Mardi Gras just got a little bit greener with the TrashFormers, a local group of eco-warriors who are trying to make an impact in the growing quest to reduce the outrageous amount of waste that Mardi Gras parades leave behind every year.
The TrashFormers are small but mighty with only 16 members, and they will be marching in Krewedelusion on Saturday, February 8, following the popular satirical spectacle that is Krewe du Vieux. Parade-goers can see the members in action as they solicit recyclable materials directly from the crowd to be collected in their neon green shopping carts that serve as mobile recycling cans.
The TrashFormers are well known for their interactive recycling education with the crowd, in which they collect aluminum and plastic materials right out of people's hands to be thrown in their contraptions. Members have even been known to ask crowd members to chug their beers so they could get their hands on those valuable aluminum cans. In true Mardi Gras fashion, each TrashFormer dons a homemade costume based on a self-selected environmental pun. Favorites from last year include the Pacific Garbage Patch Doll, Lord of the Six-Pack Rings, Oscar the Recycling Grouch, and Aluminum Can-ie the Clown.
Founded by local architect Brett Davis, the TrashFormers are part of a larger mission in the city to make the annual festivities more environmentally sustainable. With reports showing that the parades collectively produce almost 900 tons of trash every, various petitions and calls to action have been made for the city to form initiatives to encourage greener throws and a greater emphasis on recycling.
The TrashFormers did their part last year by collecting over 30 bags of aluminum and plastic debris, and they hope to increase that number this year. Although their efforts aren't enough to eradicate all Mardi Gras waste, the group hopes that by educating parade crowds on what materials can and can't be recycled, they will set a positive example to be followed for the rest of Carnival. With the help of the TrashFormers, New Orleans might finally be on its way to making Mardi Gras a more sustainable event that we can all feel good about.