Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

Photo Friday | Making Secondhand Your Own

This past weekend, one of our neighbors was holding a garage sale, so I decided to walk over, say hello, and see what they had still available.

I may not be proud of the fact I found six items of clothing in 15 minutes, but I'm also pumped because it cost me six dollars total. The best kind of secondhand - cute clothing, practical cardigans, and an adorable pair of green wedges - for a dollar each. Yes and please!


I loved finding this lightweight, delicate, polka-dot dress in my size, but when I tried it on at home, I realized I did not like the neck ruffle detailing. A little too Victorian for my usual tastes, but it didn't deter me from keeping the dress, since the rest of it was fabulous.

So, I pulled out my sewing kit and got to work on that collar. In about 30 minutes, I had customized the dress to be more my style by sewing the ruffle on the inside. Instead of simply cutting it off, which could have destroyed the dress, this option hides the ruffle, but could be undone in the future.

I'm not the greatest sewer, and my detail on this project is not perfect, but I was proud of taking a little time to make this $1 dress more my own.

If you've got a long weekend for Memorial Day, I hope you have an enjoyable one. Remember the reason for the day off, and celebrate your freedom. If you have a gathering, don't forget to be sustainable - minimize your single-waste items and recycle what you can!

See y'all back here next week.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Eliminating Waste In Your Mailbox

I'm a big fan of getting fun things in the mail, but more often than not, our daily mail consists of junk mail only. It's such a waste to open the mailbox and find a stack of papers that are going to go straight into the recycling bin.

We also have a tendency to let the junk mail stack up, but I do get some enjoyment out of going through through the stack and sorting the recyclables from the trash, and seeing a clear mail table in the living room.


As a general rule, I always rip off our names and address, and shred any credit card applications, instead of throwing all of that intact into the recycling bin. Any overly waxy envelopes also go into the trash (thank you, credit card companies, for using non-recyclable paper!)


But, it's still frustrating to see stacks of paper get thrown out or tossed into the recycling bin, when it's unwanted mail in the first place. Isn't it better to stop it from being printed and mailed in the first place?
 
Yes, yes it is! And it takes a little leg work on your end, but you do have the power to reduce the amount of junk mail you receive.

Inspired by my friend Liv's quest to live a waste-free life, I recently took the time to cut down on my own household's level of junk mail using the links below, and I can't wait to start seeing the results.


If you're like me, the worst junk mail offender is credit card applications and offers. There is one website, known as Opt Out Prescreen, that will remove you from the mailing list database for unsolicited credit card offers. (I believe there's also an 800 number you can call to get on the Opt Out list.)

One afternoon recently, as I was going through our junk mail, I noticed one of the credit card offers had small print on the bottom with a referral to Opt Out Prescreen, so it is a legitimate source. Choose to opt out for five years or permanently.

To opt out of general unsolicited marketing mail, visit DMA Choice.

To opt out of all Yellow Page books in your local area, visit Yellow Pages Opt Out. There is nothing more frustrating than when we receive a Yellow Pages on our door step, and it takes about 3 seconds before it's in our recycling bin. The last time I used a Yellow Pages was probably when I was 12, and even then, what did I really need it for? Stop the delivery in the first place by opting out online.

I had opted out of Yellow Pages in one of my apartments many years ago, and it did actually work, although I would end up forgetting the next couple of times I moved.

And my least favorite junk mail of all, the RedPlum pack of sales papers. They do offer an opt out page on their website, with the warning that it takes 5-6 weeks for the request to be effective (as they do print in advance.) This was another service I opted out of in my apartment, but had not gotten around to at our house. I recently added our address to the opt out list, and am curious to see if we continue to receive the mailer after the time passes.

The problem I have noticed with our RedPlum deliveries is that most weeks, the one we receive does not have our address on it; rather, it's the address of a neighbor. If I notice the deliveries continue, it may be a point of leaving a note for our postmaster that we have opted out and should not be receiving a copy. (Knowing that most likely it means an extra copy will get thrown in the trash by someone else.)

