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Mardi Gras By The Numbers: How a Large Festival Can Be Fun and Sustainable

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Lacey pfalz

by Lacey Pfalz
Last updated: 7:00 AM ET, Sat March 2, 2024

Mardi Gras may be over, but the impact of New Orleans’ two-week Mardi Gras celebrations is a testament to how large festivals can be both fun and sustainable. 

New Orleans & Company partnered with 25 different organizations, including the City of New Orleans, Grounds Krewe and Can Manufacturers Institute, to enhance sustainability and recycling measures from the festival. 

Mardi Gras is a massive celebration, generating $900 million for the city, which is about 3.07 percent of New Orleans’ gross domestic product. According to the festival’s economic impact report, the city generates around $14.3 million in tax revenue alone during the event, yet the numbers for the festival’s second annual Recycle Dat! Initiative are even more significant.

The initiative collected over 10 tons of recyclable materials, including 4,288 pounds of glass, roughly 154,260 aluminum cans and 12,729 pounds of beads and throws. This year, the Recycling Hub, operated by the Osprey Initiative, also collected 306 pounds of plastic bottles, which is roughly 8,300 bottles. 

“Mardi Gras is one of the most iconic celebrations in the world and New Orleans & Company is pleased to be a part of making it a more innovative and sustainable event,” said Walter J. Leger III, President and CEO, New Orleans & Company. “The success of Mardi Gras formerly was measured by the amount of beads, trash and parade-related throws that were produced in a two-week period, but we know that residents and visitors today want to be more environmentally responsible. That’s why we partnered with the City of New Orleans, Grounds Krewe, and a coalition of local organizations to host the Recycle Dat! Initiative for the second consecutive year.”

Local organization partners included the Krewe of Reuse program by the Downtown Development District, the French Quarter Management District, Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates and Glass Half Full, Realcycle and others. 

Recycling stations were set up at the city’s convention center and all across the parade route, providing festival-goers an easy and accessible way to recycle their unwanted garbage or beads. 

“Producing and executing complex events is a specialty of ours here in New Orleans, and Recycle Dat! is another example of how we continue to become a more innovative city and come together as a community to make New Orleans and Mardi Gras a more sustainable event,” continued Leger. “As the initiative continues to grow, we are continuously uncovering solutions making it easier for parade-goers to participate and strengthening the impact of waste diversion across the city.”

Large festivals and events don’t have to generate tons of waste that end up in landfills; instead, they can be thoughtfully planned to ensure that recyclable waste can be properly reused.

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