the eco cajun mardi gras checklist

It's Party Gras time here in South Louisiana – make sure you are prepared to have a fun and sustainable holiday!

  • Make as little waste as possible. If you can, ride your bike or walk to your spot on the parade route. You'll cut down on extra gas usage, and you won't need to worry about finding a legitimate parking spot.
  • Bring reusable bags or even a cardboard box to hold all of your catches. Use something that can be recycled later and something that's sturdy enough to hold pounds of beads. When we ride bikes to the parades, my bike basket becomes the de facto bead holder. 
    • (Side tip: Too many beads in your bike basket does make for a tougher trip home! Watch the turns. Also, make sure you CAN ride home…you know what I mean! You can still get a DUI on a bicycle, or you can find yourself in some bushes.)
  • Do not bring glass bottles out to the parade. It's illegal, and if that glass becomes litter, it's dangerous for car tires and feet. Try to skip the styrofoam daiquiri cups. Many places typically oblige if you bring your own cup in, so don't be afraid to whip out your Bubba Keg or Klean Kanteen. Or pour your beer/drink into your mug before you depart. Insulated reusable mugs and cups keep your drinks colder for much longer anyway. If you still prefer to go for something disposable, get drinks in aluminum cans, and recycle the cans!
    • Drink plenty of water too! There's no time for hangovers.
  • Bring an extra bag to keep your trash and/or recyclables in. The first part of reducing litter is not creating litter in the first place. Be responsible for what you haul to the parade. If you brought it, you make sure it leaves, whether you throw it away or take it home to recycle. But please consider recycling everything you can instead of just throwing it all away! 
  • Pick up any extra beads around you and put them in your bag. All beads, including broken ones, can be donated and recycled for cleaning and repair.
  • Dress for the occasion. Mardi Gras is a marathon; not a sprint. Keep the nicer clothes (and seriously, no heels or wedges) at home and wear something comfortable. If it's cold, and it probably will be on Tuesday, wear a lightweight jacket or sweater. Again, beads are heavy. If you like to wear and show off your catches, you're gonna get weighed down fast!
  • If it's rainy, leave the umbrellas at home. First, you'll have enough stuff to keep track of. Second, they're a pain in the ass. Third, if you turn it upside down and use it as a bead catcher, you're an asshole to everyone around you. Bring a rain jacket and call it a day. You'll also keep your arms free to catch beads!
  • Have your smartphone help you out. Download the Mardi Gras 2014 app for iPhones and Androids (for Lafayette Mardi Gras) and keep up with the band schedule at the fair, and be able to follow the float progression in real-time (my new favorite thing about Mardi Gras!). There is also a Twitter account, @FloatFinders, that live tweets the location of the parades. The Twitter updates came in very handy for last week's Krewe of Rio Parade.
    • New Orleans: You can download WWL's parade tracker app here.
  • Check your garbage collection schedule. On Mardi Gras day, there is no trash or recycling pickup for Allied Waste and Recycling Foundation customers. Anyone with regular pickup on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday will be one day behind next week. 
  • In general, be safe and careful. Don't drink and drive, don't overdo it before Mardi Gras day (remember: marathon, not a sprint), don't litter, watch out for children, and watch your face when they're throwing beads. No one needs a broken nose – it's a miracle I have not had a broken nose or black eye yet. Be careful with fingertips too, especially if it's colder out. Those beads are stingers. 
I'll be sharing lots of photos over on Instagram, including what I'm sure will be many Litterati snaps, and you can also follow the fun on Twitter and Facebook (oh, hey, by the way, Eco Cajun is on Facebook)!

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