weekly simple eco tip, 7.31

Water conservation is important to remember, especially during summer months. Some cities, including Lafayette, set water conservation ordinances in order to maximize water resources. Our summer water schedule allows for homes with even numbers to water lawns on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, homes with odd numbers to water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and no one on Mondays. Watering is also restricted to between midnight and 2pm. 

If you do water your lawn, check to see if your city has a watering ordinance and make sure to follow it. Always be sure not to water during the hottest part of the day (midafternoon). And if you have an automatic sprinkler, be sure to turn it off during/after a rainstorm. Few things make me more mad than seeing an automatic sprinkler going off in the rain. 

These three simple watering ways will make a big difference in your conservation efforts.

plastic bag bans

Plastic bags are ubiquitous, annoying, a major contributor to litter and one of the easiest things to get rid of in order to be greener. During the Ocean Conservancy's 2009 International Coastal Cleanup, they calculated that plastic bags were the second most picked-up item (right behind cigarette butts).

A few other statistics, courtesy of Earth911: Most curbside recycling programs do not accept plastic bags, because they are so lightweight and get stuck in the machinery. But you can bring them to many grocery stores for specialized recycling. And standard polyethylene bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade. When they're exposed to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, the polymer chains become brittle and crack. This suggests that plastic bags will eventually fragment into microscopic granules. Not good!

As an individual, you can choose to stop using them, in favor of cloth bags. But in some cases, city governments want to take that step for everyone, and plastic bag bans come into focus.

Los Angeles is one of the latest cities to ban free plastic bags in stores. Instead people can choose to bring their own bags, or pay 10 cents per paper bag. Under the ordinance, the city will hand out one million reusable bags in low-income areas. The ban would apply to stores that sell perishable foods, such as convenience stores, supermarkets and large retailers. Stores face fines of up to $500 for defying the ban and handing out single-use bags. And small stores have until June 2014 to begin enforcing the ban. About $2 million a year is spent to clean up plastic bag litter in Los Angeles.

Other cities that have banned plastic bags include Santa Monica, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Austin, Portland, Great Barrington, MA, Nantucket, Aspen, and Brownsville, TX. And more are considering some type of ban. You can view the different types of city legislation at PlasticBagLaws.org.

Not surprisingly, the city-wide bans are not universally accepted. Many residents still want the convenience of plastic bags, without being charged to get paper bags or being responsible for bringing cloth bags - and don't want to shift their habits in order to be more environmentally friendly and less wasteful. Some critics claim that the bans lead to a rise in shoplifting incidents, from thieves sneaking out merchandise in cloth bags. Others don't believe the bans will significantly decrease litter amounts in cities. One editorial from Massachusetts brings up the belief that a switch to paper bags causes even greater harm to the environment. The news and debates are enough for one man to run a website devoted to plastic bag bans.

If there's not a ban in your town, or you disagree with the idea of a plastic bag ban, you can still be mindful enough to not use plastic bags anyway. Single-use plastic bags were created simply for convenience, but they are not the only convenient way to carry items you buy in a store. Not using a plastic bag shouldn't cause so many people to complain - it's far from the being the biggest fish to fry, so to speak. Whining that you can't get some free, crappy, single-use plastic bags at the store is really unbecoming. The bans weren't created with the intent to make life slightly less convenient, but for the good of the planet, and the planet belongs to more than just one person. It shouldn't even take a ban to help reduce the reliance on plastic bags.

Cloth and reusable bags are so universally useful, full of personality and better for the planet.

weekly simple eco tip, 7.25

One of my air travel habits is to fly with only a carry-on bag, for different reasons. And this means that I have to shove all my liquids and related stuff into that quart-size bag. It can be tough for weeklong trips but I make it work.

