Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016

Photo Friday | Love the Boot, Don't Pollute

This week, Keep Louisiana Beautiful held its annual conference in Baton Rouge, and representatives from the local affiliates, along with other environmental organization leaders, gathered for presentations and award ceremonies.

Although I had major FOMO by not being able to attend, my friends with Keep Lafayette Beautiful, Lafayette Consolidated Government, Project Front Yard, UL Lafayette Sustainability, Bayou Vermilion District and TECHE Project represented the Lafayette area really well.

Yesterday at the conference, Keep Louisiana Beautiful unveiled their new statewide litter campaign and slogan, "Love the Boot, Don't Pollute". The campaign is part of a statewide effort to provide education on littering and polluting and the importance of, well, NOT littering.

Just remember, if you have trash, you put it in a trash can or recycling bin. Don't throw it out the car window, don't drop it wherever you're walking, and don't drive to the middle of nowhere to dump your stuff.


Photo courtesy The Advocate

The bumper stickers will go on all state vehicles, replacing these 90s vintage yellow beauties that I still see on the road. Updated message, same concept.


Hope you all have a wonderful fall weekend! Tomorrow brings in my historically favorite month, and this year, it's an extra special October! Ahhhh!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pre-wedding Natural Makeup and Skincare

I'm not a makeup junkie. My entire collection is probably smaller than most people's travel bags, and I buy new makeup when I hit the point of not being able to squeeze another drop out of the tube. I've pretty much stuck with the same brands and colors for the past 10 years.

But over the past year, I've been more attuned to researching companies that use fewer chemicals in their makeup and beauty products, looking for more natural and vegan-friendly alternatives. It's very much a broad industry to peruse, and I've spent a lot of time researching different brands, their claims and ingredients, and their ratings in the EWG Skin Deep Guide to Cosmetics. (Read about EWG in this blog post as well.)

And I'm by no means an expert on natural beauty products now, but as my wedding approaches ever closer, I realized it was a great time to invest in a few new products the green way. Besides for wedding purposes, it's also time to invest in better products for my thirtysomething skin. I've grown up a little beyond the days of 1998 that involved Cover Girl liquid foundation the thickness of a milkshake and in the wrong shade.

So, what am I doing to prep my skin for our big day next month?


Although not featured in the title image, the important part is where you begin. Every morning I use Burt's Bees Deep Cleansing Cream, and it always feels so cool and refreshing. (It's rated a 4 on the EWG scale, and the biggest problem ingredient is something I may need to look into more.) 

A few weeks ago, I visited my local Sephora looking for a natural or organic mask for general skin glowiness. That might be exactly how I asked the sale assistant for help too. I'm sorry to everyone who's heard me preface anything lately with "I'm getting married in __ months, so..." But, it pretty much is the guiding force of everything on my mind lately.

So. Mask shopping. The girl recommended this new Farmacy Honey Potion mask, so I went for it, because of their commitment to natural ingredients. It's warming, it's renewing, it looks like straight up honey until you massage it into your skin, and it makes your skin extremely soft. I think it's also helped my pores and blackheads, giving me a fresh-faced look. Oh, and the spatula is magnetic so it can attach to the lid so you don't lose it. Is it inexpensive? Absolutely not, especially for someone like me. But now is the time to invest! And even after just a few weeks, I think it's worth it.

I asked how often I could use the mask, and the girl said it was safe to use frequently. Because I'm so addicted to how smooth my skin feels, I use it every other evening (at least until the wedding when I'm officially allowed to let go. Don't tell Phillip. 😝) 

And the most basic, most important lesson of all. Drink water. I admittedly don't drink 64 ounces every day, but I've really been working to get back to that so I can feel as good as possible. My head certainly reminds me when I've been slacking, and I do not have the time or the want for a headache. So, all the water.


On the nights I don't use the hydration mask, I apply a layer of this Simple Ultra Light Gel Moisturizer. Found at Target, it's very cost effective for a natural product. On the EWG scale, it ranks a 2. I picked this up earlier this year when the cooler air (what's that?) was leaving my skin extra dry, and it's helped tremendously.


On to my new morning makeup routine. When I was researching brands, I knew that vegan-friendly and natural alternatives would cost a little more than I usually spend, but I wasn't willing to pay too much more. I've been using Tarte blush (3 on the EWG scale), Physician's Formula eyeshadow (2 on the EWG scale) and Ecco Bella powder (2 on the EWG scale) for a few months now and love them all. Everything is comparable to the conventional products I had before.

