead light/ceiling fan. I'm so happy that CFLs now come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They no longer have to be used only in standard light sockets. The teardrop lights also give off a softer glow to my bedroom.

Commence saving energy.
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get out those old cell phones

I have recently learned that this week is National Cell Phone Recycling Week and the goal is to raise awareness of cell phone recycling. Right now only 1 in 10 are recycled, even though recycling them reduces greenhouse gas emissions and conserves natural resources. 

You can either take your phone to a retailer (including Best Buy), or go a charitable route. One of the most popular options is Cell Phones for Soldiers, where your old phone becomes a prepaid calling card for a soldier overseas. Check out the Daily Green's list of other charitable donation options.

In this day and age, we've all got an old phone lying around somewhere. I still have a Motorola from 2003 sitting in a junk drawer. I already recycled my other Samsung by passing it along to my brother. Maybe he will be willing to recycle his old phone...
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freecycling

I have spent much of this weekend packing up my bedroom and getting rid of things I just don't need anymore. It's fitting, then, that today's tip on my green-tip-a-day calendar is about freecycling.

Freecycling is simply taking the items you don't need trading with others to get items you do want or need. And this reminds me of one way I've been acting green since childhood.

My mother and I used to go garage-saling all the time. We would get the classifieds on Thursday, pick the sales that sounded the best, then map our Saturday morning route. Somehow this involved a child willing to get up at 5:30 on a Saturday morning. Anyway, we found so many things over the years - furniture, clothing, toys, books, etc. It's such a great way to recycle - clean out your junk and even make money off it.

My family is actually planning a garage sale in the next month or two so lots of the things I choose to get rid of now are going toward that. So, you know, if you want that Backstreet Boys VHS, call me and I'll save it for you.

Back to Freecycle, check out their network website and find the group nearest to you. I know my region has a Yahoo group that I actually have yet to join. Hey, I'm not perfect!

But in this economy, you look for any way you can save some money. Freecycling is perfect for that, especially if you are in need of something others are giving away.
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the electronics chain

If you have plenty of old, outdated electronics, but don't know how to dispose of them (without involving a dumpster, of course), Wired has a great summary of electronics recycling options and processes. 

The first one they list is Best Buy's fairly new recycling program for all sorts of electronics. A few weeks ago, my boss bought a used computer online. Fine and dandy, but the massive, ancient monitor was busted. I mentioned the recycling program at Best Buy, but the monitor was in the dumpster before I could say much else.

That's where my recycling renegade moment came in. With the help of a coworker, we unlocked and almost fell in the dumpster to retrieve the monitor. We were successful and I brought the monitor to Best Buy. For certain items, they charge a $10 recycling fee, but offset it with a $10 gift card (which I later used to buy an eco-friendly iPod case.)

The whole process was very easy though, so kudos to Best Buy for embracing the responsibility. Hopefully more stores will soon follow and electronics recycling won't seem so elusive anymore.
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a day without shoes

This is slightly off the green path, but it's another cause I like to support.

TOMS Shoes is coordinating A Day Without Shoes on April 16. Go barefoot on the way to the water cooler, to the mailbox, in an afternoon meeting or on your lunch break; go barefoot for the entire day or long enough to raise awareness.

It's not too much to ask and it raises awareness for children who don't have their own pair of shoes. TOMS' mission is to give a child a pair of shoes for every pair they sell.
Fact #1: In some developing nations, children must walk for miles to food, clean water and to seek medical help.
Fact #2: Cuts and sores on feet can lead to serious infection.
Fact #3: Often, children cannot attend school barefoot.
Fact #4: In Ethiopia, approximately one million people are suffering from Podoconiosis, a debilitating and disfiguring disease caused by walking barefoot in volcanic soil.
Fact #5: Podoconiosis is 100% preventable by wearing shoes.
Check out the information in the link above and show your support by kicking off your shoes for a little while. And if you often wear heels like I do, it's a nice little break (you'll just be a few inches shorter for awhile.)
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