The City of Hope ⚜️

I mentioned in the last post that I took two trips in August and learned much about trash. Well, the trip to New Orleans was really something. I love the romance of the French Quarter: the architecture, music, art, and of course food. I’ve been there half a dozen times or so now and each time I find something new that I love about this place. This time though was different. Maybe I was different. The city that has been through so much and keeps going, the city of hope gives me hope.

A small group of us stayed over a holiday weekend at this wonderful little boutique hotel on a block between Bourbon And Royal. The hospitality at the hotel was like no other and we loved it! I found myself looking for ways to recycle and reduce trash consumption as I had all over New Mexico. My sister and one of my friends jumped right in with me.
We lucked out with breakfast served daily at the hotel on dishes with linen napkins. I had a place to fill my coffee cup but not a place for water. The hotel staff was quite confused that I didn’t want bottled water to pour into my cup or to just take the plastic bottles. They only set out fruit-infused water in a pitcher in the lobby later in the day but that was wonderful! The coffee shops let us use our cups and most of the restaurants served us on dishes. The problem was really the bars with plastic cups galore. So much trash and no place to recycle.
I came home and did a little research. It turns out New Orleans has a recycling program for residents but hotels, restaurants, and bars in the Quarter are responsible for trash and recycling through a private company. This makes much more sense after walking around and seeing the giant trash cans at several places. The bars serve in plastic cups or souvenir-style containers. It is cheaper and easy to just toss all of it. People seem to act a fool here like no other and the staff doesn’t have time to add on responsibilities.
A local bartender told me that people do things in New Orleans that they would never do in their own home or town including throwing trash on the ground and leaving disgusting messes for people to clean, all under the guise of being on vacation. After she said this, I started watching people as I walked down Bourbon and zigzagged the other streets. Bourbon seems to have the most bars, the youngest tourists, and the most trash and vomit on the streets.
One block over on Royal is full of art galleries, coffee, government buildings, and the police department. It is cleaner and more quiet except during parade time. Jackson Square all the way over to Cafe Du Monde and down to the Markets is full of life and shopping but not a lot of craziness. Restaurants tucked away along the side streets were in most cases quaint and cozy with no litter.
The crowds and trash are dependent upon the celebration du jour. The sanitation department rolls out early and hoses down the filth for the tourists to party again. Trash is stacked high with a stench from the night before that will rot as the sun comes up only as it can in the humid heat of Louisiana. They work hard to start each day fresh. I have thought about this a lot since I returned home.
New Orleans is a place that welcomes everyone and isn’t going to turn away tourism because of the revenue it generates. The local residents care about the city and clearly participate in the recycling program available; options to increase the size of the containers are even available.
Not all tourists are there to binge-drink and be a mess. Many are there to experience the culture and would gladly participate in recycling and waste reduction. The key is to make it simple and a way of life.
Tourists need a place to recycle along the main streets and around Jackson Square. Some may not even realize how much trash they’re reducing by sitting down at the wonderful restaurants. Companies save money every time a customer brings a mug from home and the result – one fewer drink cup ends up in the dump each time. We should celebrate small victories and appreciate the talented street artists and overall culture of such an historic place while sipping from our reusable cups.