The very nature of Mardi Gras–the last big hurrah before Lent–doesnít really set it up to be the most sustainable celebration.
Many participants are likely to drink a lot, eat a lot, throw lots of plastic beads and toys, maybe travel to a city where a big parade is taking place–all things that don’t really earn a sustainability badge.
Fortunately, there are many things party-goers and earth-lovers alike can do to be sustainable and still have a great time.†
If you’re planning on imbibing, choose beers from a local brewery, or organic wine and cocktails. And while youíre at it, eat food made from local sources. If you happen to be in the party-city itself, New Orleans, try the Vintage Garden Kitchen, which offers soups made of local meats and produce.†
Will you leave a parade this year with more beads than your neck can carry? Mardi Gras participants throw more than $1 million worth of beads and other trinkets from floats each year in New Orleans, according to Gini Mckain, author of the Public Works Magazine article “Sweeping up after Mardi Gras.”
Save your beads for other decorating uses. If you cut the strand and attach it to another by twisting the end of the beads together, you can form a longer strand to whatever length you need.
Use the beads to decorate a Christmas tree or wrap around garland in your house. Use it to cover picture frames or to decorate candles.
If you donít feel like being crafty with the beads, donate them to a school or child care center. Or, if youíre in the New Orleans area, the Arc of Greater New Orleans accepts recycled beads.
Be a good Mardi Gras steward and wear a backpack to the parade. Make sure to keep your empty bottles and cans and recycle them. Pick up other people’s cans and bottles so the streets don’t get too littered.
And have a Happy Mardi Gras!