Celebrating a Greener Carnival in the Age of COVID

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While St. Louis would normally be gearing up for the crown jewel of the Soulard Mardi Gras season this weekend, those celebrations have a very different look this year. Despite the challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the show must go on – but in a virtual format designed to protect public health and adhere to the latest safety recommendations from federal, state and local officials.

Though revelers from far and wide won’t be gathering in the streets of Soulard for the Grand Parade on Saturday, area residents can still look forward to celebrating this fun treasured tradition in a safe and responsible way, all while appreciating that hosting the event online also benefits air quality and helps people all across the region breathe easier.

Thankfully, St. Louis Mardi Gras organizers are making it easy for community members to participate in the Bud Light Derby Day on Saturday with limited edition “Mardi Gras Safe at Home Party Boxes” available for purchase. The boxes are fully equipped with a food voucher to be redeemed at any participating Soulard establishment, in addition to all the beverages, beads and swag you’ll need to celebrate with a small group of friends or family in the safety and comfort of your own home.

It wouldn’t be a proper Mardi Gras celebration without beads, but these traditional accessories made up of cheap plastic strings and other toxic materials like polystyrene and lead pose an unnecessary threat to the environment, especially when littered on the streets or thrown into trash cans. If you have a growing collection and don’t plan on saving them to use for next year, consider recycling your beads to do your share for cleaner air. Furthermore, setting up separate containers to properly dispose of waste during your at-home celebration – including plastic and non-biodegradable Styrofoam cups, aluminum cans, glass bottles and more – will help improve air quality. The more material that gets properly recycled, the less that goes into landfills, ultimately reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions for cleaner air.

Other upcoming festivities include the virtual pinewood derby-style racing series and the virtual Tito’s Wiener Dog Derby, where everyone’s favorite pint sized pooches will contend for the “fastest hot dog in town” title. These popular events will be streamed via Facebook Live @STLMardiGras on Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. Pet lovers can also tune in to the first-ever virtual Purina Pet Parade Costume Contest on Fat Tuesday, where a panel of celebrity judges will choose the Mardi Paw-ty champion to win $500 cash and (12) $40 coupons good for Purina Pet food products.

We encourage you to incorporate sustainability into your unique Mardi Gras celebrations this year to help fight for cleaner air, because that’s something everyone can celebrate! To learn more about the link between living greener and our air quality, visit our website tips section at http://cleanair-stlouis.com/air-quality-tips/, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.