Beyond the unsolicited mail, you can also eliminate paper mail for bills and statements. I've elected paperless mail for all of the bills I'm responsible for, and instead, I receive email notifications.

In addition, you can tell companies how you prefer your marketing mail to be delivered - snail mail or email. I've set my AT&T and Cox Communications preferences to be email only (or even not at all) in order to cut down on the ridiculous amount of mail they send what feels like weekly. Since we're already customers, it's completely useless to send so much direct mail, so I put a stop to it.

Visit the websites for all of the companies you're a customer with, log in, and look in your account settings. There should always be an option for bill delivery preferences and marketing preferences.



In the end, we might have an empty mailbox more often than not, but I'd rather have an empty mailbox and save trees, than always have something inside that goes straight into the trash or recycling bin.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Photo Friday | Birthday Time

My brain and I will be back in force next week, but for today, I'm dedicating Photo Friday to my favorite person on his birthday!


I'm forever grateful to have my husband by my side in life, for everything he's taught me, and in all the ways he's supported me over our five and a half years together. We've both grown so much, and here's to another year around the sun, especially with my own birthday coming up in a few weeks.



He's also my favorite bike-riding partner, and I still absolutely love our engagement photos with our bicycles from last fall (on a very hot and humid afternoon.)





Happy birthday, Phillip! I love you to the moon and back.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bicycle Safety Festival Time!

Make your plans to come on out this Saturday for Lafayette's second annual Bicycle Safety Festival!

Last year, the festival was held the first Saturday in June (right before a mega-rainstorm, I remember), but this year, it's happening during National Bike Month at Parc Sans Souci in Downtown Lafayette.

From 9am to noon, there will be free bike registration, a bike safety course, helmet giveaways, bike lights, food, drinks and live music.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1234996506619445/


The festival is free to attend, and great for families, especially when you can pick up a bike helmet and register your bike for free. 

And this year, starting at noon, there will be a bike lane cleanup, although I'm not exactly sure which bike lanes will be canvassed. Lafayette's bike lanes definitely tend to be a catch-all for litter and other road debris, and Mountain Bike Lafayette is gathering volunteers willing to help pick up trash and sweep debris from the bike lanes so that they can be better enjoyed.

https://www.facebook.com/events/201532603692667/

These events are a great way to celebrate National Bike Month and get involved in the local bicycling community. I had a great time volunteering at last year's festival, and although this year I may just be a visitor, I encourage you to stop by and learn a little about bicycle safety!



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

Today's a day to celebrate all moms, grandmothers, stepmoms, expecting moms, adoptive moms, and mother figures!

But let's not forget one more important mom in the list: Mother Nature.

Our moms taught us to clean up after ourselves, put things away when we're done, and treat others the way we want to be treated. And our moms have tirelessly provided for us over the years, giving us what we need to survive, often without any recognition or thanks.

Can't we say the same for Mother Nature? Let's treat the environment the way we want to be treated - with kindness, compassion, and the decency not to leave it a total mess. The earth gives us the resources we need to survive, and we shouldn't frivolously waste them.


Let's give Mama Nature the respect she deserves, not just on Mother's Day, or Earth Day, but every day of the year.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday, May 12, 2017

Photo Friday | Happy Mother's Day Weekend

Is today a very Monday-ish Friday for anyone else? I am definitely ready for this weekend and a short break!

I hope all of you moms out there have a very happy Mother's Day, including my own mom and mothers in law!

Here are some virtual flowers to share a little love this weekend from me to all of you.


Fancy bouquets are beautiful, but there's something so sweet about simple backyard flowers, even wildflowers. 



The roses from our backyard rose bush do not always look this beautiful, but when they bloom, it's magical!


I don't even watch The Bachelorette, and yet I feel like one of the contestants holding this rose my husband picked off the rose bush one day for me.



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My Favorite Bicycle Accessories

So, technically you only need a bicycle to go for a ride, but equipping yourself with the right accessories can make your trip more safe, more efficient, and more fun.

Continuing in my National Bike Month Series, I'll share a few of my favorite accessories I've used over the past few years. Comment on the post and tell me what your favorite bicycle accessory is!

