Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

school recycling problems, link friday 8.30

School board budget issues are a common occurrence in many cities, I'm sure, and Lafayette sees its share of problems.

One of the latest school elements to be cut is the school recycling program. Recycling pickup used to be free, but this school year would require schools to pay for their own recycling. Thanks to bids and contracts, the school board chose to save money, and free recycling was not part of the program.


While budgets are of course very important, and it's understandable that with limited funds, we can't have everything, it's still frustrating to see that recycling is seen as an expendable option in Lafayette Parish. Beyond the actual practice of recycling paper, plastic, glass and aluminum, it would be cutting beneficial environmental education to students, and shows that recycling just isn't important enough to keep around.

"You kind of have to prioritize. Is this worth it?"
And of course, I just want to scream "YES!!!!!"

Happily, two days later, it was reported that Lafayette High (one of the schools participating in the recycling program) would receive new bins and have their recyclables picked up free of charge by the company handling the waste disposal. The waste company will also give free bins to any other school in the area who wants to participate. 


It's good to see that even though recycling pickup can't always be a free service, companies step up to do what's good for the planet anyway! 


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

weekly simple eco tip, 8.28

Even if you're already in the habit of recycling, it's still pretty easy to get a little lax on what is accepted and what's not. You might be cleaning out and you come across an item you aren't sure about and think, "Meh!" as you toss it in the recycling bin. Or is that just me? Hm. Well.

In any case, from time to time it's good to refresh yourself on what is accepted in your recycling program. Different programs may accept different items. Your city's Environmental Quality or Waste department should have a list of what can be recycled. For those who use the Recycling Foundation in Louisiana, their list is on their website. Lafayette residents can also download a copy of the PRIDE Guide, which contains a list of what's accepted in the curbside recycling program. Waste Management lists their accepted recycling materials on their website as well.



One easy way to remember what to recycle (and to educate others!) is to make your own list and stick it on your recycling bin! I created one list of what is and isn't accepted in our company recycling bin after finding one too many completely unacceptable items in the bin (I'm looking at you, person who threw an orange in there!) As a bonus, if you have children, or guests over, the list will help them to learn what goes in your recycling bin.



Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

sustainability on campus

It's been six years since I've been in college, and I forgot what it's like to have a summer break, but nevertheless, UL Lafayette classes start back up this coming Monday. In that spirit, I'm featuring the UL Office of Sustainability today. The department is relatively new and came about as the result of a Student Government Association branding effort for a campus-wide recycling program. 
The purpose of the Office of Sustainability is to ensure that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is socially, economically, and environmentally conscious in all its actions. Our values include:Sustainability: We promote sustainable efforts and practices in the everyday lives of students, faculty, staff, and administration to make the campus a more eco-friendly entity of our planet.Engagement: We inspire participation from the students, faculty, staff, and administration in order to fulfill and educate on sustainable efforts and practices.Securing posterity: We value the right of each person to live with the resources they need and ensure that sustainable practices are in place to protect those resources for future generations.
The department has three current initiatives on campus: Geaux RED (campus-wide recycling), Tree Campus USA and Acorns of Hope.

It makes me happy to see my alma mater take an active stand in environmentalism and work to make the campus greener.


And here's to the last weekend before the semester kicks into high gear!


Engagement: We inspire participation from the students, faculty, staff, and administration in order to fulfill and educate on sustainable efforts and practices. - See more at: http://sustainability.louisiana.edu/about-us#sthash.zUtqXQ89.dpufEngagement: We inspire participation from the students, faculty, staff, and administration in order to fulfill and educate on sustainable efforts and practices. - See more at: http://sustainability.louisiana.edu/about-us#sthash.zUtqXQ89.dpuf


Engagement: We inspire participation from the students, faculty, staff, and administration in order to fulfill and educate on sustainable efforts and practices. - See more at: http://sustainability.louisiana.edu/about-us#sthash.zUtqXQ89.dpufEngagement: We inspire participation from the students, faculty, staff, and administration in order to fulfill and educate on sustainable efforts and practices. - See more at: http://sustainability.louisiana.edu/about-us#sthash.zUtqXQ89.dpuf

