Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

Photo Friday | Eco-friendly Wedding Elements

While I have so, so much that I cannot wait to share from our wedding last weekend, I am going to put just two sneak peeks in today's Photo Friday post. I had a lot of fun (and a little frustration) attempting to stay as committed as possible to incorporating green elements into our ceremony and reception, and I'll be featuring some of the brands and companies I worked with in coming posts (as I get all the professional photos back).

I was determined to have sustainable shoes, which is not as easy as it seems to accomplish. Finding bridal vintage shoes was a basically impossible task, and I tried three pairs (one conventional pair, one secondhand pair, and one vegan leather pair) before finding THE ones, shown below. I do plan to do a post on my bridal style, but this is my quick shout out to Beyond Skin, based in the United Kingdom, and specifically Coral in customer service, for all of their help and for these gorgeous shoes.

My main requirement was a shoe with an ankle strap so they wouldn't slip on and off. These shoes are made of vegan leather, and the lining is 100% recycled with a vegetable polymer coating. The heels were lower than I normally wear, but perfect for dancing the night away.


We included my bicycle as part of the decorations at the ceremony and the reception, and I just love how it became a gorgeous focal point. Members of my new family did a great job on the floral arrangement in my basket, the lights on the basket are LED, and I made the pennant myself.


I've kept the hydrangeas and eucalyptus from the arrangement (love having them in my office!), and will dry them out once they start to wilt. That way I can keep a fragrant reminder around as long as possible!

Have a great Halloween weekend! Don't forget to make a few changes to make your Halloween greener.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How to Waste Less for Halloween

Oh hey, jeez, Halloween is in less than a week! Since I'm just proud that I even bought pumpkins before October ends this year (only because we were having house guests for the wedding, and I wanted the front porch to look...not decrepit), I am going to recycle this photo of the jack-o-lantern I carved a few years back.


Halloween is not exactly known for being zero-waste, with all of the fun-size candy in non-recyclable wrappers, not to mention the polyester costumes that are only worn once.

While we're a long way from making Halloween truly sustainable, there are small steps you can take to reduce, reuse and recycle as you trick or treat.

Decorating

Go for reusable autumn decorations that can be put out year after year, and skip the cheap decorations made of styrofoam or Mylar. Investing in good quality decorations saves you from having to replace them more often.

Don't just throw your pumpkins out! When you carve jack-o-lanterns, save the seeds for roasting. I shared a few links for delicious recipes in this previous blog post. They're such a great seasonal snack, and help reduce the waste caused by carving. If you don't carve your pumpkins, scrape all the seeds out before you get rid of them.

When the holiday has passed, add your pumpkins or jack-o-lanterns to your compost pile. Anyone who's left a pumpkin on the porch a little too long can attest to the fact that decomposition happens pretty quickly.


Costumes

First off, use what you have around the house already to craft your costumes. If you have to purchase items, look at secondhand shops before hitting up big discount stores. You'll at least give new life to something that's been used already. I'm brainstorming my own costume for our office costume contest on Monday, and I'm planning to check out my local Goodwill to find the one piece I don't already have. (Always a procrastinator!)

With children, ask other families for costumes their children have already outgrown. Swapping with friends and family is a great way to give your children a "new" costume, while giving costumes life year after year.

Candy

As I've written about before, there's really no way you can avoid individually wrapped candy if you actually want to give candy out at all. And you probably don't want to be That Person who gives out pencils or erasers or crackers or seed packets. It's great, and it's more eco-friendly and healthy, but let's face it. Kids don't want pencils for Halloween.

You could look for organic or fair-trade candy, as suggested by Forbes, but you may either have trouble finding it at your grocery store, or not want to pay extra for candy being given out to children who won't know the difference, or care about it. And it is tough to justify spending a lot on responsibly made candy for a holiday such as this one. So think simply. Look for candy in the least amount of packaging possible.

