Green Around Acadiana: Backyard Sapphire

Backyard Sapphire is truly a local company that fills a much-needed void. When the city of Lafayette discontinued glass recycling a few years back, it was a weird adjustment having to throw glass bottles in the trash. Glass is one of the best materials to recycle because it can be recycled endlessly without losing quality. However, when there's no market for it, it's hard to have services continued.

Many Target locations nationwide have offered a glass recycling bin, but it wasn't enough to still impacted the amount of recyclable glass being thrown away citywide.

Lafayette and Republic Services have yet to reintroduce glass recycling, but luckily, there's another option available to residents.
 
Backyard Sapphire entered the scene and opened in the middle of 2020 for friends of the owners, Tina Crapsi and Dawn Vincent. In 2021, they expanded their operations to the public. Tina and Dawn collect glass bottles from participating residents, and pulverize it into glass mulch. 
 
 
Photo courtesy Backyard Sapphire

 
The glass mulch can be used however you like, typically in landscaping or potted plants. The process that Backyard Sapphire uses to crush the glass rounds and softens the edges and allows for safe handling. The mulch comes in different color and size variations, and provides a lot of benefits to landscaping. 
 
 
 
  • Glass mulch doesn't retain as much moisture as wooden mulch, so there isn't as much potential for fungus to grow. 
  • Glass mulch is very suitable for plants that grow best in sandy and rocky soils, but packing it loosely can make it adaptable to any environment or plant. 
  • Glass mulch serves as an eye catching topper in flower beds, in rock and rain gardens, or along stone paths.
  • Glass mulch is a great way of suffocating weeds and shows a better success rate at weed-prevention than traditional wood mulch. 
  • Glass mulch cover is perfect for low-water gardens and landscapes. 
 
Photo courtesy Backyard Sapphire

 
However, glass isn't the perfect solution for gardens with shallow rooted plants or that may get a lot of sun because they can hold more heat than traditional mulch.
 
Backyard Sapphire is a grassroots movement towards sustainability and making our footprint smaller, and they made their own way in the beginning. "The machinery we wanted to start out with was expensive, so we built a glass crusher that gave us three different sizes," they said.
 
 There are two ways to contribute your glass to Backyard Sapphire's operations: curbside pickup or drop-off. For a nominal subscription fee, you can have your own collection bin that will be emptied by Tina and Dawn on a regular basis. At the moment, there is one drop-off location - bring your glass to the Fightingville Fresh Market on Tuesdays between 3 and 5 p.m. or Saturdays between 1 and 4 p.m. There is a small fee to drop off glass, which directly supports Backyard Sapphire's continuing operations and efforts.
 
 


The glass mulch can be purchased through Backyard Sapphire's website or at Fightingville Fresh Market.
 
 
Photo courtesy Backyard Sapphire

 
Tina and Dawn say they have a great community of curbside customers and contributors at their drop off site, and they hope to have additional sites available in the future. They say they plan to do more events and pop-up drop-offs in the future.   


Photo courtesy Backyard Sapphire
 
 
One of the most exciting developments for Backyard Sapphire happened late in 2021, when they were able to invest in the GLSand Bottle Crusher 2.0. With the new machinery, Tina and Dawn are able to crush more volumes of glass, more easily.

"We plan to continue to grow and advance our technology and methods to be as efficient as possible, which will allow us to take on more glass.  We are experimenting with ways to use our products and byproducts," Tina and Dawn said. "There is only potential for such a sustainable product with endless applications."
 
In less than two years of operations, Tina and Dawn estimate they have recycled more than 31 TONS of glass. It's extremely impressive that in less than two years, a two-woman operation in one city can divert that much glass from the landfill and create a product that can be reused and loved for a long time.
 
"In six months of 2020, we probably collected and crushed a ton of glass. It grew quickly to almost a ton a week, and now it is a little over a ton a week. It's so much and so little at the same time," Tina and Dawn said.

In the summer of 2021, Backyard Sapphire was even featured on the CBS Evening News. Check out their interview!



Back to Me

The past few years have certainly been a roller coaster ride, especially learning to navigate life as a mom of two little ones...something that would be difficult with or without a pandemic thrown in the mix. Motherhood truly shakes up any routine that you had before.

 

I was at an event with some other moms recently, and the speaker was talking about regaining your identity and not feeling defined by external people or things. I left thinking about how much my identity has shifted toward being someone's mom, someone's wife and someone's employee. They're all roles I value very deeply, but in the past few years, I've focused so much on them and less on me. 

 

Even as I write this, everyone in my house is asleep, and I should be as well, but it's my chance to enjoy the quiet, a glass of wine and Schitt's Creek on in the background.

 


When I think about what I can do to regain some of 'me', the one thing I keep coming back to is this neglected space... the blog I've put so much time and effort into over the past 12 years, and that I've ignored in favor of children, family, work and home. I've gotten so out of practice and routine here, and I truly want to re-prioritize writing as an outlet and learning even more about environmentalism. 