In anticipation for two upcoming trips, I've started to see what 3oz. containers I have and don't have. And then I thought of something. Reuse sample or hotel toiletry bottles! Save money, reuse plastic, and still be TSA-compliant! Just clean the bottles out in advance and use them again. You can also use the sample products instead of buying travel-size ones. I always use the toothpaste from the dentist office and contact lens solution from the optometrist. Free samples are great!

And for your bag, either use a ziptop bag that's strong enough to last multiple trips, or invest in a reusable clear bag. In my research, I've found that people don't think reusable bags stretch as much as ziptop, so that is a consideration if you are stuffing it to the max.

But the bottom line is to reuse your bag and bottles as much as you can instead of buying new ones for each trip.

Happy flying! Wheels up!


the importance of being green

As I sit each week writing these posts about environmentalism and getting into super-small actions to take, I imagine there are more than a few people wondering if being green really is so important, or wondering why some of us make such a big deal about it. It's something I like to think about, as a way to reinforce my commitment to creating a greener place to live. Sometimes you need to step back and notice the bigger picture, before diving back into the small things, like making crafts out of mason jars or picking up litter or not idling your car.

The biggest reason to be green, I find, is because this planet doesn't end when we do. It's been around since before we came into being, and will be around long after we move on. And therefore, we need to stop acting like it is only here for us right now, and stop using it with that mentality. Our descendants way down the road will live on this planet too, and they will need resources too. What are we leaving for them? A planet full of landfills, depleted energy sources and violent weather? Every little action we take now does matter, for us and for the future. Every little action contributes to the bigger action of keeping the planet habitable and resourceful.

I still remember one afternoon five years ago - I was walking outside with an older coworker, and noticed an SUV on the street that was idling, with no one in it. This was around the time gas was pushing $4 a gallon, and this SUV was wasting that gas for absolutely no reason. I made a comment about it being wasteful to my coworker, and she said something to the effect of "oh well, that's not my problem." But yet, it was. Instead of thinking about the present moment and how something affects you in that moment, think about the future. This coworker has grandchildren. What kind of world are they going to live in when they are adults, because of these kinds of actions? If everyone just left their cars idling, then our fuel and oil resources are depleted faster, and everyone 100 years from now will be forced to find some other resource for power.

Why is it important to not use plastic water bottles? If they are thrown out as litter, they can sit for years upon years, and they won't biodegrade. Someone 30 years from now could essentially find this piece of plastic that one person used for 20 minutes one day, 30 years in the past.

It IS our problem. We should leave this planet as nice as we found it, and take actions to make it even nicer - because the future depends on the actions we take today. If we take no action, the future will reflect that. And is that how we want our future generations to remember all of us? As the ones who trashed the planet? 

I want to do good for the planet today, and for the planet 100 (even 1,000) years from now. And I'll do good by picking up litter, reusing everything I can, being efficient with the resources we have, not being wasteful out of convenience, and sharing each step of the way with y'all. 



Sometimes you make dinner with little expectations of creating something memorable. Tonight I decided to use my farmer's market okra, tomatoes and squash before they got too old. I half-followed a recipe found online and improvised the rest.

And it came out better than I ever expected. Maybe I should use Indian spices a bit more otten! I'm so glad I got to enjoy my local veggies this much.

And I have local figs and honey for dessert! Win.


ecoenclose, link friday 7.19

Quickie Link Friday for y'all! 

I stumbled across EcoEnclose this week, and they sell packaging and mailing supplies that are made of all recycled and/or biodegradable materials. You can order envelopes, boxes, filler material, mailing bags and even tape, and nothing is made of virgin materials.
If you run an Etsy shop or fill any kind of online orders, these would make a great statement to your customers! You can even choose to put your logo on your mailers.

If I had a reason to need mailers, I would be all over these in a heartbeat!

