The Trash Blog

All That Glitters is Plastic

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?

beadsblurred people 6

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?
blurred people

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.

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This entry was written by Margaret and published on July 24, 2013 at 3:34 pm. It’s filed under Community, MSW, Plastic and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

5 thoughts on “All That Glitters is Plastic

  1. Uncle Chris on said:

    The metaphor of the empty plastic cup is for our life or for our cares and concerns? When we throw away the empty container are we throwing away life or what has become a burden?

    • hmmm… I think plastic represents our cultural emphasis (celebration of?) on being free of cares; we expect to be able to throw something away as soon as it becomes a burden to us. throwing the cup away means you don’t have to be burdened by it.

  2. And for too many people, “away” is just in the nearest planter or curb or bench…

  3. Diana on said:

    It is the luxury to have someone else cleaning after us. I would propose a campaign to the city where everybody carries their own totuma (large dish made from a gourd – In the old days this was used in Colombia as a drinking cup – I am sure it is still being used in some places) with a string around their necks and whoever doesn’t have it, can’t buy a drink. Whoever has it would be a badass and would mean they are paaarttyinng! The totuma will go great with the strings of Mardi Grass….we’ll worry about those later!

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