Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Tis the Season to Be Giving!

For the fourth year, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving is celebrated as Giving Tuesday, a movement that focuses on philanthropy and giving, instead of celebrating holiday consumerism. After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday encourages you to think about others in the community during this holiday season.

Whether it's the less fortunate, homeless animals, or dedicated nonprofits, consider giving goods, money or your time this season!

Image: Giving Tuesday

It's easy to participate in Giving Tuesday!

Give While You Shop

  • If you're still working on checking off your shopping list, and you're hitting up Amazon, the easiest way to donate is with Amazon Smile. You use your same Amazon account, shop the same products, and do everything exactly as you would normally. The difference is, when you visit Amazon Smile, you find and designate a charity or nonprofit. Anytime you make a purchase through the Smile portal, Amazon donates a portion of cost to your chosen organization. Right now, there are almost one million eligible 501(c)(3) public charitable organizations.

    You can search for an organization by name or location. To make it easy for you, here is a list of local organizations who would appreciate any donations you make during the holiday season and throughout the year. I do wish you could also search by type of organization, to make it easier to find environmental nonprofits.

    And with today being Cyber Monday, I can only hope that many shoppers use Amazon Smile to do good while they order away!
  • Founded in 2006, TOMS started off making shoes with a one-for-one model, where they would donate a pair of shoes to a child in need for every shoe sold. Since then, they've expanded to include eyewear, bags and coffee, which provide restored sight, safe births and safe water to people in need.
  • When you're shopping, look to see if the company does good work, from planting trees like PaperCulture or work in impoverished communities like Cotopaxi, or follows the buy-one-donate-one model like any of these 23 companies.

    The awesome part of shopping with companies like these is that you can find unique gifts for those on your shopping list at the same time you're helping the company pay it forward!
Image: BuzzFeed

Donate

Devote a little of your time tomorrow to make a donation to an organization you love. Whether you do it online, swing by to drop off a check, or do a little shopping to drop off physical items, you'll make an impact to your organization.

These are just a few ideas of long-running or local organizations, but there are literally thousands of organizations who would appreciate your donation.
  • New Orleans-based The Green Project
  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore has moved to a new location in Lafayette, on Johnston Street near The Grand Theatre, and while they are not open for shopping on Tuesdays, they are open to accepting donations.
  • FoodNet of Acadiana helps feed the hungry all year long. This year, the annual KLFY Food for Families drive is happening next Tuesday, December 8. They accept canned goods, non-perishable food and other necessities like paper towels and toilet paper.
  • St. Joseph's Diner provides food for the homeless.
  • Operation Warm/Coats for Kids
  • Lafayette Central Park is working to build Lafayette's Horse Farm into an amazing park that families can enjoy for generations to come. 
  • When I wrote about Giving Tuesday last year, I shared a long list of environmental organizations that focus on things from clean water to bicycle advocacy to nature preservation. Check it out to see how you can help the environment this Giving Tuesday!

My Food for Families donation from last year.


Volunteer

Maybe you aren't able to actually get out and volunteer on a Tuesday, but you CAN make the resolve or commitment to volunteering at a future time. Nonprofits are always looking for volunteer assistance, and you can have fun while doing good! (Says the girl who actually enjoys cleaning up litter and painting park railings as a volunteer.)

Working with Keep Lafayette Beautiful to oversee a group of college students for this year's UL Big Event.

This holiday season, don't get so swept up in shopping and 'getting'...focus on 'giving' to your loved ones AND those in need!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

Photo Friday | Doing Good

I am loving this inspirational photo I came across this week.

Even if you only make a few changes to live a more sustainable life, it makes a difference. Even on Black Friday, you can do some good!

Photo: 1 Million Women

Hope you are all having a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Wishes from Eco Cajun

Wherever you are, and whoever you're spending the day with, I hope you all have a fulfilling and enjoyable Thanksgiving!

Wreath: Star Studios

I'm thankful for my fiance, our families, my job, our kitties, having a new car, and all of y'all! It's been quite an eventful year, and I'm proud of how I've kicked off my 30s!

