Mardi Gras throws are usually the one part of parades you can take home. For people like Katrina Brees, the throws should be memorable and from her perspective, sustainable.
"So many of these beads that are being tossed during Mardi Gras are coming from China. Those beads are not environmentally friendly, they're not New Orleans and we can do something about that," said Brees.
I Heart Louisiana, Brees' boutique company, is dedicated to making sustainable Mardi Gras stuff. Brees says her throws are hand crafted, made with recycled materials and have more features than the more ubiquitous Mardi Gras beads.
"I believe we're bringing a deeper connection, we're also bringing a much higher quality product," said Brees.
It's part of the reason why the newly formed Krewe of Freret is partnering with Brees and her company for its first parade. Bobby Hjortsberg is the co-captain of the Krewe. He says its signature throw will be handmade Mardi Gras masks. Many of those masks were hand made by a network of kids in the Entrepreneur Art Club at the Freret Neighborhood Center. Hjortsberg said the Krewe wants to parade goers to embrace the essence of Mardi Gras. By tossing throws they believe people actually would keep, Hjortsberg says makes the Carnival experience more enjoyable.
"These cheap beads we usually see, what are we doing here? We're throwing you just tons of these plastic beads off of floats, and a lot of times you look at people and they're dodging, they don’t' want to catch them, it's just not something people are interested in. These masks and these throws we have are beautiful. It's something you would go out of your way to catch," said Hjortsberg.
Katrina Brees has created other "greener" throws. One throw is print of Nelson Mandela which Brees says will be featured in the Krewe of Zulu's parade. There are coloring, books, mustaches, and painted oyster shells as well. The sustainable theme goes beyond throws. Brees has also created what she calls "art bikes". Forged from recycled tricycles and other materials. Sporting large heads of creatures on wheels, they can be foot powered mini-floats. They'll be riding in the Krewe of Muses.
In a city that puts so much stock in being local, it would seem these locally sourced and locally made throws will be coveted. The Krewe of Freret will find out on Saturday when it rolls for the first time. Hjortsberg says while it took over the name of the former Krewe of Freret, the Krewe of 2014 is no reincarnation of the old one. That’s certainly true when it comes to its throws.