shopping guide: south college center

Welp, it's officially Christmas season. Have you recovered from your turkey and wine hangover?

It's time for the Eco Cajun Holiday Shopping Guide! Each Friday, I'll share a group of Lafayette businesses that can help you get your Christmas list checked off.

The South College Center is located on Johnston Street next to the Horse Farm. This weekend is a big one, with their 60th birthday celebration holiday event (3pm-6pm) coinciding with Small Business Saturday. Bring the family out for the holiday event, and the children can go on a sleigh ride, mail their Christmas lists to Santa, and drink hot chocolate! I promise I won't tell if you mail your own list to Santa...

There's a great variety of shops that can help you find gifts for multiple friends and family members, from running and exercise gear to religious gifts to furniture and jewelry. Take an afternoon to visit the shopping center, bring your pet to be pampered and grab a bite for lunch.

Bonus! There's brand new bike parking throughout the shopping center parking lot. Ride your bike and save your gas, but make sure you have a large basket for your gifts!


giving thanks

As we barrel full-steam ahead into the holiday season, it's important to stop and properly celebrate Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for this year, besides Black Friday doorbuster sales? Because there's nothing like reenacting the Hunger Games for a cheap TV hours after giving thanks for what we already have!

I love the Thanksgiving holiday, from the annual Thanksgiving Day parade (and terrible lip syncing) to a day off work to post-lunch movie traditions with my family (post-lunch Christmas Vacation...every year!). I love green bean casserole and sweet potatoes and eating entirely too much food. I love the last bit of autumn colors before they give way to red and green. I love spending the evening rewatching Thanksgiving episodes of my favorite TV series (The OC's The Homecoming and Gilmore Girls' A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving).

This year, I'm particularly thankful. For my new job and everything good it has brought. For my family. For my boyfriend and our life together, with all our adventures. For our kitties, who are great cuddle buddies, especially on cold nights.

And for you all - the readers and friends of this blog. In the times when I get discouraged, something always keeps me coming back to write. I hope to make a difference, no matter how small. I'm so thankful for everything this site has brought me, especially in the past year. I've got a renewed sense of purpose, and I'm ready to keep going!

annual small business saturday

After all the pandemonium associated with Black Friday (Black Thursday night now?), Small Business Saturday focuses on holiday shopping at local businesses. Rest up Friday night and head out on the Saturday after Thanksgiving!

When you support local businesses, you know exactly who you're supporting, and you know your money is staying in the local economy. You can find unique gift items, and most times, you'll get personal customer service. While Small Business Saturday is a great one-day event, it's important to consider shopping at local businesses as much as you can throughout the year.

Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 to promote shopping at locally owned businesses, and support local economies in the holiday season. It was intentionally set to be the day after Black Friday to serve as a contrast to big box stores that have changed business for local stores.



It's no secret that I'm a big supporter of the Klean Kanteen brand of reusable bottles. We own six of them. I take one to work, they come to every Festival International, they get in the spirit of Mardi Gras, and I've toted them along on vacations in San Francisco and Hawaii.


bringing recycling to your workplace

Because we all love it so much, our workplaces are where we spend basically the second largest chunk of our time. And Lord knows, we can go through some paper and plastic during our days at work.

So, you might be wondering, how do you bring recycling and conservation to work? Start small.

At my former workplace, I started by hoarding my waste paper and soft drink cans in a desk drawer during the week, then bringing them home to put in our curbside bin. It worked for awhile, and then I acquired a business curbside bin from the recycling company for our office. Over the years, I always assumed the responsibility for getting the recyclables from inside the office to the bin, and the bin to the curb.

Do you have a lot of scrap paper that's still usable? Three-hole punch the sheets and stick them in a spare binder to create a salvaged notebook!

In my current workplace, I've gone back to keeping a small recycling bin under my desk, and take turns bringing home the larger bin in our department's copy room. And of course, I regularly have more recyclables than actual trash. (My trash basically consists of a green tea bag every morning.) I love that I'm not the only one collecting paper, water bottles and cardboard boxes!

But after working on the beginner level, I'm already dreaming up ways to go bigger. My company is pretty large, and recycling on a larger scale would really make an impact. Small bins throughout offices, larger bins for each department and weekly's what a girl dreams of! (Or, okay, just the weird compulsive litter-picker upper writing this.)

The key to getting your company on board with recycling is to do your research, figure out who to talk to and create a plan. Start with yourself, make recycling a habit and become the spokesperson, if you will.

Find out who does your trash collection and find out if they also do recycling. A good strategy in creating your recycling plan is to figure out the feasibility of adding recycling collection to the existing trash collection - what are the costs? Can you score recycling bins for your office at a good price? Are you willing to educate everyone on what's recyclable and what's not? What about confidential documents - should they just be trashed, or do you have a shredder? Draft your plan (then read over it and edit! Writer tips. You're welcome.)

Once you have your plan, figure out who to talk to within your company that can make a decision. Meet with them and show them your plan and make your case. Because recycling is a good idea for all companies, you should get a Yes!

cold weather, hot chocolate

If you haven't noticed yet, it's cold outside. Perfect excuse for scarves, boots and gumbo overloading!

Business first...make sure your home is also bundled up and winterized with these tips from last year.