What are you thankful for this year?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Black Friday & Small Business Saturday

Who's finished their holiday shopping already? Who hasn't even started? Who plans to hit Black Friday sales?

I'll cop to not having started yet!

It's possible to be sustainable while doing your holiday shopping, even if you participate in Black Friday!

Level 1

Focus on reducing your waste as much as possible by planning ahead and going reusable.
  • Plan your route so you don't end up driving around in circles.
  • Bring your reusable shopping bags.
  • Pack your coffee in an insulated mug. It'll stay hotter longer, anyway!
  • Skip the gift-wrap service. (Come back next week for tips on how to wrap gifts the eco-friendly way!)
  • Only buy what you really need, not just anything you see that happens to be 50% off.
  • Stopping for a lunch break? Bring your own drink bottle and go inside instead of hitting the drive-thru.

Level 2

Instead of waiting in line for most of Thanksgiving afternoon and fighting big crowds this year, do your shopping at local stores and participate in Small Business Saturday. It still counts if you visit local shops on Friday! Just about anything you need can be found at a local and small business.

When you support local shops and businesses, you know exactly who you're supporting, and you know your money is staying in the local economy. You can find unique items and get personal customer service. While it's a great one-day event, it's important to make shopping at local businesses a priority all year long. 

https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small/
 

Lafayette small businesses Bengals & Bandits | Parish Ink | The Backpacker | Red Arrow Workshop | Caroline & Company

Many of the same shopping tips still apply:
  • Plan your route to be the most fuel-efficient.
  • Bring your reusable shopping bags.
  • Pack your coffee in an insulated mug or bring your mug to a local coffee shop for an extra treat.
  • Skip the gift-wrap service if offered.
  • Only buy what you really need.
  • Choose a local restaurant for lunch! Especially in Lafayette, we have tons of great local options. Just try to skip the styrofoam.




Small Business Saturday 2014: Lunch and a local soda by the fire and Christmas tree at Joey's

Acadiana has a wide variety of local businesses, and you can go from great Christmas gifts to everyday necessities like groceries. Any day of the year, supporting a local business has a big impact on your community. Share your love and shop small!

Lafayette small business E's Kitchen

Some local crafty people and entrepreneurs don't have a physical shop, but sell their goods on their websites, sites like Etsy, and even Instagram. These can be great places to score handmade, upcycled or vintage finds, especially jewelry! This year during the holiday season, I'll be sharing some of my favorites on Facebook and Instagram.

Level 3

Save your shopping for a day other than Black Friday and get outside to enjoy nature! Or stay home and decorate, it's up to you! Lafayette business Pack & Paddle is hosting their second annual Black Friday protest paddle over on Bayou Teche. While registration is closed, it's a great inspiration for other outdoor shenanigans. You can also stop by their store to celebrate Small Business Saturday.




What are your plans for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015

Photo Friday | Still Lafayette Strong

In honor of The Grand Theatre reopening this week.

For the ladies we lost, the ones who are still recovering, and a proud community.





Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What's On My Bookshelf

I haven't seemed to find the time to read in the past...oh, forever, but I like to lovingly stare at my bookshelf with the plans of, "Oh, I'm totally going to read you next!" For a little while, I was good about reading before bed each night, but it's totally been replaced with my adult coloring books. (Um, so much fun, and now I need more colored pencils. And yes, they are on my Christmas list.)

My main genres are humor and chick lit, but when I'm looking for inspiration or new ideas, I lean toward my selection of green books. One is literally called The Green Book.

These books are some of my favorites and my need-to-reads.



And while I do love holding a physical book, I have come around to the idea of reading books through my Kindle app on my tablet. Paperless and portable! I've loaded up my Amazon wish list with titles to purchase after I figure out how to add hours to the day.

I'm also tremendously overdue for a trip to the Lafayette Public Library to find a new read. Maybe I shall find one to read over Thanksgiving Break.

