The oil and gas industry isn't something I like to talk about very often. While I want there to be many alternative, sustainable fuels for the future, I still live in South Louisiana - a place still very much dependent on oil and gas - and I still have many friends dependent on it for their livelihoods.

There are proponents of solar and electric energy around, but I still don't find it's enough to really change this area. There will always be legitimate reasons for the industry and the drilling. I don't believe oil and gas should be the only source of fuel, but I also don't think there should be any other exclusive source of fuel. With the sheer amount of demand, it would strain the earth to use any one source. The key is to use enough alternative fuels so that we don't deplete the earth's supply of oil too soon.

A few months ago, I saw a bumper sticker that made me think. It was on a car in the middle of Lafayette.

And after I thought about it, I realized this is just how I differ from the rest of the city. People in the Drill Here Drill Now camp depend on the industry for jobs and income. The sentiment seems to be even stronger since the oil spill, subsequent drilling hiatuses, and talk of imported oil. And I get that. But I don't agree.

It seems short-sighted to me, especially with the way it's worded. The implications on the environment and the supply of oil for our future generations are less important than paying less right now. And I just don't think the same way.

I'm sure many people would say I just don't know what it's like to grow up as part of the industry. And I really don't. Neither my parents nor my grandparents worked in it. I don't work in it fully, though it has had an indirect impact on the job. But I still just don't feel like we should throw away concerns on the environment and the future just to pay slightly less now. It's not fair to our future. There needs to be options. We do need to keep an important industry, but we need alternatives in order not to screw everything up for our planet and our grandchildren.


The want: A basil plant for endless supply of basil during the summer.
The need: A planter large enough for a basil plant to grow and not stay the same size.
The second want: An eco-friendly planter.
The problem: Lack of extra finances to buy things like large planters.

The random, ingenius solution: A recycling bin already sitting on my patio not being used in any way.

This was one of the easiest, most creative things I have thought of doing. Not only did it simply cost me $5 for two basil plants and $6 for a bag of potting soil, it took minimal effort. The recycling bin already has holes on the bottom, so it didn't require me to make holes. All I really had to do was clean it out, pour some soil, and add the plants.

This bin is from my parents' house back in the 90s, when recycling used to be separated for city collection. My dad kept the Glass bin for some reason, and I took it when I first moved out, because at the time, you couldn't drop glass off at the recycling drop-off locations, and I would bring the glass to my parents' to put in their bin. The drop-off system has changed since then, and I kept the bin without having a need for it.

So, a summary of how awesome eco-friendly this is: Bin used for recycling as far back as 20 years ago, bin repurposed to have a new life, having basil on hand for dishes eliminates extra spending, packaging and waste, and planter makes a dual eco-friendly statement.

A summary of how awesome, not necessarily eco-friendly, this is: I get the smell of basil any time I want!


festival international de louisiane

The annual Festival International de Louisiane took place in downtown Lafayette from April 25-29. I love almost everything about Festival, especially the amount of green craft vendors that attend to sell their pieces.

Many of the jewelry vendors that are at Festival create their pieces from recycled materials. A few years ago, I found a great necklace made from a melted bullet. The jewelry above is made from recycled metal. 

UP/Unique Products is based out of New Orleans. I've visited their store on Magazine Street a few times, and their tent at Festival a few years ago. I found a bowl made of melted Mardi Gras beads. If there's one thing Louisiana has a surplus of, it's Mardi Gras beads. And this company has found a way to reuse them. They also make lighting fixtures that resemble sea creatures. The shirt in the photo is made of organic cotton and soft drink bottles. I can vouch that it is one of the softest shirts you'll find. The bags shown are made of old JazzFest vinyl banners.

This year saw a green addition, the featured pRECYCLE Machine. The bicycle was developed by UL Lafayette industrial design students, and was supported by Keep Lafayette Beautiful, the Recycling Foundation, and Greenroom. Powered by someone pedaling, the machine uses no resources while crushing cans to be recycled. Recycling is more cost effective when recyclables are shipped directly to the plants from the site, eliminating costly transfer processing.As you can see at the bottom, many cans were saved from the trash and are ready to be made into something new!

It's great to see more green initiatives coming to Festival International. This is one of the biggest events for Lafayette, and it's important to keep downtown Lafayette from becoming a trash heap. Besides recycling, this year, we took our bicycles to Festival, which helped us avoid parking issues, save gas and emissions and helped us get some extra exercise. Along with that, I used both of my Klean Kanteens to carry water and beer/margaritas.

With the hundreds of thousands of people who descend upon the area for four days, each act of green counts. If we destroy downtown, we also destroy the Festival.


trash to treasure

I've been meaning to try to sell some old clothing for awhile and today I finally took action and brought my things to Plato's Closet, a store that buys some old clothing and resells it. While my clothes mostly just got handed back to me, along with three dollars, I was still inspired. While I was there, I realized I should be shopping there when I need something, instead of spending more money for something brand new.

There are other stores similar to Plato's Closet, including Clothes Mentor, which I may check out in another attempt to make some money from my old clothes. What's great about these place is how they promote giving clothes a new life. It goes against the "disposable" mentality that so many people have about so many things. Even if you are done with your clothes, the clothes aren't done.

I've also got a few boxes to take to Goodwill, one of the best places to donate old items for reuse and help people who are less fortunate.

I love being able to clean out my apartment and get rid of things I don't need while letting them find a new purpose with someone else. One aspect of environmentalism is to simply have less STUFF. When you put a little extra thought into only buying things you really need or will use, and you properly reuse things that are still functional, you make a big difference in the amount of stuff in this world.

local foodie

Today at Fresh Pickins Market in Lafayette was the Spring Food Festival. I'm already a fan of Fresh Pickins because of their focus on local produce and food products, because they're cheaper than larger grocery stores, and because they are simply a local business.

The Spring Food Festival featured samples from about 40 Louisiana vendors, all of whom regularly sell their products at Fresh Pickins. The samples included lots of seasonings and dips, lots of pepper jelly varieties, some grits, some soup, some bread and a bloody mary mix. Let's just say, lunch was provided in the form of samples today, and it was all delicious.

Music was provided by the Wild Rice Band, and there is no more appropriately named band for South Louisiana. There was also a drawing for free groceries from Fresh Pickins, and even if I don't win (which I WILL!), I have made the resolve to do as much of my grocery shopping here as I can. I really want to focus on shopping as locally exclusive as I can, and when it comes to food, our local food is the best. I'm biased, but I'm also right.

After we made our way through the vendors and samples, we walked around the rest of the market and I came across my favorite version of Cajun seasoning, simply based on the label. Dat Jake is my new hero.

Shopping locally and eating local food is so important to your area's economy and everyone's environment. It's much less resource-intensive if food only has to travel a few miles, compared to across the country or overseas. And the money you spend stays in your area instead of going elsewhere. 

I'll feature the farm-to-table concept and farmer's markets in the near future, and it follows this concept of using the resources most available to you - anything that's in your immediate vicinity. If you can't grow your own food or raise your own animals for meats, look to your neighbors who do and support them.
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