Mardi Gras is known for its abundance of plastic beads, go-cups, plushes, and other throws. Unfortunately, many of those beads and throws, as well as the packaging they come in, end up clogging New Orleans’ streets and catch basins.
The final totals are in and on Wednesday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell posted on Facebook that the total tonnage to trash collected from Mardi Gras was 1072 tons.
“Our sanitation workers & contractors have worked diligently to ensure clean streets after the Carnival crowds. Help us #CleanUpNOLA! Visit CleanUpNOLA.org to register an event in your neighborhood with our Neighborhood Engagement Team!” Cantrell posted.
Each year, the city averages between 4,500 and 8,000 tons of garbage in the French Quarter alone as a result of all the parades. In 2018, 93,000 pounds of beads were removed from New Orleans’ storm drains. While this year’s total was lower than the average, the reduction isn’t enough.
Perhaps it’s time to imagine a different Mardi Gras. A report issued in August 2018 by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed that the world has only 12 years to begin making significant progress in reducing the effects of global warming. And while the majority of that burden can, and should, be assigned to those 100 companies who are responsible for 71 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, individuals must begin to do their part as well.
It’s time to rethink the way we celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Time to stop thinking that the more trash collected, the more successful Mardi Gras was.
It’s time for the city to work at putting out extra recycling bins along parade routes (and trash bins for that matter). Time for parade riders to rethink the throws that they’re choosing. Time for New Orleans citizens to make sure their beads are donated for recycling and reuse.
It’s time to make Mardi Gras less trashy.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.