Gallery: 7 Ways to Revel in an Eco-Friendly Mardi Gras


Make your Own Costume

This is a bit of a Mardi Gras no-brainer. While it's perfectly possible to pick up feathered masquerade headgear around a lot of parades, Mardi Gras is the perfect opportunity to channel your creative side and make a bright, fabulous festive outfit of your own. Dig through your own closet for any big-mistake purchases, embarrassing 80s relics or unwanted hand-me-downs and go to town. Check out thrift stores for gaudy colors and feather boas. If you're feeling ambitious, you can turn your old newspapers into Mardi Gras masks. There are no rules to Mardi Gras costuming, so run wild and reuse.

Recycle your Beads

Mardi Gras ‘throws,’ the trinkets thrown by Krewe members from floats to parade goers, have a pretty rich history. Modern throws however, are largely made up of cheap plastic strings of beads, which end up littering the streets or thrown into trash cans. Some groups have started recycling these beads, such as Arc of Greater New Orleans, who follow parades with their “Catch and Release” float. The group encourages parade-goers to throw their beads back. Arc then sorts and resells the beads to Mardi Gras Krewes, reducing cost for the Krewes and wastage for everyone. The money Arc earns from sales goes directly back to their non-profit work. If you find yourself catching beads in a city where it’s not so easy to recycle, you can always try your hand at recycling them into colorful art work.

Regift Collectable Throws

In amongst the masses of plastic beads, you might be lucky enough to snag some more collectable throws. Traditional glass beads, commemorative doubloons, customized beads, decorated coconuts and all manner of flashing LED toys are just some of the items you might catch — and no, you really don’t need to remove your clothing to get them. If the trinkets aren’t your thing, there’s almost certainly a kid around too short to catch the throws, pass them along to those who’ll enjoy them and they’ll be far less likely to wind up in landfill.

Bring a Reusable Cup

If you’re celebrating Mardi Gras in a City with more liberal open container laws, such as New Orleans, bring your reusable cup. Chances are you’ll patronize more than one bar on your Mardi Gras travels, and while commemorative plastic cups are a treasured throw from various Mardi Gras Krewes, you certainly don’t need to collect (and throw out) a different cup from each bar you visit.

Bring a Reusable Water Bottle

It’s pretty important to stay hydrated through Mardi Gras Festivities, but waiting in line to buy bottles of water is neither environmentally friendly or a fun use of your parade time. Bring a reusable water bottle with you and you’ll be free to focus on the party, plus you’ll be surprised how many establishments provide Cambros of water for you to fill up your container with. It’s free, and often the line is much shorter than the one for more adult beverages.


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