The Necessities - Lights!

Nothing frustrates me more than seeing people riding in the dark with no lights. Although lights really aren't accessories, since every single bicyclist should have them, the kinds available vary widely. Basic lights are not expensive (enough so that I wish I could buy a box full and give them to riders I see who need them).

But I've got two lights that have become my favorites in my husband's and my collection. This Schwinn headlight is a 300 lumen removable flashlight, and it has high beam, low beam, and flashing modes. It is the brightest headlight I've ever had, and I absolutely love it. Phillip and I each have one, and when we ride home at night, we're lighting up street signs four blocks away. It's also USB rechargeable, saving me from realizing we never have the right size batteries in stock at home.




I got this Portland Design Works tail light for Phillip a few years ago and was jealous of how well it worked, so I ended up getting one for myself. It's got three blinking modes, one of which is a random pattern, so it grabs more attention, which is extremely important.


I've also been known to use string lights on my basket and fairy lights wrapped around my bike frame for an extra festive touch! Battery-operated LED lights can come in handy.

Helmets

Helmets are another very important accessory, even if they sometimes make you feel dorky. This blue one is from Schwinn and is designed for ladies, because it has a cutaway in the back that allows you to wear your hair up while riding.


You might feel dorky wearing a helmet, but it's better to be safe!

Phillip's helmet, although I don't have a photo of it, has a built in flashing light, which I absolutely love. And his comes with the gear sizing adjustment, which is great to get that perfect fit. (I'm probably going to steal his helmet sometimes.)

Baskets

I love having a basket on my bike - part of not being able to travel light! The basket especially comes in handy for Mardi Gras when hauling beads back home, but the downside to the basket is that it makes steering more difficult when it's full.



My new bikes are basket-free, which I've been enjoying because it's an easier ride, and I'll wear a backpack if I have gear to carry. 

But sometimes, I would still wish I had SOMETHING to hold at least my phone, so enter my newest favorite accessory:

Bike Pouches

This handy bike pouch from Schwinn holds both my phone and my keys or anything else small I might need. I especially love this now that I go on more rides around the neighborhood, when I would like to ride free, but still have my necessities on me. 

PS, this pouch fits an iPhone 7+. The one thing I need to work around is that the haptic home button doesn't respond when you push through the plastic. (Technology...)


But it's perfect for keeping my phone in easy reach in case I would need it during a ride.

 

Bells and Horns

Bike bells are just a classic accessory and are fun to have. I love the sunshine yellow of my bell, and it makes a pleasant sound.

 

And although I don't have one of these for myself, the Loud Bicycle horn is still one of my favorite gifts I ever got for Phillip. I wrote a blog post about it two years back, and he still uses it on his cruiser and it still works when it needs to. It adds a very necessary element of safety to our bike rides, and it's a fun toy for my husband, who loves to abuse the honking privileges.


With these accessories, we're definitely equipped for enjoyable and safe rides!

And although this is not technically an accessory for my bicycle, I just kind of have to include these bicycle bottle openers that were our wedding favors. (I need a matching bicycle wine cork to satisfy my wino self...)


Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday, May 5, 2017

Get a Handle on National Bike Month

Happy National Bike Month, y'all! Do you plan to get out and ride this weekend?

The weather in Lafayette is looking pretty perfect all weekend, so I think I'm just going to have to get my husband and go for a little leisurely ride! Grab the sunglasses, crank up the music and enjoy the sunshine.


National Bike Month began in 1956, making for 61 years of celebrating a fun activity, mode of transportation, and health benefit!

What is your favorite reason for riding a bicycle? Mine is simply for the feeling I get while I ride - the slower pace, the opportunity to observe more around me, the wind in my hair, and the endorphins that are released. (Not included are the feelings of encountering ignorant drivers.)




This year will be an especially fun National Bike Month to celebrate, since I get to do it as a Schwinn Ambassador. I'll have a post coming up this month on the Schwinn Red blog, highlighting our weekend at Festival International! I'm still so glad the weather held out for us to ride all weekend, even if 15-20mph winds on Saturday made for a stressful commute (one gust definitely knocked me a little!)



