The inspiration and hard work of one man in Mumbai, India and his 84-year-old neighbor turned into a two-year beach cleanup project with over a thousand volunteers. The beach that was unwalkable in 2015 has now been returned to its former beauty and the momentum of this success is leading to plans to clean up more of India's shoreline. Whenever you start to think that you can't make a difference on your own, remember Afroz Shah and his dream, and know that you can.
Sustainable practices are beginning to make their way into large events and we hope they will continue to become commonplace at all events, not just when the event has a "green" theme. Examples of good ideas we've seen at events are providing reusable or compostable plates and cutlery, composting food waste, and making recycling containers available.
Another sustainable practice at large events is to provide water coolers for attendees to refill their glasses and water bottles rather than wasting hundreds of plastic water bottles that have to be recycled later. We were at The People's Climate March in Washington, DC in late April. With over 200,000 people marching together and temperatures in the high 90s on a sunny day, there was a desperate need for water, lots of water.
With all of us toting our reusable water bottles, it was thoughtful and appreciated that the march organizers provided huge water reservoirs, called Water Monsters, and kept them refilled throughout the day. They were perfect for the huge crowd, with multiple spigots on each barrel. Thank you to all who helped keep us hydrated and comfortable without using wasteful plastic. It was a perfect way to take our water to go as we marched to raise awareness of climate change and the need for making changes to live lightly on the earth.
Plastic never fully breaks down and is responsible for destroying ocean ecosystems around the world. As of January 1, 2017, India's National Green Tribunal has banned all plastic cutlery, cups, and bags in Delhi. As a city of of nearly 19 million people, this is great news for India, its nearby oceans, and could be a model for other large cities to follow worldwide.
Large events like Mardi Gras in New Orleans have a huge environmental impact that revelers are unlikely to consider in their frenzy for fun. But think about what's left behind: massive amounts of unrecyclable trash going to landfills, cheap beads and other trinkets made by low-paid workers in China that are thrown away after one use, decorations and costumes that fall apart and can't be reused. But there's good news. Some local groups and small businesses have been working in recent years to change that. Katrina Brees founded the Greening the Gras Conference in 2012 and with her and other's efforts, much more waste is recycled after the celebration and there are now sustainable options made locally, like the paper beads made by Zombeads, and other ecofriendly decorations. The Krewe of Kolossos creates upcycled costumes recycled from previous celebrations. Let's hope this kind of mindset becomes commonplace in large celebrations everywhere.
New ideas for sharing are popping up everywhere. Sharing and reusing not only saves money, but reduces waste and helps you meet people in your community. We've used Freecycle to give and receive household items locally. This article mentions several other ways to create or make use of a sharing culture near you.