Saturday, February 11, 2012

Show me your beads ...

New Orleans is much like a first love ... once under its spell - no matter how brief the encounter or how long ago, it will always hold a special place in your heart. It's a place where every passion can be explored, and there's no time when those passions run deeper than during Mardi Gras.

Beads grace the wrought iron fences along Mardi Gras parade routes. Image via Recycle Scene.

This year Mardi Gras events and parades run from 4-21 February. But, what to do with what's left after the revelry? Well, the City of New Orleans and several of its local non-profit organizations have created recycling programs for all of those plastic beads and parade throws.

Image via AOL News.

What was once consider post-party trash is now a valuable program that creates opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities through the recycling program established by the Arc of Greater New Orleans. ARC cleans, packages and sells the donated beads and other throws which have become colorful materials for crafters and artists everywhere.

Image via The Beading Gem's Journal.

New Orleans doorways are festively adorned with beautiful wreaths during Mardi Gras. More and more of these decorative wreaths are crafted out of recycled beads collected following prior celebrations. 


Image via Galeria Alegria.

Spared from the landfill, beads have become impressive works of art in the hands of artists like Stephan Wanger (above). He has used millions of recycled Mardi Gras beads to create stunning mosaics that are favorites with collectors from New Orleans to New Dehli.  

Image via Shop Green New Orleans

Artists Mark Kirk and Heather MacFarlane turn trash to treasure by melting and manipulating the iconic beads into masked light sconces sold at their Magazine Street store aptly named, Unique Products.


Image via Great Green Goods.

Great Green Goods featured the recycled bead lamps above. How cool are these?

I really appreciate celebration planners and city leaders that make a conscience effort to minimize the environmental impact of their events. See, it's just another reason to love The Big Easy!

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