Hope you all have a lovely weekend! Get out to your local Farmer's Market, enjoy the beauty of nature around you, or go for a bike ride! Even if it's not great weather, go play in the rain! It's more fun than you think! If you'd like to follow me over on Instagram, I may just be posting a few pictures over the weekend. :)


happy birthday, dad

My father is one of the reasons I became so passionate about the environment and remains one of my inspirations in life. He and my mother instilled a sense of responsibility for the environment in my brother and me at a young age, and they led by example. While we didn't live a hippie, treehugger lifestyle, they always showed us how to care for the environment and do our part, while still leading traditional lives.

We recycled from the time it became available in the city – and we recycled regularly. We learned to sort our recyclables and put them in the right paper, plastic and glass bins. We reused items all the time, especially gift bags and gift bows. When I was a child, my father was a vegetarian for a few years, and I learned about healthy eating and the importance of organic food. We bought organic food from a co-op, which helped support farmers directly. We ate leftovers until there were none left, so we wouldn't waste as much as we could have. We were conscious about our energy and fuel consumption, and conserved energy. We would pick up litter around the neighborhood; sometimes it was what I chose to do as part of community service required by my school, and sometimes it was just to keep the neighborhood clean.

I love these values my parents instilled in me at a young age, and I believe that teaching children about environmentalism, recycling and conservation at a young age is so very important. Growing up with the idea that these things are just what you do on a regular basis is so important for the health of the planet, because it instills a value of caring from the beginning, instead of having to learn later and considering it an extra annoyance in your daily routine.

So, I'm wishing you a big happy birthday, Dad! Thank you for being an inspiration. Sorry I didn't adopt running the way I did environmentalism!

magnet crafts, weekly simple eco tip, 7.17

Magnets are a popular advertising/promotional item, and as such, there are always random ones around the home or office. And they are great for reusing!

One of my recent craft projects was to make a pocket to keep on the front of my refrigerator, to hold important papers or other things I don't want to lose just yet. Our area phone books always have attorney magnets on the front as advertising, and they come in so handy for crafts.

This project took about 10 minutes, tops. First, gather your materials - some old magnets, a folder and some shipping tape. Then, tape the sides of the folder together to create your pocket. Last, glue or spray mount the magnets to the back of the pocket. Just be sure to spray the correct side of the magnet - I speak from experience. My brain? Not always so sharp. But anyway, that's it! A quick and easy way to get a magnetic pocket for your fridge.

These magnets are also pretty perfect for homemade dishwasher dirty/clean magnets. I've made both separate and all-in-one kinds and use them daily at home and at work.

But you don't have to be limited to these ideas - you can reuse promo magnets in all sorts of ways! They can be attached to the back of a photograph or a lightweight picture frame, or if you had heavier-duty ones, to the back of a dry erase board or notepad for grocery lists.

mason jar lamps! crafty friday, 7.12

Try to contain your disappointment, but instead of Link Friday this week, I'm giving you something a little different!

When doing dishes the other morning, I recognized the need for a light over my kitchen sink. Inspired by the approximately 4,000 DIY mason jar lamp pins on Pinterest, I decided to make my own. I followed the guide from Everyday Family to make mine, since it doesn't require the use of cutting tools. 

The entire project took maybe an hour to complete, from getting the idea in the morning while loading the dishwasher, to spray painting at lunch and completing the rest of the assembly after work. And I'm completely satisfied with how the light turned out! In full disclosure, I always have grand craft ideas, fueled even further these days by Pinterest. The problem is that my execution rarely ever lives up to my ideas, and I'm left with kind of mediocre crafts. (At least I don't have this problem in my cooking!) But this project actually may be one of my best Pinterest craft successes.

So, if you want to make your own, here's how I did it!

My first step was to grab a mason jar (given to me by my boss) that was sitting in a cabinet in my kitchen, and my can of spray paint from previous random craft projects. 

I set down some junk mail on my patio and spray spray sprayed the rim and lid of the mason jar, leaving the jar itself alone. Then I went back to work and let the paint dry in the amazing Louisiana humidity.

