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New Orleans Struggles to Deal with Trash; Mardi Gras Makes Situation Worse

The Carnival season has drawn thousands of people to the streets of New Orleans over the past week.

The celebrations wrap up Tuesday, the day before the Christian Lent period of fasting, which in New Orleans carries the French name Mardi Gras.

New Orleans is a city struggling with trash.

Nearly six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated much of the city, people are still trying to clean out homes and businesses.

Mardi Gras festivities produce even more trash.

In an effort to keep the refuse under control, hundreds of volunteers have taken to the streets with plastic bags donated by Mardi Gras sponsor, the Glad Products Company, which manufactures the heavy-duty plastic bags called ForceFlex bags. (Glad is a subsidiary of the Clorox Company).

New Orleans native David Freidler is Director of Marketing for Glad Forceflex bags.

"When the Mardi Gras program came to us, we immediately jumped on board for the opportunity to take part in rebuilding this great city. Following Hurricane Katrina, Glad ForceFlex donated well over 1.2 million bags to the cleanup efforts to New Orleans and the Gulf coast. Starting today, we will be contributing over another 150,000 bags to make sure this is a safe, happy and clean Mardi Gras season."

This is the first time in its 150 year history that the New Orleans Mardi Gras has had a corporate sponsor.

City officials sought sponsors because New Orleans is essentially broke and needed help to get the event off the ground. The city would have liked more than one sponsor, but in the aftermath of Katrina there was little time to put a program together.

Ernest Collins, Director of Arts and Entertainment for the City of New Orleans, say this was a good start. "We were a little disappointed with the result, we only have one sponsor, however we still feel it is a strong brand, New Orleans and Mardi Gras, a very powerful brand. The biggest lesson we learned was to start earlier and we will have much better results next time around."

In this case, the corporate sponsor's contribution went well beyond a cash donation and meshed well with ongoing efforts by volunteer citizens' groups to clean up the streets.

Volunteer Debra English says she was happy to don the Glad tee shirt and do her part to pick up trash. "I had the morning free and what better way to spend my time than to help my city, in a very small way, but if we all do that, that is great."

And volunteers say they don't mind doing their work in the Glad company tee shirts, thereby serving as advertising platforms for the Mardi Gras sponsor.