What I purchased recently for the wedding (and for general upgrades) includes Tarte BB tinted moisturizer foundation, Tarte CC undereye corrector (although there's not much hiding these suitcases), Tarte waterproof eyeliner and Tarte waterproof mascara. (And a-thank you to an Ulta gift card I still had from Christmas.)


Tarte is a larger brand, available at both Sephora and Ulta, but they are committed to keeping parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, and gluten out of their products.

And they perform really well. I also have a sample size of Tarte's 4-in-1 mascara, and my lashes look fantastic these days, if I do say so myself. The waterproof mascara may not give quite as much the magical effect, but it still works really well, and both the mascara and eyeliner stood up to an hour of hot power yoga. So I mean, if they can handle that, they can handle ugly crying and sweaty dancing. #weddingapproved

Of note, Ecco Bella is a certified green business and is made in the USA. They place a focus on having sustainable packaging as well - their blushes come in a refillable compact, so when you replace your blush, you can use the same container. The face powder is not refillable, but it is a cardboard compact so it's recyclable. I've had this powder for almost a year, and the compact hasn't lost any strength, so that's not an issue to worry about.



There are lots of makeup brands committed to avoiding chemicals, vegan-friendliness, and sustainability, and if I even tried to list them here, I would leave out a lot.

If you're shopping around for new makeup, do your research first. Visit the company's website to read about their ingredients or values. Look up products in the EWG Skin Deep database. Ask around. (When I first went to Ulta in my makeup transition, I asked the girl to point me toward the natural or organic brands.) Read the ingredients lists on retailer websites or on the product packaging. Ask for samples if you can, to see if you like something before you commit to purchasing.

Makeup may be skin deep, but the effects from harmful ingredients can go way deeper and last longer.



None of these products are featured because of sponsored endorsements; they're just players in my eco lifestyle game! Gotta walk that walk before I can talk the talk.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Photo Friday | Inspiration to Act

When I don't have many of my own photos to share for Photo Friday, I've really taken to sharing inspirational or galvanizing thoughts from other groups. Litterati shared this thought recently, and it can apply to so much. If we aren't the ones to work to protect the environment, who will? If we don't clean up our cities, who will?

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKQppZQhLrw/?taken-by=litterati
Graphic from Litterati


Don't rely on others to do something - do it yourself.

I know that many times when people litter, they think "oh, someone else will clean it up." (If they think anything at all.) But that's not the thought to have. Change it to "I'm not going to litter this so I can keep the street or ditch clean. I'll wait to throw this away in a trash can."

When I read the quote, I keep thinking of the Mardi Gras parade where Project Front Yard volunteers walked the entire route picking up beads, and litter. I remember one man telling me, "Don't they have the street sweepers to do that?" And I told him that it wasn't the only solution, and that it takes all of us.

Because if not us, then who?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Green Company Spotlight | Paper Culture

During wedding planning, as I tackle each item on the (neverending) list, I begin by asking myself, "How can I make this eco-friendly?"

Truth bomb: In general, this usually makes things more complicated. Instead of just picking the first option you find, you spend time researching different companies, weigh their sustainability and product claims, and then make a decision.

When it came time to our save the date cards and invitations, this choice wasn't so complicated. As I was trying out one online vendor, I noticed that the option for printing on recycled paper was an additional cost. So I moved on and looked for other, less expensive options.

In this search, I discovered Paper Culture, a California-based company that uses 100% recycled paper in all of their stationery products. Recycled paper is not an upgrade-able option; it's the default stock. In addition, they offer a variety of customizable eco-friendly gifts, and they plant a tree for every order made.


I shall repeat: They plant a tree for every order made. How amazing is this!?

So I started with the Save the Dates. I spent many days perusing the options and playing around with the customization of about 10 different designs. You can tinker with your design, then save it for later.

The customization options may not be as robust as other services - you can't change fonts or the overall layout - but you can request free designer assistance, where you can request different colors or sizes. The designer response is pretty timely.

After I was happy with about 5 different Save the Date options, I reviewed them with my fiance and we both ended up choosing this adorable wood-grain photo style card. Very, very us.




