Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017

Photo Friday | Outdoors Edition

One of my favorite things about being selected as a Schwinn Ambassador this year is how it will force me to get out of the house and go for a bike ride even more often than usual.

Even just going for a ride around the neighborhood becomes a relaxing little half hour, watching the trees start their spring growth, chasing sunsets, and checking out all the wildflowers before the grass gets cut again. From my Candis cruiser to my Mifflin hybrid, it's fun to take my new sets of wheels out for a spin.

I'm especially excited for bike rides now that the days are longer, and I'm hoping to get a ride or two in this weekend before the storms roll through Louisiana on Sunday.


I'll challenge all of you - get outside for a little while this weekend! Enjoy a little nature, especially at the beginning of Earth Month.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017

What's Happening in Louisiana for Earth Month 2017

Although Earth Month hasn't officially started yet, I'm too excited to share with y'all the long list of events that are happening around Acadiana and Louisiana.


Click on each event to be directed to the official information source, and start making your Earth Month plans now!

Saturday, April 1

Lafayette Consolidated Government is holding their semiannual Debris Drop from 8am to noon, where city of Lafayette/unincorporated parish residents can drop off their bulky/miscellaneous/construction waste. Check the event information for the list of items that will be accepted, and those that are NOT accepted. (Don't waste your time and energy bringing something they can't accept!)

Saturday, April 1-Saturday, April 8

Earlier this week, I wrote about the Project Front Yard Festival of Service. There are eight days of different service-oriented events going on, so here is the full event list on Project Front Yard's Facebook page. Mark yourself as attending any of the events to get posts and updates!

Wednesday, April 5

My personal favorite day of the Festival of Service, #WasteFreeDay. Subscribe to the Facebook event to learn about the basics of zero-waste and join us on Wednesday with your waste-free lunch!

Thursday, April 13

Every year, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Office of Sustainability hosts Fete de la Terre to celebrate Earth Day. Groups will be set up on Hebrard Street across from Dupre Library between 11 and 2.

Saturday, April 15

This year, the first Earth Day preamble will be held in downtown Lafayette at the Wurst Biergarten. Side note, the Wurst Biergarten started as a repurposed shipping container transforming into an outdoor bar, and in one short year, it has truly become a fun, unique outdoor hangout space.



The event's goal is to provide a space for earth lovers to congregate, learn about the work being done locally, and learn how to get involved. 

From 10-11am, there will be a litter cleanup parade downtown, then from 11-3 the stalls behind the Biergarten will be filled with local environmental organizations that have both volunteer and membership opportunities.

Saturday, April 22

The Louisiana Earth Day Festival, typically held in downtown Baton Rouge, will be moved to the Baton Rouge Zoo this year, due to construction. The festival runs from 9:30am-5pm.

Saturday, April 22

Aromatic Infusions in Youngsville is hosting an Earth Day festival with all-natural snacks and treats, plastic bottle repurposing ideas, composting pointers, and lessons on essential oils.

Sunday, April 23


Back in Lafayette, Bayou Vermilion District is hosting its annual Earth Day festival at Vermilionville from 10-4, with free admission, paddling, crafts, yoga, live music, and a free clothes and book swap (bring what you don't want and take home something new-to-you!)

Additionally, Bayou Vermilion District has organized a Bike to Earth Day Poker Run from 11-1. Register in advance using the link on the Facebook event; the fee is $10 per rider.



Is there an event I've missed? Email me and let me know, and I'll update this post!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Announcing the Gr8 Acadiana Cleanup Festival of Service!

Y'all, April starts in four days! Full-fledged springtime, 400 events happening each and every weekend, Festival International, and of course, my favorite - EARTH MONTH.

I feel like I say that every environment-related holiday is my Christmas, but Earth Month really is my favorite time of year. I love spending as much time as possible outside before it turns into a steam room, and of course I love promoting ways to protect our environment.

A little housekeeping here - I encourage you to go like my Facebook page if you do not already, so you can keep up with all the buzz and events happening around Acadiana during Earth Month.

I'll be listing many of those events on the blog later this week, but in this post, I want to tell you about something I'm really excited for. Project Front Yard is hosting its very first Festival of Service, called the Gr8 Acadiana Cleanup. It's 8 days of giving time, giving back, and making Acadiana better!

https://www.facebook.com/projectfrontyard/

Every day has a different challenge and a different focus - learn about each of them through Project Front Yard's Facebook page, or in the press release, and find out how you can participate - there is plenty to get involved with!

