green around the house: living room

Making your home greener is one the first steps you can take in your journey, and I've written before about different ways to do so. This week, I'll feature a mini photo tour of my living room, highlighting the different eco-friendly elements going on. In the future, I'll continue the tour with other rooms.

I hope the tour gives a visual perspective of how to incorporate green elements into your existing room, and shows you how you can make small changes.

Shall we begin?

one. CFL light bulbs in all fixtures, of course! The first step to lowering your energy usage.

two. Recycled and repurposed food jars as candle holders. I know one of these jars used to hold green olives, and its size is perfect to hold a votive candle.

three. The end table was purchased by my mom at a garage sale many years ago for use in her classroom. Once she no longer had a need for it, it sat in storage at our house, and when I moved to this apartment, I took it and sanded and repainted it to fit my color scheme. I think this end table will have more lives than a cat.

four. The blanket was probably mine many years ago, but has been at my parents' house, and I took it when I adopted the kitten. He doesn't use it. But there it is. It mostly serves to cover the arm of the chair to keep it from getting totally scratched to threads.

five. This lamp was a hand-me-down as well. Free is the best!

six. Natural sun light. I love the ambience the open windows gives my home. (And normally I don't use both lamps while I have the sun light streaming in. Just so you know!)

seven. Soy candle made by a woman in New Orleans, sold at the French Market.

eight. The coffee table came from Craigslist and cost me $25. I also sanded and painted it, so the table and end table would look more like a set and less like a flea market.

nine. Locally made and purchased tile coasters.

All of these items mix in with my other pieces to create a room that is all me!

meow. Milo, the adopted kitten, curious about the candle, of course. But then he decided he was ready for his close-up.

Are there any green elements in your living room right now?

weekly simple eco tip, 2.27

One place where you might not realize you can go greener is in the bathroom or kitchen - where you use toilet paper and paper towels.

An easy way to use recycled products is to consider using recycled toilet paper or paper towels.

Now once you're done imagining recycled "used" toilet paper and telling me "Oh uh uh!", come back and hear me out.

Recycled toilet paper and paper towels use pre- and post-consumer recycled paper and use different bleaching methods.

For a product that, by nature, is completely single-use, why not choose something made of recycled paper? And if you're not yet willing to switch to recycled paper products completely, phase it in to your routine – buy a pack of recycled toilet paper every other time you need to stock up.

It's becoming easier to find recycled alternatives in regular grocery and general stores as well, instead of needing to hunt it down in your local hippie natural products store. I know I've started to find more recycled brands at my neighborhood grocery store recently.

Also, consider conserving your resources. Don't run wild using paper products and make them last longer, especially when it comes to paper towels. Use them for icky, germy messes, but opt for cloth towels for other uses.


green ninja [link friday, 2.22]

What's one awesome thing? Being green.
What's another awesome thing? Ninjas.

Well, would you look at that! The Green Ninja!

The Green Ninja is a superhero that inspires children to take action on climate change. The adventures of the Green Ninja are told in a youth- oriented way while still based on science. Educational materials promote hands-on learning experiences that help teachers bring climate science topics into classrooms.

The Green Ninja Project is a collaborative San Jose State University effort joining students and faculty from the Departments of Meteorology and Climate Science, Geology, Animation and Illustration, Radio, TV and Film, Primary Education, Computer Engineering and Computer Science. A successful Kickstarter campaign is supporting The Green Ninja Show.  

A big thanks to Donny for sending this my way this week! If you find any interesting environment-related links, feel free to share them with me and I may very well feature them on Link Fridays.

electronics recycling day - tomorrow, 2.23!

If you're in the Lafayette area and have electronics to recycle, participate in Electronics Recycling Day by bringing your items to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Pinhook Road!

Event Partners:


weekly simple eco tip, 2.20

I'm pretty sure I have all of three male readers, so, sorry guys, this week's simple tip isn't really for you. Unless you have luxurious, long hair of course!

There's an easy way to make your beauty routine a bit more natural and a bit less plugged in - let your hair dry naturally! Skip the blow dryers, flat irons and curling irons and let your hair go free. Try different styles that play up your hair's best qualities, like a loose, wavy braid, or half-up.

I can practically hear you complaining about how impossible that is from here...but you can do it. Practice a few times and figure out the best way to handle it after washing it. Or just try going natural once a week.

You may start to overcome the need to always use appliances and electricity when fixing your hair each day, saving time and utilities!


where can i recycle electronics?

If only it were easy to drop everything in a recycling bin instead of throwing it away. But unfortunately, it's not that simple to recycle electronic items - TVs, computers (including keyboards, monitors, ­mice, printers, scanners and other accessories), cell phones, DVD players, video cameras and answering machines.

Why is throwing away electronics so bad, you might ask?

