A new initiative to turn glass bottles from New Orleans’ many drinking spots into tiny particles of sand has raised hopes of a green transformation.
Dave Clements, owner of Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge, a beloved dive bar in New Orleans, has watched Louisiana’s coast shrink year after year.
“I used to go fishing quite a bit down in Delacroix area. Me and my buddy would go out in a flat boat,” he says. Clements remembers finding “a little spot, a little island” where he and his friend would take breaks while fishing for redfish, sheepshead, speckled trout and flounder. When they went back to the same spot a month later, the patch of land was gone. “I actually stopped fishing because it was so depressing.”
To date, the southern coast of Louisiana has lost land roughly the size of the state of Delaware from its eroding beaches and marshes. Environmentalists now fear that the coastal erosion in the state has passed the point of no return.
Clements wondered if a solution to this problem has been hiding in plain sight, concealed in New Orleans’ drinking culture. Every day, the city’s bars and restaurants produce tons of waste in the form of glass bottles, and because the city’s waste management system does not offer curbside glass recycling, most of that trash ends up in landfills, unable to decay. “It’s infuriating the amount of stupidity and waste,” says Clements. “I’m a bar owner and everybody’s having a great time and then there’s all this trash.”
A pair of Tulane students also recognized this problem and asked: could those containers be blasted to sand, transforming waste into a critical resource that could be repurposed to reinforce the state’s eroding coastline?
With this solution in mind, Franziska Trautmann and Max Steitz founded Glass Half Full, a grassroots recycling program meant to reduce waste and – hopefully, one day – help mitigate coastal erosion…