happy halloween!


be above greenwashing!

Greenwashing is basically a marketing scheme by different companies to make their products seem green when, in actuality, they aren't. And now that 'green' items and the thought of protecting the earth is popular, greenwashed items are more popular.

True Goods has a list of the seven ways a product can be greenwashed:

  • There is a hidden trade-off (claims of being made of recycled paper, without considering the overuse of other resources needed to make and distribute the product).
  • There's no proof of the claim (no citation or source study).
  • The claim is too vague (especially on items that claim to be all-natural. Even natural ingredients can be anti-green).
  • The claim is irrelevant (advertising a product as being free of a certain component that is already banned).
  • It's the lesser of two evils (something being marketed as the greenest in its not-green category).
  • It's a lie.
  • It has a false certification label (being certified by a non-existent organization with an official-looking seal).
So, when you are out shopping for green products, take a minute to scan the labels to look for any signs of these misleading attributes. Don't fall prey to a company who slapped a shiny "eco-friendly" symbol on their product - do some fact-checking online, or simply with your own judgment. If you don't trust that the product is actually eco-friendly, then don't use it!

One item I can instantly think of that I will always consider greenwashed is bottled water. Many brands today promote their "eco" bottles made of less plastic. But, it's still using plastic with a single-use intention. Skip the bottles altogether and fill a reusable bottle with tap or filtered water - the actual eco-friendly way.

Some of the good things to look for in your products are: local/regional production (so the product requires less resources in distribution and doesn't travel as far to get to the store), recycled materials, minimal/sustainable/recyclable packaging, certified by a real and reputable organization (for example, Energy Star or the Forest Stewardship Council), and actual eco-friendly ingredients or materials. The Eco-Friendly Family has a great list of cleaning product ingredients to avoid.

Green Philly Blog wrote a post last year about a perfect "greenwash" product: a #5 plastic tool that helps you wash Ziploc bags in the dishwasher. The tool is marketed to help you recycle plastic bags by helping you wash and reuse them. Except for the ingredients of the tool itself being dangerous, and Ziploc bags are not exactly what you want being washed in hot water, since they can leach BPA.

While I haven't used it myself, Greenwashing Index is a site where ads are posted and rated for how misleading it is in terms of green claims. It's a great way to review good and bad ads and learn why the bad ones are such.


eco cajun halloween

Last year, I wrote about how to have a greener Halloween, from coming up with an eco-friendly costume to being as wasteless as possible with trick-or-treat candy.

And this week I wrote about my boyfriend's and my eco-friendly pumpkin carving, from using kitchen knives instead of a pumpkin carving kit, to covering our workspace with used cardboard and roasting the pumpkin seeds instead of throwing them out.

When decorating, use items that can be modified for more than one holiday. Instead of getting a bunch of decorative pumpkins that say Halloween on them, look for ones that say Happy Harvest, or say nothing at all and can be used through Thanksgiving as well. 

If you are still thinking of costume ideas, look around your house for items you have. Last year I wrote about some of the costumes I came up with this way, and some of them have been great, and some not so great. 

This year, I think P and I will hand out trick or treat candy at his house and I will reuse the pair of furry Minnie Mouse ears that I bought in Disney World about 12 years ago. Only because I don't think a bunch of children would recognize a Tina Fey costume that I scrounged together.

If you are taking your children out to trick or treat, don't send them out with a plastic bag or a brand new plastic jack-o-lantern! Use something from years past, or a cloth bag, or as a throwback to the old days, a pillowcase! If you do buy a plastic jack-o-lantern, save it for future years or other children.

Visit Huffington Post Green to read about Rachelle Carson-Begley's green Halloween tips and visit Earth 911 for 50 more green Halloween tips.

Just remember when preparing for and celebrating Halloween: reduce, reuse and recycle

link friday, 10.25

Happy Friday! Is it just me or did today take way too long to arrive?

First off, tomorrow is Food Day of Acadiana. The event will be held as part of the Farmer's Market at the Horse Farm from 8am to noon. Food Day will celebrate local veggies, fruits, whole grains and proteins. There will be cooking demonstrations, children's activities and live music (as does everything in Lafayette!)

