This may be the first "green issue" of a newspaper that doesn't include the phrase "carbon footprint"; it always conjures images of some celebrity who lives in a Superdome-size mansion, lecturing the hoi polloi about energy-saving lightbulbs "smugstainability." It's hard to care about energy-saving lightbulbs when you're living in a trailer and the nearest supermarket is 3 miles away. And I don't think any of us should feel guilty for simply being alive. We should celebrate that.
But if you've ever seen a motorist throw a Popeyes box out of a car window on Tulane Avenue, or watched a French Quarter bar employee bag up 100 recyclable bottles destined for a landfill, you know: We're nice folks in New Orleans, but the greenest people on Earth? Hardly. (I don't even want to know what happened to all those duct-taped refrigerators.)
We haven't had municipal curbside recycling in the three years since Katrina, but we can't blame our lack of green on The Thing any more. Hurricane Katrina doesn't excuse or explain the fact that our beautiful city is way behind the curve on the environmental tip. We can do better, and a lot of people want to do better. They're just not sure how. And they're tired. We're all tired.
So instead of highly technical tips, we've assembled a collection of essays for those who are thinking green, but may not be sure exactly how to start the process. Where can you get reusable building materials for your project? How can you recycle?
The bad news is: We ain't even close to green. The good news: We've got nowhere to go but up.
Kevin Allman lived in Portland, Ore., after the storm, where they know green living. He thinks that the Northwest has much to teach New Orleans about respect for the environment but that New Orleans could teach Portland a few things as well.
Philip Cartelli, who has contributed writing on local music and restaurants to Gambit Weekly, volunteered at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in West Virginia years ago and was happy to get back into the reusing mindset to research this article.
Allison Good, one of Gambit's summer interns, is a Vassar Brewer and falafel aficionado with a passion for current events.