Engagement: We inspire participation from the students, faculty, staff, and administration in order to fulfill and educate on sustainable efforts and practices.
Securing posterity: We value the right of each person to live with the resources they need and ensure that sustainable practices are in place to protect those resources for future generations. - See more at: http://sustainability.louisiana.edu/about-us#sthash.zUtqXQ89.dpuf
Sustainability: We promote sustainable efforts and practices in the everyday lives of students, faculty, staff, and administration to make the campus a more eco-friendly entity of our planet.
Engagement: We inspire participation from the students, faculty, staff, and administration in order to fulfill and educate on sustainable efforts and practices.
Securing posterity: We value the right of each person to live with the resources they need and ensure that sustainable practices are in place to protect those resources for future generations. - See more at: http://sustainability.louisiana.edu/about-us#sthash.zUtqXQ89.dpuf

The purpose of the Office of Sustainability is to ensure that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is socially, economically, and environmentally conscious in all its actions. Our values include:
Sustainability: We promote sustainable efforts and practices in the everyday lives of students, faculty, staff, and administration to make the campus a more eco-friendly entity of our planet.
Engagement: We inspire participation from the students, faculty, staff, and administration in order to fulfill and educate on sustainable efforts and practices.
Securing posterity: We value the right of each person to live with the resources they need and ensure that sustainable practices are in place to protect those resources for future generations. - See more at: http://sustainability.louisiana.edu/about-us#sthash.zUtqXQ89.dpuf


The purpose of the Office of Sustainability is to ensure that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is socially, economically, and environmentally conscious in all its actions. Our values include:
Sustainability: We promote sustainable efforts and practices in the everyday lives of students, faculty, staff, and administration to make the campus a more eco-friendly entity of our planet.
Engagement: We inspire participation from the students, faculty, staff, and administration in order to fulfill and educate on sustainable efforts and practices.
Securing posterity: We value the right of each person to live with the resources they need and ensure that sustainable practices are in place to protect those resources for future generations. - See more at: http://sustainability.louisiana.edu/about-us#sthash.zUtqXQ89.dpuf

The purpose of the Office of Sustainability is to ensure that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is socially, economically, and environmentally conscious in all its actions. Our values include:
Sustainability: We promote sustainable efforts and practices in the everyday lives of students, faculty, staff, and administration to make the campus a more eco-friendly entity of our planet.
Engagement: We inspire participation from the students, faculty, staff, and administration in order to fulfill and educate on sustainable efforts and practices.
Securing posterity: We value the right of each person to live with the resources they need and ensure that sustainable practices are in place to protect those resources for future generations. - See more at: http://sustainability.louisiana.edu/about-us#sthash.zUtqXQ89.dpuf

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"it's the last days of summer in san francisco"

I've reluctantly returned to the real world after a vacation in San Francisco, a city in a state I'd never visited before. And I think it's changed me a little inside. I'm a born and bred Cajun girl, and I always tend to visit Massachusetts when I set foot on an airplane, so I consider myself as having a little bit of Masshole in me. Before this trip, I'd never been further west than San Antonio, Texas. And now I've been on the West Coast and dipped my toes into the (super cold) Pacific Ocean (or I guess more specifically, Monterey Bay).

Flying to San Francisco on a clear evening gave my boyfriend and me a strange feeling. Since our phones were on airplane mode, the time didn't switch to the correct time zone yet, so our phones and our bodies said it was 10pm, but the sunlight outside told us it was only 8pm. It felt like we were briefly living in suspended time, where we keep going, but the sun continues shining.


There are just so many good things I could say about San Francisco and our trip. I'm normally very good with directions and navigating, and in some moments on this trip, I was completely turned around and had to re-orient myself. The weather, the scenery and the lifestyles were different from anything I've experienced - yet so similar to experiences I do have. For example, the first day we toured the city, I got a distinct feeling of a combination of New Orleans' French Quarter and downtown Portland, Maine. 


The weather was beyond perfect all week. In fact, my only complaint about it was that it was too warm for all the clothes I'd packed. The highs were in the 60s, but with the sun and all the trekking we did, my light sweaters were too much. And in the evenings it was wonderfully crisp. The house we stayed in doesn't have air conditioning, because they don't need it. In the evenings we cracked the windows and let the natural air circulate through the house and cool us off. That just cannot happen down here. We'd either swelter in the humidity or get eaten alive by mosquitoes.