Sidewalks aren't typically known as gorgeous, but this British company is working to change that. They are creating a product that can be applied to sidewalks that will help them absorb light during the day and then give off a glow in the evenings. The sidewalks then literally light the path for you, reducing the need for so many street lamps.

Project AWARE created an infographic detailing how trash finds its way into our oceans and lakes, and how it affect the marine life in those areas. Don't feed fish your litter!

United Nations is calling for innovative thinking to measure and cut global food loss and waste, which will contribute to the fight against hunger.

New York City Mayor Bloomberg announced this week that all 250,000 of the city's streetlights will be replaced with LEDs, projecting it will save the city $14 million a year. The project should be complete by 2017.

Now, get out there, enjoy the weekend weather and Halloween festivities!

golden october days

Somehow my favorite month is almost over, and I am far below my quota on cooking with pumpkin, drinking pumpkin spice lattes and wearing scarves.

At least the weather has finally decided to get with the season and cool off. It's finally gorgeous bike-riding weather, and my main man and I were able to ride to last weekend's Gulf Brew. I never get tired of biking to events and riding up to the entrance, instead of spending forever finding a parking spot. This year's event was at the Horse Farm, and it was wonderful to take advantage of the open green space instead of being on pavement like in years past. The mud wasn't a big issue at all. I hope to squeeze in many more rides in the near future.

At the event, I was excited to see recycling stations next to each trash can, so everyone was able to recycle their stack of plastic shot glasses. I think I successfully recycled 19 of them - all from light and/or flavored beer, of course. I noticed the recycling bins were branded with recycle lafayette, and yet I can't seem to find anything online about a new green organization in town. If anyone knows about this, let me know!

The moon was low and large over Gulf Brew.

Other Octoberesque events included making a slow-cooker vegetarian chili the second the temperatures dipped, and then eating outside at P's house for the first time since he moved in. Unfortunately the mosquitoes were still awful, so the nice evening didn't last a long time.

P set out on mulching a few weeks ago, and for about a week, our hands and feet were this color red. I've dealt with more mulch than I'd ever care to again. And I'm proud of him for getting natural mulch from a local nursery. As he learned and taught me, mulch from big box stores are usually made from broken down pallets and then stained. While recycled, it's not the same as using natural mulch wood that hasn't been treated.

Since the weather has been nice, big Milo has been allowed to play outside again, and he's been enjoying the leaves that fall onto my balcony.

But there's still time to fit in some more activities before Halloween! Tonight, P and I are going to be carving pumpkins, and we're doing it the green way! 

Instead of buying a cheap, crappy pumpkin carving kit, we will use kitchen knives that we already have. 

We'll cover our outdoor workspace with broken down cardboard boxes, to help with keeping the pumpkin guts contained. 

And of course, I'll be roasting all the pumpkin seeds that we scoop out! Pumpkin seeds are such a delicious, healthy snack, and I always season them to high heaven so they have a kick to them.

Come on back later for pictures of our carving progress, the finished products and the roasted seeds! There might also be a few more Milo shots, because I am totally That Girl.

link friday, 10.11

Busy, busy weekend around these parts. Festivals Acadiens et Creoles is happening in Girard Park all weekend, the Cattle Festival is happening down in Abbeville, ArtWalk is tomorrow evening, and Downtown Alive and Critical Mass are both tonight. And if you're two hours to the east, there's the Jazz Half Marathon (good luck Mom!) and the New Orleans Seafood Festival (which totally balances out the exercise you get in a half marathon). And then there's a Matt Nathanson concert, so...yeah.

