Photo Friday | Christmas Week and Looking Ahead

Well, we've made it to the last Friday of the year! The year-in-review retrospectives are popping up everywhere, but this year, I'm skipping my tradition. This year was tough, and this holiday week has been bittersweet. I did enjoy reading through my 2016 and 2015 retrospectives this week!


Going Green in the After-Christmas Frenzy

Although Christmas Day has passed, there are still things you can do to keep the holidays eco-friendly into the New Year. Let's go out strong, y'all!


Photo Friday | Merry Christmas!

Twas the Friday before Christmas, and all through the house, Caitlin and Phillip were making their lists and checking them twice, while watching the 43rd viewing of Elf on Freeform.

Wait...that's not how the tale goes...

I am happy to report we are 95% done with our gifts - just a few more to pick up and wrap, but our little tree is looking very festive now. For as much as I tend to procrastinate on wrapping gifts now, I always love the look of a tree with an array of presents underneath, and always get a little emotional after the gifts are unwrapped and it's empty again. Maybe next year we'll be better at shopping and wrapping earlier in the season.

All of our gifts are wrapped with an eco-friendly touch, whether it's decorative kraft paper wrap, Wrappily recyclable paper (which I completely forgot is reversible!), reused gift bags and tissue paper, reused ribbons, or even a bed sheet from our donation pile.

One thing I AM proud about is getting our Christmas cards printed and mailed out earlier this month. I took advantage of a great Paper Culture sale, so I saved money while still getting to use recycled paper, and having a tree planted for my order. I couldn't decide between two different card designs (one foil and one non-foil), so I split up the quantity and got them both!

As a small Christmas gift to you, I'm also sharing this Christmas playlist I created this week. In my Tuesday evening yoga class, I joked with my teacher that she should play Christmas music for our Thursday yoga class, as it was the last one before the holiday. She said if I created a playlist, then she would play it in class.

So, I present to you my Christmas OMMMM mix that we flowed to last night! (I can now say I have done yoga to a Hanson song in a studio!) It follows more of a vinyasa class style - faster, upbeat songs followed by slower, mellower songs.

This weekend is sure to be hectic, nonstop and a little stressful, so take a few minutes to do a few stretches, meditate, or even an at-home yoga flow. Hit up this mix and take a few deep breaths before going back for more egg nog.

I'll be back on Tuesday sharing some eco-friendly post-Christmas tips. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas!


My Hawaiian Vacation, Part 2

One of my favorite things about visiting Hawaii (aside from getting to visit with the family who lives there) is the abundance of outdoor activities.


My husband and I always say we would be so fit and tan if we lived there, because we could easily go for a bike ride, spend a day hiking one of the many trails, or exercise at the beach. It's kind of impossible to not spend most of your time outdoors, especially when the weather is always warm.


My Hawaiian Vacation, Part 1

Although my Hawaii tan might be fading, the memories and the photos aren't. Now that the shopping and the wrapping are almost done, it's time to share some of the highlights of our vacation!

Because I've got so many photos (and ALL the words), I'll break the trip recap into two parts. Today focuses on reusable items and my zero-waste efforts.


Photo Friday | Green Holiday Tips

Y'all. Christmas is in 10 days. I guess that means it's time for me to actually finish shopping and wrapping gifts, and watching the rest of my Christmas DVDs. I'm also excited to hopefully check out Christmas lights around town this weekend, if it doesn't rain too much.

If you're still in the wrapping stage, don't forget to check out my blog post from yesterday, with 20 eco-friendly ways to wrap.

I love these tips that LSU Campus Sustainability shared on Instagram this week - how many of these can you follow this year?

As a bonus, here's a quick roundup of some blog posts from the past few years, featuring photos of Christmases past:

How are you spending this last weekend before the big day?


20 Eco-Friendly Ideas for Wrapping Gifts

With 10 days to go until Christmas Eve, it's time to get to wrapping gifts! I can't wait for this weekend, when I finally sit down and wrap all the gifts I've bought so far. Although I procrastinate more on shopping more as I get older, I still love actually wrapping gifts and putting them under the tree.

As I remind y'all every year, standard wrapping paper is NOT recyclable. If it is shiny, waxy or glittery, it has other materials besides paper, and it goes into the trash and into the landfill.

Via LSU Sustainability and Recycle By City

There are so many ways you can wrap gifts with recyclable or reusable options, and they are sometimes even more beautiful than conventional waxy gift wrap.

My 2017 Eco Style Recap

I've been looking forward to this style roundup post for a couple months now. In a blog post at the beginning of this year, I set a goal for myself to be more conscious to shop sustainably for clothing, shoes and accessories. Throughout the year, as I shopped, I aimed to buy pieces that are:
  • Made of organic material
  • Made of recycled material
  • Made of sustainable material (like cork or bamboo)
  • Fair-trade produced/ethically made
  • Vintage
  • Secondhand
  • Vegan leather

Striped sweater: Amour Vert | Silk top: Amour Vert

Overall, I think I was pretty successful at accomplishing the goal, and more importantly, I love the pieces I've invested in this year.


