This Louisiana Aquarium Is Collecting Mardi Gras Beads for a Good Cause
Now that the dust of another successful Mardi Gras season has started to settle, so too have the beads. Lots and lots of beads.
Fortunately, there are a number of organizations looking to take them off your hands. Shreveport Aquarium is one of them, and they’ll even give you something free in return.
All of the beads collected by the Shreveport Aquarium will be donated to ArcGNO, a New Orleans non-profit that provides wage-paying jobs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Participants sort and process donated beads and throws, which are then resold to Mardi Gras krewes to be reused the following year.
Senior aquarist Kala Leyden told KSLA that in addition to helping the disabled, the drive helps raise awareness about the importance of keeping waterways clean for animals.
“Not only are we giving back to the community, we are also keeping these beads from entering our waterways,” she said. “So, think of all the fun throws that get thrown around (during) Mardi Gras season, and it’s a great time, but what happens to all of that after the parade is over?”
Unfortunately, discarded beads can make their way into storm drains, which empty into Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River, and ultimately, into the Gulf of Mexico. Not only are they not biodegradable, but the metals they contain put fish and other marine life at risk for lead and cadmium poisoning.
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According to Leyden, ArcGNO was able to recycle 173 tons of beads last year. She hopes to help them increase that number this year.
The bead recycling drive will wrap up at the end of this month. Visit ArcGNO.org for more information.