Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday, June 23, 2017

Photo Friday | International Yoga Day

While the biggest news around Louisiana this week was Tropical Storm Cindy, this past Wednesday was also International Yoga Day. I love my own yoga practice for the intense workout that it gives me, but this year for International Yoga Day I focused more on the mental benefits of yoga and the peace it's brought to me over the past couple years. 

Although I haven't been able to get to class as often lately, I still try to make yoga a part of my everyday life. Sometimes, even just sitting still and meditating for a minute helps me to achieve that.

If you practice yoga, what's your favorite aspect about it?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Eco-Friendly Swimwear

Last week I shared the staple contents of my waste-free beach bag, and mentioned my swimsuit partially made of recycled nylon. This week, let's talk more about that eco-friendly swimwear. (Although, if you live in South Louisiana, with this incoming tropical storm, swimwear may be the last thing on your mind...or we'll all be wearing it by Friday.)

So typically, one does not spend part of their September and October obsessing over finding a new swimsuit. But when you're about to get married, and your honeymoon is in Hawaii over the Christmas holidays, then you find yourself in that situation.

The swimsuits I had were a few years old (and had already been to Hawaii), so I was jonesing for something new, but I didn't want to pick up yet another cheap, ill-fitting suit from Target. I decided that Hawaii would be a good reason to do some research and find eco-friendly swimwear companies.

I'll be honest, I wasn't even sure at the time what I would find. What exactly would make a swimsuit eco-friendly? I learned that most eco-friendly suits are made with recycled nylon or Econyl, which is a fabric spun out of recycled fishing nets.

While shopping, my criteria was not difficult, or so I thought: cute, not ridiculously expensive, and covers everything. What I found was a lot of expensive suits that didn't cover everything. Yes, I know Brazilian bikinis are popular in Hawaii, and yes, I take power yoga twice a week, but I was spending most of the vacation with my in-laws. I also knew that my gym's swimming pool is not a Hawaiian beach.

After some searching, I ended up with a printed suit from Odina Surf and a solid one from Vitamin A Swim. I love the high neck halter style of the Vitamin A suit above, and I love the print and colors of the Odina Surf suit below. And I love that both tops have the same style criss-cross back, so at least my tan lines will be somewhat consistent!

What I didn't do on purpose was pick suits from two different companies that color coordinate almost perfectly, but having the option to mix and match the pieces makes them even better.

What I've Learned

You will spend more money than if you'd just go to a department store, but you'll support a smaller business that is committed to sustainability practices. And chances are, you're getting a better quality suit too.

You may have to make some adjustments to make the suit exactly how you like it. For example, neither bikini top I got came with liners, so I improvised and used some from other suits.

When You're Shopping

Read up on a brand's sustainability focus and commitment. Many of them have a page dedicated to the practices they follow and/or materials they use.

Read the product descriptions closely. For example, Vitamin A has many pieces made with their EcoLux fabric, but not all of them are. My halter top is actually not EcoLux, I believe due to the mesh section, but the bottoms are.

Follow the size charts, but contact customer service if you still have sizing questions. Sizing was one of the hardest parts of suit shopping, and I had to make a couple exchanges, even though I did follow the size chart. And make sure the company will take returns! Some items are marked final sale.

Now go forth in your eco-friendly swim suit and do yoga on a beach somewhere!


These are some of the brands I came across while searching for suits last year, and some I've started following in more recent months:

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

Photo Friday | Celebrating Recycling Successes

We can tend to be a little pessimistic in Acadiana about recycling services, especially with the change last year that we could no longer recycle glass. But we do have a lot to cheer about in terms of recycling progress!

Two dedicated Lafayette ladies/mothers took the initiative during the 2015/2016 school year to evaluate recycling programs and make the case for Lafayette Parish public schools to adopt recycling programs. I wrote about this campaign on the blog last summer, and contacted the school board members to express my support for teaching children about the importance of recycling. (As I always say, I learned at a young age and look where I am now.)

The recycling program was approved by the school board, and went into effect for the 2016/2017 school year. They worked with Waste Management to provide the recycling services, and this week, the school board released the first year results, which are amazing!