The order process is simple - move the item to your cart, double check your quantities, then check out. All orders over $125 receive free shipping - and you still receive your order very quickly. When I ordered our Save the Date cards, they arrived in THREE DAYS.


Now that my order was in, I noticed the packaging right away. It's efficient and sized right, although it does use plastic air packs to keep the paper from getting banged up. You can read printed statistics on the benefits of trees, and I am just now realizing the box is designed to be reversible so you can use it again for gift-giving! Plus, the ink is water-based.

After our Save the Dates went out, it was time to look for invitations. The invitation design selection is much smaller (31 design options compared to 82 save the date options), but I discovered another wonderful feature of Paper Culture - the design-it-yourself option.

Armed with Photoshop and available sizes from Paper Culture, I designed our invitations and RSVP cards on my own and uploaded the entire design to the website. I enjoyed free shipping once again, and they arrived in four days.



All cards automatically come with envelopes, and I ordered matching address labels to go with each. (And I plan to order a large set with my future last name to go with thank you cards and general mail!) For many of the wedding designs the company offers, you can order your entire suite of stationery to coordinate.

In addition to wedding stationery, there are thank-you notes, holiday cards, party and other event invitations, birth and graduation announcements. But I mean, if you have a design program, you have the freedom of designing literally any card you want and having it printed on 100% recycled paper and getting a tree planted for it.

Although I went for a simpler look to both of my pieces with flat printing, Paper Culture does offer foil printing on some of their designs, allowing you to have an extra glamorous touch. The pieces themselves are printed on thick stock paper, giving each a nice, substantial feeling in your hand. If you want them even thicker, you can upgrade to double-thick or triple-thick paper.

Image from Paper Culture

Paper Culture is a California-certified Green Business, Small Business Award winner, and a member of Carbon Fund.

As a paper company, we have an even greater responsibility to promote sustainability. From day one, our pledge has been that no new trees will be cut down for our customer's cards because we use exclusively 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Furthermore, we will plant a tree with as a part of every order. As a company, we do our best to operate with the smallest environmental footprint we can, from the recycled paper in our printers, to the CFL light bulbs in our office, to the non-toxic cleaning products in our kitchen. What we can't eliminate, we offset as a CarbonFree® partner of Carbonfund.org.

What I love about Paper Culture (and some of my other favorite green brands) is that the products don't necessarily scream ECO-FRIENDLY. The cards aren't made from elephant poop (although that paper does exist, no it doesn't stink, and yes it is pretty cool), and the envelopes aren't made of kraft paper. They have a streamlined, classic look while still using alternative materials.

I love that I can check wedding stationery off the list as being eco-friendly. Plus, those two trees I've planted through my orders will provide many benefits to people for years to come. :)


Working ahead for this year's Christmas cards? Get 20% off your holiday purchase through September 26!



Disclaimer: I received a discount on my wedding invitations in exchange for this post, but all opinions are mine and the praise is genuine!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hospice of Acadiana Thrift Sale

I've written before about how to host your own garage sale, but you know what's even better than doing that? Donating your items to a thrift sale! A thrift sale that benefits Hospice of Acadiana, specifically.

Although you don't personally reap the profits from hosting your own garage sale, you'll feel just as good donating your old items to the organization. Hospice of Acadiana has a group of dedicated volunteers who donate their time to sorting, categorizing and pricing all of the goods brought in - the tedious part of every garage sale! Save yourself the trouble, and let the volunteers handle it for you.

Hospice of Acadiana is Acadiana's only nonprofit Hospice, and the annual thrift sale functions as one of their biggest fundraisers, allowing the organization to continue the many services they provide to our community's residents.

 

This year, the sale is going on from November 4-6 at the Lafayette Event Center. Friday evening, November 4, is the ticket-only preview party. Your ticket gets you in early so you have the pick of the litter. Saturday, November 5, and Sunday, November 6, are open market days for the general public with a nominal entry fee.

And this year on Sunday, the thrift sale is introducing an Artists and Artisans Marketplace, where local craftsmen and artists are invited to sell their goods for a low introductory rate.

Thanks to Kari Walker, Hospice of Acadiana's special events coordinator, I got to take a tour of the holding rooms for all of the donated items, and enjoyed browsing through the many items already brought in. She showed me how well-organized the items are, ranging from the lamps section to the Christmas and Mardi Gras decor, home goods, art, jewelry, small furniture, toys, and games.