After work, I grabbed a pendant light kit and light bulb I was using for another crafted lamp over my desk (sorry desk, I'll replace it all soon!) and placed the screw part on the lid to find the (almost) middle. Then I traced the circle. I also grabbed a hammer and a nail.

And then I just hammered the nail on my circle line, one dot at a time. Here's a hint, don't use a tiny nail, just for annoyance purposes. This was probably the most time-consuming step in the entire project, and my hand started to hurt from holding the tiny nail in place for all the holes.

939284 nail holes later...

Once I had all the holes done in step 5, I had to figure out how to punch the circle out. The tutorial from Everyday Family used scissors to cut it out, and also suggested pliers. Well, this girl didn't get that fancy. Instead, I took the nail and either punched more holes, or put the nail in the existing holes and wiggled back and forth until the spaces between snapped apart. Wiggle wiggle wiggle! Once I had most of the circle separated, I took the hammer and finished the job. It was fun!

You are going to have super rough edges. I attempted to file them down with a handsaw. And by attempted, I tried once and it didn't work well so I left it alone. It'll be fine...enough.

After that, I decided to wrap jute around the rim part, totally covering up my spray paint job. Some jute and some superglue, and five minutes later, you have a covered rim. Totally optional of course, or you could use other kinds of ribbon or little jewels or magazine pages, etc. GO NUTS! Or don't. I mean, you don't have to. It's cool.

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER 'CAUSE YOU ARE DONE! Place the light socket kit in the hole of the mason jar lid, and put the rim on top. Then screw in your lightbulb and screw the whole shebang to the mason jar. And then hang it up wherever you wish! Oh and by the way, somewhere in this process, I ended up spray painting the light kit top to match the lid. It looks way nicer like that.

And because I already had every piece of this, this project was free dollars. The best kind!

The one thing I failed to do from the tutorial I followed is punch holes for air to escape through the lid to avoid overheating. Though I'm using a 9-watt CFL light bulb and the light is only for when I'm working at the sink, I will go back to add the holes for extra safety.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have dishes to wash. Have a great weekend and see you back here next week!

weekly simple eco tip, 7.11

Take time each day to enjoy the nature around you, from a flower on a sidewalk to a gorgeous sunset to a lake or forest.


a guide to farmer's markets

With it being the middle of summer, farmer's markets are in full swing across the country, and their popularity is on the rise. If you're interested in making a trip to your nearest farmer's market, but haven't checked one out yet, this guide will help you navigate your way around!


Finding a farmer's market can be pretty easy - from doing some online searching to asking around town. LocalHarvest.org is a great database of farmer's markets around the country, and allows you to search by zip code to find the ones nearest you. You can also look on local event calendars for your city. Or simply ask around! Chances are, someone's got scoop on your local markets.

Typically, farmer's markets are held on Saturday mornings, but not always! There's one market in Lafayette, Freetown Farmer's Market, that's open on Wednesday afternoons and late Saturday mornings (for those of us who just can't get up and out the door for 8am on Saturdays!) The other two markets in Lafayette are the Market at the Horse Farm (pictured above) and the Hub City Farmer's Market.

You have a bike? Ride it! Make your eco morning (or afternoon) come full circle and use earth-friendly transportation instead of a car.

The selection at your farmer's market will vary from week to week, depending on what the farmer harvested during the week, what's in season and, simply, who shows up to sell their goods. Sometimes you might find all fruits and vegetables, sometimes you can get herbs, sometimes there might be meat or fish available, and sometimes you might find eggs or bread. Some farmer's markets expand to nonfood items as well, such as the Market at the Horse Farm. They have vendors who sell homemade soaps and jewelry, so you can find a broad range of items in one small area. If your farmer's market has a website or Facebook page, you may be able to get scoop on the types of food being sold on the upcoming weekend, or just see which farm vendors typically attend. (For you Lafayette-ians, visit the Facebooks for the Horse Farm and Hub City markets.

