Mardi Gras season passes through New Orleans leaving tired, cash-strapped and often less than healthy individuals in its path. As we gear up and dress up for the weekend to come, knowing full well that Wednesday will be difficult, keep these tips and tricks in mind as you recover greenly from Mardi Gras:
1. Rest. It’s just about the greenest thing you can do. It doesn’t take extra energy or use precious resources. Be like a lion, take a nap or two. Rest after the craziness!
2. Eat green and healthy. If parades have kept you away from the farmers’ markets, now is a fantastic time to reacquaint yourself. In season are strawberries, greens, cauliflower, tomatoes, root veggies – all kinds of deliciousness. After a month of king cake, it’s time to clean up your diet. Consider stopping by the New Orleans Food Coop or Hollygrove to pick up some seasonal treats.
3. Make those healthy foods local. I recently read that because of worldwide demand, quinoa prices have spiked so high in South America that locals there are having difficulty feeding their families. Similar issues are happening with asparagus grown in distant countries. Instead of quinoa or asparagus harvested so far away, why not purchase some Cajun Grain rice and local greens and veggies instead? There’s no reason to go far for healthy food. Stay close to home!
5. Recycle your beads. Several local charities, including the Arc of New Orleans, will take beads, plush toys and anything else parade-related and put them to good use raising money and keeping perfectly good beads in the parade lineup instead of weighing down our attics and causing our homes to sink into the marshy ground. See their website for convenient places to donate your beads.
6. Clean up your neighborhood, or volunteer with one of the local parks like City Park. The City does a great job of cleaning the parade routes, but just a half block away from the main routes you’ll find all kinds of Carnival leftovers, or just general litter. Spend twenty minutes outside with a trash bag and do your part to beautify the city. Bring a friend or two and make it a party!
7. Use your bicycle for something besides getting to the parades quickly. If you like to use your bike to beat the traffic during parades, try using it during real life for errands within two miles of your house. You can’t beat the weather this time of year for bicycling, and once you start doing it regularly, you’ll be hooked. Tip: Avoid the busy streets like Magazine Street, except in places where there’s a designated bike lane. The city is a grid, and there are beautiful and far less traffic-y streets on either side, and you’ll be able to enjoy your ride instead of worrying about opening car doors, buses and pedestrians!
8. Spring clean. After the excesses of Carnival, purge your stuff. And as you’re organizing it for donation, Freecycling or selling it on Craig’s list, take a good look at it. Consider how you can begin avoiding buying more stuff that you don’t need, so you won’t have so much junk to purge in the future.
9. Start composting; Oh no, are they recommending composting AGAIN?? Well yes, yes we are. No green top ten list is complete without it! Don’t overthink. When you trim your trees or weed your flower beds, pile it up in a small corner of your yard somewhere. Leave it there. And eventually it will turn into soil. It’s not hard. Nature will do the work. Try it! And if you have enough yard waste, you can bury your egg shells and coffee grounds and veggie tops too, and they’ll also become fabulous, rich dark soil.
10. Start bringing a mug or cup or bottle with you. Do you feel kind of grossed out when you see the parade clean up crews raking up so much debris – cups, bottles, beads, etc. – just from one afternoon or evening of entertainment? Well, have you ever contemplated how much you add to the waste stream every time you stop at a coffee shop, or every time you grab a fresh paper cup at work? This one is easy. Start bringing your own mug or cup. This goes for water bottles too. Quit buying single use water bottles. Concord, Massachusetts recently banned them- why not get ahead of the curve? I remember when bottled water didn’t exist and we somehow survived. Maybe it’s time to go retro on the water bottle issue.
No matter what you decide to change or clean up post Carnival season, remember that enjoying the beautiful weather that comes with early spring in NOLA is free, green, and has zero impact! I think I’m going to try tip #1 right now, under the pretty pine tree in my front yard…
Carla Robertson is a teacher and life coach who specializes in helping overwhelmed people come back to living their wild and precious lives. She lives in New Orleans where every day feels like vacation, and she loves to help others figure out how they can live lighter and happier. In 2009 she thru-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, and she revisits the woods whenever she can, taking willing and curious souls with her. Find her at livingwildandprecious.com