All these links go to Amazon, but you can also check your local library for a free hard copy!

On My Shelf

  • The Imperfect Environmentalist, Sara Gilbert. AKA Darlene from one of my beloved shows, Roseanne, Sara wrote this informational and tip-laden book with a hilarious, snarky flair. I'm like the heart-eyed emoji just thinking about it. It's broken down into plain English, and into levels of how green you want to go.
  • 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth, The EarthWorks Group. Y'all. This lil book is what started it all for me. Blame my 6th grade teacher for me being like this now. Back in the day, I found my own copy of the book at a used bookstore, which makes it awesomely green. Full disclosure, this copy, and the accompanying 50 Things You Can Do to Save the Earth, came from Amazon a couple years ago. I probably sold that first copy at a family garage sale. Grrr. However, the NEW Kids version has been updated with newfangled web references that weren't around in 1996 when I had big glasses and denim overalls.
  • The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard. I've had this book for awhile, and am really pumped to read it. But I haven't yet. I do follow The Story of Stuff Project on Facebook, so that counts for something, right? But this book focus a lot on our society's obsession with material things and how it's trashing the planet.
  • The Green Book, Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas Kostigen. This was a great book for practical, every day tips. Plus, lots o celebrities get their green moment.
  • The Eco Chick Guide to Life, Starre Vartan. I followed Starre's blog, Eco Chick, for years when I first started this blog, and picked up her book for inspiration. Do I want to be fabulously green? Damn right, I do! This book is also in the queue.

In My Kindle


And one bonus non-treehugger book, because I love it something fierce.
  • The Royal We, Jessica Cocks and Heather Morgan. The girls behind Go Fug Yourself wrote this amazingly hilarious and addicting Royal Family novel that was $3.99 for the Kindle a few months ago. Although it's not that cheap anymore, it's still worth it. It might be 450 pages, but I read that effer in about two weeks. One night I couldn't sleep and ended up staying up an extra couple hours just to finish it. Oh mah gah, it's such a good book. My friend Michelle even agrees. And not just because she's holding out for Prince Harry.

What's your favorite way to read a book? 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

Photo Friday | A New Life from Existing Materials

We emphasize recycling as an alternative to sending materials to landfills. But, do we stop to think about the next part of the cycle?

Recycling keeps goods that can be used again out of landfills. But, if we aren't choosing to buy products made with recycled materials, then the loop isn't getting closed.

Continuing to buy 'virgin' paper doesn't help the mountains of paper in a recycling pile. Buying recycled paper keeps that chain going.

Many items come with cardboard or plastic packaging or cans that contain some percentage of recycled content.

But not all materials are recycled into the same thing. Did you know plastic bottles can be recycled to make a legitimate fabric? And not just a plastic-y wannabe fabric!

Check out this gorgeous reversible-printed rug from World Market that now gives my desk space some color. It's made with recycled plastic bottles.


This Chico bag with the Bayou Vermilion District logo is made with recycled plastic bottles.


My umbrella is made with recycled plastic bottles.







Choose items made with recycled materials and close the loop! We recycle so that items like these don't require brand new materials, instead, using what already exists.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Fun Ways to Recycle Fabric and Old Clothing

Continuing with recycling posts in advance of America Recycles Day, today I'm sharing a few ways you can creatively recycle.

Clothing and fabric is not recyclable in the sense of dumping it in the recycling bin for pickup. But it's very easily reusable, repurposable and donate-able.

Earlier this year I shared my adventures in sewing by turning a scarf into an oversized tote bag. It was a fun way to pare down my ridiculous scarf obsession collection, while still enjoying the fabric's print.

http://www.ecocajun.com/2015/07/sewing-adventures.html

http://www.ecocajun.com/2015/07/sewing-adventures.html


So, when I came across an infographic created by Cotopaxi about repurposing fabric, I knew it would be something awesome to share. The Salt Lake City-based company produces backpacks and other outdoor gear from repurposed fabrics.