Think about those fun size packs of Starburst. You get two individually wrapped Starbursts inside another wrapper. Three things to waste for one treat. Or you've got all that candy wrapped in cellophane plastic. Definitely not recyclable. Go for something wrapped only once (think, pieces of Hershey chocolate, or other kinds of chocolate candy), in something a little better than plastic. It's kind of just one of those "less bad" situations, rather than "good".

Trick or Treating

Give each child a reusable basket, bucket, lunch bag, or cloth bag that you already own for them to carry their treats in. Get creative, but make sure it's big enough and has a handle for children to carry.

Parties

Recycle as much as you can, and if you choose disposable plates and cutlery, look for ones made with recycled materials. 

Energy

Conserve energy, and stay safer, by walking from house to house instead of driving. With so many children on the road, it's just better to leave your car parked at home.

Use energy efficient light bulbs on your porch to signal to trick or treaters that you're handing out candy, a tip from Rachelle Carson-Begley.


How do you plan to be greener this Halloween?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

Photo Friday | Sustainably Ever After

It may be quiet on the blog front, but certainly not behind the scenes, as we are now officially ONE day away from getting hitched!

I'm so excited and anxious to see all of our plans put into action, all of our friends and family gathered in one place, and our wedding party all dressed up.

I also cannot wait to share all of the eco-friendly elements with y'all in the next few weeks. It's been extremely hard to not divulge everything on social media before the big day! 

Today's Photo Friday features a few wedding-related snapshots. For our engagement party/couple's shower a few weeks back, I had a lot of fun showing that sustainability doesn't have to mean sacrifice.

My dress is secondhand from ThredUp (and I had it altered since it was slightly large); my earrings (which you can see in the second photo) are sustainably made by Australian-based Pimelia (and a contest prize courtesy of Sustainably Chic!); my necklace was a vintage find in New Orleans during my bachelorette weekend; and my nail polish is 5-free, vegan, and Louisiana-based by Native Polish. My shoes are from when I was a bridesmaid four years ago, which is probably the most sustainable thing about them. And the balloons were used to mark the house our party was at, and were properly disposed of at the end of the night, keeping them from littering the road or a nearby waterway.


And my fiance is handsome. :) He has certainly embraced my treehugging ways by recycling, conserving energy at home, using reusable water and coffee mugs, and reusing/salvaging usable items.


And this is Dax in a bow tie, because the world needs more adorable photos like this. He may or may not be our honorary ring bearer.


See y'all on the other side of married!! Follow me on Instagram and Snapchat (ecocajun, of course) to catch all the fun times.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday, October 14, 2016

Photo Friday | Repping the River

When the weather is perfect outside, you always want to take advantage of it. Last weekend was one of those gorgeous days, and a group of friends invited us to spend the afternoon on Bayou Vermilion, soaking in the sun and catching up.

The water was a sparkling brown and the scenery looked almost like real autumn! Even with the watercolor sky and vibrant trees, there's still a reminder of the flood with the water line that still covers the banks.

Bayou Vermilion is one of Lafayette's defining characteristics (for both good and bad), but spending time on it gives you a new perspective on the city. In January, I wrote about how Bayou Vermilion District's operations crew goes out on the water every day (weather and water-level permitting) to clean trash and other debris so that residents like myself and my friends can have enjoyable days like we did.


See how much nicer it is when there's not litter floating downstream!?

When you get out on Bayou Vermilion and take photos, share them on social media with #RepTheRiver!

Hope you all have a happy Festivals Acadiens weekend! Don't forget to be green and recycle!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

150+ Ways to Be Green at Festivals Acadiens et Creoles

Because I've been a little preoccupied lately (T-minus 10 days!), Festivals Acadiens et Creoles has majorly snuck up on me. It's like the midpoint tide-you-over-until-Festival-International and the get-your-fill-of-the-best-Cajun-and-Zydeco-music!

Festivals Acadiens 2015.