 

"Everything is sorted, and we discard what isn't usable. All of the puzzles and games have all their pieces. We check all electronics to make sure everything works," Kari says.

If you're shopping to furnish an apartment or camp, you'll come across tons of great finds at the Thrift Sale. It's also an opportunity to more inexpensively replace items lost in the flood.

What I think makes the thrift sale unique is the availability of repurposed goods. Some of Hospice of Acadiana's volunteers put a lot of time and effort into reusing and repurposing donated goods into new craft pieces. I absolutely love these aprons made of men's button-down shirts. I might just have to get myself one as a newlywed gift! I mean really. They are so cute! I believe my quote as I was modeling this one was, "Let me leave the top button undone to be sassy!"


The volunteers also repurpose old cups, saucers and vases to make bird feeders and garden totems, which give your garden or yard a very colorful, shabby chic flair.

 

 

Items that can't be sold as-is go into a pile for being repurposed. While I was there, one volunteer was hard at work at making a mosaic table top with chipped dinner plates.


When it comes time to check out, Hospice of Acadiana has their system down pat. And they've also got enough plastic bags to hold all your finds. Many of these come from the Albertson's recycling bin, since the grocery store is one parking lot over from the Hospice office. So, if you've ever dropped off plastic bags at the grocery store, you can feel good knowing the bag is being reused.


So, if you want to donate some items, you've still got a few weeks go through your stuff and drop it off to Hospice of Acadiana! And mark your calendars for the big weekend, so you can hunt for some vintage, eco-friendly, and repurposed treasures while helping out one of Acadiana's most valuable nonprofits.

Thanks again for the tour, Kari!

DONATE

Fridays until October 14, 9a.m.-4p.m., or by appointment
Hospice of Acadiana, 2600 Johnston Street, Lafayette





ITEMS ACCEPTED

  • Baby and Toy items China/Crystal/Collectibles
  • Christmas and Mardi Gras Decor
  • Garden/Outdoor items
  • Home Decor
  • Jewelry/Boutique Items
  • Kitchen Items
  • Small Appliances
  • Linens
  • Bath Items
  • SMALL Furniture Pieces
  • Wall Art

ITEMS NOT ACCEPTED

  • Clothing of any sort
  • Electronics
  • Exercise Equipment
  • Large or upholstered furniture
  • Luggage
  • Purses
  • Shoes
  • Sporting Goods

SHOP

Lafayette Event Center, 4607 Johnston Street, Lafayette

ENTRY

  • Friday's preview party: $25 in advance, $30 at the door
  • Saturday: $5
  • Sunday: $3

VISIT HOSPICE OF ACADIANA

Online | Facebook | Twitter

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

Photo Friday | Dropping the Ball

The first two weeks of college football are down, and UL Lafayette has their third home game in a row coming up tomorrow. Which means, it's your third chance go to for zero waste when tailgating and spectating! Get a refresher on my game day sustainability.

This past weekend, I got a glimpse of the stands near me toward the end of the game...and it is decidedly not zero waste. Maybe I should start handing out blog cards to people in these stands so they can visit the website and learn a few things, but those would probably just be littered as well. :P

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKNEED2j04d/?taken-by=ecocajun

But seriously, we can do better. There are trash cans and recycling bins all over Cajun Field. Just because there isn't one in your row in the stands doesn't mean you should just leave your trash. Take it up with you and drop it in a can on the concourse.

It. Is. Not. Hard.

These are the photos I would much rather take at football games, not ones of recyclable litter!



https://www.instagram.com/p/BKNEbvhjh2t/?taken-by=ecocajun

So, if you're going to a football game this weekend (for any team!), I challenge you to leave no trash behind! If you use it, you dispose of it. Don't leave it in the stands.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Local Business Spotlight: Midnight Moon Vintage Event Rental

For better or for worse, planning a wedding is one of the biggest ways to showcase your future spouse's and your personalities. It takes a lot of balancing and a lot of compromise, but in the end, a great wedding really shows off your unique qualities as a couple.

After a year and a half (today, actually!) of being engaged, we are in the home stretch for our wedding next month. As we've gone through the planning, I've tried to remain true to what's important to both of us, and that means a focus on being sustainable and eco-friendly.

