don't trash mardi gras!

Laissez les éco temps rouler!

That's how it goes right? Let the eco times roll?

Mardi Gras is one of my favorite times to be in south Louisiana. Even with the barricades making traffic hell for a week and a half, the air is just livelier during that time. Everyone is a bit more excited, and you'll see purple, green and gold as far as the eye can see.

You can choose to enjoy the parades (from the traditional King's Parade to the dog parade to the children's parade to the plethora of small-town parades), the festival at Cajun Field with rides and bands, all the king cake your body can handle and all the beads you can physically catch and carry.

It's most certainly a time of exuberant excess.

And unfortunately, that excess also extends to trash and litter.

It's bad enough when the floats leave behind a Hansel and Gretel trail of plastic bags, busted cardboard loops, broken beads and stray bouncy balls, but when you add the thousands of parade goers who leave behind food wrappers, beer cans and random other questionable things, we end up with a huge mess on our hands.

Mardi Gras does NOT have to be so trashy! Read on to get the Eco Cajun Mardi Gras checklist and find out just how you can keep the green in purple, gold and green!


The first part of reducing litter is not creating litter in the first place. Make as little waste as possible. 
  • If you're able to, 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. If you're heading out with a group of family or friends, carpool instead of traveling separately.
  • Don't bring enough stuff for a week-long vacation. Cut down your haul by only bringing what you need. Eat before you leave home, and you'll avoid the problem of food wrapper waste.
  • Do not bring glass bottles out to the parade. It's illegal, and if your glass becomes litter, it can bust someone's tire or cut open someone's foot. Do you really want to be responsible for that for your bottled Bud Light? 


It's most important to bring items that can be reused.
  • Bring cloth bags or plastic bins to hold all of your catches. When my boyfriend and I ride bikes to the parades, my bike basket becomes our bead holder. Side tip: Too many beads in your bike basket does make for a tougher trip home! Watch the turns.
  • Skip the styrofoam daiquiri cups. Many places oblige if you bring your own cup in, so don't be afraid to whip out your Bubba Keg or Klean Kanteen. They make big ones so you don't have to worry about refills. Or pour your beer/homemade cocktail into your mug before you depart. Insulated reusable mugs and cups keep your drinks colder for much longer anyway. 
  • If you do plan to bring snacks or food, pack them in reusable containers.


Lastly, make sure what you bring can be recycled.
  • Be responsible for what you haul to the parade. Bring an extra bag to keep your trash and/or recyclables in. 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!
  • If you don't want to bring your own drink cup, choose the better option on the waste totem pole, and get drinks in aluminum cans. Then don't: leave them on the street, throw them in a trash can, throw them in somebody's front yard. Do: save and recycle those cans.
  • 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 and resale in future years. You can also sell your own haul...people WILL buy them! My boyfriend sorted our megapile from last year and sold them online a few weeks ago for a decent amount to someone riding in an upcoming small-town parade.
  • If it's rainy, leave the umbrellas at home. You'll already have enough stuff to keep track of, and they're a pain in the ass anyway. If you're That Guy or Girl who turns it upside down and use it as a bead catcher, you're just rude. Turn down for what! Bring a rain jacket and call it a day. You'll also keep your arms free to catch beads. And broken umbrellas are asshole litter. Don't be a litterer at all, but especially don't be an asshole litterer!

In General

Use your smartphone for more than just Instagramming and Facebooking. Download the free, official Lafayette Mardi Gras app for iPhones and Androids (search for Lafayette Mardi Gras in your app store) and keep up with the band schedule at the fair, and follow the float locations in real-time (my new favorite thing about Mardi Gras!). New Orleans friends, you can download WWL's parade tracker app here.
Be safe and careful. Don't be dumb and selfish.

Be a grown-up and drink plenty of water too! Ain't nobody got time for hangovers. Mardi Gras is a marathon!

Don't drink and drive, don't overdo it before Mardi Gras day, don't litter, watch out for children, and watch your face when they're throwing beads. Ain't nobody got time for a broken nose either!

Also, head over to Dixie Lust Blog today to read a guest post by yours truly on how to pack the essential Mardi Gras survival bag!

Now, let's get this party started! Happy Mardi Gras, y'all!

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