With festivities kicking off tomorrow evening, the air in Acadiana will have a decidedly more carefree (and dusty) feel. Catch all the free music, food and shopping at Girard Park through Sunday! The weather looks like is going to be sunny and dry, so you have few excuses to keep you away.

As with Festival International, it's very possible to be greener while partaking in Festivals Acadiens.

Bike corral at Festivals Acadiens 2015.
  • Ride your bike and use the free bike corral for safe parking.
  • Skip the paper guide by using the handy Festivals PDF Guide. It's got all your stage locations and musician schedules, the map and menu for your food, and list of all vendors selling their creative goods.
  • Bring a cloth bag for all your shopping!

A foldable cloth bag is the perfect and convenient alternative to plastic bags.
  • Carry a cloth napkin so you don't have to use a ton of paper ones, which can't be recycled. Bonus points for bringing your own, or reusing your utensils.
  • Pack a reusable water bottle so you can stay hydrated (at least in between cups of beer).
  • RECYCLE!

For the second year, Bayou Vermilion District will be setting up more than 100 recycling bins throughout the festival grounds to collect bottles and cans and divert them from the landfill. Members of the UL Lafayette Biology Society, Festival International staff and Project Front Yard are assisting with the setup and maintenance of the bins. Project Front Yard is also putting up an additional 50 bins.

150 recycling bins at Festivals Acadiens - you know what it means! You have no excuse for littering! If you see one of these blue bad boys (and the Project Front Yard ones are red), then you know this is where your plastic and aluminum goes.

While photo is from Party in the Park last May, this is what you'll be seeing a lot of throughout Girard Park - hopefully with as many recyclables as possible in the bag!


BVD purchased these recycling bins last year through a Keep Louisiana Beautiful Healthy Communities Grant, intended to provide direct support to both FAetC and Festival International in an effort to combat waste produced by large festivals. In addition to providing durable recycle bins to these two major events, the BVD recycle bin loan program is available to provide recycle bins to all Lafayette Parish event organizers committed to being cultural and environmental stewards.

Read all about the recycling bins in my blog post from last October.

Recycling during Festivals Acadiens 2015.

"Eco Cajun" patches, reusable water bottle, reusable utensils, cloth napkin, cloth shopping bag, and backpack made of recycled cotton. How I roll!

Still one of my favorite Festivals Acadiens finds, from Adorn & Conquer out of New Orleans.

So, head on out to Girard Park this weekend and enjoy the beautiful weather and great music! Support the free festival by purchasing your food and drinks there, check out the local arts and crafts vendors, and ride your bike down the St. Mary bike path to cut down on parking costs and fuel emissions.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday, October 7, 2016

Photo Friday | Golden Gnomes

It's a very adorable and humanizing thing when your mayor-president gets so excited to say "golden gnomes" all evening during his presentation of the third annual Project Front Yard awards.


With a new mayor and new Project Front Yard coordinator taking over since last year's awards, the momentum hasn't been lost, and a new group of passionate volunteers were recognized for their efforts in beautification, cleanliness and education.


(Special shoutout to Blake Lagneaux for creating these fantastic awards!)


To kick off the awards, honorary Cajun certificates were given to Charlie and Jan Wyatt, longtime pioneers for environmental quality and beautification in Acadiana. They are moving out of state, but Project Front Yard wanted to recognize them for everything they've done. Charlie and Jan are also winners of the first annual Project Front Yard awards along with myself, and I'm so proud of my fellow alums!


St. Thomas More teachers and coaches Lance Strother and Cristy Savoie earned the Best In Cleanliness award for their organization of high school students in the days after the flood. The students used their time off to assist neighbors and strangers in cleaning out their homes of damaged items.


June Faul, chairwoman of Scenic Lafayette, earned the award for Best in Beautification. Late last year and early this year, Scenic Lafayette worked with volunteers to revitalize and plant along the historic Azalea Trail.