After a week, I really began to get used to the scenery, especially watching the mountains roll by as we rode the train into the city. And I didn't realize how used to it I was getting until we returned home and I was surrounded by the flat scenery of my town. Nothing compares to those mountain views. I'd do anything to have them just a little longer. (My boyfriend and I joked about printing pictures to hang in our windows.) I miss seeing them each morning as I make my way to work.


We saw such a variety of landmarks, from the typical touristy things like Alcatraz, Lombard Street, and the Golden Gate Bridge, to pop culture icons like the Full House house, Mrs. Doubtfire house and Amoeba Records, to wine country, to a beautiful college campus, to the beach, to the headquarters of Apple, Google and Facebook. We went to an Oakland A's baseball game. We went mini-golfing. We rented a Prius for one day - and my boyfriend drove it in the city (which was almost a roller-coaster ride). We rented bicycles for one day and rode 18 miles across the city hills and the Golden Gate Bridge (this Southern girl barely survived - it was intense in many ways). We walked around Golden Gate Park one afternoon as the fog swirled in. And "swirled" is about the only word I can think to describe it. We literally watched it move in, in this ethereal pattern, weaving between the trees in the park, giving the whole area a gray cast. It just felt so appropriate, and I could mentally play only Matt Nathanson's newest album, as it's an homage to the city Matt calls home. 


And the greenness of everything. It was so strange and yet felt so natural. Louisiana is almost light-years behind California and it was never more noticeable than in the few days after we returned home. I saw about three plastic bags all week, everywhere we went. We got a plastic bag for our restaurant leftovers one night, and it was biodegradable corn-based plastic. I used my Klean Kanteen at least 10 times during the week: each morning to carry coffee, and in the afternoons to alternately carry Gatorade, water or an occasional soft drink. I toted a reusable bag each day for any purchases. The one time we needed our own vehicle, we rented a Prius and enjoyed watching how our driving performed. I saw more public recycling bins than trash cans. I saw public compost bins next to those recycling bins. I saw wind turbines and a solar- and wind-powered Alcatraz tour boat. There were so many bicyclists. The bike lanes were painted green, separated from the road or dedicated bike paths. We used public transit. We saw zero-emission buses and hybrid taxis. 


What I loved most about it is that being green was just commonplace. You didn't have to take extra measures to recycle or reduce your plastic use. The alternatives were there in front of you. Here, it almost feels like you have to shout from the rooftops that you are recycling or being green in some way, in order to even be able to do it. And there, you just go about your normal day, being green at each step. 


Visiting San Francisco definitely opened my eyes, inspired me, and changed me. I hope to be able to return sooner rather than later. The week was hectic, and every muscle and tendon ached at some point, but it also gave me a chance to reflect a lot. By the end of the trip, I was ready to return home to see my family and my kitty, but I was not ready to get back to the pace of every day. I'm just so grateful that we were able to get away for a week and take a real trip, instead of a halfhearted vacation. We got to visit with my boyfriend's cousin and her fiancé (our gracious hosts) and get a taste of what it's like to live in California. I spent most of the week mentally playing California by Phantom Planet (not helped by my recent viewing of The OC Season 1).



Calistoga Bike Shop, where we rented bikes for a winery tour.


Chandelier made with wine bottles at Lava Vine.
  
Touring San Francisco with new TOMS and hot coffee in my Klean Kanteen.


A green bike lane. 

I was highly jealous we didn't get to ride the eco-friendly tour boat, but then again, we would not have been able to ride on the top deck!

Wind turbines, recycling bins and compost bins at Crissy Field.


Taking a small rest break while on our 18-mile bike trek.

Trash disposal is not the only option.


The Golden Gate Bridge on a gorgeously clear afternoon.


Waiting for my lunch order at a vegetarian restaurant near the UC Berkeley campus. The mushroom sandwich was pretty killer, and we got in a nice picnic on the campus.


Compost bin on the UC Berkeley campus.


The beach in Santa Cruz.

Cigarette butt disposal in Santa Cruz.

I wish all bike lanes were able to have a raised divider like this near the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz.


Apple headquarters.


Google headquarters. I LOVED all the Google bikes around their campus.

