EDITORIAL: Time to retire the beads and throw sustainable

Kloe Witt, Breaking News Editor

The 2023 Mardi Gras season has come to a close, so as we hang up our beads and finish the last bites of our king cake, we need to have a discussion about the lasting effects of wasteful throws during the parade season.

The City of New Orleans reported that last year, in the span of 11 days, 1,150 tons of Mardi Gras trash was collected. As climate change continues to wreak havoc on our ecosystems, environmental concerns grow. Heavy waste-producing events, like Mardi Gras, need to find ways to reduce their overall carbon footprint, and the best way to start is by providing more sustainable throws during parades.

Sustainable throws are throws that have more purposeful uses than that of beads and light-up bouncy balls. These are items someone wouldn’t throw away after catching, meaning fewer items would go to waste each year.

Grounds Krewe is a local nonprofit on Magazine Street dedicated to promoting waste prevention, recycling, and sustainable throws during Mardi Gras. They have an interactive marching krewe, “Trashformers,” which goes around the French Quarter and encourages people to recycle their aluminum cans and plastic bottles while also selling sustainable throws for float riders.

More krewes should take a piece from Krewe of Iris, who provided a bunch of these sustainable throws taken from Ground Krewe’s sustainable throw catalog this season.

At Loyola, small efforts are being made. Bead recycling buckets have been placed around the dorm buildings by the Student Government Association’s sustainability committee to collect unwanted beads.

As for the city, there were recycling stations around the parade routes this year, according to the City of New Orleans website. There were four stationary recycling hubs for cans, beads, and glass collection between Napoleon Avenue and Poydras Avenue, as well as ten “Can Stations” for aluminum can collection between Napoleon Avenue and Louisiana Avenue.

And while recycling stations and donation bins help to combat the extensive waste of Mardi Gras, it’s simply not enough.

As a city, it is our responsibility to take care of the streets that we are privileged to stand along every year during Mardi Gras.

By being proactive in making efforts before the start of parade season, instead of being reactive and focusing only on efforts in the aftermath, we can make a greater difference.

Sustainable throws are just one example of being proactive.

People are more likely to take the throws provided by Grounds Krewe home with them and use them until the next Mardi Gras season, rather than other throws like plastic beads that can be easily broken and tossed away or items wrapped in plastic bags that are left discarded on the ground never to be used again.

Mardi Gras is about letting the good times roll but if we want to keep letting them roll, we need to be more responsible with our waste. Beads may be a tradition dating back to the 1800s, but times are changing. And so is our environment. Mardi Gras needs to change with it. If we want Mardi Gras to continue for decades to come, sustainable throws must be made a priority.