NEW ORLEANS — A handful of New Orleans Mardi Gras krewes are now doing their part to keep Carnival debris out of the city drainage system.
Bacchus is one of them.
The super-krewe known for its colorful floats, celebrity kings and popular throws, is cutting way back on the number of plastic beads riders will throw this year.
"We're looking to reduce waste," Bacchus Board Member George Schiaffino said. "We're actually throwing half the number of beads than we threw in previous years. We have 5 floats this year that are throwing no beads at all."
Recently, crews pulled about 96 tons of beads and Carnival debris out of the storm drains along St. Charles Avenue between Lee Circle and Poydras Street.
City leaders have been encouraging more Carnival parades to go green to help keep catch basins from getting clogged.
"That's a great way to help with the environment, to help reduce the cost of the cleanup and certainly reduce the amount of items that go into landfills," New Orleans Sanitation Director Cynthia Sylvain-Lear.
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To that end, instead of beads, Bacchus will be throwing reusable items people will actually want to keep.
Riders will be throwing more toys, kitchen utensils and silicone wine glasses.
Even the Bacchus medallions you catch are reusable.
"We're doing a Wild West theme, but when the parade is over, you'll be able to take the bead off and use your medallion as a refrigerator magnet," Schiaffino said.
Riders are also throwing 10,000 t-shirts and pairs of socks.
You may be able to go home with a Bacchus cowboy hat if you're lucky.
The krewe is also recycling the boxes the throws are shipped in.
"In previous years we've had to throw away all of our cardboard," Schioffino said. "This year, we've filled twelve dumpsters with cardboard that's going to recycling."
Sylvain-Lear is encouraging everyone to do their part along the parade route by bagging up their trash and recycling their beads.
"That would help with the efficiency of the cleanup and it would reduce the volume of litter that goes down storm drains or that blows into other areas of the neighborhood," Sylvain-Lear said.
So what's next for Bacchus.
The krewe is now looking for ways to recycle the packing material from all of its Mardi Gras throws.