lafayette bike month [link friday, 3.29]

Image: The League

This week, City Parish President Joey Durel declared the month of April to be Lafayette Bike Month. Lafayette Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the power of bicycles and the many reasons we ride. Bike Lafayette, T.R.A.I.L. and Lafayette Consolidated Government will all be planning Bike Month activities, including FestiVELO de Lafayette on Sunday April 7.

LCG's Metropolitan Planning Organization also voted unanimously this week to adopt a dedicated goal to allocate 10% of Annual Urban Systems funds for bicycle and pedestrian improvements in greater Lafayette. Very important, with the increasing number of incidents happening. 

Keep up with Bike Lafayette.
See how Bike Lafayette needs volunteers!
Brush up on local bike statutes, safety tips and plans.
Read The Advertiser's coverage of this week's council meeting where April was named Bike Month and the MPO voted to dedicate funding.

Have a great weekend, and if you're so inclined, leave the four wheels at home and hop on your two wheels!


weekly simple eco tip, 3.27

One of my favorite Easter traditions growing up was dyeing Easter eggs. Getting the perfect shades, and then getting fancy with tie-dye and wax crayons and stickers... oh, I did it all.

This year, whether you're a giant child like me, or you have children of your own, consider using natural dyes for Easter eggs, instead of packaged artificial dyes. You'll still need white vinegar, but you'll use different foods and/or flowers to get the different colors. 

For example, beet juice dyes eggs a beautiful shade of pink. Blueberries can be used to get blue eggs.

Better Homes and Gardens has a list of what to use and how to achieve each color, and Huffington Post offers their choices, such as paprika for orange eggs.

And after you've dyed the eggs, make dinner with the foods themselves! Win win.

If you decide to go the natural way, take pictures and Tweet me @ecocajun! I'm planning to dye a few eggs this weekend and will document my own process as well.


earth hour 2013 [link friday, 3.22]

The seventh annual Earth Hour is happening tomorrow evening. Wherever you are, whatever time zone you are in, when 8:30 p.m. rolls around, turn off all non-essential lights and electronics and enjoy the hour. Read a book by candlelight, take a nap, play some Ouija, go outside...whatever you do, take a stand for the planet.

Earth Hour is a global movement uniting people to protect the planet. Towards the end of March every year, Earth Hour brings together communities from across the world celebrating a commitment to the planet by switching off lights for one designated hour. The symbolism of the hour is incredibly important in bringing people and communities together across the globe.

So this year, figure out where you'll be at 8:30 p.m. on March 23, and decide how you can take a stand and join the movement. (I will actually be in the middle of a concert out of town, so I am choosing to celebrate Earth Hour at another time...makes me a little sad, but the intent and meaning is still there!)

And if you want to do a little research or follow along with social media updates, peruse these sites:
Happy Earth Hour to all of you! Should you participate, share with everyone! The official Twitter hashtag is #EarthHour.

weekly simple eco tip, 3.20

With Earth Hour coming up this Saturday evening, this week's simple eco tip will follow in its spirit. The basic premise of the Earth Hour movement is to turn off all nonessential lights and electricity for one hour. (Come back on Friday for more Earth Hour fun and links!)

But why stop at one hour? Incorporate the meaning into your every day life!

When you're not in a room, turn off the lights or other utilities, such as a TV or fan. Use electricity only when you really need it. And don't leave your air conditioner or heater running nonstop when you aren't home! If you don't have a programmable thermostat, make it habit to turn it in the right direction when you leave in the morning.

Not only will conservation help you save on your electricity bill, it will also help curb overuse. It's especially important in the summertime, when the heat and ensuing energy demand causes strain on resources. Cut down on electricity use easily by conserving energy when you are not in a particular area to enjoy its benefits.

Make Earth Hour feel like any ol' hour to you!

a note for all drivers, from someone who loves her bike, her rights and her life

Dear Driver,

Do you see this? It's a person riding a bicycle.

And this person, along with every other person who rides a bike, does not deserve harassment from you, a person in a vehicle.

Chances are, you are going to encounter someone riding a bike in the city, on the road. Maybe they'll be in a bike lane, like the guy above. Or maybe they won't, if there is no bike lane. And you probably don't like it. But guess what. Every bicyclist has the right to be on that road, just like you have the right to be on that road in your car. Check your laws; I've even printed my city's out and keep them in my purse. In most places, it's illegal for a bicyclist to be on a sidewalk. And it's your responsibility to stay a certain distance from a bicyclist - though that distance varies. In my city, it's three feet.

And honestly, too bad so sad if you don't like bicyclists being on the road. While we're still outnumbered, there are still a good amount of us, and it is our right to ride our bikes for whatever reason. To be environmentally conscious, to get exercise, to enjoy a nice day, to avoid traffic, whatever. You don't have the right to take that away from anyone because you personally don't like it or find it inconveniencing you for three minutes.