Fun next...throw another log on the bonfire, grab a blanket and some hot chocolate and fire up this Eco Cajun Spotify playlist, Cold Weather, Hot Chocolate!


rain barrel art with project front yard + local high schools

In an effort to promote a more beautiful Lafayette, Project Front Yard partnered with Lafayette Utilities System and asked local high schools to participate in public art contest using rain barrels. The barrels are on display at City Hall on St. Landry Street until this Friday, November 14.

If you can't make it by City Hall, you can see photos of each barrel on the voting page! You have until Friday, November 14 at noon to cast your vote. And let's face it, this vote is way more fun than most!

november 15 is america recycles day!

Put down your trash and mark your calendars for this Saturday, November 15: America Recycles Day! In the same way I like to say I act as if every day were Earth Day, I also tend to act as if every day were America Recycles Day.

Organized by Keep America Beautiful in partnership with Waste Management, AMCOR, Johnson & Johnson, Northrop Grumman, Pilot and the American Chemistry Council, America Recycles Day aims to bring recycling education and action to the country in fun ways.

This year, America Recycles Day focuses on what can be recycled. With the national recycling rate slightly above 34 percent, Americans have the opportunity to capture more material for recycling by recycling correctly. Confusion about what can be recycled curbside is among the common barriers to recycling more.

Visit the America Recycles Day website to learn more and find local events.

Another fun way to get involved on a personal level is to enter the ARD #recyclingselfie contest. You've got 10 days left to enter the contest, simply by posting a recycling selfie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr and tagging it with #recyclingselfie.

Visit to find your nearest recycling center, and learn the facts about what materials can be recycled and what they can become in their new lives.

How do you plan to take part in America Recycles Day on Saturday?

a little about landfills

The purpose of recycling is to keep as much still-usable trash out of landfills as possible. With landfills being large, smelly waste sites around the world, understanding them can help put the importance of recycling into perspective.

Thanks to lots of regulation, landfills these days are not simply holes in the ground filled with trash, as they were for many years. Solid waste landfills must be designed to protect the environment from contaminants that can be present in the solid waste stream.

Today's landfills are technologically advanced and have even become a reliable source for alternative energy as landfill gases are tapped and sold to businesses and municipalities (which is the case with New York's Freshkills Park.) Over time, the trash in the landfills produces and emits methane gas. By harvesting the methane emitting from Fresh Kills, the Sanitation Department is producing enough energy to heat approximately 22,000 homes.

Municipal solid waste landfills receive household waste, non-hazardous sludge, industrial solid waste and construction and demolition debris. All MSWLFs must comply with the federal or equivalent state regulations. Federal standards include location restrictions, composite liners requirements, leachate collection and removal systems, operating practices, groundwater monitoring requirements, closure and post-closure care requirements, corrective action provisions and financial assurance.

The composite liners requirements involve a flexible membrane overlaying two feet of compacted clay soil lining the bottom and sides of the landfill, protect groundwater and the underlying soil from leachate (chemicals or other harmful materials) releases.

Nearly all municipal landfills are required to monitor the underlying groundwater for contamination during their active life and post-closure care period. The groundwater monitoring system consists of a series of wells placed upgradient and downgradient of the landfill.

Special waste items include household appliances, including ones that use refrigerants, which are harmful to the environment. Municipal landfills must follow special procedures when disposing of these items.

The EPA keeps their regulations posted online. They also discuss the effects of landfills on public health, including subsurface migration, surface emissions/air pollution and odor nuisance. Since landfill gases contain approximately 50 percent methane, it is possible for the gases to travel underground, accumulate in enclosed structures and ignite. Incidences of subsurface migration have caused fires and explosions on both landfill property and private property.

Possibly the biggest health and environmental concerns are related to the uncontrolled surface emissions of landfill gases into the air. Carbon dioxide, methane, volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants and odorous compounds can negatively affect public health and the environment. For example, carbon dioxide and methane are greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change. 

Beyond household or commercial solid waste, construction waste is a very large component of trash. One of the local waste companies, Angco Disposal, handles construction site waste with large dumpsters and manages proper disposal.

Materials that cannot go into solid waste landfills include common household items such as paints, cleaners/chemicals, motor oil, batteries and pesticides. These hazardous waste items can be dangerous to our health and the environment. This is why saving hazardous materials for Lafayette's Household Chemical Collection Day is so important! Don't throw it into your regular trash.

You may think that throwing something away is easier than recycling it, but just as much care should go into proper disposal whether it's thrown away or recycled. Even though they are strictly regulated, iIt's important to keep harmful chemicals and materials out of landfills. With the popularity of single-stream recycling, it takes the same amount of effort to place the proper items in a recycling bin. It's important to know what can be accepted in your trashcan or recycling bin, and what is not accepted that must be specially collected.

As a reminder that there's only so much land we have to work with, lots of famous sites are built on top of landfills. San Francisco's Marina District; Boston's Millennium Park (championed by the late former mayor Thomas Menino), Logan Airport and parts of Beacon Hill; Cleveland Municipal Stadium; and New York's Freshkills Park are just a few landmarks making their home on top of former landfills.

Do we really want to live so much among our trash? By keeping our waste down, we can avoid the need for expanding landfills.

Curious where Louisiana's landfills are located? There are 26 Type I and Type II landfills around the state, with Type I classified for industrial solid waste and Type II classified for residential or commercial solid waste.

One final fun fact: According to the University of Southern Indiana, the U.S. is the number one trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. This means that 5% of the world's people generate 40% of the world's waste.

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