Recycle your Mardi Gras beads for a good cause

What to do with those Mardi Gras beads?

NEW ORLEANS - Mardi Gras is over, which means some are starting to realize just how many beads and other throws were caught during the parades. Instead of throwing them away or dumping them somewhere, one local organization is encouraging you to give them new life, and donate them.

There are several places collecting whatever Mardi Gras throws one doesn't want, including at St. Thomas. Another place, the ARC of Greater New Orleans, says they hope people will consider donating because it helps clean out one's home and put money back into the community.

Remnants of Carnival can be seen across the city, especially along St. Charles.

"It was amazing," said Alyse Bagley. "It was such a good year."

"Best year ever," added her friend, Kellen Dunaway.

Beads can be seen on the ground, hanging from trees and power lines and are probably filling corners and rooms in peoples' homes.

"Too many to count," said Bagley. "I mean, we have buckets in our house of just beads, purses, shoes, whatever. We just threw it all in a bucket, we didn't even want to look at it."

So what should you do with all the beads caught during Carnival? The ARC of Greater New Orleans says they'll take whatever you have.

"If people knew what a good cause this is, that's what would motivate people to come and donate to us, and to buy from us," said Recycling Coordinator, Margie Perez.

For more than 20 years, the ARC has recycled any beads and throws they can get their hands on.

"If it comes off a float we will get it," said Perez. "I started here about six years ago and we recycled about 50,000 pounds that year. Now we're up to 175,000 pounds and when all is said and done this year, I'm sure we'll have topped 200,000 pounds."

After being collected and sorted, the beads are sold to whoever wants them. All money from the sales, then goes back into the organization.

"The ARC provides services and employment for adults and children with intellectual disabilities," said Perez. "In our building here we employ about 80 people. All of our participants with intellectual disabilities are paid minimum wage or higher, so it's providing employment as well as saving a little spot on the planet and keeping these beads out of the landfills."

Atara McAvoy is one of many already dropping off loot.

"It looked like a float just dumped its insides into my house," she said.

Each year, she says her family sorts through everything they caught, keeping the ones special to them, and then donating the rest.

"It's a good cause," she said. "It helps you do something positive with it instead of dumping it in the trash or letting it sit in your attic forever."

For many it's a win-win, because ultimately it helps keep the good times rolling for all year after year.

"Mardi Gras can definitely be a little wasteful," said Dunaway. "So it's really important, I think, to reuse the beads every year and kind of recycle and have that green aspect to it."

On Saturday March 4, 2017, an Uber driver will come to your house, pick up bags of beads or throws and deliver them directly to a local Arc donation center for free.

Here's how it works.
1. You will need to bag up the beads you want to donate.
2. Open the app from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 4th.
3. Slide over to the "recycle" view and hit request.
4. An SUV will pick up your items and drop-off your donation to a local Arc of Greater New Orleans donation center.

Organizers say Uber drivers can't leave vehicles unattended so they ask you bring your bagged beads out to meet your driver when they arrive.

For seasonal, permanent and other local drop-off sites, click here.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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