I am reading too many stories these days about incidents between drivers and bicyclists. Among so many others, this past weekend in Eunice, a driver hit a bicyclist and left the scene. I read a story on Facebook about a near incident in Lafayette just this morning. Just because a bicyclist is there doesn't mean you have the right to honk or provoke them in any way. They are not in your way, they are where they are supposed to ride. It's your responsibility to go around them. And it doesn't take much to simply go around and leave them behind you. It especially takes less energy than provoking them. If you do something and get a less-than-nice response, don't get mad. You provoked them. Just move on. It is never worth hitting a bicyclist.

A few weeks ago, I participated in Critical Mass and witnessed a similar incident. A car was mad that they could not pass us right away - on a curvy, two-lane road with no-passing lane stripes - because there was a car coming toward us all. Instead of just waiting until there was a safe chance to pass, the driver wedged herself in the middle of the group, and yelled obscenities at us to get on the sidewalk (which there was none.) After we all turned on a different street, the car followed us and the people kept yelling. But when some of us responded, the car slammed on its brakes in the middle of the group and some of the bicyclists weren't able to stop in time and avoid slamming into the back of the car.

Is it necessary? No! Your car goes so much faster than our bikes. When it's safe, pass us. And then we are safely behind you, and you probably will never see us again. We don't want to get hit. And we're sure you don't want to get a ticket or go to jail for causing an accident, or worse, hurting another human being.

Please just remember that bicyclists have the right to be on the road as much as you do. And we ALL have a right to live.


stamps! [link friday, 3.15]

I have finally completed the process of making eco cajun business cards, and I am so excited about it. Over the past few months, I brainstormed different eco-friendly options, including recycled paper and plantable seed paper, but nothing fully caught my eye. Then, I was inspired by an Etsy shop owner (from whom I purchased a recycled material cat collar) and decided to get a stamp custom made, and use cardboard for the cards themselves. This way, I can make only as many as I need, instead of printing too many and having them sit around.

And now I have wonderful, unique business cards using existing cereal boxes. The stamp worked out great, thanks to a design by Michelle and a layout by clang(boom)snap. The ink pads I chose came from Amazon, though I'm still on the hunt for even better ink pads. (If anyone knows where to find soy ink pads, hit me up please!)

So, if you are interested in getting a custom stamp, for anything, head over to The Stamp Maker!

Have a beautiful spring weekend, and wear your green for the environment AND St. Patrick's Day!

weekly simple eco tip, 3.13

With spring comes the blooming of plants all over.

Why not plant your own herbs, instead of constantly buying packaged herbs from the store? 


If you regularly cook with herbs, it is so convenient to always have a supply on hand. I planted two small stalks of basil last summer, and they provided me with so many fragrant leaves until they died this winter (I can't say I'm the best at having plants come back season to season). The small plants cost about $6 total from a local nursery, and I had the old recycling bin already lying around.

You can create a small herb garden with basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano or any other herb you love!

Very soon I will be starting up an herb garden for this year, and I will attempt to branch out beyond just basil.


spring cleaning, minus the toxins

Now that the time has changed, spring is fully in the air, and with that comes spring cleaning! I've been spending the past few weeks cleaning out unneeded items in my house, and now it's time to give the whole place a good scrubbing. 

One of the first things to do when you're ready to get cleaning is to look at the products you have. Many cleaning products include strong, artificial colors and fragrances and harsh cleansing agents like bleach, ammonia and acids. These chemicals can produce indoor air pollution by off-gassing toxic fumes that can irritate eyes and lungs. Think about the surfaces your children or pets can get on, and then think about what products you use on those surfaces. Do you want your two- or four-legged loved ones ingesting toxic chemicals? (I know I don't!)

There are many eco-friendly cleaning products out today, and many of them do just as good a job as their standard counterpart. Two of the biggest brands around are Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyers. You can find items ranging from hand soap to dish soap, dishwasher detergent, countertop spray, carpet cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, shower cleaner and laundry detergent. Both brands take the toxins out of their products, and Mrs. Meyers products are plant-based. And they both WORK. Mrs. Meyers' countertop spray really does well in making my kitchen shine (well, as much as an ugly apartment kitchen CAN shine!)

Clorox has a greener line of cleaners under the name Green Works. The products are all plant-based and biodegradable. It's probably the most widely available alternative product line.

One brand I recently discovered and love is Ecover. Their dishwasher detergent works very well and gives me peace of mind that no gross residue is left on my dishes. (In fact, this is a good time to remind myself: You're running out of detergent packets...go buy more!)

The Daily Green features reviews of 7 top green cleaner labels, including Mrs. Meyers, Seventh Generation, Green Works and Ecover. Real Simple reviews 10 green cleaning products. And Oprah tested green cleaning products and found which ones work the best.

And when you are shopping for cleaning products, look for the Green Good Housekeeping seal. It was introduced in 2009 with the goal of testing the green marketing claims of many supposedly eco-friendly products on the market and "set a mainstream bar for consumers who want to live a greener lifestyle."