And I might be biased, but I'm most excited for next Wednesday, April 5, which will be #WasteFreeDay. Along with two awesome ladies, Amanda and Catherine of No Waste Louisiana, I will educating y'all on making the transition to a zero-waste lifestyle, starting with the basics. On Wednesday, we'll challenge Acadiana to pack a waste-free lunch - for yourselves and your family!

In addition to the posts on Project Front Yard, I'll have a blog post out next Monday with some more detailed scoop on how you can pack a zero-waste lunch. It's not as hard as you think, and I'll be joining in on the fun myself.


How does packing a waste-free lunch contribute to a Gr8 Acadiana Cleanup? The most prevalent litter found in Acadiana and especially in Bayou Vermilion and the surrounding coulees are single-use items: fast food containers, plastic bags, soft drink, sports drink and water bottles, styrofoam containers, napkins and straws.

If even just a few people make the conscious choice to cut down on the amount of single-use packaging by choosing unpackaged or reusable alternatives, we can make a serious impact on what's left behind in our community. If we simply don't use it, it won't have a chance to become litter. And Acadiana will be cleaner and better for it.

Because we ARE better than a river full of styrofoam cups and plastic bags!

https://www.facebook.com/projectfrontyard/

And who knows, we might make #WasteFreeDay a weekly Wednesday tradition!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

Photo Friday | Earth Hour 2017

Can you spare one hour this weekend? Then you can participate in the annual global Earth Hour event!

Show your commitment to a healthy environment and take a stand for climate change action by simply switching off nonessential lights and electronics for one hour - Saturday, March 25 at 8:30pm in your own time zone.



You don't have to sit in the dark twiddling your thumbs and playing on your phone. Light candles for natural ambient lighting. Meditate. Brainstorm one or two ways you can make changes at home and at work to conserve energy. Get outside and go for a bike ride, or just hang out in your backyard or on your patio.


Organized by the World Wildlife Federation, Earth Hour started in Australia in 2007 and has grown to become a global movement promoting energy conservation and protecting the planet. Homes, commercial buildings and even entire cities are taking part in switching non-essential lights off for just one hour.  Many large cities around the world participate on a large scale, turning off the nonessential lights on iconic buildings.



If you participate, tag your pictures on social media with #EarthHour2017 and browse through photos taken around the world!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Celebrating World Water Day

With spring comes a rush of environment-related holidays and celebrations, the first of which is World Water Day! Held annually on March 22, the United Nations chooses a different theme for each holiday.




http://www.worldwaterday.org/


What do I need to know about World Water Day?

World Water Day is about taking action to tackle the water crisis. Today, 1.8 billion people rely on a source of drinking water contaminated with feces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.

One of the Sustainable Development Goals is to ensure everyone has access to safe water by 2030, making water a big issue in the fight to eliminate extreme poverty.

Credit: World Water Day


UN Water explains their focus on wastewater:

Globally, the vast majority of all wastewater from homes, cities, industry and agriculture flows back to nature without being treated or reused – polluting the environment, and losing valuable nutrients and other recoverable materials.

Instead of wasting wastewater, we need to reduce and reuse it.

  • In our homes, we can reuse greywater on our gardens and plots. 
  • In our cities, we can treat and reuse wastewater for green spaces. 
  • In industry and agriculture, we can treat and recycle discharge for things like cooling systems and irrigation. 

By exploiting this valuable resource, we will make the water cycle work better for every living thing. 

What can I do to celebrate World Water Day?

You can take a few easy actions today, or in the coming weeks, to keep the idea of cleaner water at the top of your mind. We may not be able to change city wastewater processes on an individual level, but you can do research to see how your city does handle wastewater.

  • Incorporate a rain barrel into your yard, so you can use natural water instead of city-treated potable water for your plants.
  • Conserve your toilet flushing. (Yes, it's a little gross, but think about those who don't have access to clean water. They face a lot grosser.)
  • While not necessarily related to wastewater, you can conserve your general water use by taking shorter showers, not filling the tub up as much for a bath, turning the water off while brushing your teeth or washing your face, and only running the washer/dishwasher when the loads are full.
  • When emptying your pet's water bowl, pour it out in your yard or into a storage container for later use, instead of pouring it down the drain or on hard surfaces.
  • Don't pour chemicals or cleaners into ditches, where they can either seep into the ground or flow into natural water sources.
  • Honor your community's natural water sources, like rivers and lakes! Take some time to appreciate them, and their relative cleanliness. When you're out on the water, don't contribute to water pollution. Don't throw your trash in the water, and don't pour contaminants into water.