Repurposing different materials is such an important part of what we do at Cotopaxi; in fact, several of our bags are made completely from repurposed fabrics. They're pretty cool and since they're made from scrap materials, no two bags are alike! 

To celebrate America Recycles Day, they're sharing easy ways to create a jean stuff sack out of an old pair of jeans, electronic device cases from any kind of fabric you have, and a t-shirt infinity scarf.

See the full infographic here, or click on the preview graphic below!

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/18374273/Eco%20Cajun/Cotopaxi_recycle_v1.5.jpg
Graphic: Cotopaxi

All of these are simple and inexpensive ways to reuse old clothing that's probably stuffed in the back of your closet!

What would you create with some old fabric?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Murrica Recycles!

Christmas. Taylor Hanson's birthday. America Recycles Day. Thanksgiving. Earth Day.

Maybe I'm a nerd who loves to celebrate holidays, and maybe America Recycles Day really is one of my top favorite holidays.

Would you really expect anything more?

Image: Reply GIF

This Sunday, November 15, is Keep America Beautiful's annual day to celebrate and do some recycling! It's easy to celebrate, whether you find and participate in a local event or do something on your own. Let's celebrate recyclable items and the items they can become in a new life!

http://americarecyclesday.org/


  • Take the pledge to recycle a particular product, maybe one you don't recycle now. This year's focus is on recyclable bathroom products - a topic I wrote about earlier this year! Send those shampoo or lotion bottles on to a new life instead of to the landfill.
  • Recycle as much as you possibly can! Especially on November 15, make it the highest priority. If you collect your recycling inside, make sure to bring everything to your outside bin or community dumpster for pickup.
  • Grab some bags and get outside yourself or with your children or a group of friends. Go on a litter hunt and pick up and recycle as much as you can. This is also a great way to teach children what can be recycled.
  • Offer to recycle for others - whether your office or neighbors. Offer to take any of their recyclable waste and put it out for pickup. At work, go around to everyone's desks and offer to collect any recyclable waste, or leave a special bin for them that you can pick up later.
  • Visit the America Recycles Day website and look for a recycling event in your area. There are tons across the country! However, as of today, there are only events in Eunice and New Roads.
  • Share the message with everyone! Let your friends and family know about America Recycles Day and encourage them to participate too.

Photo: Seed Paper Promotions



How do you plan to celebrate America Recycles Day this Sunday?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

Recycling Options for Apartment Renters

With Lafayette Parish's recycling contract with the Recycling Foundation (turned Progressive Waste) coming up for renewal soon, the Department of Public Works looked at proposals from other companies and is looking at a contract renewal vote before the end of the year.

This is the perfect time to look at the recycling services currently provided within the city and parish: curbside residential pickup (which all residents pay for whether they have a cart or not; check out my Recycling 101 blog post), paid business recycling (which is optional), and a public collection site for all residents to use.

A large group of residents who miss out are apartment renters. They make up a concentrated portion of the city, but the majority are not going to haul their recyclables to the public collection site, whether it's because of inconvenience or indifference.

Over the years, service to accommodate renters has changed. When I first moved to an apartment in 2009, every fire station in Lafayette had a group of bins for recycling collection. I could easily drive down the street to my nearest fire station and drop off a trash can full of my recyclables.

Within a year or so, the fire stations eliminated their collection sites, leaving me with the choice to drive across town to the public collection site. Orrrrr I could just bring it to my parents' house and mooch off their curbside cart.

Even with being a recycling-loving treehugger, driving across town was inconvenient, and I would let the recyclables pile up inside the apartment until it was ridiculous.

I knew then that if I didn't want to make the drive, other residents certainly would not want to either.

When I moved to another apartment a few years later, I was closer to the public collection site, but still not dedicated to making the trip often with a trunk full of recyclables.

Imagine my excitement when my complex added a few recycling dumpsters from Waste Management next to the trash dumpsters. Now all I had to do was stop on my way out of the parking lot and empty my recycling bin. Much more convenient!


See how easy it is to recycle at this apartment complex? Trash on the left, recyclables on the right!