Jeremy Broussard, Levi Kastner and Peggy Grace won Best in Education for their spearheading and support of the second annual Project Front Yard Plastic Bag Roundup. (Get the results of that roundup in this post from May!)


And for the Best Overall Effort, CGI won a Golden Gnome! Members of the company have been very involved in e-waste recycling initiatives and promoting sustainability, recycling and cleanliness at Festival International, making a huge impact on the community.



Skyra also made an announcement following last week's Keep Louisiana Beautiful conference. In coordination with Project Front Yard, Louisiana schools will be able to implement a new curriculum educating students on the importance of sustainability and recycling. The lessons will integrate into science classes, and teachers are encouraged to request the curriculum for their students.

As Skyra reiterated, it's extremely important to begin education when students are young in order to build those responsible habits and connection to their responsibility in our environment.




Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Dangers of Unsecured Loads

Are you done snickering yet?

No?

How about now?

Okay. So we're talking about unsecured loads today - a very glamorous subject, as per the usual.

There are different categories of litter - from intentional and accidental, to illegal dumping, to unsecured loads - the kind where all the crap in the back of a truck or in a trailer isn't properly contained and it flies out while traveling.


When I participated in the litter index survey for Keep Lafayette Beautiful a few months ago, as we were riding around, we came across this massive collection of Pepsi bottles on the curb and in the road. So of course, we turned around and stopped to help clean it up. The driver had a regular truck and trailer, and they were hauling cases of the soft drinks to their destination. He and his passenger did stop to clean up their own mess (thank you!!!), and were appreciative that we were there to help so quickly after it happened. The driver explained that when they rounded a turn, some of the cases fell off the trailer and into the grass and road.

We got all the litter cleaned up, but this is still a loss of resources and money. And unfortunately, many loads that get lost or dropped don't get cleaned up so quickly. The litter can be left behind for days or even weeks, or can be swept into storm drains or waterways.

So, whether it's cases of soft drinks, bags of yard waste, bags of trash, or even furniture - always secure the load you're transporting! If your stuff falls out and litters the roadway or roadside, it's still your fault, and you're still littering.

Photo: Metro Waste Authority

The dangers of unsecured loads go beyond litter and pollution. Items that fall out of a truck bed or trailer (or car trunk) can pose a serious hazard to the cars behind you, and can cause wrecks.

According to the Department of Transportation:
At 55 miles per hour, an object weighing just 20 pounds that falls from a vehicle strikes with the impact of half a ton.

Robin Abel, whose daughter was blinded in a car wreck caused by a loose piece of furniture, advocated for a Washington state law that brings jail time and fines to those who cause a death or injury by failing to tie down a load. According to this same article, as of 2014, only 15 states had laws that include criminal penalty for failing to tie down loads. Only 10 states had education programs on the safety and importance of securing loads.

What about Louisiana?, you may be asking.

Ahem. LRS 32:383 states:

(2)  Any load of garbage, refuse, sludge, and other discarded material being transported by a commercial hauler shall be covered while being transported in such a manner as to prevent the load from spilling or dropping from the vehicle.
(3)  Any violation of Paragraph (2) of this Subsection for failure to cover any load of garbage, refuse, sludge, and other discarded material shall be punishable by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.
(4)  The penalty provisions of Paragraph (3) of this Subsection shall not apply when the load was properly covered and subsequently became uncovered as the result of an accident or circumstances beyond the control of the operator of the vehicle.

Louisiana can fine up to $500 or assign jail time up to six months, or both, for unsecured loads, unless the spill was purely an accident. And this applies to regular vehicles, cargo trucks, and freight containers on the road and waterways.

So, when you're packing up items to transport, always make sure everything is secure. It will save you money from fines, it will save other drivers from avoidable hazards, and it will save the environment from your litter and pollution.

Hey, let's bring it full circle - LOVE THE BOOT, DON'T POLLUTE!
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.