looking back on festival international

WHEW. That was a weekend. Attending Festival for four days, two of which lasted nine hours, can really take it out of you. But it was incredibly fun and worth it.

There were great green moments to the weekend, but overall, people are still a long way from being green as a whole. When The Wailers closed out Festival, we walked through an emptying Parc International and there was a sea of leftover cans, plastic utensils, foam cups and an umbrella. It was a sad sight to behold, with recycling bins located all over the place. (Of course, it was comically sardine-packed in there, but people were still uncaring enough to just drop their trash at their feet.)

Our first volunteering experience was mixed as well. We dragged ourselves out of bed Sunday morning and headed down to check in for our shift. We first went with a guy to one area, where he told us we'd simply be picking up all the trash left on the ground from the night before. And when I asked if we were doing trash or recycling or both, he said that it was all trash at that point. Not what I signed up for. He left us anyway, so I stuck to putting bottles and paper in the recycling bins and trash in the trash bins (including a half-eaten cheeseburger). After we finished that and went back to our check-in spot, we were then sent out with a golf cart and our job was to empty the bins of cardboard at each beer station. And that's how you realize just how much Cajuns and Cajun visitors can drink. Cardboard beer boxes for hours! It was far from a glamorous volunteer shift, but it was amazing to see how much recycling we racked up in two hours, and know it was a small portion of the overall amount. So by the end, I was happier with how we ended up contributing to Festival.


Following my own Guide to a Green Festival, we biked three of the four days we attended. Our goal was all four, but by Sunday morning we were exhausted and didn't want to rush to make it to our shift on time, and there was a large threat of rain.

My insulated Klean Kanteen held: a White Russian daiquiri, water, an iced latte and two Abita Strawberries. Plenty of plastic saved, but still not as much as I'd hoped for. We did save our good plastic cups for future use, though.

I brought cloth napkins with me and used them.

We smartly packed sunscreen and hand sanitizer, and extra toilet paper for any necessary uses.

I tried to exhibit self-control in the shops, and the few things I did purchase were eco-friendly. One necklace with a small piece of wood under a tree charm and a pair of earrings made from watch insides.

I let my naturally curly hair run free all weekend, and it was honestly great to not worry about styling it. A few bobby pins and ponytail holders and done! No electricity needed.

We had a blast, ate too much good food, walked a million steps (or approximately 48,000/almost 20 miles), saw many great bands, ran into a lot of people we knew, and savored the culture that's so unique to Lafayette.

Until next year!


festival international edition [link friday, 4.26]

Lafayette is buzzing with that Festival spirit this week and weekend. Last night was our first night and it involved bike rides, recycled jewelry and recycling cans! It's only fitting to carry that energy over here to eco cajun for Link Friday.

In case you missed it earlier this week, peruse the eco cajun Guide to a Green Festival. I'm following my own tips and practicing what I preach. I've already packed my Kanteens and cloth napkins, so I'm ready to go!

Check out the vendors at Marche des Arts and Marche du Monde. Many of them will be selling eco-friendly goods! The above earrings I purchased last night are made from old watch pieces and are sold at Creations by Fire, located near the corner of Jefferson and Vermilion.

Download the official Festival app from iTunes or Google Play.

You can also follow me on Twitter and the brand-spankin-new eco cajun Instagram! I'll be sharing all kinds of green Festival goodies all weekend.

And as always, remember to recycle! HAPPY FESTIVAL Y'ALL!

a green guide to festival

The time is finally here...Festival International kicks off today here in Lafayette! Once a year for five days, musicians, culture and festival-lovers descend on downtown Lafayette, and it's pretty glorious.

For all the information, including lineups and food/vendor listings, head on over to Festival International's website.

And to make your Festival experience even better, I've created a guide on how to go greener. This could be followed for any kind of outdoor music festival, not just Festival International, though I do know other festivals are much stricter on what you can bring onto the grounds.

Festivals are not typically the place where going green is a first priority. As evidenced by this lovely pile of trash from last year, there are so many things that could've been recycled (and should've, since there are recycling bins placed all over) and things that could've been reused (and should've, because come on!) That reusable plastic Greenroom cup is dinnerware quality to college students. But the trash will overflow, so the steps you take help to decrease the mound, even if the action feels small.

So, first things first. What should you pack for Festival? Having the right supplies will help you go greener from the start.