What's one thing you plan to do in honor of World Water Day?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Photo Friday | Celebrating Lafayette's Foliage on Azalea Trail Day

This weekend, members of Scenic Lafayette are hosting a very special spring Saturday event - Azalea Trail Day! The historic Azalea Trail began in the 1930s as a beautification project of the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Lafayette Garden Club and by the 1940s, driving the trail became a cherished annual pilgrimage.

Photo courtesy Scenic Lafayette

The trail runs through Lafayette’s urban core including Jefferson Street and Lafayette Street, and includes loops through Sterling Grove Historic District, St. Mary Boulevard, Myrtle Place, Mouton Gardens, Bendel Gardens, and Greenbriar subdivision.

Dedicated locals have been working to revive Lafayette’s historic Azalea Trail, from planting more azaleas along the trail, to promoting use and enjoyment of the trail.

To celebrate these efforts, Scenic Lafayette, which is the local affiliate of Scenic America, is holding Azalea Trail Day tomorrow, Saturday, March 18, at Parc de Lafayette and Wurst Biergarten in downtown Lafayette.

Photo courtesy Scenic Lafayette

There are tons of events going on as part of Azalea Trail Day, so you've got plenty of ways to participate and enjoy the day!

Scenic Lafayette is partnering with Bike Lafayette to pay tribute to Lafayette's past with a bike ride and other events along 16 miles of Lafayette’s greenest, most beautiful and architecturally significant urban core. All celebration proceeds will be reinvested in the beauty of the trail.

All participants driving/riding the trail are encouraged to dress in vintage clothing. Property owners along the trail are encouraged to host neighborhood porch parties, dress vintage and greet the caravans, cruisers and bike riders.


EVENTS

  • Information Booth at Parc de Lafayette, 8 am–5 pm
  • Classic Car Caravan/Vintage Motorcycle Cruise: 8 am–12 pm
  • Classic Car and Vintage Motorcycle Exhibition along downtown Jefferson Street: 1–5pm
  • Bike Ride registration at Parc de Lafayette: 10 am–12 pm and ride: 12–4 pm
  • One Acadiana ribbon cutting at The Wurst Biergarten: 9:30 am
  • Vintage Market at The Wurst Art Market: 10 am–4 pm
  • Vintage Bazaar at The Wurst Art Market: 5–10 pm
  • Photo Opportunity: Azalea-themed “LAFAYETTE SIGN” at Parc San Souci)

Photo courtesy Downtown Lafayette

  • Live Music at Parc de Lafayette: 4–7 pm and The Wurst Art Market: 7–10 pm
  • Car, Motorcycle and Bike Awards at Parc de Lafayette: 5:30 pm
  • Children’s Vintage Dress-up Contest at Parc de Lafayette: 3–4:30 pm
  • Vintage Dress/Makeup/Hair Contest at The Wurst Biergarten: 10 pm
  • Lafayette Museum: Self-Guided Tours/Mouton Gardens “Reel to Reel” Film: 12–4pm
  • Bois de Chenes Bed and Breakfast and Hilliard Museum: free tour/entry
  • Affiliated Blind: Eagle Scout Azalea Planting: 8–11 am
  • Commemorative Lafayette Historic Azalea Trail Badge Sale: $5 suggested donation
  • UL Lafayette Student Azalea Trail wristband sale: $2 donation downtown, Cook residence and local stores
  • Unscheduled Porch Parties along Azalea Trail: 10 am–4 pm


Graphic courtesy Scenic Lafayette

For full details on all of the day's events, visit the Scenic Lafayette Facebook page, and Azalea Trail Day event page.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017

On Making the Transition to a Reusable and Zero Waste Home

Last week, fellow green blogger Zero Waste Nerd published a great post on how to realistically transition into a more zero waste lifestyle. She brought up some valuable and logical points, and it got me thinking more over the past few days.

Reading about green lifestyles and all of the disposable/plastic/bad things currently in our homes, it can seem tempting to begin a zero-waste/reusable/natural product transition by cleaning out and getting rid of everything that doesn’t fit the plan.