Look my cute lil riding partner! We haven't taken his three-wheeler out much this year, but I'm definitely going to have to make a Moncus Park at the Horse Farm picnic date happen this summer. (And no, we haven't taken Dax on a ride through the neighborhood, ha.)


 


Throughout May, I'll be posting bike-related content, and sharing lots of photos over on my social media accounts!


Bike Month Events

Monday, May 1, 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mother's Day Sustainable Gift Guide

Another Festival International is in the books (and heavily documented on social media), so it's time to look forward what's coming up next! Today kicks off National Bike Month, so I'll be posting a lot of bike-centric content during May, but before that, I'm switching gears (pun originally not intended!) to talk about Mother's Day gift ideas.

With just under two weeks until Mother's Day, there's still time to find the perfect eco-friendly gift for your mom, grandmother, mother-figure or wife. From handmade goods to pampering bath treats with natural ingredients, show your mom how much you care for both her and Mother Earth (hey-ohhhhh!)



Many of the gift ideas in this guide are Louisiana-based brands, but if you're not near the state, these can give you inspiration for the type of gift you want to give, and then you may be able to find a brand local to you. 

So, following the guide left to right, here are my eco-friendly Mother's Day gift suggestions:

Handmade pottery. I discovered Pottery by Osa last fall, when I purchased three planters like the one pictured above as thank-you gifts for the hostesses of our engagement party. I love Osa's pottery style, and she's based out of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. A few stores in New Orleans carry her pieces, and she vends at events regularly in Baton Rouge.

Essential oils. If you're not already hooked on essential oils, then you're probably just sick of hearing about them. But I'm a big fan, and many moms are too! They have many physical and mental benefits, they smell great, and they're a great natural alternative to chemicals. Olive and Ani is a Lafayette-based essential oil and deodorant company, and the products are all made by hand in small batches. Aromatic Infusions has a shop in downtown Youngsville, Louisiana, and they formulate their own essential oils and blends as well.

Handmade soaps. I am a big fan of specialty soaps, especially when I come across an in-store display of giant soap bricks with small slices. I'm that girl who smells every different scent. I spent about 30 minutes smelling the different soaps at the North Shore Soap Factory in Waialua, Hawaii, over the holidays. There are many different brands who create these kinds of soap, and Sapovela is one Lafayette-based brand. Along with running an Etsy store, the guys behind Sapovela vend at the Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market. They also make natural deodorants.

Plantable plants. Flowers are a popular gift, but I think the more eco-friendly option is to give your mom a plant that can either be potted or planted, so that it can last a lot longer than a week! This little succulent was planted in a wooden planter handmade by a friend of mine, and was my Mother's Day gift of choice last year. I loved how it was a personal touch, and the succulents are still growing to this day. Stop by your local nursery and choose a brightly colored flower for your mom, instead of a bouquet.

Nail polish. Treat your mom to a manicure with an eco-friendly twist: vegan-friendly nail polish! I shared a little about Native Polish in the past couple weeks through my Festival style posts, and the colors translate well from Fest-ready to Mom's special day. The coral shade pictured above is called Fais Do Do.

Reusable water bottle. Somehow this always finds its way onto my gift guides! Ha. Help your mom go green in style with a reusable water bottle that shows off her personality. I'm always a big fan of Klean Kanteen, but these S'well bottles also up the flair factor. They're insulated, so they're perfect for keeping coffee hot or champagne chilled.

Candles. Soy wax candles in a recycled wine bottle, at that. A Higher REpurpose is a Lafayette-based eco-friendly candle company, and there are lots of new scents for springtime. In addition to shopping online, you can find A Higher REpurpose vending at Lafayette Arts and Fleas, which this month, is the evening before Mother's Day. So if you need a last-minute gift, head out to Art Walk in downtown Lafayette and stop by A Higher REpurpose's table.

Brunch. Although not pictured, if you plan to take Mom out for brunch or lunch, choose a locally owned restaurant who uses local produce, meats, and/or seafood. There is definitely no shortage of restaurant options around Lafayette, and we're lucky that so many of our restaurants are locally owned and focus on regional ingredients.

