“It’s the most wonderful time of year to be a Cajun…Festival International is only one week away! For the diehards, it’s five days of music, dancing, eating, drinking, shopping, and seeing everyone you’ve ever known, all contained in downtown Lafayette. For the casual Festival-goers, it might only be a couple days…but where’s the fun in that? Get out and enjoy Festival International de Louisiane 2016!” – Caitlin@EcoCajun.com
BEFORE LEAVING HOME If you plan to spend a good amount of time at Festival (as you should), the key is to pack your backpack with reusable and strategic items.
- Reusable water bottle. Look, chances are, it’s really going to hold margarita, but it’s important to hydrate with water, so at least alternate, okay?
- Weather gear. Sunscreen (unless you’re a fan of funky sunburn patterns), a light sweater (right now it’s forecasted in the low-to-mid 60s in the evenings), sunglasses (obvs), a portable fan (or repurpose your Festival map into one), and a rain jacket or poncho (leave those umbrellas at home.)
- Cloth shopping bag. For all your unique vendor and merch scores! Spare the plastic…you know, zero waste and all that shizzzz. The best kinds of bags to bring are the foldable ones with a carabiner that you can clip to the outside of your pack.
- Fork, spoon and cloth napkin. You’ll be able to cut down on a lot of trash if you use your own fork, spoon and cloth napkin. Rinse the utensils after using them, and throw the napkin in the wash when you get home. A lot of food vendors will stick a utensil in the food before handing it to you (grrr), so if you can’t avoid plastic, rinse and reuse it, or clean it before recycling instead of throwing it away.
- Official Festival app downloaded on your phone. Geaux paperless! But the app is more than just a schedule and map – it’s interactive! You can save your favorite bands and add their show time to your phone’s calendar. You can also save your favorite food and merch vendors, so you don’t forget to visit all of them before the weekend is over.
- Small towel. Skip the napkins and paper towels, which cause a LOT of litter because they fly around as free as the…uh…flower crowns. You can also use it as a makeshift seat, instead of lugging around one of those camping chairs.
- Ziploc bag or waterproof case for electronics in case of rain. We pray to the festival gods that rain will hold off until after the weekend is over. But…should it rain, be prepared and keep your phone or camera dry.
- Portable backup cell phone charger. If you’re out all day, and you’re busy Instagramming or Snapchatting, your phone battery will probably die. Stock up with a portable backup battery before Festival and make sure it’s fully charged when you leave the house. When you’re getting close to 10% battery, the backup will give you just enough boost to make it until the last band stops!
- Ride. Yo. Bike! When you roll in on two wheels, you don’t have to worry about parking or the shuttle. It’s the best eco-friendly way to travel to and from downtown, and it’ll help burn off calories from that crawfish and spinach boat. Bike racks are located throughout downtown. Be courteous and don’t lock your bike in the middle of crowds or sidewalks.
- Carpool with friends. The fewer cars on the road, the better traffic and fewer parking nightmares.
- If you don’t have a bike or live too far away, ride the Service Chevrolet Cadillac Shuttle from Cajun Field, which runs every 15 minutes. Shuttles drop off at Lee and Jefferson, and at Garfield and Buchanan. On Sunday, the shuttle will pick up at Blackham Coliseum instead of Cajun Field.
- Thursday: 5:00–11:30pm
- Friday: 4:00–11:30pm
- Saturday: 10:30am–12:00am
- Sunday: 10:30am–8:00pm
- Take advantage of Uber and get dropped off near downtown.
- Reduce paper waste. Use the Festival app to refer to band schedules and stage information instead of grabbing a handful of paper guides that will either end up at the bottom of your backpack, spilled on or left-behind. Wet paper can’t be recycled anyway. If you really prefer to have a paper guide, only take one and use it for the whole weekend, then recycle it when you’re done. Unless it’s wet
- Reuse as much as you can. Not all vendors will take your own reusable bottle, but those souvenir Festival cups are totally reusable and totally recyclable! Ask the vendors to refill your existing cup, then bring them home to keep forever and ever, or drop them in a recycling bin when you’re done for the day/weekend. Don’t forget to use your cloth napkin and utensils. It won’t be zero-waste when your food is inevitably served on a styrofoam plate, but it does at least lessen the overall impact.
- Recycle! When it’s time to chunk something, recycle it if possible. Not sure what’s acceptable? Save da handy graphic below to your phone.
- Leave the glass at home. It’s super dangerous for all the sandal-clad feet! The vendors won’t be serving anything in glass, and if you want to bring something from home, transfer it to a safer reusable container.
- Also, please don’t vomit in the recycling bins. (Seent it happen.)
- This year, Project Front Yard is partnering with CGI to provide a limited number of reusable shopping bags at La Boutique souvenir locations. Grab you a bag early and reuse it all weekend.
- Many vendors sell green products, whether they use recycled or repurposed materials, to sourcing local materials, to making their goods by hand. Support these vendors and show them you support sustainability! There are some truly great recycled things to find, and they are beautifully unique. Get the vendor lineup here.
- Many vendors take credit cards now, but bring cash for a quicker checkout process.
OTHER FESTIVAL POINTERS
- Volunteer and help Festival run smoothly! You can even volunteer for recycling duty, which is as glamorous as it sounds. All kidding aside, volunteering makes you feel good good.
- When you’re sharing photos, don’t forget to use the hashtags #HowIFestival and #GeauxGreen!
So in short, pack what you’ll need for the day to make you comfortable and sustainable, use alternative transportation, support all the local and sustainable vendors, and RECYCLE as much as you can!