During the 2016-2017 school year, the Lafayette Parish School System, in partnership with Waste Management, started a recycling initiative at 20 school and office sites across the parish. Over the course of the year, LPSS recycled 38.28 tons of waste, averaging almost 20% of the total commercial recycling volume in Lafayette. Because the participating schools were able to dramatically reduce the waste going into their dumpsters, Waste Management recommends downsizing the number of dumpsters at these sites, which will allow the school system to realize $25,000 in savings. LPSS staff plan to propose that the School Board launch the recycling program at all campuses in the upcoming school year. The program is expected to pay for itself and even position the district to realize additional savings.

It's great to see the recycling program in schools prove successful in the first year, and to see just how much paper could be diverted from the landfill and recycled to make more paper that can be used in schools again.

On that note, happy weekend everyone! Hope you all have a fulfilling Father's Day weekend!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What's In My Eco-Friendly Beach Bag

Although I tend to call it my beach bag, let's face it, my bag doesn't see the beach very often. Somehow, "pool bag" doesn't have quite the same ring, so I just go with it.

This summer, I'm trying to get out and enjoy the water as much as I can, even if I can't get to a beach anytime soon. (Fingers crossed for a trip back to Hawaii later this year!) So, I'm pretty much left with the pool at my gym and at a friend's house.

I love my gym, although it's not exactly an eco-friendly haven, with the mountains of Styrofoam cups for water, the surely massive utility bill, and the giant chlorine pools, but it is a space where I can be an eco-friendly, waste-free individual, and hopefully an example to others.

Every time I go to the pool for a little sun or just to cool off in the water, I make sure to pack an eco-friendly beach bag. Pool bag. Bag of crap. Whatever we want to call it.

This bag pictured here is actually woven out of recycled plastic shopping bags, and was a gift from when my parents went to Disney World without me. Made by Proyecto Titi, it's the perfect size to carry my things for a quick trip, and it's durable around the water.

In my bag are my staple items: a beach towel, body and face sunscreen, my sunglasses, and a lot of water. If I'm heading out for a trip by myself, I've also got earbuds to listen to music, and sometimes a library book.

For this past weekend's pool party, I threw in one of my reusable straws, just in case, but ended up not needing it.

My facial sunscreen is from last year and ranks as a 2 on the EWG Skin Deep scale. My body sunscreen is new, smells amazing, and ranks as a 3 on the scale. Not the absolute cleanest and safest for my body and health, but better than my older sunscreens!

EWG ranks thousands of skincare, makeup, and sunscreen products by evaluating each listed ingredient, and marking what is unsafe about any of them (usually allergy concerns, potential to cause cancer, and developmental/reproductive toxicity). As I run out of products, I use EWG to help find better alternatives.

My trusty 32oz water bottle helps me rep TECHE Project, especially when I know I have a full day of sun ahead of me. Sometimes I'll bring my insulated Klean Kanteen or S'well bottle, but they don't hold as much. I always keep my bag under my lounger so my water stays out of the direct sunlight, whether it's in plastic or stainless steel.

One area I can go greener in is investing in an organic or recycled cotton beach towel. All of the ones we have are conventional cotton, but since they are still functional, I'm not getting rid of them just yet.

My other, larger beach bag is actually handmade out of an older scarf - handmade by me! I featured the process in a blog post a couple years back, and I'm actually excited that it's become a bag I use regularly, and not just one that sits in my closet. (It's also served as my yoga clothes bag.)

Carrying my larger beach bag is handy when I have a change of clothes or more than one towel to tote.

A few other ways I went greener at the pool party last weekend were to bring extra cloth shopping bags, which helped us carry the food we brought (marinated pork chops in a reusable Rubbermaid container instead of a Ziploc bag), and helped us carry things back home.

When lunchtime rolled around, I skipped the paper plates and used a regular plate, and would have washed it, but the guys took care of that for me!

Making sure to stay hydrated, I stuck with a few of my favorite French sodas, and brought the cans home for recycling. (I have definitely found a new addiction, by the way.)

Another way to green your trip to the pool or beach is to pack snacks in reusable containers. You'll save on unnecessary waste, which can be hard to throw away if there aren't many trash cans around, and you can avoid bringing it home to dispose of properly. Plus, reusable containers help protect food from getting crushed or spilled on.

One of my favorite things about this summer is getting to wear swimsuits made of recycled nylon. I plan to do a more in-depth post this summer on eco-friendly swimwear, with a roundup of brands, and possibly a story of how I made planning for our Hawaii honeymoon more difficult than it needed to be!

This suit is from Vitamin A Swim, and the bottoms are made of recycled nylon, which Vitamin A calls their EcoLux fabric, while the top is still a conventional nylon (I've been eyeing a high neck halter since last summer so I had to treat myself.)