Photo Friday | Gift Guide for Pets

After I finished my third and final gift guide for children earlier this week, I realized that there was one gift I guide I should add: for all the furry friends in our lives.

Don't tell me your pet doesn't have a stocking and get presents each Christmas. 😊


Sustainable Holiday Shopping | Gift Guide for Children

It's time for the final gift guide this season - all for the babies and children in your life!

(Catch the guides for ladies and guys, in case you missed them.)

There are some great eco-friendly educational and fun gifts from ethical brands out there, and this guide aims to encompass a variety of gift types and age ranges.

Photo Friday | Mountains & Beaches

I'm still not sure I'm 100% adjusted to not seeing views like this every day this week. You never truly realize how flat your hometown is until you spend eight days staring at mountains. 😆

I'll have a full recap of our Hawaii family vacation coming up soon, but for today, I'll share a quick preview. A pretty good way to sum up the islands, and our trips, is with these two photos: mountains and beach.

We got in a good balance of hiking through woods and laying on the beach (although sometimes it was just too "cold" and windy to stay and work on a tan!)

Taken near the top of a mountain ridge, I love this photo for the expanse of land it shows. The sky, ocean, and layers and folds of mountains in the background, and greenery in the foreground help to show just how beautiful Oahu really is. And it shows how beautiful our planet is, and can be. When our planet gives us things like this, how can we not want to protect it!?

I had a small arsenal of reusable items on this trip, and these were some of my most handy staples. The bag was a gift from coworkers who'd visited the 9/11 Memorial in NYC a few weeks ago, and I adorned it with one of my Busy Beaver buttons. I decked out a stainless steel cup with a Reusable Is Instagrammable sticker, for my favorite motto. And while we didn't ride bikes on this trip, I still had the spirit with me as I wore my Schwinn Ambassador hat on some of our hikes.

Sustainable Holiday Shopping | Gift Guide For Him

On Tuesday, I shared my Christmas Gift Guide for Her, and today, it's all about the dudes in your life!

I feel like I don't focus enough on guys' products on the blog, but next year, I plan to include more all year long. This guide was pretty fun to put together!

So without further ado, click through to find some eco-friendly gifts for guys.


Sustainable Holiday Shopping | Gift Guide for Her

Now that Thanksgiving is over and I'm back from vacation, it's time to focus on holiday shopping! How is your shopping going so far? Aside from a few Hawaiian gifts, I haven't even started yet.

For the past couple years, I've put together some eco-friendly gift guides, and this year, I'm giving you THREE gift guides! One for the ladies in your life, one for the guys, and one for the children.

Today, we're starting with the ladies.


Photo Black Friday

So, how are you spending your Black Friday? Have you hit up the doorbuster sales, or are you choosing to avoid the shops and spend a little time in nature? Or are you decorating for the holidays?

I personally can't wait to get some decorating done this weekend, and hopefully getting our tree!

As I'm currently in an airport en route back home, I'm thankful for the time I got to spend in nature this past week. It's been a nice break from the day-to-day routines, and I'm feeling recharged for the holidays.

How is your Thanksgiving break going so far? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Thanksgiving from Eco Cajun!

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! I hope you are all having a joyous holiday, however you may be celebrating.

There's so much negativity in the world that can consume us, but today, think about what you're thankful for. There's still a lot of good, immediately around you and all over the world.

Every year, I say I'm thankful for all of you who read and follow along, and most importantly, follow eco-friendly principles in your own life. I'm thankful for the environment and everything it gives to us, and I'm thankful for those who are dedicated to protecting the environment.

In case you missed it last week, check out some tips on how to celebrate Thanksgiving and the following big shopping days sustainably!

Now, back to prepping for Thanksgiving dinner!

Stretching the Life of Candles

My husband and I love to keep a year-round supply of candles in the house, so we pretty often have a collection of candles that are almost-fully burned out.

But instead of throwing out glass jars that have a little bit of wax left in them, my husband has embraced an awesome repurposing project - combining the wax to make new layered candles!


Photo Friday | Why Are You Littering?

I know we're all gearing up for holiday mode, so I'll keep it short and sweet today!

A few weeks back on Instagram, Polly from Green Indy Blog shared this sign from NICHES Land Trust in Indiana. The organization works to protect public lands in their area, and recently put up new signs for litter prevention.

NICHES' mission is to protect, restore and sustain northern Indiana’s ecosystems by providing habitat for native species and offering natural places for education, appreciation and enjoyment of current and future generations.