I was surprised to see a plastic bag within San Francisco, until I saw it's compostable. Well-done! I might've brought it home with me.

Haight Ashbury from the bus window.


The fog in Golden Gate Park.


A marker for a pedestrian path and bike lane somewhere in the city. The Walk man is also a symbol of one of my favorite Hanson songs.

Is it time for our next vacation??

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

school supply shopping: link friday, 8.16

Even though I've basically forgotten what it was like to have a back-to-school time, I do remember the excitement of new back to school supplies.



Now that you've learned about the eco-friendly options for school supplies, visit some of the companies that sell the goods!


Happy weekend!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

weekly simple eco tip, 8.14

While many companies allow you to choose paperless billing, reducing your amount of mail, not all of them have made the step.

Paper bills pretty much always come with a return envelope for your payment. You can still choose to pay paper bills online, but then you have an extra envelope lying around. Don't throw those away, or even into the recycling bin! Save them in a space on your desk at home or work and use them when you need an envelope. It will also save you money on buying envelopes.


For years, I would use all my spare envelopes on rent payments, until I switched over to online payments. I pay most bills online these days, but I still save spare envelopes for that time I know I will end up needing one.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday, August 12, 2013

back to school already

Back-to-school time always seems synonymous with September, but in South Louisiana, it's already that time! Many children are already back in school, and others are gearing up to go back, including the college students (oh, the memories).



The beginning of the school year always means new school supplies! And some of us love new supplies even if we're not in school anymore. But either way, greening your school supplies is easy and just takes a little extra looking and knowledge.

The main ways to make your supplies greener are through paper, pencils/pens, binders, backpacks, lunchtime supplies and art supplies.


When shopping for looseleaf, notebooks or computer paper, choose recycled! Recycled notebooks and reams of computer paper are very common and easy-to-find. Just check on the tags to find a mention of recycled content. And a tip: if you ever see a recycled content note, '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. 

These notebooks are a clever take on those classic composition books. Named decomposition books, they are made of recycled paper and printed with soy ink. They are available in stores as well as online; I believe I've seen some at Barnes and Noble.

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

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

If your children are using ink pens (whether recycled or not), teach them about conserving the ink by always capping or retracting the pen when it's not in use. 

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 index tabs.

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.

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 or bento box-type kits, put drinks in a reusable mug and place sandwiches and snacks in reusable bags

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. This list is really only the beginning and not comprehensive, but should give you plenty of ideas. When it comes time to stock up on school supplies, just remember to do a little looking and research beforehand so you can figure out where to get eco-friendly alternatives. And don't forget to take the opportunity to educate your children on their eco-friendly supplies and explain why being eco-friendly is important and good for the planet! This will help complete the cycle of being a good environmentalist yourself - from choosing green over conventional to educating others on green practices. And come back on Friday to see more links to places where you can purchase eco-friendly school supplies!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

san francisco link friday, 8.9

I am so excited to be getting ready for my first trip to the West Coast - San Francisco, to be exact. I've been furiously planning itineraries and looking up all kinds of interesting things for my boyfriend and I to visit, and through it all, I've gotten to see how eco-friendly the city is - beyond their plastic bag ban. So I'm eagerly awaiting getting to immerse myself in such a green culture for a short period of time, and I'm hoping to take some knowledge back to the South.

http://www.bikepretty.com/blog/2013/04/bike-outfit-ideas-dominating-hills-in-a-dress
And a special Happy Weekend message from Milo:
jnmh4
8uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu97\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

crafty weekly simple eco tip, 8.7

This week's simple eco tip comes from a link I found on Pinterest. Swiffer Sweepers are very convenient cleaning tools for your house, but the disposable cloths create so much waste, and cost extra money. The blog Natural Nester came up with a way to reuse an old towel to create a reusable Swiffer cloth.


From the materials to the setup, this looks like a wonderfully simple way to create a handy reusable cleaning cloth for something you probably already have.

Great Harvest Bread Company | Local Business Spotlight

Recently, I got to visit with Michelle, one of the owners of Great Harvest Bread Company in Lafayette. The Great Harvest location is the only restaurant in Lafayette to be certified green by the Green Restaurant Association, and is only one of 4 Louisiana restaurants to be certified. The other three are located in New Orleans. They are also the only Great Harvest location to be certified.