Image: SCEEC

In 1998 America discarded 20 million computers and by 2009 that number had climbed to 47.4 million. A 2011 report by Pike Research estimates that the volume and weight of global e-scrap will more than double in the next 15 years. (Economist) Electronics and other household electrical gadgets are filled with heavy metals and toxic chemicals - a typical piece of electronic equipment, especially one like a PC with many circuit boards, can contain up to eight pounds of lead, along with lower levels of mercury, arsenic, cadmium, beryllium and other chemicals. Once e-waste arrives in third world areas, laborers earn their incomes by recycling these old computers, TVs and cell phones for their core components - but the process is ugly. (How Stuff Works) E-waste collects in large, toxic mountains in these poorer areas, polluting the ground and making the residents sick.

Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year. (EPA)

So, where can you recycle electronics? Best Buy accepts many electronics (including ones not bought at Best Buy) for recycling, at no charge. And if they do need to charge you a $10 recycling fee, they give you a $10 Best Buy gift card as reimbursement. You can drop items off at customer service, but there are also kiosks in the entrance of many stores where you can drop batteries, cell phones and toner cartridges. The Best Buy site also informs you of what happens after you drop items off.

EPA has a search feature that will give you options for recycling your choice of electronics - but many of the options are mail-in.

1-800-Recycling is a great search engine that lets you search by your area or by what item you have - and it's not limited to electronics.

1-800-Got Junk also accepts your waste and does what it can to keep it out of landfills. 

Earth911 provides tips on e-waste and electronics recycling. They also explain how electronics are recycled.

Consumer Report manages the Greener Choices Electronics Reuse and Recycling Center, which gives you many options for getting rid of your stuff. The site also gives information and tips on how to protect your identity - which is VERY important when you are recycling computers or cell phones.

When you are recycling one of them, be sure you do some research and wipe all personal data first. Best Buy clearly states that they are not responsible for removing personal data. Mother Nature Network and the University of Buffalo IT Department provide information on wiping your electronics clean.

With a little research and effort up front, you can take care to send off your electronics to recycling heaven.

exercisin' [link friday, 2.15]

Exercise is important, but it doesn't have to have a big impact on the earth. Earth911 features many easy ways to make exercise more eco-friendly.

The weather is going to be beautiful this weekend, so get outside and get fit!


weekly simple eco tip, 2.13

One of the easiest changes I made in reducing paper waste was creating a binder of scrap paper to use as a notepad. It serves its purpose in meetings, when taking messages, writing my to-do lists or just making notes for different projects.

The paper comes from printer error pages, blank pages that came at the end of documents and printed emails with only a signature. There's always a plentiful supply of these kinds of papers around the office, keeping my binder always fully stocked.

By deciding to source your own note paper, you'll eliminate the need to buy notepads, saving money and extra unused paper.

green hearts

While we're still in the midst of Mardi Gras revelry, it's easy to forget that Valentine's Day is also this week. And while you're planning a night for your significant other, remember that the earth is also your valentine!

Image: Ecoki

There are many different ways you can keep your celebrations eco-friendly. There are also many online resources to help you out, but you can always look at places near you.

  • Gifts: When looking for a gift, look for something made of sustainable materials, recyclable materials or recycled materials. Also look for something locally made or sold.
  • Food: If you're going out to eat, choose a local restaurant or a farm-to-table style restaurant. If you plan to stay in and cook, use local meat, seafood or produce in your dish!
  • Drinks: Look for organic or locally made wine or beer to accompany your dinner.
  • Flowers: Look for organic flowers or locally harvested flowers. Or even better, pick your own flowers (just not from your neighbor's garden!) You can also look into buying flower bulbs that can be planted for months of beauty, instead of cut flowers that will die in a week or so. But if your special person isn't hung up on flowers, think about skipping them.
  • Chocolate: Look for fair-trade or organic chocolate. I swear, they taste better than generic chocolate!
  • Cards: Go paperless! Many card companies online have beautiful or hilarious paperless options.
So whatever you plan for this week, just remember that you don't have to harm the planet while being romantic and thoughtful!

recycling mardi gras [link friday, 2.8]

Because Mardi Gras is so big in South Louisiana, and it's so easy to collect pounds of beads, I'll reinforce this week's feature post in today's link post.

If you plan to get rid of your Mardi Gras beads this year, stop and donate them instead! The beads will be fixed up and reused in future years, cutting down on a ton of plastic and petroleum. And we definitely don't need to be using all of our resources on beads that get carelessly thrown away after one season.

Margie Perez with ARC says an estimated 25,000,000 pounds of beads come into the metro area every Carnival season, but less than 3 percent is recycled.
-The Times Picayune

  • Lafayette: Arc of Acadiana's Bead Drive information. From now through March 20, you can drop off beads to any member of the Louisiana Auto Dealers Association. The locations are listed on their website.
  • Lafayette: Goodwill. They partner with LARC to accept donated beads on the organization's behalf.
  • Lafayette: LARC. Their donations are accepted at any Goodwill or at the LARC office on New Hope Road (near Acadian Village).
  • New Orleans: Arc of Greater New Orleans accepts beads at various locations.
  • New Orleans: Last year, the New Orleans public library branches accepted beads for recycling. Some branches this year are accepting beads; check the ArcGNO website for information on which branches.
  • Baton Rouge: If you know of an organization that accepts beads for recycling in Baton Rouge, please share! Their information is absent online.
  • Some other general Mardi Gras recycling tips from
  • Shannon Hurst Lane has some Mardi Gras recycling tips as well.
  • Verdi Gras is a new New Orleans organization focused on making Mardi Gras greener. They have a recycling program this year that involves taking beads, plastic and cans off the parade route and sorting it for recycling or donating to ARC. Anyone can volunteer to help with the program by emailing Verdi Gras!
  • And an LA Times article about Kirk and Holly Groh, the couple behind the creation of Verdi Gras!
If you're going out to a parade, have fun and stay safe! And be green! I'll be out on my bike, with a margarita in my Klean Kanteen, carrying beads for recycling!