There are so many ideas when it comes to finding the right Mother's Day gift, whether you go the pampering route or not, but these are a great place to start if you're looking for something that's kind to the environment and supports a local artisan.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Photo Friday | Scenes from Festival International

Now that Festival International has kicked off, it's time to practice what I preach and suggest to y'all!

Don't forget to review my guide to sustainable Festival fashion and guide to celebrating Festival sustainably.


We made our way downtown last night by bike, enjoying the perfect evening weather. It was inspiring to see so many others doing the same.


Working on my own sustainable Festival style, I went for my new favorite Amour Vert top, made of organic cotton and modal (a sustainable material made from beech trees). My shorts are secondhand from Plato's Closet and my shoes are from TOMS. I packed a reusable water bottle, cloth napkin and metal straw, and I've got my natural bug spray ready for the rest of the weekend.


After getting a white sangria from Pamplona in a reusable cup, I requested no straw, and used my own instead, and used my cloth napkin to wipe the cup dry in order to bring home and reuse.



And of course, a reminder to please recycle correctly while you're at Festival. There are almost 300 recycling bins throughout downtown Lafayette, and these blue ones loaned from Bayou Vermilion District clearly specify which items to put in them.

Although I snapped this photo to show the recycling bins, I later noticed that already, the bag is contaminated with items that cannot be recycled, like Styrofoam bowls from a food vendor. 


Please, please, please don't throw non-recyclable items into the recycling bin! I included it in my guide on Tuesday, but here's a quick refresher for you:

RECYCLE:

  • Aluminum cans
  • Plastic drink cups
  • Plastic drink bottles
  • Dry paper
  • Straws

TRASH:
  • Styrofoam
  • Wet paper
  • Plastic utensils
  • Napkins
  • Anything with grease
  • Food
  • Any paper or cardboard contaminated with food remnants

I'm looking forward to getting back out there tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday (rain, please stay away!), eating some of the delicious food, checking out the artists and vendor booths, and of course, catching new and beloved Festival bands!

Happy Festival, y'all!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How to Geaux Green at Festival International

Lafayette is feeling a little more electric this week, because Festival International is just one short day away from kicking off! It's been a tough year for organizers, from trouble securing sponsors to having to cut one stage, so now it's time to come out in full force and show our support for Lafayette's keynote annual event (at least in my opinion!)

Make plans to come out, check out some bands, visit the vendor booths, eat a lot of food, and knock back a few drinks.

And when you do, be sure to do it all responsibly and sustainably. It's possible to reduce, reuse and recycle to leave a positive impact on Festival.


First, let's all thank the many workers and volunteers who clean up all of the Festival trash and recycling every year. It is not a fun or glamorous job, but it has a tremendous positive impact on our local environment, and keeps a lot of trash out of Bayou Vermilion.

Read my column in the Times of Acadiana on going green at Festival!

Packing the Essentials

If you plan on spending more than just a couple hours downtown, you're probably going to want to pack a backpack (unless you're one of those people who can spend an entire day needing only your cell phone and Chapstick, and if so, teach me your ways).

For the past few years, my husband and I have worked on perfecting our Festival backpacks, filled with anything we could need each of the days, especially during the weekend. If you plan to spend a good amount of time at Festival, the key is to pack reusable and strategic items.

  • Stay hydrated with a full reusable water bottle or Camelbak.
  • The usual weather essentials: sunscreen (and lots of it), sunglasses, hat, a portable fan (this year a new addition to our backpacks are cell phone-powered fans...I'm nerdily excited to use it!), and a rain jacket or poncho - leave the umbrellas at home and out of the crowds.
  • Pack a compact cloth shopping bag for your Festival finds.
  • Pack a to-go dining set with a fork, spoon, straw, and cloth napkin. If you can't avoid plastic utensils from food vendors, and you most likely won't be able to avoid them all weekend, just rinse and reuse them.
  • Official Festival app downloaded on your phone. (Of note, there are three LUS Fiber Wifi hotspots at JD Bank Pavillon de Cuisine, Scene LUS, and Scene TV5Monde.)
  • Portable backup cell phone charger.
  • A small towel can come in handy during extreme sun or rainy periods and work better than paper napkins.
  • Ziploc bag or waterproof case for your cell phone in case of rain.
 