Are you planning a beach trip this year? 1. Take me with you. 2. Think about how you can make your beach bag a little more waste free! 3. As always, ask me questions if you're curious about making a green switch.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday, June 9, 2017

Photo Friday | The Importance of Doing Something

I love this quote from polar explorer Robert Swan, and I think it's an especially important sentiment to remember.

I focus my blog on things that people can do as individuals to make a positive impact on the environment. Although there are much bigger pictures to look at in the grand scheme of environmentalism, all positive change starts at a singular level.

What can you do to make a difference? That's what I try to answer through my blog posts, in combination with sharing what I personally do. And even if you're not sure yet what you can do, that's okay. Just know that doing something is the important part.

This is our only planet, and it can't wait for us to sit around expecting someone else to do something.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What I Want for My Birthday

Anyone ever been actually excited to turn 32? I mean, I'm definitely grateful to have another year to make good things happen for the environment, but 32 is quite the underwhelming number.

Eco-friendly push pop confetti found at Hattie Sparks

As a child, I remember always being so excited for my birthday, and working diligently on my list with enough time for my parents to go shopping. My Barbie collection was fierce, y'all. Growing older, I have less of a desire for material birthday gifts and appreciate quality time with my loved ones more. (Is this what #adulting is?)

This year, I'm looking forward to an invigorating yoga class after work, and a delicious dinner with my husband and family. All about the simple things here in this old age!

But maybe, I would love a gift or two...

What I would love the most as I celebrate the first day of my 32nd year on Earth is for all of you to do one or two things to celebrate the Earth today! Think of these as gifts to the Earth in honor of my birthday.

Rethink your accessories. Do you need a straw, or a pile of napkins every time you dine somewhere? Skip the single-use where you can.

Use a reusable plate and utensils instead of disposable, especially at home.

Pack your drinks in a reusable travel container. (Also, enjoy the beach for me if you happen to be there, because I am not, and I would really like to be! 😉)

Go for a walk or a bike ride if the weather is decent.

Pick up litter you come across. It doesn't have to be as much as in this photo, but every little piece picked up contributes to cleaning up your community.

Use natural light instead of artificial at home or in your office. Open those windows!

I may not be as preoccupied with material gifts these days, but a cleaner and more protected environment certainly makes any birthday a more special one!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday, June 2, 2017

Photo Friday | Be the Change

Today, and every day.

Time for me to hit refresh and renew my spirit on making our world a better place!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Welcome to Summertime

Here in Louisiana, school is out, the temperatures have permanently shifted to the warmer end, the summer showers are right on schedule, and hurricane season kicks off today. We're definitely in the summer season, even if it officially doesn't start for another three weeks.

Last year, I published a blog post on making your hurricane supply kit more sustainable, so in the spirit (and dread) of the season starting today, take some time to read up and start making plans for your kit.

In many ways, summer is my least favorite time of year. My hair does not agree with this heat and humidity, and it's almost physically unbearable (a feeling that climate change ensures is only going to get worse...) I mean, we still have to dress professionally for work, whether it's comfortable or not! The best parts are that June is my birthday month, and the days seem to move at a slightly more relaxed pace (although, as I get older, I feel like this is less true.)

And, pool days are pretty fun, and easy to make zero-waste. Re-read my blog post from last year on better sunscreen alternatives, and visit the Environmental Working Group's updated guide to sunscreen. When you use something for the purpose of protecting your health, it's important to make sure that item itself isn't harmful either!

I've got big plans for making this a memorable, yet relaxing, summer, and I'm ready to hit refresh here on the blog and write some fun new posts and introduce y'all to some new eco-minded businesses I've discovered recently!

And here's to going on more bike rides in June than I did in May!

Continuing on the link roundup, summer always brings about backyard cookouts and grilling weekends, which is an easy time to make the switch to being waste-free. Last year, I wrote a two-part blog series on the importance of skipping single-use plates, utensils, cups, whathaveyou, and I can't stress it enough again this year. Y' don't need to rely on single-use dinnerware! These colorful striped plates are a durable, lightweight melamine, making them perfect for outdoor dining. (I just do not recommend heating them up, since they are made of plastic.)

Happy June, guys! What's your favorite thing about summer? Now that I've written this post, I'm definitely ready for a bike ride and some french fries!

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.