Be sure to bring cash! Some of the larger farm vendors are able to take credit cards, but some of the smaller vendors may not. Cash will be your friend. And don't forget your cloth bag! You can load up one bag and save on a lot of wasteful plastic, and then you'll get to walk around all stylish like this:

Now that you've got great local groceries, you should probably figure out what to do with them. Try out a recipe you've had on hand, or find one online that uses your ingredients. Chances are, it will taste awesome, because let's face it, local food is just much better. Homegrown tomatoes happen to be one of my favorite things in the world. So much juicier and more flavorful than grocery store tomatoes. Nom nom.

You can eliminate the amount of waste from your farmer's market goods by properly disposing of it. The best thing is to use everything you've bought before it goes bad, leaving no waste. But if you have food scraps, consider composting them. If you have any recyclable waste, you know what to do with it! As a last resort, throw your waste in the trash.

Now get out there and do some shopping!


dixie lust, link friday, 7.5

This weekend, as many of you are traveling somewhere in celebration of the 4th of July, I want to share a link to a blog that relishes in the culture of the South.

Dixie Lust is based out of Louisiana, but spreads its passion throughout other Southern States. It's written by Michelle, who happens to be a great friend of mine. So check her out, follow her on Twitter, and sip your Abita as you travel throughout the South via Dixie Lust.

Hope you all have a great long weekend! See you back here next week!

america's birthday

It's a day for all things red, white and blue as we celebrate America's independence, but don't forget all things green as well. Let's make this country a little better today by cleaning up litter from those celebrations and parties (AND FIREWORKS)!


working for a greater good

Environmentalism is always going to be something that starts within a person. In some people, their passion for environmentalism goes beyond their personal actions, all the way up to a charity or nonprofit organization. Nonprofits exist to get work done on a greater level, and there are many environmental nonprofits around working together to make this planet cleaner and better for everyone.

To check out the work some (truly, this is just a percentage of all the organizations) of them do, visit these organizations. One, or some, of them may inspire you to get involved as well!
  • 1% For the Planet is a growing global movement of over a thousand companies that donate 1% of their sales to a network of more than 3,000 approved environmental organizations worldwide. (You can search through the member companies here if you want to support the movement!)
  • American Forests advocates for the protection and expansion of the country's forests. And their website has a neat little carbon footprint calculator, so you can see just what your impact is!
  • Big City Mountaineers transforms the lives of under-served urban youth through wilderness mentoring expeditions that instill critical life skills.
  • Charity: Water works to bring clean water to every person in the world.
  • Environmental Defense Fund works to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends, focusing on the most critical environmental problems.
  • Environmental Working Group works to serve as a watchdog to see that Americans get straight facts so they can make healthier choices and enjoy a cleaner environment.
  • Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest  to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.
  • Health in Harmony provides a sustainable, long-term healthcare solution that helps individuals and communities to protect the natural resources that keep the planet healthy.
  • The Humane Society works to protect the livelihood of animals.
  • The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people.
  • Ocean Conservancy works to and advocates to keep the oceans healthy and clean.
  • Plastic Pollution Coalition is a global alliance of individuals, organizations and businesses working together to stop plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on humans, animals and the environment.
  • The Sierra Club protects wild places on earth, protects and promotes the responsible use of ecosystems, and educates citizens on how to protect the environment.
  • The Southern Environmental Law Center leverages the power of the law to protect the environment of the Southeast (Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia).
  • WWF is the leading conservation organization, and they work to conserve the world's most important natural places and change global forces to protect the future of nature.
To read about even more environmental organizations, visit these sources:

american edition: weekly simple eco tip, 7.3

As you celebrate Independence Day tomorrow and throughout the long weekend, keep the planet in mind. Make your celebrations green! Choose reusable dinnerware/cutlery and designate a recycling bin. And properly dispose of all your trash, from paper plates and napkins to firework waste. From the boxes for poppers to the remnants of sparklers, Roman candles and rockets, don't leave the ground covered in litter!

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