Resilience through Innovation & Sustainability
Carnival time is a cherished tradition in many cultures. They are often associated with colorful costumes, music, dance, and food. However, the environmental impact of these festivities cannot be ignored.
One of the most significant environmental impacts of carnival celebrations is waste generation. In many cases, carnival celebrations involve the use of disposable items such as cups, plates, and cutlery, which are often made of plastic. These items are typically discarded after use, contributing to the growing problem of plastic pollution. Especially in countries with long carnival tradition such as Italy (Venice), Greece (Patras) and Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), these celebrations could run for more than a month!
Can you imagine the waste?
Plastic pollution has become a significant environmental issue in recent years. The World Economic Forum estimates that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 if current trends continue. Plastic waste not only harms marine life, but it also has negative impacts on human health, as well as the economy.
In addition to plastic waste, carnival celebrations also generate other types of waste, including food waste and paper waste. In many cases, this waste is not properly disposed of, leading to negative impacts on the environment. For example, food waste that is not properly disposed of can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution.
- Waste generation: During Carnival celebrations, there is a significant increase in waste generation. In Brazil, for example, it is estimated that around 625 tons of waste are generated during each day of Carnival.
- Water pollution: In many cities, the use of water during Carnival celebrations leads to an increase in water pollution. In Rio de Janeiro, it is estimated that the amount of pollutants in the Guanabara Bay increases by 70% during Carnival.
- Air pollution: The use of fireworks and the high volume of traffic during Carnival celebrations can lead to an increase in air pollution. In Venice, Italy, for example, it is estimated that air pollution increases by 40% during the Carnival period.
- Carbon emissions: The use of vehicles and the high energy consumption during Carnival celebrations can contribute to carbon emissions. In Rio de Janeiro, it is estimated that the Carnival festivities generate around 11,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year.
To address the environmental impact of carnival celebrations, it is important to consider alternative approaches that prioritize sustainability.
- Use eco-friendly materials for costumes and decorations. Instead of using plastic beads, balloons, and other disposable items, consider using natural materials such as paper, cloth, and biodegradable glitter. You can also create your own costumes and decorations using recycled materials or items you already have at home.
- Choose local and sustainable food and drink options. If you’re hosting a Carnival party or attending a potluck, try to source your food and drink from local and sustainable sources. This can include organic produce, locally raised meat and dairy, and beverages that are made from sustainably-sourced ingredients.
- Use public transportation or carpool to Carnival events. Rather than driving your own car to Carnival celebrations, consider using public transportation, biking, or carpooling with friends or family members. This can help to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, and make the event more enjoyable for everyone.
- Participate in Carnival-themed clean-up events. Many communities organize clean-up events after Carnival celebrations to help remove litter and other waste from the streets and public spaces. Consider volunteering for one of these events or organizing your own clean-up event with friends or family members.
- Be more sustainable traveler, thinking about how to reduce our individual carbon footprints, one of the simplest ways to cut back on emissions is to travel less often. There are ways to make trips more sustainable, including where you go, what you pack and how you decide to get there.
By taking these steps, we can ensure that carnival celebrations are not only enjoyable, but also environmentally responsible.