In the next few weeks, I'll be featuring a few companies I've worked with over the past year, without giving too much away before the big day. But don't worry, there will be a lot more to share after the wedding!



My first feature is on a local small business specializing in vintage and thrifted pieces for rent - Midnight Moon Vintage Event Rental. The company began after a very special and personal event - owner Rachael's own wedding in the fall of 2014.

Photo courtesy Midnight Moon


Everyone wants their wedding to be special, unique and memorable. In my mind, this was not possible with same old fold-up chairs and tables, with disposable cups and plates mass produced in China and bought by a company looking to just make money. You just don’t feel the love in that. I wanted my wedding to reflect who I was. I wanted my guests to be comfortable.
So I combined my beliefs in recycling as much as possible with my style. I decided I was going to customize my own wedding and tailor every inch to reflect who I was. I wanted people to feel it, not just see it. Every piece was handpicked from local thrift shops and antique shops.

My dad built our arbor with trees from his property, my mom and grandmother sewed the lace bunting, and my friend offered up her house to host the event. It really brought everyone together as one big family. I felt so much joy from the whole experience that I wanted to share it with people. And thus, Midnight Moon was born.

What a great story, right?? Not only was Rachael's wedding curated with thrifted and antique items, but she is continuing the reuse cycle by offering her inventory for rent. And she is continually adding new handmade or vintage pieces.

Photo courtesy Midnight Moon

Photo courtesy Midnight Moon

Items range from large furniture like couches, chairs and tables, to small milk glass decorative pieces, vases, table settings, lace doilies and runners, cake stands, rugs, window panes, mirrors, doors, and vintage pieces like luggage and telephones.

Photo courtesy Midnight Moon
 
They offer delivery and pickup services, along with styling and design services. And if you got a glimpse of Rachael's living room, you would know she's pretty fantastic at finding amazing decor and styling it impeccably.

"I know how hard it is to plan and put together a wedding, so along with my inventory I also want to share the knowledge that I have gained to give people and their guests a memorable experience," she says.

Although my venue has just about everything I'll need, I turned to Midnight Moon to find a great cake stand; something that was a little more unique than the "stock" option. I also needed a 14" stand, and although Rachael didn't have one in her inventory, she was very helpful in acquiring one that fit what I was looking for.

And now I can't wait to see my cake atop this gorgeous piece of reclaimed tree with a vintage piece of lace. One of Rachael's vintage plates served as the model stand-in for my cake as I had the tough decision of choosing a piece of lace. (Seriously, she had a bin FULL of lace doilies that I had a lot of fun going through while we chatted.)


As for where the items are sourced from? "Antiques shops around my area, estate sales, barns, backyards and good ole grandma’s house. For my wedding I picked up a lot of stuff at local thrift stores, auctions and estate sales. We’ve come to realize the most abundant and unique items can be found in more of the northern states, especially Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts, which are gold mines to us. A lot of times if there is something that inspires us but we can’t quite find what we are looking for, we will build/recreate it," Rachael says.

There are numerous hand-built farm tables, and a brand-new (reclaimed) wooden backdrop.

Photo courtesy Midnight Moon


The company's items have long history and are unique - a perfect symbolism for a wedding and the beginning of your married life.

Rachael and her team have big plans for the company in the next few years. "We are really working on being a one-stop shop for parties and events. We are expanding, which is exciting. We not only offer furniture rental but also event styling and videography. Floristry is next up on the list, and one day we hope to move the business into an area that can double as a venue," she says.

The beauty of using a company like Midnight Moon, for not only a wedding, but parties or corporate events, is truly in the sustainability. You can find unique, long-lasting quality items to dress up your event the way you want it, and by renting, you keep the lifecycle of the items going. You can spare yourself the hassle of spending a lot of money buying items, and then figuring out what to do with everything once the event is over. Rachael and her team have that covered.

VISIT MIDNIGHT MOON

Online | Facebook | Instagram

Monday, September 12, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Friends of the Library Fall Book Sale

When the Lafayette Public Library's main branch downtown reopened last July, I wrote about some of my childhood memories in a feature blog post. In addition to the old school checkout machines, the actual card catalog, the pockets inside each book's cover, and the sunken area in the children's section, I've got many great memories of accompanying my parents to the annual Friends of the Library book sale.


