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Clean up Mardi Gras

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cleaningMardi Gras is trashy. Really.

For a few years, I worked for the Downtown Mobile Alliance’s clean team, keeping downtown pretty and litter free.

Mardi Gras was definitely our most important and busiest season.

For those of us on the clean team, it was a hectic blur: emptying trash cans, making trip after trip to the sanitation yard, weeks of rushing to clean the streets before the next parade and the next onslaught of trash.

All of this would finally culminate on Ash Wednesday, the mad morning when, no matter what the weather, every employee was out on the street to make downtown look as though Mardi Gras never happened. It was a lot of work.

There was so much trash, even after the city street sweepers had done their part. It may seem like I’m pointing out the obvious here: of course there’s a lot of trash. But if you have experienced the aftermath, you know how revealing it is to see it all piled up as opposed to scattered along the parade route.

And that’s just the trash that gets collected. A lot of trash falls into and clogs the storm drains, or ends up in our waterways. Mardi Gras is an important part of our economy and our culture, but the health of our waterways is much more important than a holiday so Bacchanalian and trivial.

I’m not proposing we do away with all the festivity of Mardi Gras, but we should be more conscientious of the contents we throw.

Pick up the beads that fall on the ground around you. If you see a broken plastic cup, pick it up to make sure it doesn’t end up in the storm drain.

Recycle your beads this year! Give them to someone who can use them in next year’s parade. Otherwise, they’ll end up in your closet.

And for anyone involved in parading organizations, consider spending less money on cheap plastic throw aways, and more money on things like food. Peanuts are my favorite item to throw, for example.

Written by Alicia Bures | Contributing Writer

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