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Plastic beads may be disappearing from Mardi Gras

By: Don Loepp

June 11, 2013

Look out, plastics industry. There's a movement afoot to clean up the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, and the target is close to your heart.

Plastic beads have been a fixture in Mardi Gras parades for years. New Orleans krewes toss the cheap, colorful trinkets to the appreciative crowds.

But in this age of sustainability, it looks like the tradition is nearing an end.

A few years ago I started to see stories about recycling the beads. In 2008, I even wrote a blog post on the topic, "After Mardi Gras, don't toss the beads."

Now some of the krewes are talking about doing away with the beads altogether.

The Uptown Messenger is reporting that the Krewe of Freret is considering giving away "more unique, locally-made (and locally-purchased) throws that people may find more desirable" instead of plastic beads. ["Krewe of Freret considering 'ban' on plastic beads for 2014 parade."]

The beads are made in China and have little benefit to the economy of New Orleans, co-captain Bobby Hjortsberg told the newspaper, and "many local parade-goers don't even bother to pick them up or take them home any more."

Judging from the reader comments on the story, the decision to abandon plastic beads may not be universally popular. Could it be that Mardi Gras isn't ready to be politically correct?