I enjoyed speaking with Michelle and learning about the requirements to be certified green and to maintain that certification. Michelle explained how she felt it was important to undergo the process for her business because of her personal conviction about being a good steward to the environment, and because of her and her husband's desire to spread that commitment to their business.


The Green Restaurant Association was created in 1990. Since then, the Association has worked to provide tools to help the restaurant industry reduce its harmful impact on the environment. In order to be certified green, restaurants must earn a minimum of 100 points across the categories of Energy, Food, Water, Waste, Disposables, Chemical and Pollution Reduction, and Furnishings and Building Materials. Each year, the restaurant must elevate their eco-friendliness by 10 points in order to maintain certification. Great Harvest opened in 2005, got certified in 2010 and currently has almost 140 points; well above their required points.

One of the first requirements of being certified is to be styrofoam free! Beyond that, Great Harvest fulfills the certification categories in many ways.
  • Energy: All appliances are Energy Star rated. 60% of the lighting is LED, and the rest is CFL.
  • Food: The coffee sold is brewed locally. The wheat for the bread is from family owned farms. Some of the other products are from local vendors.
  • Water: Sinks are equipped with low-flow faucets and aerators. While sometimes annoying, the faucets create less water waste. 
  • Waste: Great Harvest has a full recycling system. For every one trashcan filled, four reycling bins are filled. There are also recycling bins throughout the store. The restaurant has a reusable bag program as part of its loyalty program. They will also fill coffee in your reusable mug. They sell both reusable bags and glassware. Food waste is donated to the Salvation Army and St. Joseph's Diner, a local shelter and kitchen for the homeless.
  • Disposables: There are no plastic bags! Employees don't give a bag to customers unless the customer asks, encouraging the practice of going bag-free. The default bags are paper. There are branded cloth bags available for regular use and for gift bag arrangement use. The coffee cups are made of recycled paper. There are no single packets of sugar and creamer for coffee, only larger shakers. All of the paper used in the office is 100% recycled. To-go containers for deli items are made of recyclable plastic.




Great Harvest offers a gift basket service and encourage the use of cloth bags and fair trade tea towels and baskets by Serrv.









One of the other big components in being a certified green restaurant is educating others on eco-friendly practices. Great Harvest has the Green Restaurant Association seal on their menus and on table cards throughout the restaurant. They also feature signage about using local food, family owned farms and natural food. Customers also learn about the green practices from the lack of plastic bags, single-use coffee materials and in-store glassware. On the other end, they educate owners of Great Harvest Bread Company restaurants across the country in green practices.












Great Harvest gives away their wheat paper bags to residents who are building gardens, and donates pickle buckets to those with container gardens. They also give their coffee grinds to composters for free. And they make regular appearances at the Lafayette Horse Farm Farmer's Market.

One of the next steps Michelle would like to see happen at Great Harvest are eco-friendly, low-flow toilets. She laughed that it's not the most glamorous item, but it's an important part of water conservation.

Michelle discussed how going green can mean spending more money short-term (such as on LED lights over incandescent), but she believes that you see the savings long-term. She stated that doing the right thing does not always means doing the easiest or cheapest thing. She and her husband see the value in doing what's best for the planet.

If you want to see which restaurants nearest you are certified green by the Green Restaurant Association, go here and enter your state!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

local love, link friday, 8.2

First, one quick word and a lot of punctuation. AUGUST!!!!!!?!?!??!?!?!?!

Okay. Now I feel better.

A couple of local links this week for yall!

The Onlies are a Lafayette-based folky band, and they've just released a new album! Their album release party is tomorrow, Saturday, August 3, at Artmosphere.

Red Arrow Workshop is a Lafayette gift shop featuring Parish Ink clothing and all kinds of fun gifts from local/or and eco-friendly vendors. Everything they have is awesomely unique. They're celebrating their first birthday party tonight from 6-9.




And lastly, tomorrow is the monthly Food Truck Roundup at Parc Lafayette. While a bunch of food trucks gathered together doesn't inherently scream "eco-friendly", the food is fantastic and you're still supporting local businesses. Many of these food trucks get their food from local vendors, so the food is that much better. Go get you some food!
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