My parents were always avid readers, so we would occasionally drop off a donation box at the library, where it would go into storage for sorting, and the books would end up as part of the Friends of the Library book sale.

When the sale nights came around, back when it was at the library in the conference room, we would head over early to get the best pickins, of course, and I would spend so much time poring through the young adult sections for a missing Sweet Valley installment or anything else that had an interesting cover (similar to how I pick wine at the grocery store as an adult). Whenever we were finished looking, it was time to head to the cashier and see how tall our stack actually was. I believe back then, it was $.50 per inch for paperback and $1.00 per inch for hardcover.

Back to 2016, the book sale is coming up this week, starting with a special night for Friends of the Library members on Wednesday, then it's open to the general public for three days. If you're a teacher, bring a valid ID and get half off your book purchases!


https://www.facebook.com/LafayetteFriends/

WHEN

Friends of the Library Members Night: Wednesday, September 14 6 – 8 p.m.
(If you aren't yet a member, you may purchase a membership at the door.)

Public Sale: Thursday, September 15 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday, September 16 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, September 17 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

WHERE

Heymann Convention Center Ballroom, 1373 S. College Road

THE DETAILS


  • Books are priced by the inch. 
    • Paperbacks are $.50 per inch. 
    • Hardbacks are $1.00 per inch. 
    • Some special books will be priced slightly higher. 
  • Teachers with a valid ID receive half off these prices. 
  • Cash and checks accepted, but NO debit or credit cards.
  • Stop by the South Regional Library at 6101 Johnston St. between now and September 30 for the Friends’ silent auction.
  • Don't forget to bring your cloth bags or a cardboard box to haul all your new treasures home!

The Friends of the Lafayette Public Library book sale is a great, eco-friendly fundraiser. You can support the library by donating your old books and passing them on to new readers; and you can find great used books for super inexpensive prices. All of the money raised provides supplemental funding to the Lafayette Public Library system and helps pay for projects not covered by the library’s regular budget.

Visit the Friends of the Library Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.

WHERE TO DONATE BOOKS

The Friends of the Library have a warehouse on Refinery Street, near the United Way of Acadiana office and warehouse, the Second Harvest Food Bank warehouse, and the former Habitat for Humanity ReStore. There's a collection bin outside where you can drop books (but don't let them get wet!). And a note, they are not accepting any donations during the month of September, due to the book sale.

211 E Pinhook Rd
Lafayette, LA 70503
(337) 501-9209
Open Monday-Friday 8:00AM - 5:00PM

Happy book shopping!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

Photo Friday | Pledge

Sometimes, my Photo Friday inspiration comes from a photo I've taken, whether I've shared it online already or just had it in my camera roll. And sometimes, I look to other social media pages for something that speaks out.

GASA Nature shared this earlier this summer, and I saved it to use one day. Can't we all use a little more love and compassion - both giving and receiving?

Photo: GASA Nature


I hope you all have a great weekend, as we inch closer to the actual beginning of autumn. If you're heading out to a football game, don't forget to tailgate sustainably!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ode to an Oak

Once upon a time, there was a tall water oak that provided much-needed shade and squirrel activity for a certain green blogger, her fiance, and their cat.  It provided balance to the front yard with a live oak and the neighbor's trees. It provided just enough nature elements for the green blogger to really appreciate their yard.

By 'once upon a time', I mean 'until last week'. In a few fell swoops, the tree came down, bringing much more sunlight, a metric crap-ton of sawdust, and about 15 brand new divots to the front yard. And the other trees in the yard were trimmed to keep the roof clear of any branches.


Obviously, I'm sad to see the tree go. It provided much-needed shade to our older, not well-insulated home. It was a popular hangout for squirrels, and our cat, Dax, very happily sits in the front window for hours.


I'll miss the leaves this having this beautiful golden glow from the streetlight in the evenings.


But I know. Water oaks are notoriously finicky when big storms pass through, and they pose more dangers than live oaks. And most people chop them down. And the neighbor who's been here 30 years said she's seen more than one water oak fall in the neighborhood. And yes, the tree company did point out where the tree was beginning to rot in the middle, making it an even more imminent threat to the house.

And don't tell Phillip, but it will be nice to have fewer sticks to pick up every yard day.

