geaux cajuns!

Lafayette's the home of the UL Ragin Cajuns, and every Friday, the town goes red. So why not make this green site go red for a day to join in the spirit?






Credit (and many thanks!) to clang(boom)snap.
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repurposed billboards! [link friday, 9.28]

I've been on a major billboard recycling kick lately, thanks to my own crafting ambitions, but that's for a future post... (as in, next week, so come on back!)

Selling bags made out of billboards is becoming more and more popular these days. You can find them in different shapes and sizes, but the colors will always be somewhat of a surprise, since, you know, they're made from whatever billboards the company can obtain.


  • GorillaSacks has just about any kind of bag, made out of vinyl. You can find an iPad sleeve, grocery produce bags, market bags, messenger bags, lunch bags and even curtains (oh, how I am tempted to have a recycled billboard shower curtain...)
  • Vy and Elle has messenger bags, wallets and clutches.
  • Artecnica makes a stretch billboard bag, which basically has a large open-weave design, making it great for a beach bag or for holding stanky gym clothes.
  • Billboard Ecology sells bags and lunch totes in partnership with schools for fundraisers.
  • Earth Divas has a very pop-art style bag.
  • Alchemy Goods has the above-pictured Ad Bag, which makes a great tote for notebooks or laptops. They specialize in items made from bicycle inner tubes and seatbelts. I actually have an ID holder made of bike tubes from them that I love.
Billboards are such a great working material, and we all know there is more than enough vinyl to go around that can be repurposed!


Have a happy and green weekend, and I'll see y'all back here next week! Where I'm going to talk all day long about my billboard crafting experiences!

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weekly simple eco tip, 9.26

There are countless ways to make your office area greener, and today's weekly simple eco tip is inspired by my friend Michelle's cubicle.


She recently cleaned and reorganized her cubicle, and decided to make useful space out of something that wasn't useful before, in addition to striving to cut down on paper. She purchased dry erase adhesive paper and stuck it to the front of her cabinet. Now, she has a large space to make notes and list reminders, and erase them when she is done.

This is such a simple and effective way to give yourself space for notes, and eliminate the needs for sticky notes.

You can buy the paper in rolls and cut it to fit any space, or you can buy a pack of 8.5x11 sheets to stick in smaller spaces.

And don't forget eco-friendly dry erase markers! These AusPens are recycled, sustainable and refillable, cutting down on a lot of possibly toxic waste.



What to do about an eraser? Just grab an old t-shirt and cut it into pieces to make rags!



And there you have the first of many ways to green your office space.

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a greener candle

If you're like me (or even half like me), you've got candles around your house for decoration, ambience and a comfortable scent.


But, have you stopped to think about the bad parts of burning a candle? Regular candles emit a variety of chemicals when burned. Paraffin (a type of wax) based candles release a number of carcinogens, including acetaldehyde, acrolein, benzene, formaldehyde, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and toluene into the atmosphere, along with carbon dioxide. (Source.) These chemicals can affect people with asthma or lung disease. (Source.) Paraffin is also a byproduct of petroleum, adding to the already considerable pressure on non-renewable resources. 

And, some candles are made with wicks that have additives like lead and zinc, which can release harmful gases when they are burned. (Source.)

Packaging is another thing to consider when comparing candles. Some candles are shrink-wrapped in plastic, while some come unwrapped, or in a recycled/recyclable paper container. (Source.)

These Fleur de Light candles, handmade in New Orleans, are a mix of soy, vegetable and paraffin waxes (unfortunately, not completely clean), and come in a little cardboard container. A portion of their sales also go toward the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana. 



So, what to look for when buying candles. First, look to make sure the candle is made of vegetable wax, beeswax or soy wax. These waxes burn cleaner and don't release chemicals in your room. Beeswax is a good bet as it’s non-allergenic, non-toxic and smoke-free, while vegetable wax candles are both toxin-free and long-lasting thanks to their cooler burning temperature. (Source.) Soy wax candles are growing in popularity and can be found next to the regular candles at the store. They can be considerably more expensive than a plain, cheap candle, but equivalent to a nice, scented regular candle.

Also, check to see if the wick is lead-free. 

And compare the packaging. Look for a candle packaged in recycled or recyclable materials, instead of something that will need to be thrown away. Or choose something unwrapped.


