By Julia Hernández Malagón
Let's get creative this year and have a colorful, sustainable, fun Carnival!
There’s no better time of the year to implement the circular economy’s principle of repurposing than Carnival.
This celebratory season, which encompasses Mardi Gras, is the perfect moment to find better uses for old clothes and items that you’ve been accumulating during the year instead of buying new ones.
Last weekend marked the start of Carnival, and in many places, this is the first year since COVID-19 to celebrate it fully without restrictions. Many of us are looking forward to celebrating with friends and families and enjoying ourselves like before.
If you are like me and want to enjoy the celebration while taking care of the environment, here are some practical tips to reduce your environmental impact:
1. Choose a sustainable costume
Chances are that you have old shoes, masks, or T-shirts that you have been stockpiling. Well, this is the time to use them! Can you use that old dress in the corner of your wardrobe to make a fun and creative costume? Try to find better uses for your old clothes and accessories, and get innovative by using recycled materials—such as newspapers, cardboard, and packaging—to complement your costumes. Involve your kids and encourage them to make their own costumes. They’ll be blown away by all the creative ideas, and it’ll be good for them to learn how to make things for themselves.
You can find some fun ideas on Pinterest here.
If you don’t have the time to create your own costume, you can always borrow or rent one. If you end up buying something, try to use it as long as you can or donate it at the end of its shelf life.
2. Try to avoid glitter
Glitter is, in many cases, a big part of the celebration of Carnival. However, due to its composition of aluminum and plastic, it’s very detrimental to the environment [1,2]. Because we’re just using it for fun, is it really worth the environmental consequences?
This year, consider using alternatives to complement your costume!
Some neat options include:
3. Minimize (and organize!) your waste
Among the most unsustainable aspects of Carnival is the ensuing waste, including plastic cups, throwaway plates and utensils, and food waste. To avoid having to use plastic cups, bring a reusable cup, which you can also decorate to match your costume. You can also bring your own reusable utensils to avoid the use of plastic ones, and politely decline drinks with plastic straws.
And when you’re done with the party, just make sure that you put each kind of waste in the proper disposal receptacle. If you’re not sure whether something should go in the recycling bin, organics bin, or garbage bin, you can reference your city’s or waste collector’s resources for more information.
For example, did you know that the City of Toronto has a helpful tool called the Waste Wizard? This searchable feature helps you figure out exactly where each item should go!
4. Celebrate with DIY and reusable elements
If you’re throwing your own party at home, there’re plenty of things you can do to mitigate your environmental impact, such as making decorations with recyclable and repurposed materials, planning meals to avoid food waste, and using reusable cups and napkins.
You can find some neat, sustainable party decoration ideas on Pinterest here.
If you really want to go the extra mile, you can even encourage guests to wear or make their own sustainable costumes and offer special prizes or party favors to the guests with the best outfits.
We can implement the principles of the circular economy both in our daily lives and during special events such as Carnival. Not only will doing so be beneficial for you in many ways (such as by helping you save money, get creative, and have fun while also getting rid of old stuff) but you’ll also contribute to a more sustainable world.
1.Yurtsever, M. (2019). “Tiny, shiny, and colorful microplastics: Are regular glitters a significant source of microplastics?", Marine Pollution Bulletin.
2. Perosa M, et al. (2021) “Taking the sparkle off the sparkling time," Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2021.
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