For the annual Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans, an estimated 25 million pounds of Mardi Gras beads are used -- but only 2% are recycled. We all know it's time for a change -- for us to commit to reducing the waste generated during the celebration while also producing a profit for the local community. Last fall, I was an advisor on a business competition to green Mardi Gras. It was great to hear innovative ideas shared in our community. New Orleans has a long way to go to achieve a truly green Mardi Gras, but with exciting new entrepreneurs and nonprofits eagerly tackling the challenge, we now envision a day in the not-to-distant future when "The Greatest Free Show on Earth" becomes "The Greatest Sustainable Show on Earth."
There are also a lot of local artisans and merchants doing their own small part to help. Here are a few:
Up/Unique Products: Artists create wall hangings, lights, and other items using discarded beads.
St. Michael Special School, Joy Center: Adults with special needs re-package beads for use in future parades.
ARC of Greater New Orleans: Adults with special needs re-package beads for use in future parades.
Magnolia School: Artwork is created using recycled beads by adults with special needs.