Deciding whether or not to get a candle in a glass jar? Look to see if the glass is recycled. If you go the glass route, try to recycle the glass when the candle has been burned all the way. If you get a freestanding candle, you can use and reuse your own candle holders. One tip I've learned is to place candle holders with stuck wax in the freezer for awhile. The wax will then pop out. Then you can reuse your candle holder, or rinse the glass and place it in your recycling bin – or use them for another purpose. One thing I like to do with those remaining bits of wax is to collect them in a clear glass vase or bowl and use them as potpourri chips, since they can still give off a scent.

Some places to find eco-friendly candles:
A cleaner candle is a better candle!

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a bit of housekeeping

If any of you subscribe to eco cajun through an RSS feed, would you be kind and do me a favor? Please check your feed and leave a comment to let me know if you are subscribed through one of these addresses:

http://ecocajun.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
http://feeds.feedburner.com/Eco-friendlyCajun

http://feeds.feedburner.com/EcoCajuntheEarthJustWantsToBeLovedBa-you

I'm trying to make sure everything is working properly so you'll have no trouble receiving updates.

I appreciate it!
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link friday, 9.21

I always enjoy when my favorite things overlap. So, today's collection of links are focused on eco-friendly musical artists and movements! See what I did there?

 
Image: Jack Johnson album recorded and produced using solar power.
  • Reverb. Reverb is a nonprofit, started by Adam Gardner of Guster and his wife, that's focused on making concerts and music festivals greener. They achieve their goals through an eco-village, hosting nonprofit groups in the eco-village, setting up a carbon offset program, recruiting volunteer, setting up an eco-concert program and Jumbotron slideshow, hosting a greening website, and providing an online carpooling resource.
  • Reverb supporting artists. Check out the different bands who have participated in Reverb's efforts. Since 2004, Reverb has worked with over 40 artists on more than 90 tours.
  • Jack Johnson Greening Efforts. Jack Johnson is arguably the most notable eco-friendly musician. A section of his website is dedicated to ways he makes his albums, tours and concerts greener.
  • All At Once. All At Once is a social action network started by Jack Johnson to help individuals make a positive change in their community.
  • Green Music Group. Reverb started this coalition to bring about widespread environmental change within the music industry and around the globe. The Group is a larger scale movement and is comprised of the collective power of high-profile environmental musicians, industry leaders and music fans.
  • Cake. Cake produced their sixth studio album using solar power. They also dedicated a section of their website to the process, and have a video showing the renovation to their studio.
  • Paste's 13 Green Bands. For Earth Day 2012, Paste Magazine shared a list of their top 13 green bands. Some bands included are Guster, Pearl Jam, Willie Nelson (I'm trying to keep the jokes there to a minimum), Radiohead and Green Day.
Hope y'all have a wonderful and green weekend!
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master gardener plantfest

This past Saturday, the first Master Gardener PlantFest was held at the Horse Farm in Lafayette.

It was a beautiful afternoon so we hopped on our bikes and rode over to check out the activities. I made sure to bring a reusable water bottle, since it was still a balmy 88 degrees and sunny.


It was wonderful to see such a large crowd of people in attendance, roaming between the vendors, farmers market, presentation tent, plant tents and the food tent.

Next to each trashcan was a clearly marked recycling bin.


All the plants were beautiful, and if I had room to bring more home – or a yard – I would have. There was a plant swap, but you could also simply buy plants. While I was walking around, I began talking to a woman from the LSU AgCenter, and I mentioned how I had limited gardening abilities since I'm confined to potted plants. She ended up giving me a plant someone had given to her, because she didn't have room for it herself. I walked away with a very cute small potted plant.


The Bayou Vermilion District was one of two groups giving away a rain barrel. I've yet to get a phone call, so I assume I didn't win. 
 

We stopped by the farmers market area, and while there wasn't much produce left by that time, I managed to get a full paper bag of fresh (and HUGE!) okra for one dollar. (Some of the okra went into a grilled salsa I made for the Saints party the next day, and the rest was grilled and went into my belly. Seriously, grilled okra with olive oil and seasoning is my new favorite.)


I also picked up a gorgeous necklace made by a local artist, so for being there for around an hour, I surely did well. Jewelry, okra, a plant and lots of business cards and flyers for different vendors and organizations.

I managed to squeeze the plant into my bike basket, and off we rode back home. 
 

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weekly simple eco tip, 9.19

This week's simple eco tip is one I cannot stress enough.

Invest in a handful of reusable shopping bags – and use them! Be sure to keep them in your car, so you'll remember to grab them before you head into a store.

