Everyone has a morning routine, right? Mine is pretty simple: wake up, brush my teeth, drink my coffee, and browse the latest headlines on Nola.com. A couple of months ago, as I was checking out the early morning headlines, I came across an article about a group of environmentalists sailing down the Mississippi River on a boat made from recycled materials. The group planned to sail all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, stopping at various cities along the way to raise awareness among local communities about the importance of recycling and preserving our natural resources.
Now, let’s fast forward about a week. There I am sitting in my office, taking my daily Instagram break, and I receive a direct message from a high school acquaintance that I haven’t seen or spoken to in about a decade that happens to be passing through New Orleans and wants to catch up. As we are giving each other a quick synopsis of the past 10 years of our lives over a beer at The Kingpin, he reveals that he and his friends are in town working on a project called “Recycled Mississippi” and that they are the group I had read about a week ago! Talk about how the universe works in mysterious ways.
The Recycled Mississippi journey began in mid-June, setting sail from Minneapolis with the Gulf of Mexico as the ending point. As mentioned above, the boat was constructed from reclaimed wood and nearly 800 plastic bottles with a motor to help them steer through the many locks and dams along the river. After seeing pictures of the boat, I imagine that this is the same kind of vessel Huckleberry Finn used on his adventures or what Tom Hanks’ character in Cast Away really needed for his rescue raft.
During their quick stay in New Orleans, the Recycled Mississippi crew was able to meet with City Councilwoman Susan Guidry to discuss her plans to introduce a city-wide ordinance aimed to reduce plastic usage. Councilwoman Guidry hopes to get grocers and businesses on board to ban plastic bags across the city and implement a small fee for use of paper bags. If the legislature passes, New Orleans would join many cities across the country, like Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., on the quest to reduce plastic waste.
Those who know me well know that I have never been a stickler for separating out my recyclables from my regular trash or making sure I have my reusable bags at the grocery store. However, after hearing about how polluted the Mississippi River is and how much plastic our beloved city uses every day, I’m definitely going to keep some reusable bags in my car and maybe give Richard’s Disposal a call to get a recycling bin for my house.
To learn more about the Recycled Mississippi adventure and to watch vlog posts of their journey, visit www.recycledmississippi.org.
To learn more about how you can recycle in New Orleans, visit www.nola.gov/sanitation/recycling.