 

Will I keep up with it? Probably about as well as I am that postpartum workout plan I'm doing...which is to say, not consistently at all. But hey, I've renewed this domain for another year, so at least I'm hopeful.

 

I've got a few posts that I'll be working on soon and I'm sure there will be some housekeeping and some site updates here and there, but I want to know... what do you want to read about? 

Lafayette's first Zero Waste Week!

Thanks to the dedicated people working with No Waste Lafayette, May 16 -22 has been declared as the first local Zero Waste Week. The week will feature opportunities to learn about local zero waste efforts through in-person and virtual activities.  

 

No Waste Lafayette President Catherine Comeaux says, “Zero waste refers to the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse and recovery of products, packaging and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water or air that threaten the environment or human health. Zero Waste Week will explore how Lafayette is already embracing this philosophy and opportunities for us all to do more.”

Each day of Zero Waste Week will focus on specific themes, and No Waste Lafayette is calling on residents, nonprofits, schools and businesses to participate in each day’s theme. These events provide a great opportunity to participate and learn more on sustainable ways of living, and show you how easy it can be to adopt zero-waste principles.

 

  • Sunday (5/16): Reconnect. Reconnect with nature and look for upstream solutions. Join us for a self-guided group paddle on Bayou Vermilion, starting at the canoe/kayak launch near Vermilionville at 2 p.m. RSVP on Facebook!
  • Monday: Rethink. Rethink your consumption and disposal habits. Consider new ways to avoid creating waste.
  • Tuesday: Reuse and Refill. Visit local thrift stores and businesses who help us work towards zero waste.
  • Wednesday: Reduce. Reduce food waste through growing and composting. Join us for a 3:30 p.m. tour at Bayou Vermilion District’s La Cuisine de Maman to learn about their Rocket food waste composter. RSVP on Facebook!
  • Thursday: Research. Join us for a virtual Zero Waste Happy Hour, where we will dig deeper into what it means to work towards zero waste. RSVP on Facebook!
  • Friday: Reject. Reject single-use disposables, especially those that are harmful to the environment, like Styrofoam and plastics. Have a Foam-Free Friday lunch, post a pic, tag No Waste Lafayette on Facebook or Instagram, and enter to win a prize.
  • Saturday: Repair.  Join us at the main Lafayette Public Library downtown from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. for a Fix It Event. Bring in your broken items and volunteer fixers will be repairing items and teaching us about how to reduce our waste through repair. RSVP on Facebook!


No Waste Lafayette was founded in 2017 and strives to educate the community on various zero waste methods in order to help with the reduction of unnecessary waste. The group's members are awesome examples of living sustainably, and have helped reduce waste in Lafayette through numerous fix-it cafes and community cleanups. 

 


 

Next week is sure to be fun and educational. Join in and participate in Lafayette's first Zero Waste Week!

Fresh Compost with Worm Lady Recycles

One of the best things you can do in support of a sustainable lifestyle is compost your food waste. It keeps a lot of waste out of landfills, and it helps your garden and yard thrive by providing plants with great nutrients. There are three types of composting - aerobic (air is used to help break down material quickly), anaerobic (oxygen is kept out) and vermicomposting (where worms come to play).

However, composting may not be feasible for everyone, especially for those with no space for a compost bin or yard to use it in. And composting may also not be a project you choose to take on. I am honestly in that camp - I love the concept of composting, and we have landscaping and potted plants, but I haven't set up a composting system for our house. And I honestly don't know that I want to take that on.


Photo via Worm Lady Recycles

Now, there are options available if you want to help reduce your waste or reap the benefits of compost, without doing all the work yourself. In the Acadiana area, Worm Lady Recycles is a small operation run by Taylor Vaughan with help from her husband, Eric. She collects food waste from residents and utilizes a vermicomposting process. Once the compost is ready, it's sold as worm castings or tea. The products can be used as a fertilizer in gardens and landscaping, providing nutrients and goodness for your plants. 

 

Photo via Worm Lady Recycles


Worm Lady Recycles partners with other local businesses, residents and schools, and Taylor provides education for those interested in learning more about the process. Mark your calendars for her Worm Workshop on May 16!


Worm Lady Recycles also recycles produce from Acadiana-area grocery stores. 


Worm castings and tea can be purchased online for local pickup or delivery, or you can shop in person at the Fightingville Fresh Market in Lafayette. Currently, worm castings are sold at $8 per pound and tea starts at $5 a gallon. Check her website for current pricing!


Photo via Worm Lady Recycles


Benefits of using worm compost products

  • Worm Lady Recycles' product is made from 100% recycled material from the Acadiana area.
  • Increase plant growth and yield more fruit.
  • Help prevent against some plant diseases.
  • Reduce run off of harmful chemicals into our water systems.
  • Most powerful natural fertilizer on the market.
  • Improve and build your soil.


