Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Festival!

The stages are set up, the music started last night and Downtown Lafayette is about to get a lot more residents for the weekend - Festival International is here, y'all!

The weather forecast looks pretty perfect, and there are many ways you can make Festival your own.

Whether you attend one afternoon or all five days of music, dancing, eating and drinking, remember to party a little greener!

Over the past few years, I've perfected the items in my Festival backpack. Especially as we head out for most of Saturday and Sunday, it's important to carry our most essential items for comfort, and to avoid unnecessary disposables or travel size items.

I always pack:

  • Reusable water bottle (this is when the giant reusable plastic bottles come in handy - they're much more lightweight)
  • Stainless steel straw
  • Sunscreen, hat, a light sweater for the evenings if you tend to get cold, sunglasses and a portable fan
  • Cloth shopping bag for the merch and vendor tents
  • Fork, spoon and cloth napkin
  • Official Festival app downloaded on your phone
  • Ziploc bag or waterproof case for your cell phone in case of rain
  • Portable backup cell phone charger

This year, one more thing to add to your packing list is a brand-new RFID drink bracelet! The bracelets will allow you to keep your cash saved (all the better to hit up the shopping tents with) and they will help eliminate the trash caused by the millions of drink tickets used in previous years. One bracelet is much less wasteful than handfuls of tickets!

When it comes to Festival transportation, I love when my husband and I can skip the traffic and parking by riding our bicycles downtown. Take advantage of the bike lanes on St. Landry, St. Mary and Congress! Don’t forget your helmet, lights, bike lock and key.

If riding bikes isn't feasible for you, take advantage of the official Festival International shuttle to and from Cajun Field, which runs every 15 minutes. This year, the shuttle drops off at the corner of Barry Street and Lee Street (in front of First Baptist Church). Check the Festival website or app for shuttle hours. Save time and money by taking the shuttle instead of trying to park downtown.

When possible, carpool with family or friends to cut down on the amount of cars that will need to park.

When you’re at Festival, try to reduce as much waste as you can.

Cut down on paper and use the Festival app to refer to band schedules and stage information instead of grabbing a handful of paper guides that will either end up at the bottom of your backpack, spilled on or left behind. Take advantage of the free WiFi downtown when using the app.

Not all vendors will fill up your own reusable bottle, but those souvenir Festival cups are  totally recyclable! Save your cups to reuse at home.

I've also been a fan of these refillable daiquiri bottles from New Orleans Original Daiquiris. Their booth has been at the main stage for the past few years, and they sell the bottles for a few extra dollars. Refills are slightly discounted too, I believe, but don't hold me to that one. I've had my bottle for a few years, and just pack it in my backpack before we head downtown.

And yes, this year, it's staying at home. ;)

Sangria from Pamplona also comes in a reusable cup, by the way.

Use your cloth napkin and utensils. Politely refuse single-use napkins and utensils when they are offered. This one can be tricky, because a lot of the food vendors stick a utensil in your food tray before they even hand it to you. Try to make your request known when you're ordering, and then watch as they prepare your food. Maybe it'll help to have your reusable utensil in hand already. I'll have to try this one myself!

When it comes to recycling, make sure to throw your aluminum cans, plastic drink cups, plastic drink bottles, dry paper and straws into one of the many recycling bins found throughout the Festival grounds. Most bins are conveniently located next to the trash cans.

I love this photo from last year because of all the cans and bottles in the recycling bin, but of course there's a rogue Styrofoam cup right OUTSIDE of the trash bin. Y'all, please make sure not to miss the opening of the bin.

Items that cannot be recycled and must be thrown away are Styrofoam, wet paper, plastic utensils, napkins, anything with grease, food and any paper or cardboard contaminated with food remnants.

Please make sure to follow the recycling rules and DON'T contaminate the recycling bins. That just ruins everyone else's recycling efforts.

Carry your shopping purchases in a cloth bag, instead of collecting plastic bags. The official merchandise tent also has cloth bags available.

Hands Producing Hope

Support the Festival vendors! Many vendors sell green or sustainable products, whether they use recycled or repurposed materials, empower artisans, source local materials or make their wares by hand. Festival shopping and browsing is one of my favorite things, because there are always so many unique items. And these days, it's fun to see the brands in person that you follow on social media.

Pottery by Osa

If you want to do something extra, volunteer with Festival's recycling crew tonight, tomorrow or Saturday. And, register for Project Front Yard's Trash Mob happening Saturday at 2:00!

This year, let's all do our individual parts to help to keep Festival International a little cleaner and more sustainable.

Reduce, reuse and recycle, and by all means, don’t litter!

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