Keeping Mardi Gras Clean

Oooohh Lawd! We got a busy month, so let's get into it with Louisiana's biggest and favorite holiday: Mardi Gras. In the midst of carnival celebrations and barricade avoidance, I'll be sharing posts on football celebrations and Valentine's Day.

But we're really all about Mardi Gras, right?  We've got parades, we've got balls, we've got festivals, we've got drinks and we've got literally tons of trash.

Last year I participated in a Rio parade trash cleanup with Project Front Yard volunteers, and it opened my eyes even more to just how much trash is accumulated in one parade.

When it comes to trash left behind by float riders, there's much to be done at an organization and city level, but even so, individuals and families can make a big impact on the overall carnival waste by making a few changes.

While there's a lack of additional public trash cans along the parade route, there is still no excuse of this kind of litter. If you wouldn't do it normally, don't do it for Mardi Gras, and don't set this kind of example for your children. The photo below, which I took at the Krewe of Rio parade this past weekend, is just one of many examples of blatant, careless littering.

Yes, there are cleaning crews who pick up following each parade, but don't leave trash anyway. They've got enough cleaning to do with what the floats leave behind.


The most important thing to do is not create litter in the first place.
  • If you're able, ride your bike or walk to your spot on the parade route. You'll save gas, save money, save time, and possibly save yourself a towing fee or parking ticket. If you're heading out with a group of family or friends, carpool instead of traveling separately.
  • Don't pack like you're camping out for the weekend. Cut down your haul by only bringing what you need. Eat before you leave home, and you'll avoid the problem of food packaging waste. (However, with three parades on Mardi Gras day, it makes more sense to pack a few more items since you'll be out longer.)
  • 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. 


Skip the single-use goods!
  • Bring cloth bags or plastic bins to hold all of your catches.
  • If you ride bicycles, and you have a basket, use it for your beads. However, know that baskets have weight limits for a reason. It is a son of a b to steer a bicycle weighed down by 20 pounds of beads. TRUST ME.
  • 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. Most should give a size on the bottom, so bars know how to charge you. 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. Again, leave the glass at home.
  • 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, or use your ice chest to hold trash. 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. 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.
  • Don't forget a reusable bottle filled with water. Hydrate, people!
  • 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. You can also sell your own haul...people WILL buy them! I'll have a post after Mardi Gras showing you how you can donate your beads.
  • If it's rainy, leave the umbrellas at home. You'll already have enough stuff to keep track of, and they're a pain anyway. If you're That Guy or Girl who turns it upside down and use it as a bead catcher, you're just rude. Bring a rain jacket and call it a day. You'll also keep your arms free to catch beads. And broken umbrellas are also litter!


In General

Use your phone 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 favorite thing about Mardi Gras!) New Orleans friends, you can download WWL's parade tracker app here.

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.

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