I'm quite a fan of snark, and this sign makes me laugh every time I see it. It's sadly true, and hopefully it makes people stop and think a minute about why they may be littering. Thank you to NICHES for bringing a little humor to a serious problem!

If you're gearing up for some Thanksgiving week travel, I hope you have a safe and fun time. Be patient and be thankful this week. :)


Planning Your Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving Weekend

Are you guys ready for Thanksgiving and the official start of the holiday season? Yeah, me either. The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year, and while the 2017 holidays will be very bittersweet for me, I'm choosing to focus my efforts into the things I love. I'm so ready to put our Christmas tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving!

I've got some fun content planned out for the holiday season - be sure to come back the week after Thanksgiving to check out some new holiday shopping gift guides! I'm so excited to share some eco-friendly and fair trade gift ideas for anyone on your list.

But first, let's talk about how to have a more sustainable Thanksgiving.


America Recycles Day 2017

Happy America Recycles Day! Every year on November 15, Keep America Beautiful puts the spotlight on the importance of recycling.

While it's important to reduce and reuse first, recycling is a better way to handle items that we already have.

There are thousands of local events planned across the country today and all month long, but even if you only take a few minutes out of your day, you can celebrate individually.

  • Take the pledge to recycle a particular product, maybe one you don't recycle now. 

  • Recycle as much as you possibly can! Especially on November 15, make it the highest priority. If you collect your recycling inside, make sure to bring everything to your outside bin or community dumpster for pickup.
  • Bring any plastic shopping bags to a recycling collection point. Many local grocery stores have a bin for plastic bag recycling. 
  • Grab some bags and get outside. Use your lunch break to go on a litter hunt and pick up and recycle as much as you can, or take a walk after work to clean up the neighborhood.
  • Take your children around the neighborhood to clean up litter, and teach them about the importance of recycling in the process! In the spirit of the day, make sure to recycle anything that can be recycled, from plastic bottles, to cans, to cardboard. Don't just throw all the litter into the trash can.
  • Offer to recycle for others - whether your office or neighbors. Offer to take any of their recyclable waste and put it out for pickup. At work, go around to everyone's desks and offer to collect any recyclable waste, or leave a special bin for them that you can pick up later.
The first version of my office recycling bin, back in 2014!
  • Visit the America Recycles Day website and look for a recycling event in your area. There are 2,460 registered events across the country! This year, there are no organized events in Louisiana, but don't let it stop you from doing something on your own.
  • Share the message with everyone! Let your friends and family know about America Recycles Day and encourage them to participate too.


Photo Friday | Cleanup Before & After

Before last Saturday's Better Block Johnston Street in Lafayette, Project Front Yard hosted the Downtown Deep Clean Block Party. While most of the focus was on mulching the flower beds along Jefferson Street, a few of us concentrated on cleaning up litter. One parking lot in particular was in dire need of a cleanup.


The Saturday morning after Halloween week is quite the interesting time to be cleaning up litter. In addition to the usual suspects of liquor and beer bottles, straws and cigarette butts, I found a lot of fun size candy wrappers and even a pair of vampire teeth.

Because I go out about once a year, I hadn't noticed Jefferson Street Pub's clearly recent mulch and flower bed project until now. I'm a fan of red mulch, and the flowers added a beautiful pop of color to the sidewalk, brick building, and parking lot background. However, the cigarette butts aren't helping any matters here. (Five seconds later, they were in my trash bag.)

I know it's odd, but I honestly enjoy picking up litter. It feels so productive, and you can immediately see the benefits of your work. The flip side is the knowledge that your work usually won't last for 24 hours. With the amount of bars downtown, I know this parking lot didn't remain this clean come Sunday morning.

But we'll keep on keeping on fighting to keep our community clean!

Style for Social Good | Sseko Designs

One of my new year's resolutions for 2017 was to really focus on making sustainable style choices. I'll be posting a full recap of my year next month, but today, I'm excited to share a little about one of the brands I've discovered!

Sseko Designs focuses on providing work to women in Uganda, enabling them to earn money to go toward a college education. Sseko products are all made in Africa and create jobs, empower artisans and help end the cycle of poverty by building healthy communities and economies.


Photo Friday | Upcoming Events in Lafayette

If you're looking for a fun way to get involved in Lafayette, November is your month! There are already a lot of sustainability-focused events on the schedule, so I'll give you a quick roundup. Click each event name to go straight to the Facebook event page.


A Tour of Tee Tiny Houses

As I teased in Friday's blog post, and on my Instagram over the weekend, my husband and I got to tour a tiny house built locally in Arnaudville, Louisiana.

The weather was absolutely perfect for a 20-mile drive out of Lafayette, after Friday evening's rainy weather cleared out and my first pot of gumbo for the season was put away in 309 containers.

We bundled up in comfy clothing, finished our first cups of coffee, and headed out along Louisiana's scenic by-ways.