I am slowly accepting our new, very sunny yard. I do actually like the amount of sunshine in the living room, although I wish it didn't come with an increase in heat. (If anyone wants to help this blogger out with insulation or new windows...😉) And maybe our grass will be able to grow in once the stump is ground, giving us a less patchy and more lush front yard (and one that's easier to mow!)

Although I dearly love having trees in our yard (especially to protect the house from the summer heat), it can be just as eco-friendly to responsibly cut trees that become a hazard or that are rotting. The licensed tree company my fiance chose uses a lot of the scrap wood to produce mulch, which keeps the tree's life cycle going a little longer.

I followed a few very typical and very "me" steps in my tree grieving process. Starting with one final hug.


Then a little yoga. Tree pose, of course.


And then some research on planting a new tree in the front yard! The tree company told us to wait about 90 days after the stump is ground, so I've got a little time to decide what I want to plant.

According to SFGate, it's important to first remove as much sawdust as possible from the area and chop out the remaining roots before planting anything new. The new tree will need space for its own roots to grow.

This little tree I picked up at this year's Vermilionville Earth Day festival (for free!) is currently the front runner to upgrade to the front yard. (Look how much it's grown since April! Lil baby tree. It may not be able to provide the same kind of shade in the next few years, but it will give the yard a little something extra. And it won't grow to our former water oak's size for many, many years to come.



We may have said goodbye to the water oak, but I can't wait to say hello to a new bit of nature!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday, September 2, 2016

Photo Friday | Conservation Heroes

Cox Conserves Heroes is an annual awards program created by Cox Enterprises and The Trust for Public Land that honors volunteers who create, preserve or enhance the shared outdoor places in many communities.

The program honors volunteers in Cox’s service areas in Acadiana, Baton Rouge and New Orleans who are creating, preserving or enhancing outdoor spaces. A total of $20,000 will be donated to environmental nonprofits on behalf of the winner and finalists. 

http://coxconservesheroes.com/louisiana.aspx

The finalists for Louisiana's contest were announced this week:

View a video on each finalist and their chosen nonprofit, and vote for your favorite between now and September 21! 


I hope you all have a great, safe and sustainable Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Greener Backyard Cookouts

Maybe it's because of being a Louisiana native, but I always tend to laugh when people lament Labor Day weekend as the last weekend of summer. Maybe it is, but we all know the warm weather lasts well into October, and sometimes November.

So while pumpkin spice is making its way back into everything, I think we've still got a few more weekends for backyard cookouts in us.

But as you gather your friends and family, don't create unnecessary waste in the name of a good barbecue or fish fry.



Many of the tailgate tips I shared on Tuesday can also apply to backyard cookouts.
Skip the styrofoam! A lot of meat comes prepackaged in styrofoam trays and plastic wrap, but see if your butcher or grocery store's meat counter will allow you to bring your own sealed container so you can avoid the extra trash.

As you shop for food, look to your local grocery stores, produce markets and farmer's markets for the best goods.


When it comes to dinnerware, your best bet is to simply go for lightweight, reusable melamine plates, bowls and utensils, which are great lightweight, unbreakable option, especially for children.


If you have a small gathering, just use your regular dinnerware and utensils. It's important to focus on the impact to the environment, not the instant.

 


If you want to go the disposable route, choose disposable plates/silverware that are made with recycled materials. Many grocery stores carry options with a recycled material percentage. Or go for compostable, plant-based or bagasse options!

Use cloth napkins instead of paper, and just throw them in the wash when the party is over. Supply koozies for your guests so they don't waste a ton of napkins to hold their drinks.

Go for reusable plastic, acrylic, or regular glassware for drinks.

Drink cans are recyclable, and glass bottles are not, so remember that when you're shopping for drink options.

Provide a pitcher of water as an alternative to bottled water. 

Yes, they're paper napkins...but the saying is on point!

Have a trash can and a recycling bin nearby for guests, and clearly mark what should go in the recycling bin.

Rinsed aluminum foil can be reused or recycled.





When it comes to types of grills, many barbecutionists have their preference between gas and charcoal. Both can have a negative environmental impact, but according to Grist, gas is overall better than charcoal. Kashi also has a comparison between gas, charcoal and electric.

So although we're transitioning from poolside to fireside, you can still enjoy a great backyard cookout without being harmful to the environment.



 

And if you're having a Labor Day cookout, holla at ya girl!


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