Pack a reusable water bottle. I cannot stress this enough. You will save so much plastic by bringing and reusing a bottle. And of course it doesn't have to hold only water - use it for Festival punch, margaritas, soft drinks, sports drinks, etc. Last year, I packed an insulated Klean Kanteen, and it kept my frozen margarita frozen for hours. Ask the servers if you can have your drink poured into your bottle instead of a plastic cup. If you do get a good reusable plastic cup, REUSE IT! Four Festival punches don't need to equal a stack of four Festival plastic cups. Use the same cup each time.

Pack any weather-related needs. Sunscreen, a light sweater, sunglasses, a portable fan, etc. If you think ahead and pack it with you, it will save you from an emergency trip to buy it and ending up with a duplicate of something you may already have at home. And seriously, wear sunscreen. No one wants weird, nasty sunburns.

If you plan on shopping, bring a cloth shopping bag to hold your purchases, and skip the plastic bags from each tent.

If you plan on eating (and if you're going to Festival International, eating is probably 60% of the reason you're going, hello crawfish boat!), bring a fork and cloth napkin with you. Either a piece of your silverware, or a plastic fork you have stashed in that junk drawer. I know it sounds weird, but think about the amount of waste accrued from all of the disposable plates, bowls, forks, spoons and napkins. Bring one with you and rinse it off when you're done, then use it again later. And resist the urge to grab a huge stack of paper napkins from each vendor.

If you have an iPhone or Android, download the official Festival International app. It provides maps, lineups, schedules and other important information. And it saves paper! Skip the paper guide this year and go for the app.

For the ladies, save the electricity from your styling products and go natural. It's going to be hot, it may rain a bit (fingers crossed it doesn't though), and you're going to be outside. Chances are, all the work you'd spend on your hair would just get messed up in the first 30 minutes of being outside. Save energy (yours and electrical) and go for a natural hairstyle.

Now, traveling to Festival. Riding your bike is a fantastic way to get to Festival. You can avoid the hassle of parking and walking, and you save gas. I am not sure whether there will be a bicycle valet spot this year, but there are plenty of places where your bikes can be locked up. If you can't bike, consider taking the Festival shuttle. It runs pretty continuously from Cajun Field, about 2.5 miles away, and drops you off in the middle of the fun. This year there will be two bus stops downtown at the most crowded times. Riding the bus will help cut down on the amount of traffic near downtown. The main stop is near Filling Station and the second stop is near Americas Coffeehouse.

Once you get to Festival, don't get so swept up that you forget all your green actions. Use the Festival app, and don't grab a handful of paper guides that will only get wadded in the bottom of your bag. If you have to throw something away, make sure it's not recyclable first. If it is recyclable, RECYCLE IT! The bins are there. Use them! But try not to take something disposable in the first place.

Many vendors at Festival have green products, from recycled to local and handmade. Support these vendors and show them you support green habits! There are some truly great recycled things to find, and they are beautifully unique.

At last year's Festival, there were two great things to note. This bicycle made by UL Industrial Design students took cans and crushed them for easier recycling.

And this phone charging station provided a relief for dying phones everywhere. Take advantage of these stations, and you won't have to pack your charger and hunt for an outlet.

And if you want to make a bigger difference, volunteer for Festival! This year, my boyfriend and I are excited to be recycling volunteers, wherein we'll be picking up the full recycling bags and bringing them to a drop-off point. We're doing our part to help Festival be green, so it can grow in future years.

The little actions you take truly add up to make a bigger statement. The best thing to do is to limit the amount of waste you have - from not using it in the first place, to properly disposing of it in the end. The less impact you make, the less the planet feels it.

Now gear up, get out there, and ENJOY FESTIVAL!


louisiana earth day festival

Happy Earth Day to y'all! I hope you're thinking just a bit greener than normal today. Don't forget to show the Earth you love it, and hug a tree!

Yesterday was a great day to celebrate Earth Day over in downtown Baton Rouge at the Louisiana Earth Day Festival. The weather was much better than last weekend, and the festival was much bigger than Lafayette's. There were a few stages for bands, and the festival spanned a few blocks in the North Boulevard Town Square. There were also tons of exhibitors and activities going on. I enjoyed the area set off for children's activities and education. Teaching children about recycling and conservation is such an important step, so they can grow up practicing good habits and teaching others to be mindful. 

Beside each trashcan was a convenient recycling bin, provided by the Recycling Foundation.

We learned that many of the state vehicles are powered by natural gas. There were a few on display at the festival that had been converted from conventional fuel to natural gas.

My first time seeing an all-electric vehicle in person. Oh, how I wished they were giving this Nissan LEAF away...to me! I also didn't know that some of the car's components are made with recycled water bottles.

Winn Dixie gave out reusable goody bags (with disposable single-serve bags of snacks...), and had this display about the debate between paper and plastic bags. The best answer is always reusable!

