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Campaign for a “Litter-Free Mardi Gras”

FEBRUARY 2, 2018 — On January 15, Mobile Baykeeper hosted a cleanup at One Mile Creek in Mobile, Alabama targeting debris originating from Mardi Gras celebrations and nearby communities.

Woman in a kayak.
Gulf of Mexico Regional Coordinator, Caitlin Wessel, paddles through One Mile Creek in search of debris. Image credit: Mobile Baykeeper

Caitlin Wessel, Gulf of Mexico Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program attended, lending a hand and a paddle to the cleanup!

Mardi Gras is a fun occasion for many cities across the south from New Orleans to Alabama. Beads, moon pies, and toys are Mardi Gras staples and are thrown to excited crowds lining the streets during parades that begin 6 weeks before Fat Tuesday. Unfortunately, many of the ‘throws’ are abandoned on the street and can easily wash down street drains and end up in the streams, rivers and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. Mobile Baykeeper, with a grant from NOAA Marine Debris, worked with partners in the city of Mobile, Alabama last week to install custom-built screens in rainwater gutters across the city.

“We often see a lot of the same materials like shopping carts, car tires, toy cars, styrofoam containers, TVs, mops, buckets … but we’ve actually seen a lot of Mardi Gras throws including toy footballs, beads, cups, frisbees, you name it,” said Baykeeper Communications Director Hanlon Walsh. “There’s an obvious tie-in between Mardi Gras and litter, so I think the big thing is to make people more aware of it.”

With the help of these screens and other preventative measures, regular clean-ups through-out the year, and increased awareness Mobile Baykeepers hopes to reduce the environmental impacts of Mardi Gras while keeping the Mardi Gras spirit alive and well! 

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Group posing outdoors.
Volunteers pose with marine debris removed during the cleanup on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Image credit: Mobile Baykeeper