 

Pretty much every store these days has their own branded reusable shopping bag, and you can typically get them for a few dollars right by the checkout lanes. The variety of bags is growing as well – from colors to sizes to being foldable. You can also get simple decorative bags online, if you prefer not to sport corporate logos.

 

These bags simply save tons of plastic bags from being used and thrown away. They're also stronger than plastic bags and can be filled with more things. There's no need to double-bag heavier items or put each item in a separate bag.

Switching to reusable bags, even just half the times you go shopping, makes such an impact on cutting down the amount of plastic wasted. If you routinely use five plastic bags on a weekly grocery trip, that's 20 bags a month you can save...240 a year! And you would be using the same five cloth bags. Cutting down the number of plastic bags you use also helps shrink that mountain of plastic bags you don't have room for. You know that mountain. Get rid of that mountain!

And you can go beyond grocery stores. Bring a bag with you to the mall, the drug store or a boutique!

Another bonus is that some stores, including Target and Albertson's, give you five cents off for each bag you use.

These bags will be your best friend. I promise.

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social gatherings, the green way

I'll admit, I don't host very many (or any) parties. But parties are fun! Especially when held in conjunction with football games on beautiful fall afternoons.

Just like the party my boyfriend held this past Sunday for the Saints-Panthers game. A big TV with the game, a grill and delicious food, a group of friends, and eco-friendly party supplies!

When he had the idea for the party, I jumped into my treehugger mode and set out to find great supplies. I'd found Susty Party a few months ago, but never had the need to order supplies until now. They specialize in compostable and recycled party items, and even have party kits. All their items are made in the USA and are compostable, renewable, non-toxic and are made with fair labor practices.

Within an hour, I'd ordered black plates and natural plates (closest to black and gold), black bowls, black knives, black forks, recycled napkins and recycled cups.


And here's where I have an extra tip for you all: Give yourself enough time to choose ground shipping. Not only is it free if you spend more than $50, it's better than rushing with 3-day (or faster) shipping, which travels by air. I knew I needed everything by the Friday before the game, so I opted for 3-day, but I never claimed to be perfect! I'm still happy that this party had eco-friendly supplies instead of regular disposable plates and forks, even if I had to have them delivered by air.

And here's a small confession. I'd originally ordered actual black and gold plates from Green Party Goods and chosen 3-day shipping there as well. The shipping fees were inching close to equal the cost of the supplies, so I decided to add the plates to my Susty Party order. From this, I saved a decent amount in shipping fees, and all my supplies would then arrive in one box instead of two. That counts for something, right?

Note to self: Don't rush through ordering supplies when hopped up on coffee. You will make silly decisions.

Anyway, the party. Besides ordering sustainable supplies, there are other ways to make your party or social gathering greener:

  • Set up a clearly marked recycling bin, and list what materials can be thrown in. Encourage your guests to USE the bin. Susty Party actually sells pop-up recycling bins, but you could also use an extra trash can, or a bin you have around the house already.
  • Include permanent markers next to the drink station so everyone can label their cup. Encourage guests to use the same cup for refills.
  • Also encourage guests to keep their plate if they go for seconds.
  • If weather/daylight permits, go outside! Then you'll be able to keep the thermostat a little higher, and keep the lights off inside. If the gathering is indoors, make sure your lights are equipped with CFL bulbs.
  • Encourage guests to carpool to cut down on gas consumption and parking issues. Or encourage bike-riding, if it's feasible! (I might be a little obsessed with my new bike...)
  • If your gathering is at night and outdoors, look into solar-powered ambience lights.
  • Choose an alternative for paper invitations. If it's a casual gathering, invite people via email, Facebook events or messages, or text messages. If you want something a bit more than that, look into e-invitations (a few services out there are Punchbowl, Evite, Pingg, and Paperless Post. All offer free options of varying levels.) But, if you'd still prefer a physical paper invitation, choose a service that offers recycled or FSC-certified paper. FSC-certified means the paper is produced by a company compliant with the Forest Stewardship Council, and the paper is sustainably harvested. Moo offers recycled paper, as does Paper Culture and Minted.
So even though the Saints fell short for the second week, the party was a great success. We had too much delicious food and a great group of friends. The plates were a big hit and the recycling bin quickly filled up. A few people spent time outside, and a lot watched the game inside, where we kept the overhead lights off and enjoyed the sunshine streaming through the windows. A few of my friends also bicycled to the party! I suppose green was a stronger color than both black and gold for this party.


And a final note: My boyfriend's cat strongly encourages compostable dinnerware and recycling, even if he refuses to be the spokesmodel. 


