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Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Photo Friday | Mardi Gras Weekend

Happy almost-Mardi Gras, y'all! How are you planning to party over these next five days?

I spy reusable mugs on the float!

Whatever your plans are, please remember to respect your city and our environment, and don't leave your trash behind. If you bring it, you pick it up!

On Instagram last weekend, I shared a few shots from the Krewe of Carnivale En Rio parade that rolled through Lafayette. It's always one of my favorite parades, but the litter left behind strikes a sour note. As a reminder, your trash is YOUR responsibility. Don't rely on Public Works to pick up your mess. Yes, they clean the route, but it's still your responsibility to clean up your own mess, especially when it's outside the barricades.

Read my blog post from last week for guidance on how you and your group can reduce, reuse and recycle.

And, check out this week's Times of Acadiana for a column by yours truly on how we can green Mardi Gras in Acadiana. Click here or on the photo below to read the column, or pick up a copy around Lafayette!


Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

How We Can Work Toward a Litter-Free Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is one of my favorite times of year, especially as a native Louisianian. You can feel the energy and festiveness in the air, and everyone just seems a little prouder to be Cajun. We're all sharing in the excitement of a culture that's uniquely ours, and you can't help but smile a little when you hear the opening strains of Mardi Gras Mambo.


Sure, the barricades are a pain in the ass. The crowds can be overwhelming. But to me, the worst is the trash. Thousands of people flock to the four-mile parade route (in Lafayette alone...so multiply this by every city that puts on at least one parade), and after the last float has rolled past, you can't miss what's been left behind.

Beer cans. Soft drink and water bottles. Fast food containers. Pizza boxes. Toys. Stray bits of clothing. Plastic bags. And tons of broken and nonbroken Mardi Gras beads and throws that didn't make it from the float into the hands of a reveler.

Every year, I notice more and more how the streets look like a trash bomb has gone off. As I've gotten more dedicated to my own environmental passion and gotten more involved in my community, I've become that much more aware of how Louisiana's most celebrated time is also our most wasteful.

And the change starts on an individual level. You and your group can easily help reduce the amount of waste left behind, choose reusable containers, and recycle what you can.

  • If you're able, ride your bike or walk to your favorite spot on the parade route. It will help tremendously with traffic and parking, you'll get some extra exercise, and you'll save a little gas.
  • If you're heading out with a group of family or friends, carpool instead of driving separately.
  • Bring only what you need for the parade. Instead of bringing a ton of single-use food packaging out to the parade, either eat beforehand or pack food and snacks in reusable containers. Especially on days with multiple parades, pack snacks in lightweight reusable containers that can be put back in your vehicle or your bag.
  • Do NOT bring glass bottles out to the parade. If your glass becomes litter, it can be dangerous to car and bike tires, and someone’s feet. Pour your beer or other cold beverages into a reusable bottle.
  • Addtionally, skip the Styrofoam or other single-use drink cups. If you’re stopping to pick up a drink on the way to the parade, ask the bar if they can pour it into your reusable container instead of a single-use cup.
  • Don't forget a reusable bottle filled with water. 
  • If you don't want to bring your own drink cup, choose the better option on the waste totem pole, and bring drinks in aluminum cans. Don't: leave them on the street or toss them in somebody's front yard. Do: save and recycle those cans.
  • Use cloth bags or plastic bins/baskets to hold all of your beads and throws.
  • Be responsible for what you and your group hauls to the parade. Bring an extra bag to keep your trash and/or recyclables in, or use your ice chest to hold your trash. If you bring it, you make sure it leaves, whether you throw it away or take it home to recycle.
  • Pick up extra beads around you and put them in your bag. All beads, including broken ones, can be donated and recycled for cleaning and repair and resale in future years. 

So, about those Mardi Gras beads! Do some good, and keep beads out of the trash and the street, by donating them to LARC or Arc of Acadiana. Both nonprofits repair and resell beads, which brings them much-needed funding for the services they provide.

This weekend, LARC will have a trailer behind the Carencro and Scott parades, and next weekend in Youngsville, where parade-goers can toss their beads back for LARC to collect.

In Lafayette, you can donate any of your beads to LARC by depositing them in the bed of a truck located at Le Festival De Mardi Gras a Lafayette. The truck will be located near the stage.

If you are near Downtown Lafayette, head over to the LAFAYETTE sign in Parc Sans Souci and drop off your beads in the wire Y for donation. This is the third year the wire Y has been out for Mardi Gras, and it's been a very successful collection point.

There will also be bead drop-off points at area Goodwills.

Get your Lafayette Mardi Gras information here, and don't forget to download the Lafayette Mardi Gras app (keep up with the parade schedule and band schedule, and use the super-handy GPS Float Finder during the parades).

Let's work hand in hand toward a litter-free Mardi Gras!
  • Do your own part to reduce your waste and litter, which helps LCG Public Works.
  • Show the Mardi Gras Association that you support a cleaner Mardi Gras (and let's get float waste cleaned up!)
  • Show your support for bead recycling by donating your piles to a nonprofit organization - and then, by purchasing your beads from them next year to throw.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Photo Friday | Putting in the Work

Part of my personal goals this year is a goal to DO more in the community. Being a treehugger means getting a little dirty sometimes, but even when it's 50 degrees and windy outside, it feels good to do something that makes an impact.

Bayou Vermilion District and No Waste Louisiana organized a paddle trip for last Saturday morning to pick plastic bags out of trees along the river. Another group, which included myself, went through the Nature Trail across from Vermilionville to pick up litter.

Although I'm not sure the total number of bags and pounds of trash collected, it was certainly enough to open your eyes to the serious litter problem we have.

The Bayou Vermilion District operations crew goes out on the river in Lafayette Parish every day they can, depending on weather and river level, and they work continuously to keep the river clear of litter and natural debris like fallen trees. Last January, I had the pleasure of riding along to get a firsthand view of what the operations crew does - check out that feature here!

Unfortunately, there's still a litter problem. Especially compounded from the flooding last August, our river is seeing a lot of trash from both within the city, and floating down from areas north of us. It's a problem larger than what the operations crew can truly handle.

And it's a problem that we can all tackle.

Where does it come from?
  • Accidental litter that ends up on the road (flying out of vehicles or garbage trucks)
  • Intentional litter thrown out of vehicles or by pedestrians
  • Intentional litter tossed into the water 
  • Litter floating downstream
  • Flood debris
The litter you see on sidewalks or on the side of the road WILL end up in our river. When it rains, that litter is washed from the road into the storm drain, which then washes into our coulees and into Bayou Vermilion.

If the litter isn't collected while in the river, it'll float downstream all the way into the Gulf of Mexico.

The focus on cleaning up plastic bags is an important one, since plastic doesn't biodegrade, but becomes harmful to wildlife that try to eat it. I noticed very early on in our cleanup that these plastic bags were super brittle, and some were buried in mud from recent rains. Although not as easy to spot in some places, they were still doing their harm.

What can you do? Simply, focus on not littering. Dispose of all of your trash properly. If you see windblown litter, pick it up and throw it away. Don't let it get into our rivers.

And furthermore, take a look at how much single-use you use on a daily basis, and see how you can eliminate some of it. The more we can each reduce, the less litter we'll have to begin with.

Photo courtesy: Lee Celano, The Daily Advertiser
Eco Cajun | The Earth Just Wants To Be Loved Ba-You! All posts, content, graphics and photographs copyright 2009- 2016 Eco Cajun, unless otherwise credited. BLOG DESIGN BY Labinastudio.