Bike Baton Rouge offered free bicycle valet parking...and if we didn't live an hour away, biking would've been an option! But I love that this is becoming a common thing at festivals and other events around here. Bike Lafayette offers a bike corral at downtown gatherings, and I believe possibly for Festival International this coming weekend.

One exhibit I really liked was from the Department of Public Works. They showed the difference between an incandescent and energy-efficient traffic light. On top of the displayed cost savings, I could feel the difference between each: the incandescent light gave off MUCH more heat than the energy-efficient one. So much money and energy is wasted with incandescent lights simply because they give off so much heat. 

A handy way to remember your cloth bags when you go shopping!

The Recycling Foundation was one exhibitor, along with supplying the recycling bins throughout the park. Their company is based in Baton Rouge, and they service residents and businesses in Lafayette as well.


We sat in the grass for a bit and listened to the Mulligan Brothers and enjoyed the sun (wearing sunscreen, so we wouldn't burn...again.) I brought along my trusty reusable water bottle, and I got to see an actual bass made from suitcases. The festival overall was great and crowded, and makes me wish that Lafayette's festival can grow to be as large.

I hope y'all make the most of the rest of Earth Day, and that the spirit of Earth Day will carry over to other days as well. Every little bit of conservation, recycling and respect counts, but continued actions make a world of difference.

Happy Earth Day!

Make it a memorable one.


fete de la terre at university of louisiana at lafayette [link friday, 4.19]

Today's link is also kind of a last-minute notice of another Earth Day event in Lafayette. If you're near the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Campus, stop by between 9am and 1pm today for their annual Earth Day celebration, Fete de la Terre.

The fun is happening on the corner of St. Mary and Hebrard, near Broussard Hall, and is put on by UL Lafayette's Office of Sustainability, in conjunction with the School of Geosciences and the Institute for Coastal Ecology and Engineering. The theme of this year's celebration is "Green Education - Green Jobs."

Get more information over on UL's website, and stop by if you can!

And if you're in the Baton Rouge area, don't forget about the Louisiana Earth Day festival happening this Sunday!

vermilionville earth day festival

This past Sunday was the annual Earth Day festival at Vermilionville, put on by Bayou Vermilion District. While the festival itself was held despite pouring rains the night before and morning of, many of the exhibitors canceled on attending, so what was left was more of a Vermilionville tour. It still made for a unique Sunday afternoon, though.

This local farmer talked about growing his own food and the numerous benefits of eating and purchasing local foods. I believe the plants picture above grow broccoli. There were a few farmer's market vendors at the festival, and a few vendors selling handmade soaps, candles and greeting cards.

Lafayette Consolidated Government was there, showing plans on bike lanes and systems, and promoting the importance of the in-progress Lafayette Comprehensive Plan. 

Vermilionville is one of those places that just about every local school child goes on a field trip. It's different to attend on your own as an adult, because you look at it through different eyes. What I loved about Sunday's trip was just getting to wander around this small replica Acadian village and immersing myself in the history of the Acadians.

The Acadians were a very resilient group of people, first moving to the area after being deported from Nova Scotia hundreds of years ago. They lived off the land down here and settled into their way of life.  "Being green" can be such a hot debate these days, as many people don't open their eyes enough to see the reason for it. But in history, people didn't have to change their ways to be green - they simply already were. There were no other options. No plastic bags to waste; no cars to drive; no one-time packaging to throw away. They grew their own food, they raised their own animals for meat, they used everything over and over again. It was much more simplistic without all the modern day "convenience" (aka disposable) items.

This quick ferry ride takes passengers from one side of Vermilionville to the other, instead of taking the sidewalk back. And there is no fuel or energy used in its operations. The ferry is simply connected to each side of the swamp via ropes. Once you board the ferry, one person grabs the rope and pulls the whole thing to the other side, then you get off. It may have been a one-minute trip, but it was fun!

Pack and Paddle was also at the festival, and they had two canoes available for canoe rides around the swamp. My boyfriend and I decided to go for a spin, and we safely made it without falling in! Canoe and pirogue trips were common around here because of the abundance of waterways. You can't get much more eco friendly transportation than a simple boat with two oars. I even helped to paddle!

In the pavilion area, local bands were playing and food and drinks were being sold.

So even though the Earth Day festival aspect of the trip was kind of a bust, the Vermilionville trip was a lovely way to spend a spring Sunday afternoon. The scenery was extra green, thanks to the spring rains. You can't really fault nature for wanting to have a part in an Earth Day event, I suppose.

Milo also wanted to get in on the fun and wants to tell y'all hello!

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