Feb 6, 2024 - Mardi Gras

How to recycle Mardi Gras beads in New Orleans

A hand holds up a small brown bag of jambalaya mix labeled with Iris.

The Krewe of Iris threw bags of jambalaya mix in 2023. Photo: Chelsea Brasted/Axios

With each passing year, we're getting a little bit better at making Mardi Gras in New Orleans greener.

Why it matters: We've got enough problems on our hands without clogging more storm drains and increasing our plastic usage.

  • Plus, reusable and edible throws are just more fun, right?

What's happening: Various krewes are rolling out new alternatives to plastic beads this year, including Muses, which is bringing back its dish towels, beanie hats, lunchbox coolers and socks, plus adding in others, like a nightlight.

  • Rex will also be tossing reusable metal cups this year.

Yes, and: New Orleans will also have recycling centers along the parade route, so you can drop throws before even loading them into your car.

  • Spot the recycling centers on RouteWise or NOLAReady.
  • REALCYCLE also launches a pilot program to pick up aluminum cans along the Uptown route on Muses Thursday. Look for drop-off spots on the neutral ground.

You can also donate beads to The Arc of Greater New Orleans year-round.

  • The organization creates jobs for adults with developmental disabilities and sells resorted and repackaged beads for reuse.
  • See their drop-off locations.

The bottom line: The annual tradition is incredibly wasteful, but every greener option makes a little difference.

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