earth day festivities

Since I already tend to live like every day is Earth Day, when the actual day comes around, I like to spend time educating myself or doing a little extra. This year I did both. I started off the day with a trip to a produce stand, where much of the produce is local. Plus, the business is local, and I like to support local businesses. I picked up some vegetables and fruit and remembered my reusable produce bags, along with my reusable shopping bags. This stand doesn't accept credit cards, so I paid with a check and could not resist writing "Happy Earth Day!" in the memo box. (Nerd.) It was then that I realized my checks are made of recycled paper. Even better!


Then it was time for a trip to the local recycling dump. In the past few years, recycling service for non-homeowners in this town has dwindled. There used to be pickups at every fire station, then two, now none. If you don't own a home and have a bin provided by the city, you have the option of shlepping yourself to the ghetto and dumping your recyclables onto this high tech pile of other recyclables. Because of this, I tend to let my recyclable piles up until it's slightly embarrassing. At least it doesn't stop me from recycling what can be recycled! I figured this trip would be well served on Earth Day. And I reused the large boxes I was taking by stuffing all my other recyclables inside. So handy! Also. I drink too much Abita Strawberry. And wine. But at least the wine is earth-friendly!

After that, we made our way to the USGS National Wetlands Research Center for their Earth Day celebration in conjunction with Innov8 Lafayette. I was especially excited about going, since the last time I visited the Wetlands Center, I was in middle school on a field trip related to a research project. A few things have changed since then, but the place looks very similar to how I remembered it.

We didn't get a chance to stay for the entire presentation by the Boy Scouts, but I'm glad I popped in for a few minutes. One of the Boy Scouts high adventures is a trip through the swamp, complete with sleeping on a houseboat, and part of the goal on the trip is to clean up the Atchafalaya Basin. They showed photos of previous excursions to the Basin and all of the trash they picked out of the water. The Basin is so important to the state of Louisiana, and from one of the Coastal Master Plan's depictions, is contributing to the only area of Louisiana coast that is gaining land instead of losing it. 

I had a nice, brief conversation with someone working on the Coastal Master Plan about how it's up to us to save Louisiana from sinking, and many of the projects aren't just proposed but are completed or underway. I made a comment about how there really is only so much you can do, but sometimes you just have to let nature take its course. We then discussed how important it is that the actions we take work WITH nature, and not FIGHT nature. That's when we'll make the most difference.

After that, we kept going and took a tour of the NWRC. We learned a lot about what the Center does, and how their scientific research is helping to save the environment and Louisiana. Part of what we were shown was studies on fish habitats, the effect of carbon dioxide on native wetland plants, how the scientists collect their native wetland plants (hint: airboats are LOUD), avian radar systems and how studying bird activity is very important, and the kinds of aerial photography and mapping that give scientists clues on trends and geography.

I noticed these two quotes on the wall at the NWRC and couldn't help but take a picture of them to keep. These are very important underlying messages to environmentalism. I especially love the first one.

Once we finished at the NWRC, we headed over to UL Lafayette to take a tour of the BeauSoleil house. You can read my post from 2009 about the BeauSoleil send-off to the Solar Decathlon here. Getting to tour the interior of the house was very interesting, and set into motion the plan to own a version in the future. The designs are for sale, and you can choose from a one-, two- or three-bedroom option.

The beautiful bathroom, and I'm not even joking by typing that.

These windows are structured to provide air, reducing the need for air conditioning.

The outdoor deck area provides extra living space, and gives great views of the house. The wide area has convertible doors that can be opened or closed to the outside, the kitchen or the living room, depending on where you want air flow. This house can easily turn into outdoor living space and it is beautiful. We were there on a sunny afternoon with relatively low (for Louisiana) humidity, and the breeze that came through the passageway was heavenly.

The hot water tank collects rainwater, then converts it into usable water for the home.

Still proud of the BeauSoleil team for winning the People's Choice Award. 

After that, we picked up some Louisiana seafood and made dinner with the fresh fish and produce. Then we biked to a friend's house to catch the latest episode of Mad Men. It was a fitting evening to a happy Earth Day. 

If you participated in Earth Day in any way, please feel free to share!

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