As we turn the pages on another year, let’s reflect upon not only where we’ve been and where we’re going, but how we’ll get there. For here, in a state plagued by multiple challenges, from the ravages of coastal erosion to the blight of oil spills, green thinking and living are critical.
Toward that end, 2014 saw an uptick in how Americans embraced the notion of organic living, whether that meant turning down the heat, using an LED bulb, biking instead of driving or giving up meat products. Here in New Orleans alone, vegans and vegetarians are – if not the majority – then a very vocal and respected minority. Vegan New Orleans’ Facebook page, for example, has 3,379 “likes”.
While many green products proliferated through NOLA this past year, a few really stood out. Here are this examiner’s top 7 picks of products, trends and developments:
- LED lights: In April of this year, the New Orleans City Council passed a resolution at the request of the Landrieu administration to authorize approximately $14.7 million in one-time Energy Smart funds to convert old streetlights to energy-efficient LED fixtures on the east bank of Orleans Parish. LED lights use up to 50 percent less energy than conventional lights. The money comes from Entergy for an energy saving program. And throughout the city, LED vendors such as Green Light New Orleans are ensuring that the Crescent City leads the way forward on energy conservation.
- Meatless hot dogs: Dreamy Weanies in NOLA continued to impress this year with its mouthwatering concoction that puts the standard New York dawg to shame. Whether you’re a veggie or a vegan or just someone struggling to give up meat, this is for you: slathered in innumerable meatfree goodies. “The Satchmo”, for example, includes the New Orleans staple, red beans and rice, while the “Genchili Dog” (yumm!) boasts chili and a “Creole” mix. Not every doggie is meatless, but two thumbs up for offering delicious vegan options.
- Bicycle, bicycle, I want to ride my …: More and more peddlers on the streets. Keep ’em coming. Streetcars pick up the slack. Get those huge outta towners in their suburbans outta the Quarter, merci!
- Green snacks: Fruits and vegetables are your best bet, but if you’re on the go and need a protein pickmeup, grab a delicious and nutritious health snack bar. This examiner likes Balance Bare Bars, especially Sea Salt Caramel Nut.
- More money to clean up the environment: Thanks to Judge Carl Barbier’s determination that BP is guilty of “gross negligence” for their handiwork in the Gulf, yet untold millions will be funnelled into cleaning up the region, helping to reverse the effects of coastal erosion and damage and other ills.
- Green flashlights: The HybridLight Solar Flashlight never needs batteries, can be charged from any light source, and supposedly works continuously. The 120 lumens model burns for eight hours on one charge. “HybridLight’s flashlights are so reliable, the Boy Scouts’ Utah National Parks Council endorse them – and they come with a lifetime guarantee. For every 10 hours of use, 100 HybridLight flashlights avert 60 pounds of toxic battery landfill waste,” says Chervil’s spokesperson. Recently, the company supplied everyone in a Kenyan village with his or her own flashlight.
- World Water Day: Once again, this annual event was a success both here in New Orleans and worldwide, as we mulled a startling statistic: some 1 billion people on the planet lack access to clean, safe drinkable water. Here in the Big Easy, the day drew attention to our coastal wetlands and a need to repair and protect them.
Finally, as you set out to celebrate the new year, remember that all that confetti and all those empty bottles end up somewhere. Drink responsibly and also recycle. And who knows, maybe you’ll also be bathing with a friend.
Happy New Year!