But maybe you want to be really crafty, and maybe feel a little like a scientist. If that's the case, dive in and make your own cleaning products! Vinegar, citrus and baking soda are staples of so many homemade cleaners that do all kinds of tricks. And here's a secret cleaner you will have never thought to! It can do so many things around the house...or at the very least, drinking it while you clean can make the time go by a little quicker!

The Daily Green shows different homemade cleaner recipes for different purposes. And Apartment Therapy recently featured a tutorial on making a citrus cleaner that I would love to try.

Homemade cleaners can clean countertops, windows, tile and floors, all safely.

And beyond actual cleaning products, if you're looking for a new mop or broom, look for one made of recycled materials. I recently found a broom at Target made with recycled bristles and plastic. And if you're crafty, you can make your own broom! I recently found this tutorial on making a broom out of plastic bottles.

And don't forget to stock up on greener sponges and rags. One big key to being green is using reusable items instead of disposables. Use rags instead of paper towels. Even cut up old t-shirts to use as rags (just make sure they aren't water-repellant!) There are reusable Swiffer duster alternatives, which will drastically cut down on waste.

After you tackle spring cleaning the eco-friendly way, your house, family and pets will love you even more!

oh, louisiana [link friday, 3.8]

In December 2012, the Louisiana Public Service Commission approved a statewide program that would have given consumers and small businesses incentives to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and to buy energy efficient appliances.

The initiative gave electric utilities and natural gas providers about a year to develop programs that would have likely offered residential and business customers incentives for making improvements that lower their electricity use.

But then, the PSC went back on their approval and halted plans for the program. And the main given reason is the program's cost for small businesses, because utility companies would be able to charge their customers for energy efficiency initiatives. PSC members who voted for the energy efficiency program maintained that long-term, the energy efficiency program would save businesses money by lowering their utility use and that 46 other states have embraced similar programs.

The initiative will likely be revisited within the next few months, when the commission would hire new researchers to undertake a more thorough review into the costs and benefits of such a program. The next PSC business and executive committee will take place in Baton Rouge on March 20.

Read more:


weekly simple eco tip, 3.6

Now that you have been skipping disposable coffee cups for a month, let's go one step further.

See all those little sugar/sugar alternative packets? And all those little stirrers?

Yeah, skip 'em.

So much waste in our lives comes from products packaged for convenience. Yes, it's easier to use a packet of Splenda and a plastic stirrer, but that is just extra waste going to a landfill. Using a box or bag of sweetener and a spoon achieves the same outcome, but with much less waste. 

Think about this: If you buy a box of sugar packets, not only must you throw away the box, you must also throw away the wrapper for every packet. Compare that to buying a bag of sugar. You throw away a bag. That's it.

The waste may be small, but it's still adding to your footprint.

If you make coffee yourself, the adjustment is very simple. If you regularly get coffee on the go, it will be a little harder. Think about the best way to change. If you pick up a coffee on the way to work, keep a spoon and box of sweetener at your desk and tell the barista you will pass on the disposables. If you pick up coffee and keep moving, decide if you want to commit to keeping supplies in your car. It's not the best solution, but it's something worth thinking about.

And let's face it, having less trash is very sweet!

this into that: mason jars

Another new semi-regular feature I'll be doing is This Into That: showing how to reuse or repurpose different items in fun ways.

This feature is dedicated to the wonderfully Southern mason jar (and regular old food jars). They're just begging to be reused a million times in a million different ways. They aren't just made for canning and food storage!

As I've shown a few times, they make great candle holders for votive size candles (or larger, depending on the jar). This is a green olive jar that's held a candle for a few months. Pop the jar in the freezer to get the leftover wax out, wash and rinse, and the jar is good as new.

Hello! Southerners aren't known for drinking out of mason jars for no reason. This would be sweet tea, if I had sweet tea at the time. I had to settle for pineapple orange juice, but it still works! And if you're really crafty, you can make yourself a pair of Cajun Wine Glasses, complete with a stem!

The jars can also be used as multipurpose containers. I have one dedicated to holding my loose change, and one dedicated to holding random household items I need at any given time (basically, scissors, candle lighter and a pen). And these are decorated with twine and junk mail, for extra effect.

You can also make mason jar salads for your work week lunches. By placing the dressing on the bottom, you keep the salad from getting soggy all morning. Just pour into a bowl, or simply shake in the jar before eating.

Mason jars function well as hanging lamps - or place them in a group to make a unique recycled chandelier. Social, a new local restaurant, features amazing mason jar lighting fixtures throughout. They are fairly easy to make as well!

And if you want to transform them even further, you can give them a coat of paint! One glass Coke bottle I've had for years got a coat of bronze metallic spray paint and is now a gorgeous flower vase. Embrace the jar shapes and contours and make them part of your decor.

How many uses can you find for mason jars in your house?
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