On June 5th of 2018, the United Nations Environment Program, No Waste Nola and LifeCity hosted the U.S. flagship event for World Environment Day in the city of New Orleans. From the historic Carver Theatre to Zulu Hall, celebrities, prominent public officials and representatives from the city’s business community, celebrated their commitment to reduce plastic pollution.
The celebration included a traditional second line and massive support from the public who will ultimately hold pledging organizations accountable for their commitments. In such a way, the event celebrated New Orleans’ progress and commitment to tackle plastic pollution and serves as a reminder of the importance of the city’s participation in addressing current environmental challenges.
Amongst the highlights of the event, various organizations pledged to step up their efforts against single use plastic and added commitments to tailor their business practices in order to curb their current use of plastic. Some of these included:
- The Audubon Nature Institute
- The Audubon Nature Institute pledged to significantly reduce the use of single-use plastics across their facilities and act as a leader in the region to reduce plastic pollution in an effort to ensure the health of oceans and waterways. This comes as a continuation of previous efforts that allowed the Institute to phase out plastic straws from its concessions and plastic bags from its gift shops – more than 200,000 individual pieces of single-use plastics since 2017. Furthermore, from here on, the Audubon Nature Institute pledged to expand their efforts to offer plastic bottle alternatives like aluminum canned water at their attractions and to feature during this summer a limited-time special exhibition comprised of powerful art to educate a global audience about plastic pollution trash. Considering the volume of visitors year round, through its commitment, The Audubon Institute is certainly solidified itself as a leader in New Orleans in the fight against plastic pollution.
- New Orleans City Park
- In the same way, New Orleans City Park’s pledge to eliminated plastic bags from all future event contracts and limit the offer of plastic straws to customers request promises a world of change in the City’s landscape given the importance of the Park as the goto nature escape in New Orleans. These efforts efforts will undoubtedly raise the bar and further establish New Orleans City Park as a hub for the city to bring together the community and continue to project the city as an environmental powerhouse in the Gulf.
- Hosteling International USA
- HI USA, the nation’s leading hostel brand added to their several award winning environmental initiatives (Green Globe, EPA Power Partner, and more) a pledge to not provide plastic bags, straws, or to-go containers in addition to offer reusable water bottles and water filling stations in place of selling bottled water in their new hostel to open in New Orleans by the end of the year. Considering that HI USA hosts more than 1 million overnights across more than 50 hostels each year and bring together travelers from more than 100 countries whilst engaging them in activities and programming in support of creating a more tolerant and sustainable world, the impact of this efforts will go beyond the borders of New Orleans and Louisiana and well into the global impact realm. And if this was not enough, the entire HI USA network pledged to completing a plastic-use survey to determine the volume of single-use plastic in their supply chain and work to set even more ambitious goals in the future.
- Casa Borrega
- Casa Borrega pledged to replace single use plastic straws with metal straws that will be sold to customers while Seed restaurant on Prytania Street pledged to continue offering recycled, biodegradable, and compostable “to-go” products, including straws. Given their recognition within the restaurant industry and their commitment to offer the best possible experience, these efforts are set to stick within their customers and multiply as best practices in the restaurant industry in the city.
Thus, more than a celebration of previous accomplishments, The United Nations World Environment Day celebration in New Orleans served to trace a path towards the future in which all players regardless of size and income must collaborate to augment the City’s impact and role in making the world a better place.