The southern coast of Louisiana has lost areas of coastline equivalent to the size of Delaware as beaches and marshes erode away into the sea. Some environmentalists have a novel solution in the form of New Orleans’ party culture.
Tulane students Franziska Trautmann and Max Steitz saw the vast amounts of glass bottles produced by a night of partying in New Orleans and wondered: Could those bottles be used to restore coastlines? The pair has now founded Glass Half Full, a grassroots organization that takes glass bottles and blasts them back into sand to restore the state’s coastline.
Trautmann and Steitz were inspired by similar initiatives in New Zealand and Florida, so they raised $20,000 for the start-up’s initial costs through a GoFundMe campaign. The team is still in the process of gaining permission to dump their newly-formed glass onto state beaches, but so far, they’ve collected 650,000 pounds of glass from the community.
Once the sand undergoes environmental impact reports and is deemed safe for use, Glass Half Full hopes to use it to first restore Lincoln Beach, a historically Black beach on Lake Pontchartrain left in disrepair after desegregation. In the meantime, the organization has been using its sand to fill bags for hurricane protection to protect homes and businesses from flooding.
Beaches and marshes are Louisiana’s primary defense against storm surges, and as climate change intensifies these phenomena, the restoration of these coastlines becomes even more critical. We will continue to follow this story and hope to see Glass Half Full’s sand in action in the near future.