But that in itself is extremely wasteful.

You don’t have to start on a green slate in one day…take your time and introduce new items as you need them.

 
For example, when I wanted to switch to a natural shave gel, I waited until my current shave gel can was empty, instead of throwing it away half full. Although my Burberry perfume didn't rank well in the Environmental Working Guide, I still finished it before switching back to my Lavanila favorite.

This year, I’m committing to buying new clothing and accessories that are sustainably made. But it definitely doesn’t mean I’m bringing my entire current wardrobe to a secondhand shop! I’ll keep wearing pieces until I’m either ready to part with them (and those items will get donated) or they aren’t functional anymore.

In all honesty, I have a pair of fuchsia heels that I bought at Payless almost 10 years ago, and I still wear them. Are they made of responsible materials? HA. But as long as they aren't falling apart, I’ll still wear them. (The culture of short-lived, fast fashion is definitely one I try to not succumb to, because I can’t fathom only keeping brand new clothing for a year at the most.)


When I bought my new car two years ago, I was set on getting a Prius for its hybrid model, but I drove my previous car for almost 13 years. It had definitely served its purpose, and I traded it in so that it can serve another purpose for someone else.

If you're committed to using cloth bags at the store, but forget them one time and come home with plastic bags...save them to use again. Plastic bags aren't green in any way, but at least reusing them allows them to serve one or two more purposes. (And it's at least cheaper than buying new plastic bags for pet waste and small trash bins.)

Around your house, take your time making the transition. You’ll still make a positive impact on the environment, and it’s important to use up anything you have so that it’s served its purpose. Stock up on cloth towels for your kitchen, but use the rest of your paper towels up first, then don’t replace the roll once it’s finished. Keep appliances and kitchen utensils as long as they serve their purpose. Once they go out, replace them with greener alternatives.

Although using disposable, plastic or conventional items is not necessarily green, you’re being environmentally conscious by using them all up before replacing them with more eco-friendly alternatives. Use the condiment packets. They may be more wasteful, but if you're stuck with them, you might as well use them.


If you’re ready to switch sooner, consider at least donating items so that someone else can use them.

As Megean points out in her blog post, “Living zero-waste means making better, more sustainable choices going forward and utilizing what we already have.”

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017

Photo Friday | What We Stand For

It's been one of those weeks, so today's Photo Friday will be a short and sweet #PREACH graphic. Musician (and environmentalist) Jason Mraz shared this last week on social media, and I love how simply it explains my own MO.

What do you stand for?

via Jason Mraz on Instagram

I hope you all have a great March weekend - if you're in the North, stay warm! If you're in Louisiana, stay dry! Don't forget to set your clocks forward an hour (or more like, go update the microwave after your phone auto-updates, because who has that many manual clocks anymore?)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Behind the Beads | A Visit to LARC's Beads N More Shop

Now that Mardi Gras is behind us, it's time to handle some important business - getting rid of that pile of Mardi Gras beads collecting in that corner of your house. You know what I'm talking about - don't act like you don't have one!



Luckily, in Acadiana, you have a chance to get rid of your extra Mardi Gras beads while supporting recycling and a local nonprofit organization. Enter LARC, whose mission is to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in reaching their goals of self-sufficiency, quality of life and self-worth.

LARC's services include community support, vocational and residential services. Plus, they operate Acadian Village, a Lafayette Christmas tradition slash photoshoot spot slash adorably cute wedding venue. And they operate Beads N More.


 

The Beads N More shop does more than just sell brand new beads to float riders and Mardi Gras krewes. For more than 15 years, LARC has collected donated Mardi Gras beads and recycled and repackaged them for resale. That's a lot of "re"s, but that's good, because it means that Mardi Gras beads can be reused for years upon years, instead of getting thrown away after one parade.


The work of recycling and reselling Mardi Gras beads is a year-round one, Beads N More Manager Carthy Guillet explained to me. All Acadiana Goodwill locations accept bead donations throughout the year, through a partnership with LARC.

In addition, LARC operates a trailer in the Youngsville, Carencro and Scott parades; sets up a truck for donations at Cajun Field in Lafayette; works with Downtown Lafayette to collect beads in the six-foot wire Y; has collection points at all branches of the Lafayette Public Library for the time-being; and receives donations from many area schools who set up drives.

The wire Y in Downtown Lafayette collected beads until last weekend for donation to LARC.