If you can't find something to do in South Louisiana this weekend, then you clearly just don't want to leave the house. :)

So before you switch completely into weekend mode, here are a few green-related links I found throughout the week.
  • UL Lafayette architecture students are building the COURhouse, a beautiful sustainable home built on a vacant lot in Freetown. Part of the project involved designing the house and preparing the construction documents.
  • A Boston resident created the Buca Boot for bicycles, which is a locking case that goes on rear bike racks, and works the same as a car's trunk.
  • Food Day is October 26, and there will be a local event held at the Horse Farm in Lafayette from 8am to noon. There will be 'real' food, local farmers, children's activities and educational presentations.
  • Nest, maker of the sweet-ass energy efficient thermostat, is branching out into smoke detectors. The Nest Protect will detect heat, smoke, carbon monoxide, light and motion. It will also be able to send alerts to the homeowner's smartphone about low battery or possible hazards in the home. 
  • ZLOOP's franchise in Louisiana will be out at Festivals Acadiens to educate everyone about how the company recycles electronic waste in order to keep it out of landfills.
Now, get out and enjoy the weekend! Whatever you choose to do, make it greener! Skip plastic bags and disposable bottles. Use cloth bags and stainless steel bottles instead. Ride your bike. Reuse something that isn't trash!

spray to a new life

When I started doing more green crafts, I started saving more raw materials in my apartment. A few months later, I had few crafts and tons of materials. If there's such thing as a jar/bottle lady, I would be that lady.


lafayette consolidated government household chemical day

Heads up to all Lafayette residents, LCG is having their annual Household Chemical Day on Saturday, October 19, from 8am to noon. Drive through Cajun Field and drop off any of the accepted materials for proper disposal! Got tons of nasty, almost-empty old paint cans? Get rid of them safely!


link friday, 10.4

For anyone in the New Orleans and Gulf Coast areas, better get your rain boots and beer out for the weekend! (In all seriousness, make sure you are prepared in case anything turns for the worse. And make sure you have beer.)

So, this week I learned that October is Energy Action Month, put on by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Federal Energy Management Program has put together a few energy checklists, including this great home energy checklist. Review it and see what changes you can make this month! And see what kinds of changes my boyfriend and I are making in his new home!

A bunch of Internet-savvy CVS customers made a stink about their ridiculously long receipts on Twitter, and as a result, CVS is planning to shorten their receipts by 25%, and cut down on the amount of wasted paper. 25% is a start at least, though really not enough. One option will be to send any coupons to your CVS card, instead of getting a paper version.

People for Bikes posted a wonderful blog entry this week on the number of bicycling tragedies that occur and ideas on how to reduce dangers for both riders and drivers, in order to save more lives. I will always feel personally connected to bicycling tragedy stories, from Mickey Shunick's murder to Monique Koll's accident (love hearing about her recovery!) to Amelie Le Moullac's accident and death in San Francisco the week I was visiting. Many things need to happen in order for bicyclists to truly feel safe, and it's time for those things to happen.

October 1 was World Vegetarian Day. Did you celebrate with a great meatless dish? 

On January 1, 2012, San Jose banned plastic bags, and by December 3 of the same year, they estimated  the volume of plastic bags in area creeks was cut in half, from 8% of the total trash volume to 4%. 

This New York Times article about Cajun Country is not necessarily green-focused, but it's just a great piece about my lifelong home. Read it while eating a poboy and drinking a daiquiri. Hell, do anything you do while eating a poboy and drinking a daiquiri.


green outdoor adventures

Now that autumn is on its way in, we can finally enjoy being outside again. 

So why not get out to enjoy the season and go green? Whether you're staying near home or traveling, you can support eco tourism (and hey, look at that! I conveniently wrote about it this week last year!)

On Lafayette's official tourism website, one of the itinerary ideas is green-focused (for the most part). I'm going to have to call BS on golfing as a green adventure, given how unnatural golf courses actually are. But, the list is a good place to start when thinking up outdoor green adventures.

You can get out and go for a bike ride through town or through nature. You can visit a park near you. You can check out eco tourism spots near you and make a day trip. You can get out on the water and fish, swim or kayak. You can choose a spot near you and pick up trash to clean up that area (Lord knows so many places need it). You can pack some lunch and ride to a nice spot and have a picnic with someone special. 

Or you can simply spend some time in your own backyard and feel like a kid again. And of course, practice your cartwheels, baseball, napping or stargazing. I mean, I was a fantastic backyard gymnast back when I was younger.

And for whatever adventure you choose, make sure you go as green as possible! Minimize your use of disposable items, choose fuel efficient travel, and don't litter!
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