Although I've been out of my apartment for almost two years, I know that the number of apartment complexes in Lafayette with recycling service is still limited. With a high concentration of residents, it would make a huge impact for all complexes to offer recycling, whether it's required by a contract or not. The volume of recycled materials could grow tremendously if the service is made available to renters. Just think of all the cardboard boxes on moving day! Which always felt like every day while living in an apartment.

The Daily Advertiser asks, will a new contract cover apartments? It's too soon to say, but we can hope!

What can I do in the meantime?

If you live in in the city of Lafayette, and you live in an apartment or other rental that does not have a recycling bin, you can still collect your cans, bottles, paper and cardboard and bring it to the Recycling Foundation off IG Lane.  

An important note: Glass is NOT accepted at the collection facility!

If you're interested in having recycling pickup, talk to your apartment complex and ask if they'll consider getting the service, and find out what it would take for them to get it. You can even give them provider information so they can inquire about services:
Progressive Waste Solutions (dumpsters)
310 Lexington Road, Rayne, LA
866-914-0777

Waste Management (dumpsters)
111 Wilfred Road, Lafayette, LA
800-284-2451

Recycling Foundation (bins or dumpsters)
(337) 234-0066

Additionally, you can contact the Acadiana Apartment Association for possible assistance in getting your complex to recycle.

A few months back, I met with the board of a condo complex in town. They were interested in starting a recycling program, but didn't know where to start. They were also concerned about getting the condo residents on board with the program and recycling properly. I gave them a list of reasons why residents should recycle, tips on how to make it easier within the home and a list of accepted/unaccepted materials, all of which they could incorporate into their monthly newsletters. The issue of getting residents to recycle correctly is another battle to face. #NoFoodIntheRecyclingBin

If enough people are interested and talk to their apartment complexes about getting recycling services, Lafayette renters could see more recycling options, whether it's covered by a new city contract or not.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

Photo Friday | Re-Mews-able Bags

Dax and Milo wanted to drop in today and give you all a reminder to use cloth bags when you go shopping! And a reminder to buy them treats while you're shopping. Tuna flavor, please.

They'll personally check the bags to make sure you didn't leave anything in there.




And maybe if you have any spare cardboard boxes to recycle, they would like a few new options to sit in and chew on.


Hey, I just type what they tell me to. 😊

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Making the Grade

In my own green journey, and as research for both past and upcoming blog posts, I've been taking a closer look at the ingredients of many products I use daily. One area I'm working on and upgrading is my skincare and makeup products. If it can seep into my skin, it shouldn't be toxic.

I've written before about the Environmental Working Group, but here's where I put my research to the test.


Who is this group?

EWG is not just a group of hippies with a website who shuns mainstream products. They are a legitimate nonprofit organization, with a pretty large staff, and they use thorough research to better educate consumers on food, skin products, water and the environment so we can make educated choices.

I first learned about the group a few years ago with their list of the Dirty Dozen foods, the ones most likely to be doused in pesticides and most recommended to buy organic. Since then, I've learned just how expansive their focus is.

And they are constantly doing research. Back in May, I wrote about nontoxic nail polish and referred to the EWG guide for some points. Recently, there was an update posted on their website about new scores for nail polish based on new research about triphenyl phosphate (TPHP). So you know that scores on the website are not necessarily outdated.

How do I use it?

Whatever category you're looking into, select it from the main page. I'll use Skin Deep for this post's purposes. Select a subcategory and dive in to the list of brands and products. You can also search for a specific product. The lower the numbered score, the lower the health hazard, on a scale of 1-10.

The overall score is an average of each ingredient's score, and each ingredient is broken out and listed with its own rating and explanation.

The information gives you a basis to make a decision on whether you want to continue using the product, or help you search for a better alternative. Maybe fragrance doesn't bother you. But maybe you have sensitive skin and heavy fragrance causes a rash or skin outbreak. The database can help you check products before you spend the money to try it yourself.