Photo Friday | Tee Tiny Houses Open House

A few months ago, I shared some construction photos of a tiny house from Tee Tiny Houses. Check out that blog post here! The Arnaudville, Louisiana-based company has been hard at work building their model tiny house, and tomorrow, they're showing off the completed home!

It is a special treat for us to welcome you to visit our first complete, custom tiny home. On Saturday, October 28th, join us anytime between 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. to see our first tricked-out Tee Tiny House at our facility at 1056B Coteau Rodaire Hwy., Arnaudville, LA 70512.

In addition to a tour, we will also have information on hand for all five of our tiny house models that are available for construction and can answer any questions you may have about a custom build. Hope to see you there!

Visiting the tiny home, even while it was still under construction, was a really fun experience. My husband and I always talk about living in a tiny home, but we had never actually physically stood in one before! It was really interesting to actually get the feel of being in a tiny house, and I'm looking forward to seeing the completed home tomorrow. I'm curious if it will truly give us the envie to go tiny!

Want to check out this tiny house for yourself?

View the Facebook event.


Sustainable Tricks and Treats

Halloween, with its mountains of candy being given away, is definitely not a holiday that embraces eco-friendly principles.

Without avoiding the holiday and its parties and activities altogether, there are ways you can be mindful and a little more sustainable. 


Photo Friday | One Year

It is hard to believe that my one year wedding anniversary is this Sunday. One year ago tonight was our rehearsal dinner, and about the time everything finally seemed real. Kind of like when you're a kid and Christmas Eve finally arrives and you can't believe it's actually happening.

Truthfully, it doesn't feel like an entire year has passed, although so much life has happened in these past 365 days. Just like everyone, we've had the high moments and the low moments. Most days are full of bills and chores rather than epic adventures. But we're in it together and that makes every day worth it. Year one is still only the beginning!


My Meditation Journey

Sometimes, a more sustainable lifestyle forays into health and wellness. Taking care of yourself is important for many aspects of your life, and self-care effects often cross over into other arenas, like your job(s), volunteer efforts, and family.

I've written before about my love of/obsession with yoga (here and here), but over the past few months, I've dived into the world of guided meditation. And it's been pretty amazing so far.


Photo Friday | Update on the Junk Mail Situation

This past May, I wrote a blog post on how you can tackle your mountain of junk mail by opting out of being included on mailing lists.

It doesn't take too much time to complete the online forms, and although some services do cost, it's not expensive (and worth it, in my opinion.)

Not long before I wrote the post, I used the links to opt myself out of mailing lists. #PracticeWhatYouPreach And over the past few months, I've noticed that the amount of junk mail we receive has actually dwindled!


Recap: Project Front Yard 2017 Awards

October is always a busy month for community events, and one of my favorite October events is the Project Front Yard awards. The fourth annual award presentation was held last week at IBERIABANK in Downtown Lafayette. (Check out my recaps of 2014, 2015 and 2016's presentations!)

This year, four awards were given out for Cleanliness, Beautification, Education and Overall Effort. Cleanliness, beautification and education are the three pillars of Project Front Yard's mission, and are what drive every initiative under Project Front Yard.


Photo Friday | Festivals Acadiens' Commitment to Sustainability

Festivals Acadiens is just ONE week away! The festival is held in the middle of every October at Girard Park in Lafayette (this year, October 13-15), and focuses on Acadiana's French heritage and culture. The weather is usually amazing for some music, dancing, food and shopping!

Photo courtesy Festivals Acadiens et Creoles

Above all that, what I love about Festivals Acadiens is its commitment to sustainability. The grounds always have a ton of recycling bins (Last year I wrote about the 150 ways to be green at FAetC.)

This year, Festivals Acadiens has announced its plans and strategy to become the greenest festival in the state of Louisiana by 2018.


Switching to Eco-Friendly Haircare

Prior to my wedding last year (which: wow, our first anniversary is in 19 freaking days!), I focused on greening my beauty routine. I swapped out my makeup with vegan-friendly brands that don't contain harsh chemicals. I also invested in a great natural face mask, which I still use and love.

One area where I haven't been so focused is hair care. I've tried a few different brands over the years, but never stuck with one diligently.

I have color-treated, very thick and naturally wavy (and frizzy in the summer) hair, and I can be picky about which shampoos and conditioners work best for me.

Maple Holistics recently reached out to me, asking if I'd like to try a bottle of their Tea Tree Oil shampoo, and I excitedly agreed. After visiting the company's site and reading about their values and commitment to better ingredients, I was interested in trying a new shampoo.


Photo Friday | Updates to Lafayette's Recycling Service

I love when my community has positive recycling/environmental news to share - it's great for the city and it's great for blog content.

This week, Lafayette City-Parish Councilwoman Liz Webb Hebert made an announcement on her Facebook page that made me look like these GIFs:

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