When the donations arrive the Beads N More shop next to Acadian Village, the real work begins. On average, 30 LARC individuals have jobs sorting, measuring and packaging the tons and tons of beads.

Photo courtesy: Carthy Guillet, LARC


 
There were about 15 workers there when I visited, and they put the biggest smile on my face. They were extremely proud to show both Carthy and me what they were working on, and what they had accomplished so far. One worker found some gold beads with a BOSS nameplate on them, and he announced to us that he was now the boss for the day.

The beads are measured by size and sometimes color, then bundled into a dozen of the same size and length. They are then bagged according to specific size. ​The sizes range from 33" length to 72" length. The shop is open all year long, so you're not limited to when you can shop for recycled beads.


In addition to the beads, Carthy says that the Mardi Gras grab bags are extremely popular. They can contain anything from cups to frisbees to stuffed animals, to other prizes.

In the Beads N More shop, you can find a smaller selection of new beads, but the recycled beads are the highlight and the biggest seller (as they should be!). There's a selection of specialty beads (the kee-yaw catches...yes I just made that up) and other necessities like baseball caps and bags.


I visited Beads N More less than one week after Mardi Gras, and the shelves were noticeably empty - and ready to hold the bags of newly donated beads.


 

As the workers fill up the bags, the shelves are stocked, and when they're full, there's a whole warehouse dedicated to holding more beads.


As we walked through, I truly realized just HOW MANY Mardi Gras beads exist in this world. Even when their stock is low, there's still a ton of beads in view. I can't even imagine how many strands of beads are in the warehouse on a full day - and this is just some of the beads thrown in one city. Carthy explained that they received 2 1/2 of these boxfuls (gaylords are the real term) from the Youngsville parade, two from the Carencro parade and one from the Scott parade.



Multiply the stock by Baton Rouge and New Orleans and other major Mardi Gras cities, and you'll realize just why it's so important that we donate and recycle as many beads as we can. There's already literally millions in existence - we do NOT need to add more new beads to the mix.

One interesting fact Carthy shared with me is that LARC and Acadian Village were not immune to the floods last August. The Beads N More store took on a few inches of water, and the beads on the bottom shelves were submerged. It set the workers back from their schedule of packaging donated beads, but the team cleaned and hang-dried all of the affected beads, so the inventory (and revenue) was salvaged. That's what I love to hear! Louisiana at its finest - the Mardi Gras show will go on.

So, with this firsthand look at the GOOD donating and recycling Mardi Gras beads does, I urge you to load up your piles and bring them to the nearest donation point. Help keep beads out of landfills, support employment opportunities for LARC individuals, and help float riders in future years choose recycled beads over new. All of the money that Beads N More brings in is used to support all of LARC's important services in Acadiana.


Mardi Gras beads might not hold much value to you, but to this important organization, they are almost as valuable as gold. Recycle dat!


Visit LARC's Beads N More: 303 New Hope Road, Lafayette, LA 70508
Facebook | Beads N More Website

Friday, March 3, 2017

Friday, March 3, 2017

Photo Friday | Greenery

Happy March, y'all! Have we all recovered from Mardi Gras yet? My holiday was mostly bike rides, parades, documenting the parade litter, and a minor sinus infection - laissez les bons temps rouler, right!?

So, now we're officially into March and thisclose to the official start of spring (although it's unofficially been spring since like January 7 in Louisiana.) The muted colors are starting to get a little brighter, and the trees are starting to grow their yellow-green leaves. As much as I love the winter season and the holidays, springtime always leaves me feeling a little brand new.

Spring greens at Moncus Park at the Horse Farm

Today, let's celebrate the oncoming of spring with the 2017 color of the year, Greenery! Definitely my favorite color of the year in recent memory. During the unveiling of the color back in December, Pantone described their choice as:

Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.

Greenery is nature’s neutral. The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world. This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally. A constant on the periphery, Greenery is now being pulled to the forefront - it is an omnipresent hue around the world.

A life-affirming shade, Greenery is also emblematic of the pursuit of personal passions and vitality.



via Pantone

Since I'm feeling a little extra pep in my step today (and since I've been less wordy around here), I put together a nice little Greenery Spotify mix for you to enjoy this weekend! A completely random mix of songs with "green" in the title (and I've at least heard most of them before!) and a small shoutout for any Suits fans out there.


I hope you all have a great, springy weekend!
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.