Project: Building a Culture of Creative Reuse

Hailey Allison is the Executive Director of the Green Project, a New Orleans-based environmental non-profit focused on reducing landfill waste and cultivating a respect for the value of existing materials. Hailey currently serves on the Regional Sustainability Committee and works to educate residents about waste, recycling and reducing consumption. She holds a degree in Environmental Studies, a minor in Multimedia Communication and is a former Céline Cousteau Film Fellow.


By building upon cultural values, I hope to change the way New Orleans and its visitors view sustainability. New Orleans takes pride in its music- and art-focused culture and visitors come to experience just that. This project aims to reduce plastic waste at the city’s 130 annual festivals by making reusable, stainless steel cups a coveted collector’s item, much like festival posters, t-shirts and souvenirs.
I’ll work with festival planners to brand such cups with the work of local artists and incentivize festival-goers to use them in exchange for a discount on beverage purchases.

Altogether, this project will reduce plastic waste, uplift local artists, and replace wasteful souvenirs with one-of-a-kind, useful, and highly recyclable products. It combats climate change by reducing plastic consumption, waste and litter while simultaneously connecting people to sustainability through culture. Many people don’t have an innate connection to environmentalism, so environmental messages can easily get lost in jargon framed for those with a baseline knowledge and interest. It eclipses an entire population of people who might be interested, but don’t identify with the movement because they can’t see themselves in it. By capitalizing on existing cultural values, I believe we can engage far more global citizens.

Plastic waste is abundant globally and my city of New Orleans is particularly inundated in both the industry and in consuming single use plastic. Between Mardi Gras, countless festivals and tourism, we create an unparalleled amount of plastic cups, bags, beads, souvenirs. Too often, these items overfill
trash cans and flow into streets, storm drains, bayous and eventually the Gulf Coast. Furthermore, recycling is challenging here—it is not available everywhere and municipal services only accept two types of plastic. Fortunately, we can eliminate this problem altogether by building a culture of reuse in the community, starting with reusable cups.


"It’s quite simple—we have one Earth. Once destroyed, it’s gone forever. I’m motivated by the fact that humanity will thrive once we re-define our relationship with nature, seeing ourselves as a part of it rather than owners of it. Every piece of the global ecosystem is tied to one another, including us. This creates a balance. If one piece falls out of place, another moves in to rebalance. Through this,  ecosystems create resilience—the ability to adapt quickly in the face of change. Sustainability maintains such resilience, keeping ecosystems in balance for years to come—a beautiful thing."