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link friday

So, here's the first iteration of Link Friday. Yippee!

I'm currently in the process of researching and making snazzy little business cards for this here site. But of course, I won't be getting standard, cheap business cards. I must promote my eco-friendly site on eco-friendly paper. Today's collection of links is websites I've found through this research! Unless otherwise noted, I haven't used these sites for orders – just come across them in research.

 
Image: Fiverr handmade business card with address label, rubber stamp and corrugated cardboard.

  • Moo. Moo's recycled paper stock is 100% recycled and recyclable. It's also made with wind power and free of harmful chemicals. (Side note: I've used Moo to make custom Christmas cards a few years, and I always choose their eco-paper envelopes. They're a lovely, grainy unbleached-paper brownish shade.)
  • Eco-Swag. Eco-Swag features seed paper business cards. These puppies are printed with water-based inks and have uncrushed seeds in the paper fibers. They are fully plantable!
  • Botanical Paperworks. They've also got seed paper business cards. And a super-cute website.
  • Greener Printer. Greener Printer has FSC-certified, recycled paper for their business card printing. I'm loving their kraft board style paper, since it reminds me of a bulletin board. They also use only vegetable and soy-based, zero VOC inks.
  • VistaPrint. VistaPrint's recycled paper is 100% post-consumer recycled.

Happy Friday! Be sure to do something green this weekend! I'll be taking my new bike out for a (16-mile-ish) spin tonight and can't wait! 


http://www.ecocajun.blogspot.com/2012/09/link-friday.html
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weekly simple eco tip 9.12

Each Wednesday, I'll share one simple tip on being more environmentally friendly, focusing on things that cost little to nothing.

First, a small cheers to the inaugural Weekly Simple Eco Tip!

When you're going out to eat, if you plan to have leftovers, take a reusable food container with you. Use it to box up your food instead of having the waiter use a styrofoam container.




Also, take your reusable water bottle to restaurants. Many restaurants will allow you to use your own container, especially if the drinks are DIY. I've even refilled my water bottle at a bar once (with water...I promise! Though – a topic for another post – the insulated Kanteens do work well with frozen margaritas.)


Two very simple moves that will help you, and restaurants, cut down on needless food storage waste!

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lafayette's master gardener plantfest

This coming Saturday, September 15, from 8am to 2pm, the Lafayette Parish Master Gardeners will be holding the first annual PlantFest at the Horse Farm in the middle of Lafayette.

There will be a plant swap, food by Jolie's Bistro, children's activities, a farmer's market, nature-inspired products, representatives from local green organizations (including Bayou Vermilion Preservation, EarthShare Garden and Keep Lafayette Beautiful), speakers and live music.



If you can, be sure to check PlantFest out and see the progress being made on the Horse Farm park! If you want a plant for your home, be sure to bring one with you for the swap. I'll be out there checking everything out and taking notes for a post next week. 
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a new look! and introduction to new features! and me!

Welcome, welcome! Thanks for stopping by. Have some wine and cheese.

  Organic cheese and sustainably produced wine, of course!

As you might notice, the blog's gotten a major update and facelift, thanks to the wonderful Michelle over at Libby and Bee. I love the way everything turned out, and I'm excited to be able to share it with y'all. The previous layout was left over from this blog's previous life a few years ago, and the redesign was part of my plan when bringing the blog back to life.

So now, I've got a redesigned home for this blog, and I'll be introducing some new recurring features to go along with it. Each Wednesday I'll be posting one (or two, if I'm feeling inspired) simple eco tip. The goal is to share a tip that costs you little to nothing, in order to help reinforce the fact that you can go green without damaging your bank account. Each week's post will have a special label, weekly simple eco tip, for easier access to all posts.

Each Friday I'll post a collection of links or news bits found online during the week that highlight great green products or services or what's happening in the world.

On top of those, there will be feature posts at least once a week, covering a multitude of green areas.

Needless to say, I'm excited for all of these things coming up and hope y'all enjoy them! Of course, please feel free to leave some comments – they make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

You can subscribe to the blog posts via RSS, email or Google over in the right-hand column. 

In addition to these posts, I encourage you to follow me on Twitter. I love to share interesting Tweets or news articles that I find at random. I'll also nicely remind you of new blog posts, so you'll never miss one!




If you'd like some background on how I came to be so environmentally minded, you can read my first post back to the blog from this past April.

Thanks again for checking me out, and please come again!

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