As with everything, EWG has a legal disclaimer, so you take this with however much salt you please.

Show me how it works.

Bossy! But let's do this. Let's grade a few of my current bathroom products.
  • Lubriderm daily moisturizing lotion with sunscreen: The closest match I found is the 2012 formulation, and it doesn't give great results:
    • With an overall score of 6 (out of 10), the lotion scores an 8 on the fragrance and oxybenzone ingredients. According to EWG research, these contribute to Ecotoxicology, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Miscellaneous, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive); and Enhanced skin absorption, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Persistence and bioaccumulation, Use restrictions.
  • Old Spice deodorant: First, shut it. I don't like most girly deodorants. And my time using a natural alternative did not smell great. I am working on finding another natural alternative. However, surprisingly:
    • A 3 out of 10! Once again, fragrance is the worst ingredient, with an 8.
  • Tom's of Maine toothpaste: Alriiiiight! A good score! I would hope so at least, since I made this switch a couple years ago to be more natural. 
    • The toothpaste gets an overall 2 out of 10. Highest ingredient concern is "flavor" with a 4. Concerns? Miscellaneous. Ooookay. Don't want to poison my miscellanies, but I do like the minty flavor.
  • Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer: So I bought this a few days ago without reading the ingredients, and plan to bring it back since I noticed it contains the blasted parabens.
    • The overall 6 score isn't as bad as I thought it would be, but there are 3 ingredients in the high-danger range: fragrance, propylparaben and DMDM hydantoin (a formaldehyde releaser). I mean, I just want the lazy girl's half-assed winter tan. But maybe not with a side of formaldehyde...
  • La Vanila Vanilla Blackberry perfume: Y'all. This is my favorite brand of perfume. Paraben-free and all that jazz. But that damn fragrance is causing a negative skew on the score. Shame, because it smells SO. GOOD.
    •  Overall score of 5. Fragrance is an 8, SD Alcohol 1 is a 4, and all the rest of the ingredients are 1s. This is one product where I make the decision to keep it. Because again. It smells so good.
  • Burberry Brit: Oh. Well. At least I have La Vanila!
    • Overall score of 10. Out of 10. Most ingredients are high on the allergy/immunotoxicity radar. One ingredient scores a 1, and it's water.
  • Opti Free Replenish: Not in the database. Works for me, because I'm not sure there is a natural alternative to contact lens solution...and I don't mess around with contact lens care.
  • Burt's Bees Deep Cleansing Cream: This stuff smells strangely amazing and I've grown to love it. After writing about microbeads, I wanted to stay far away from conventional face washes, and quite enjoy what Burt's Bees produces.
    • Overall 4 out of 10, with sodium borate being the worst offending ingredient. Can cause Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Miscellaneous, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Use restrictions.

So there you have it. A rating of some of Caitlin's bathroom products. Not too bad, but can definitely be improved.

What about on-the-go?

Since I've been looking into my makeup upgrade, I've been researching organic brands both on EWG and on blogs or wellness lists, which is great when I'm on my laptop, curled up with a cat or two in my lap. But then I get to the store and forget what I read a few weeks prior.

And then I stand there, furiously trying to Google brands and getting overwhelmed with search results and different recommendations. So I downloaded three EWG apps: SkinDeep, Dirty Dozen and Food Scores. With the apps, you can search for products or scan its barcode to get results. Yay! Instant gratification fulfilled.

To test the SkinDeep app, I scanned the barcode of my favorite chapstick, Burt's Bees. And here's what popped up almost instantly:


So, not as great as I thought...considering I apply chapstick approximately 924 times a day. But I can handle an allergy threat, so it won't stop me from using the brand.

But this app will come in extremely handy when I'm shopping for skincare or beauty products, and want to compare a few products.

The Dirty Dozen app serves as a reminder of which produce items should be bought organic.

And the Food Scores app works similarly to Skin Deep, where you can grade tons of food products.

Again, take it all with however many grains of salt you want, but it does open your eyes a little bit to just what's in so many products we use daily.
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.