Vintage Green Review, a local zero-waste education and consulting business, has opened its first brick-and-mortar store at 3530 Magazine St. After gauging community interest over a multi-week pop-up at the same address, the store’s owner, Sarah Andert, was so encouraged by the reception that she signed a lease to make her residence permanent. “Operating out of a physical location allows me to engage directly and regularly with customers,” Andert said. This marks New Orleans’ first zero-waste store and bulk refill bar, according to a press release that states it offers “a long-term option for plastic-free living, sustainable shopping, zero waste supplies, and the ability to refill household and personal care products in reusable containers.”
While the shop is currently open for business, its grand opening weekend will kick off on Earth Day, April 22, and continue through April 25. The event will feature discounted supplies, product giveaways and pop-up food vendors.
Broadmoor is coming into full bloom this spring as the Broadmoor Improvement Association and Tulane students lead efforts to revitalize three local community gardens. Two of the gardens – the Food Forest on Toledano Street near Dorgenois Street and another produce patch at the Broadmoor Community Church – will produce fresh herbs and vegetables for the Broadmoor Food Pantry. A rain garden at South Miro and Gen. Taylor streets will help mitigate flooding and beautify the area with native plants like cattails, cypress trees and irises.
The goal of the gardens is simple: “We grow food and we nurture plants to bring people together,” said Dorothy Jelagat Cheruiyot, a professor of ecology and biology at Tulane University. Cheruiyot’s students are working as busily as bees in the Broadmoor gardens each week as part of internships and classes related to urban agroecology, as well as an additional garden at the New Zion Baptist Church in Central City. But the ultimate goal is to recruit neighborhood volunteers so that the lots will truly be sustainable community gardens, with an emphasis on the community.
Listening to the radio while driving nine years ago, Alison Parker heard a segment about the book “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth Cline, and it opened her eyes to the problem of waste and pollution in the fashion and clothing business.
“I knew I could no longer sit on the sidelines and do nothing,” Parker said. Eventually, it lead her to found ricRACK, a nonprofit organization its website describes as “combining creative skill building with environmental responsibility.”
Everything that ricRACK does, Parker said, in some way combats the waste prevalent in the fashion industry, which is estimated be the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply and pollutes the oceans with micro plastics. What’s more, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. And when this happens, the dyes and chemicals from the fabrics leach into the ground water and release greenhouse gasses.
To promote the productive recycling of clothes, ricRACK has opened a thrift store in Central City that sells donated clothes as well as those that have been used in films and TV shows, and sponsors a variety of sewing classes. Parker herself worked in the costume department for Cirque du Soleil for five years and then as a costume designer for theater and films, so she has those connections.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.