Everyone is familiar with the Mardi Gras expression, “Let the good times roll” and this year Mobilians can roll with the Eco-Team and recycle along the parade route! Volunteers will literally be rolling recycle carts along the parade route to collect plastic bottles and aluminum cans from parade-goers during the time that vendors are out selling merchandise.

Volunteers are needed for the final four days of the Mardi Gras season, Saturday, Feb. 14 through Tuesday, Feb. 17, and a variety of shift options are available. All participating volunteers will be entered in a drawing to win two tickets for a Delta Wildlife Eco Boat Tour courtesy of 5 Rivers Delta Safaris. To learn more about this opportunity and to sign-up to volunteer, visit: http://www.joinACF.org/

This year, the Mardi Gras Eco-Team is looking for bicyclists to volunteer. People with bicycles will be provided a trailer to collect recycling from bins placed throughout the downtown area. Everyone is welcome to volunteer, whether they have a bicycle or not, but this is an added feature the Eco-Team is excited to offer. Additionally, a local artist will be volunteering her time to paint any of the interested volunteers with a nature or eco-themed design to give a more festive feel to the effort. The Mardi Gras Eco-Team will be equipped with a megaphone to chant recycling cheers and give out information as the carts pass by. Also, for any South Alabama students that volunteer at least two shifts, they’ll be entered to win $75 in Jag Bucks.

Volunteers for the Mardi Gras eco team will help gather recyclables during the final four days of Mardi Gras.

Volunteers for the Mardi Gras eco team will help gather recyclables during the final four days of Mardi Gras.

“This is our third year recycling for Mardi Gras and we’re hoping to have more volunteers than ever before. The greater the number of volunteers, the greater the impact we’re able to make,” stated Valerie Longa, the Eco-Team Coordinator. She continued, “Mardi Gras is a festive and creative time in our city and it’s important that citizens also take care of our city by not littering and practicing recycling. We’re glad to be able to make it easier for people to do the right thing by offering the opportunity to recycle on the busiest days of the Mardi Gras season.”

Parade-goers who want to recycle during parades that the Eco-Team is not out volunteering at are welcome to take their recyclables to the Keep Mobile Beautiful Recycling Center on Government Street or the new Mobile County Recycling Center on Hitt Road.

One of the original inspirations in creating the Eco-Team was to help reduce stormwater runoff. Any litter that ends up on the ground can wash into storm drains and end up in local waterways; this is magnified during Mardi Gras due to the vast numbers of people and trash left on the ground. This year the City’s Public Works Department is adding grates onto most storm drains to prevent litter from ending up in local waterways. This is a very important improvement and will be a huge benefit to the health of the local environment. Pollution in the ocean is a serious problem and researching statistics related to this problem can be very sobering; take for example that one million seabirds are killed by marine litter every year. A cleaner, more sustainable Mardi Gras is beneficial to everyone.

This effort is an initiative of the Cleaner, Greener LoDa Committee led by the Alabama Coastal Foundation and key partners include: BayFest, Inc., City of Mobile, Downtown Mobile Alliance, Keep Mobile Beautiful, Mobile Carnival Association, the Mobile County Health Department, and the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program. In addition to being entered to win two Delta Wildlife Eco Boat Tour tickets, all volunteers will receive an Eco-Team t-shirt. For further information about Mardi Gras’s Eco-Team and volunteering, please contact vlonga@joinACF.org or call 251-990-6002.