The “Kehrmännchen”, the employees of the Cologne waste management company, do hard work during the carnival session. In 2023, after 85 parades and other fun events in the cathedral city, they collected more than 460 tons of waste from the streets and took most of it to the incineration plant, where it was converted into heat and greenhouse gases. Foolishness and sustainability obviously don’t mix. So far, anyway.

Fastnacht, Mardi Gras, Carnival – the crazy days are all about lavishness and luxury, people want to splurge again before the 40-day Lent begins, as tradition used to demand. Today they are usually a flashy party event with a shop selling costumes, trinkets, sweets, alcohol and music. Nationwide, an estimated turnover of more than 2.7 billion euros is estimated during the foolish period. On average, around 700,000 guests travel from abroad every year to have fun. In view of the climate problems, it’s not just party poopers who are asking: Can we afford so much waste?

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