Once you’ve got the perfect bag packed, you’ll need to figure out how to get downtown.

Transportation

My personal favorite method is to skip the traffic and parking by riding your bicycle downtown. You get some exercise, fresh air, emissions-free traveling, and this year you get your own lane on Congress Street right on into Festival. Don’t forget your bike lock and a key. Make sure you lock your bike away from walkways or heavily trafficked area.


If bicycling isn't your thing, your group is too large, or you live too far, go for the free official Festival International shuttle to and from Cajun Field, which runs every 15 minutes. Shuttles drop off at Lee and Jefferson, and at Garfield and Buchanan. Check the Festival website or app for shuttle hours.

Carpool with family or friends instead of driving separately.

Sustainability at Festival

When you’re at Festival, try to reduce as much waste as you can.


Cut down on paper and use the Festival app to refer to band schedules and stage information instead of grabbing a handful of paper guides that will either end up at the bottom of your backpack, spilled on or left-behind.


While most drink vendors can't fill up the reusable bottle that you packed, those souvenir Festival cups are totally recyclable! Just save your cups to reuse at home or work. In 2015, I learned that New Orleans Daiquiris was selling a reusable daiquiri cup that would allow you to get refills for a small discount (if I remember correctly). I used it for that weekend, then brought it back in 2016 and reused it all weekend. You can bet that cup is getting packed again this year!



Don't forget to use your cloth napkin and utensils. Although many food vendors use styrofoam products, you can still reduce your trash by skipping plastic utensils and paper napkins. Don't be afraid to say you don't want a utensil when ordering your food.

The Scoop on Recycling

Here’s what’s accepted in recycling bins:
  • Aluminum cans
  • Plastic drink cups
  • Plastic drink bottles
  • Dry paper
  • Straws


Here’s what’s NOT accepted in Festival recycling bins:

  • Styrofoam
  • Wet paper
  • Plastic utensils
  • Napkins
  • Anything with grease
  • Food
  • Any paper or cardboard contaminated with food remnants

Leave the glass at home. It's super dangerous for all the sandal-clad feet!

 

Shopping

When you’re shopping, carry your purchases in a cloth bag. Stop by the official merchandise tent to get a cloth bag if you don't have one, and use it for all of your shopping. For the second year, Project Front Yard and CGI will be providing cloth bags for you to use instead of plastic.

Bring back your Project Front Yard bag from last year, or pick one up this year and reuse it when you purchase Festival merch, and get 5% off your purchase.

Photo via Festival International

Support the Artists and Vendors

Many vendors sell green products, whether they use recycled or repurposed materials, source local materials or make their wares by hand. Support these vendors and show them you support sustainability! There are some truly great recycled things to find, and they are beautifully unique. I've found some of my all-time favorite jewelry at Festival International over the past few years, and I love meeting the artists who creatively repurpose and recycle.

This year, you can also purchase eco-friendly Festival aprons that are made from recycled material at the merchandise tents.

Volunteer

Help make Festival greener by volunteering for the recycling crew. Visit the Festival website to sign up for a shift.

Bayou Vermilion District's Greg Guidroz on recycling duty in 2016


Or, join the Project Front Yard trash mob on the Saturday afternoon and donate an hour of your afternoon to join others in cleaning up trash around Festival grounds. Keep up with Project Front Yard on Facebook for the most current updates on the event.

Festival International 2016 Project Front Yard Trash Mob participants, via Project Front Yard

If You Don't Do Anything Else I Suggest, Do This

No matter what, remember that the ground is not where your trash belongs! There will be approximately 300 dedicated recycling bins located all over downtown, so recycle everything that’s acceptable, and throw your other trash in one of the hundreds of trash cans.



There’s no excuse for littering.

Geaux Green and Happy Festival, y’all!


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