Audubon Zoo is recycling strands of holiday lights to aid wildlife

New Orleanians will be dragging their Christmas trees to the curb for coastal restoration after Jan. 6. but what all those strands of lights? Most holiday lights are not bio-degradable — and they are dangerous to animals that can get tangled in the strands. You can make a positive impact on the natural world by recycling your lights and keeping them out of the landfill.

Where to recycle your Mardi Gras beads

If you went to even one parade this past Carnival season, you probably have a pile of beads in your house right now. Even if you didn’t, a bag of beads may be lurking in a closet or in the attic. That means you’ve done your part to keep beads off the streets and out of the drainage system during the parades. Now is the time — unless you haven’t had enough of the glue gun and are planning an art project — to recycle the colorful strands that were so much fun to catch. Most bead recycling in the region is through nonprofit organizations that provide jobs to disabled adults, who clean and sort the throws so they can be sold to float riders for the next season.

Krewes moving away from all the throwaway throws

By Christian Willbern, Loyola University New Orleans

In a rainbow sea of glitters and feathers, NOLA Craft Culture owner Lisette Constantin is working towards a greener Mardi Gras. “Here, in house, we’re trying to do wherever we can to make as much of an impact as possible it does in terms of sustainability,” Constantin said. After years of throwing plastic trinkets in the streets, krewes and community members are looking for a more sustainable way to celebrate, including collectible and reusable throws, recycling programs, and the creation of biodegradable Mardi Gras beads. The City Council had litter in mind when it prohibited riders from tossing single-use plastic bags, paper products that do not biodegrade and any package containing bulk throws in its recent revisions to the Carnival parade ordinances. It’s not just the bags littering the streets, however.

Loyola Academy to bring conservation knowledge to Mirabeau Gardens in Gentilly

by Rae Walberg, The Loyola Maroon

In the heart of Gentilly, 25 acres of Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded space was recently granted to build Mirabeau Water Gardens, a place where water conservation will be modeled on a larger-scale. For Loyola professors Aimée Thomas and Bob Thomas, this was a dream ten years in the making. The idea for the grant stemmed from Loyola’s relationship with the Sisters of Saint Joseph, who donated the space to the city when they left it after Hurricane Katrina. “They actually wanted Loyola to take over the property once they deemed that they weren’t going to be there anymore to use it for environmental education,” Director of the Environment Program Aimée Thomas said. Since Loyola didn’t have the resources to manage the land, the grant was issued to the city of New Orleans and funded by the university, Entergy Corporation, AT&T and Waggonner & Ball Architects.

Affordable housing advocates set to march and rally Saturday

The #PutHousingFirst march and rally is an effort by the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance and Home by Hand to spread awareness about the city’s need for affordable housing. Advocates and neighbors will march through Central City with The Hot 8 Brass Band starting at 10:30 a.m., and a rally will immediately follow. The march begins at Tapps II (2800 S. Rocheblave St.) and goes to Guste Park at Simon Bolivar Ave. and MLK Blvd, where the rally will be. GNOHA hosted the first #PutHousingFirst march last year.

Port of New Orleans expands its electric fleet with plug-in hybrid trucks

from the Port of New Orleans

With existing electric vehicle charging infrastructure in place and working toward energy efficiency investments defined in their new Strategic Master Plan, the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) expanded its EV fleet with the help of the Clean Fuel Transition Fund for Public Fleets, managed by the Regional Planning Commission’s Clean Fuel Partnership program. This funding helped the Port offset the costs of two plug-in hybrid electric F-150s equipped with extended range technology, including a high voltage lithium battery pack and regenerative braking. The systems, developed by XL, enable an estimated 50% increase in miles per gallon and 33% decrease in emissions. Project partners celebrated this innovative clean transportation project at a ribbon cutting ceremony held Tuesday, June 18, at Port NOLA. “We are pleased to celebrate Port NOLA’s new plug-in hybrid electric trucks, which are helping the Port save fuel, reduce emissions and invest in efficiency,” said Port NOLA President and CEO Brandy D. Christian.

Nonprofit for sustainability to host block party Saturday

from Green Light New Orleans

Green Light New Orleans, a nonprofit organization working towards a greener future, invites the public to its Spring Block Party on Saturday, May 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. The festivities will take place at the Fidelity Bank branch at 1201 S. Carrollton Ave (at Oak St.) and will feature complimentary food and drinks, as well as activities for the whole family. “Most people know Green Light for our energy efficient light bulbs, and we’re proud to have given away more than 600,000 of them,” said Founder and Executive Director Andreas Hoffman. “We saw so much success with light bulbs, that we have expanded our programs to include backyard gardens and rain barrels. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to our community, and to make new friends.”

A staple of Green Light New Orleans’ rain barrel program is the public art component, whereby each rain barrel is hand-painted by New Orleans artists and volunteers. Green Light’s Board Chair Rebecca Madura is a local artist who has painted many of the barrels that now collect water across the city.

Tree planting and rain-barrel painting among the activities at Hoffman Triangle event

Hoffman Triangle residents are invited to come out to Taylor Park on Saturday, April 6, from noon to 2 p.m. for a family-friendly event to learn about ways they can reduce flooding by planting trees, installing rain barrels and reducing paving. “Many neighborhoods in New Orleans, including the Hoffman Triangle, are vulnerable to repeated flooding,” said Dana Eness, executive director of the Urban Conservancy. The Urban Conservancy is working with Launch NOLA Green, Sustaining Our Urban Landscape (SOUL), Green Light New Orleans, Water Block, and the city’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability — as well as Hoffman Triangle residents, churches, schools and others — to improve the neighborhood’s stormwater conditions. “This event is part of a larger outreach effort aimed at understanding community needs, assets and growth opportunities” says Atianna Cordova, founder of Water Block and outreach manager for the project. At the Green Your Neighborhood event, Hoffman Triangle residents can learn about effective stormwater management techniques and resources to help reduce flooding on their properties and on their streets.

Tulane study says seas may be rising faster than thought

By Barri Bronston, Tulane University

A new Tulane University study questions the reliability of how sea-level rise in low-lying coastal areas such as southern Louisiana is measured and suggests that the current method underestimates the severity of the problem. The research is the focus of a news article published this week in the journal “Science.” Relative sea-level rise, which is a combination of rising water level and subsiding land, is traditionally measured using tide gauges. But researchers Molly Keogh and Torbjörn Törnqvist argue that in coastal Louisiana, tide gauges tell only a part of the story. Tide gauges in such areas are anchored an average of 20 meters into the earth rather than at the ground surface.

Reminder: Christmas trees will be recycled this week for coastal restoration

Christmas trees this week will be picked up this week during the second trash collection, from Wednesday, Jan. 9, to Saturday, Jan. 12. The program of recycling Christmas trees, funded by the city’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability, is an effort to promote the restoration of Louisiana’s wetlands and to assist in the protection of the Louisiana coastline. Orleans Parish residents eligible for city trash collection are encouraged to recycle their Christmas trees by placing them curbside before 5 a.m. on their second regularly scheduled collection day.