Often referred to as “America’s biggest party,” Mardi Gras is celebrated annually in the birthplace of jazz- New Orleans.
This year, the party is Tuesday, February 21.
A time of merriment, Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday,” which refers to the tradition of eating rich, fatty foods on Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent.
With its infectious sound of marching bands, the streets are awash with party revelers spilling on to the streets of New Orleans with the tradition of watching parades, as large decorative floats with riders dressed in colorful and wacky costumes fling an estimated 25 million pounds of plastic beads to the crowds below.
But the non-profit, Arc of Greater New Orleans will have their hands full after the party revelers retreat and the annual celebration ends, when eco-conscious volunteers take to the streets of New Orleans and begin collecting millions of decorative beads that have found their way on to the streets and sidewalks of the various parade routes.
Typically, the discarded petroleum-based plastic beads eventually land in overburdened landfills.
Because traditional recycling centers do not accept the beads, the Metarie, Louisiana based non-profit rounds up the beads, recycles and resells them for next year’s carnival, with the profits going towards the larger mission of helping those people who are mentally challenged.
With the goal of keeping the beads out of landfills, the program which is growing in popularity, sold 100,000 pounds of recycled beads last year.
Jumping on the eco-conscious bandwagon, other bead recycling efforts in recent years have been made, such as setting out bead collection bins along the various parade routes.