Photo via Worm Lady Recycles

 

Items that can be recycled for composting

  • Coffee grounds
  • Most fruit and veggies
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Paper towel and toilet paper tubes
  • Brown paper bags and paper cupholders (grocery store and fast food bags)
  • Thin brown cardboard
  • Packaging paper

 

Items NOT accepted for recycling

  • Citrus
  • Onions
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Potatoes
  • Cooked food

 


Worm Lady Recycles also accepts plastic containers and buckets to use for packaging products. You are able to contribute containers for reuse, whether hard plastic half gallon and whole gallon buckets or juice bottles with twist tops. They are also currently looking to partner with local restaurants who would like to recycle different sized buckets/containers.


Drop-off locations (Drop off as you please; contact-free!)

Always open:

  • 206 Vivian Drive Lafayette, La. 70508 (gray bin is located near electricity pole)
  • 115 South College Road Lafayette, La. 70503 (bin is located behind playground fence)

Open specific hours:

  • Fightingville Fresh Market, 315 W Simcoe, Lafayette, La.
    Open Tuesdays 3-5pm and Saturdays 12-3pm. (You can also shop some of the products here!)
  • ​United Way of Acadiana, 215 E. Pinhook Road Lafayette, La.
    Gates are OPEN ONLY M-F 8am-4pm. (White box located next to United Way building entrance.)


Promotion!

Taylor also shared with me that starting this week through May 22, you can enter to win a free class and starter worm bin. Simply recycle paper products at one of the drop-off locations, post a photo of your action on Facebook or Instagram and and tag Worm Lady Recycles to be entered!


Contact/Visit

Email | Phone: 337-412-2653

Facebook | Instagram | Website

Prepping for a Second Baby - the Perks of Saved Items, Hand-Me-Downs and Secondhand Gear

One of the biggest perks of preparing for a second baby, especially one who's the same gender as your oldest child, is being able to reuse the majority of things you already have.


As our daughter grew out of clothing, toys and gear, we put it all in storage, knowing that we would eventually try for another child. When we were expecting Ariana, we took in a lot of secondhand clothing and gear, and we saved much of it. The items we're getting ready to use again are past the secondhand stage and are probably third- and fourth-hand by now. I wrote this blog post back in 2018 about all the secondhand items we had for Ariana.



I think baby clothing, toys and gear is the best category that practices use-it-and-pass-it-down. Thrift shops, resale shops and nonprofits count on donations/sales to offer gently used goods. And the family/friend/social media community tremendously supports selling/trading/loaning goods. Baby and kid items certainly add up quickly when purchased brand new (even secondhand), and it only makes sense to reuse it multiple times when they only get used for a few months.


Over the past two and a half years, I managed to pare down some of the excess that we'd collected, and we've donated or sold a good amount of clothing and a few pieces of gear that just took up a lot of space. Luckily, we've been able to replace just about all the gear at no cost through friends passing things along or loaning things to us.

 

It's certainly a relief this time around to know that most of what we need for a baby, we already have. I was about 33 or 34 weeks when we picked up the bassinet from my friend, and it was a huge sigh of relief to get it set up in the corner of our bedroom. The two baskets are also hand-me-downs and will be used to hold diapers/wipes and onesies/gowns/sleep sacks. I found another basket in storage that I'll reuse as a hamper.

 



One funny note about how pregnancy brain has been catching up to me: Over the past few weeks I've been getting the immediate items ready for Baby's arrival. I washed everything in the NB/0-3 month container and put some away in the nursery and some in a basket in our room. I've also got 95% of my hospital bag packed. One evening I was recalling a specific newborn-size onesie that I loved, and realized it wasn't in the drawer or basket with clothing. I was starting to wonder if I'd accidentally donated or sold it, until it dawned on me around 11:00 one night to check my hospital bag...where it was safely packed! (Pregnancy: when you can't remember a number of important things, but you get hung up on the whereabouts of one tiny onesie.)

 

New-to-us items that we've purchased secondhand, received as a hand-me-down or been loaned for our new baby:

  • Double stroller
  • Infant bathtub
  • Bassinet for our room
  • Infant clothing/shoes/additional sleep sacks
  • Glass bottles
  • Storage bags for pumped milk
  • Mamaroo Rockaroo


When it comes to getting our home ready for our newest addition, I would have to say we are decidedly more laissez faire than we were when preparing for Ariana, haha. I insisted on having the nursery decorated and complete before she was born. Currently, we are planning to keep Ariana in the nursery while the baby will be sleeping in a bassinet in our room.


After a few months, we'll move Ariana into our bigger guest bedroom, aka her big girl room slash playroom, and the baby will move into the nursery. I'm not exactly in a rush to move Ariana into a real bed, but she tends to handle transitions better than I anticipate. 

 

We've been making steady progress to update the room before Ariana moves in, from having the room painted, to hanging curtains, to putting up art and getting a new rug. We plan to update the bed frame so it's lighter and more feminine. We've repurposed art and other pieces from around the house, although we've bought a few new things to make the space fresh.


The nursery will more or less remain the same, which is certainly a weight off our shoulders. I love the design of the nursery as much as I did when we were putting it together, and didn't want to see it change. This blog post from 2018 details a lot of our eco-friendly items in the nursery, all of which we still use!


And so now, we soak up our time as a family of three and await the arrival of Baby Sister. Now that it's February, the countdown is officially on!


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