NOLA’s streets were empty for 2021’s Mardi Gras, reinforcing the importance of achieving a sustainable Carnival season.
New Orleans is usually covered in glitter, beads and party leftovers during Carnival season. The ongoing pandemic led to heavy restrictions over the holiday. This resulted in many locals having a lowkey year, and a rethink about the excess that comes with Mardi Gras.
There was a four-month cleanup of storm drains along a Downtown Mardi Gras parade route in 2018. It resulted in the recovery of 7.2 million pounds of trash. According to Reuters, 93,000 of that waste was Carnival beads.
Reminders like this have inspired many NOLA residents to come up with ways to promote a more sustainable Mardi Gras. A great example of this would be Naohiro Kato, who invented biodegradable Mardi Gras beads in 2019. Even though Kato’s invention is still a prototype, there are plenty of other methods for a green Carnival.
— LSU Innovation (@LSUInnovation) February 7, 2018
Another example would be Grounds Krewe. A NOLA based non-profit dedicated to helping New Orleans special events reduce waste, improve efficiency and lower their impact on our planet. They are selling beads which are biodegradable and reusable. Made from coffee beans, red beans, and a mix of jambalaya beans. After the celebrations, you can cook and eat your Mardi Gras swag.
There are so many other ways that the city is changing to make Carnival season more sustainable. Finding unique and creative ways to make beads seems to be the go-to. But even though there are so many amazing alternatives, you never know who’s going to throw beads at you at Mardi Gras, or what material they’ll be made out of. So it’s vitally important that you recycle your beads after the celebrations.
ArcGNO are an organization that collect used Mardi Gras beads, and repackage them for future Carnivals. Their staff are indivitudals with intellectual disabilities, with their mission to empower these people through work and community.
Featured Image: @410inthe504 via Instagram