Walking around Bourbon Street at night is an experience. The street is full of life, people from out of town trying to cram the fabled New Orleans night life into their few short hours in town. Jazz music blares out of bars, people dance on corners, women beckon you into dark doorways, and everyone has a drink in hand.
I started to wonder: why is this night life couched in disposability? Why do all the drinks come in plastic cups? Some of the cups have become New Orleans signatures: you can spot someone drinking “New Orleans’ Strongest Drink” from a block away as it comes in its own signature bright green grenade-shaped cup. Holding a grenade means you are a badass. But what are you going to do with that cup when you have sipped it dry? I realize that glass containers and drunk people are not a good combination; is plastic the only thing that can keep us safe?
Great shiny strings of Mardi Gras beads transform from the night’s most magical accessory to trash the next morning. Why are these symbols of partying, freedom, fun, and living the high life so disposable?
It seems that our idea fun is tied up with an idea of being free of cares. Who wants to carry around an empty cup, now used and useless? It is easy to unburden yourself of something made to be disposable – just throw it away. Plastic enables and promotes feeling carefree. But does it also teach us to be care less?
Not sure I have an answer to any of this. But I did see a lot of plastic cups that would be swept up and disappeared by morning.