When I was 14, I met a boy from New Orleans. We were pen pals for a while, and one of the things he sent me was a few strands of beads from Mardi Gras. I had no idea how all-encompassing Mardi Gras was. But now, I know that it’s not for the faint of heart. Beads are a big deal, and they’re pervasive.
Krewes throughout New Orleans have been working for months on their parades. Some krewes have been doing this for more than a century, some are new to the game. For all of them, it’s about showing the city (and the gazillions of tourists) what their krewe has accomplished. And, of course, the beads. I’ve been thinking about the beads my friend sent me. He said he had dozens of strands, just from that year alone. I thought that was pretty cool way back in the day, but eventually, my Plastic Aversion found the flotsam and jetsam of plastic left behind disturbing. There are trees that have beads flung up into their branches, and there are crews who’s sole job it is to remove the beads flung up into the trees, which are then recycled and made available (whatever that means). The circle of beaded life at Mardi Gras.
Still, single use plastic things are anathema to good environmental citizenship. And Mardi Gras produces a huge tsunami of single use plastic things, of which beads are most definitely a part. Apparently, I’m not the only one who has Plastic Aversion, there are artists who create murals from the discarded beads. I was excited to see their work. There are massive record-breaking murals constructed of cast-off beads. And thanks to the magic of Pinterest, there are all kinds of murals you can copy from a garden stepping stone to an 8×8 wall.
This Mardi Gras, may I not be cavalier about the waste left behind because of my actions. May I always be on the lookout for ways to mitigate my resource consumption.