weekly simple eco tip, 2.6

Sometimes I enjoy sitting at a coffee shop while I brainstorm, research and write these blog posts. And while I do that, I'll look around at all of the disposable coffee cups at everyone's tables.

And oh, how do those add up in landfills.

But if you like to get a good coffee treat sometimes, it's easy to be greener about it. Bring your own reusable mug in (insulated of course!) and Starbucks gives you 10 cents off your order every time! (And on Earth Days in years past, they've given you free coffee if you bring your reusable mug!)

Even if your favorite coffee shop doesn't give you a small discount for using a reusable mug, they will still pour your coffee in it! Just let them know you have it when you're ordering.

purple, gold and GREEN

Mardi Gras is arguably one of the greatest times to be in South Louisiana. (Though, I know some of you disagree, and to that I say "SHHH!") And it's only one week away! Of course, I always think by the time the actual day rolls around, I'm far too exhausted to go to another parade. Chalk it up to our innate talent to stretch a party holiday as long as possible. There's already been one great parade that's rolled through Lafayette, and it's only the beginning of many.

But Mardi Gras is also one of the worst times for litter and waste - especially since a big part of it involves throwing plastic made from China off of a giant glitter-covered vehicle for about four miles. If you walk down a parade route after one has passed, you'll see that it basically looks like a festive war zone - cups, bottles, plates, broken beads, plastic bags that used to hold broken beads, etc. It's awful!

To make Mardi Gras universally greener would be a monumental task, including trying to teach people not to leave their litter behind. But, starting with yourself, Mardi Gras can become greener.

One of the best things to do is recycle all those Mardi Gras beads you catch. Whether you save them to give to a friend riding in a parade (if you live around here, chances are you know multiple people riding in parades and asking for extra beads to throw), or you use them as seasonal household or office decorations, they can take on a new life year after year. You can also do a good deed and donate them to LARC or the Arc of Acadiana. They each employ workers with developmental disabilities to recycle and resell beads from parades. The process involves collecting used beads, detangling them and mending them. The beads are then sold the next year to start the cycle all over again. Goodwill of Acadiana also accepts bead donations, which they pass on to LARC.

When you go to a parade, be sure to leave the smallest impact on your area. Pick up your trash and throw it away or recycle it. Or better yet, don't bring items that have waste. Instead of a disposable cup for your beer, bring a reusable mug. If you can, ride your bike to the parade route, which saves on the hassle of parking and cuts down fuel emissions. Plus, you can then decorate your bike with beads! Pick up beads that fall on the ground. Even if they're broken, they can still be donated, or used as craft materials. If you see recyclable material on the ground (and it isn't too disgusting), pick it up and recycle it. Maybe you could even bring a plastic or paper bag to store everything in until you can get home.

If you catch random toys or other throws, don't just throw them away. Give them to a child around you, or save them to donate to charity. Someone will appreciate it! I believe last year my boyfriend caught a toy baseball and bat. And frisbee. And a watch. Who says we stop at throwing beads and doubloons?

By cutting down on disposable items and recycling while you're reveling, you're helping to put the green back in Mardi Gras!

local recycled jewelry

To me, some of the best things to buy locally are pieces of jewelry. You can always find great unique, handmade pieces. And if they're also made of recycled materials, then, well, it just doesn't get much better!

Sometimes I forget how grateful I am to live in a place that has a vibrant arts community and easy access to local artists and their pieces. Between Festival International, Festivals Acadiens et Creoles and Arts and Fleas at Downtown's monthly ArtWalk, there's always a chance for me to check out some of the local recycled jewelry by all of these great people:
  • secondlinejewels - Necklaces and earrings made from upcycled drum cymbals.
  • Restrung - Earrings, bracelets and necklaces made from broken guitar strings.
  • Desjardins jewelry - While her shop isn't active right now, she has necklaces, earrings and bracelets made from various recycled materials - all copper and 90% of the brass is recycled and obtained at local scrap yards and other industrial sites.
  • Red Arrow Workshop - It's a store rather than an individual artist, but Red Arrow carries both recycled and local jewelry. And it's just a fun place to walk through!
  • UP/Unique Products - Out of New Orleans, this place has fun recycled products.
If your city doesn't have a large arts and crafts community, Etsy is a great place to find those kinds of unique items! But I do encourage you to look around; you might be surprised what you can find in your town!

Image: Necklace made of recycled bottle glass, found at Red Arrow Workshop, and was a gift from my boyfriend!

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