Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Krewe Of Freret To Ban Plastic Beads During Mardi Gras Starting In 2025

The Krewe of Freret, a Mardi Gras organization, has taken a momentous stance in favor of environmental sustainability, community responsibility, and thought leadership. From 2025 onward, the organization has decided to prohibit the tossing of plastic beads by float riders. Commemorating their 10th parade in 2024, Freret has committed to a decade-long initiative to eliminate over two million potentially harmful beads (equivalent to 301,750+ pounds) and more than 100 thousand single-use plastic wrappers from the delicate New Orleans ecosystem. This endeavor aims to inspire and safeguard the well-being of future generations of Mardi Gras revelers.

Krewe Of Freret To Ban Plastic Beads
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

Traditionally, beads have been the preferred throw choice for parading krewes and their riders, often included in throw packages. However, the Krewe of Freret believes it is time for a change. In 2024, 81% of Freret’s throws demonstrated some level of sustainability, with medallion beads serving a dual purpose as refrigerator magnets for repurposing.

In the upcoming year, 2025, the Krewe is taking a bold step by prohibiting plastic beads. Instead, the focus will be on providing parade-goers with items that are reusable, consumable, and/or handmade, fostering a genuine sense of appreciation. These alternative items may include Freret-branded hats, fanny packs, sunglasses, collapsible dog bowls, coloring books, tote bags, wooden doubloons, and the krewe’s distinctive hand-decorated masks. This commitment reflects the organization’s dedication to a more environmentally conscious and socially responsible Mardi Gras celebration.

Krewe Of Freret To Ban Plastic Beads
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

Make no mistake, this change is inspired by the Freret membership and confirmed by the leadership,” said Freret Captain Bobby Hjortsberg. “So many 2024 riders, both in-person and via our annual survey, requested the removal of plastic beads. This year, we were impacted by unwanted beads and discarded trash blocking our storm drains which caused rainwater to flood our streets. In addition to the ethical environmental stewardship considerations, riders invest substantial amounts of money into what are effectively gifts to parade attendees, and it’s important those gifts continue to be well received by locals and tourists alike for decades to come. Freret, along with our partners, is proud to lead the way. We’re honored to help reduce the environmental impact of Carnival season and increase the resiliency of the magical city of New Orleans.”

With deep ties to the New Orleans music community, the theme of the krewe’s parade is “The Music of New Orleans” and they annually honor local culture-bearers with floats and props designed in their likenesses. Honorees have included Trombone Shorty (whose float boasts the largest animatronic prop in Mardi Gras history), LGBTQ+ icon Big Freedia, hip-hop legend Juvenile, and producer/performance artist Boyfriend who will be taking on the newly created role of “Sustainability Advisor” for the krewe.

Krewe Of Freret To Ban Plastic Beads
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

“We’re already seeing a major shift in the psyche of the modern parade-goer,” said Freret’s new sustainability advisor, Boyfriend. “Cheap plastic beads wind up on the ground or in storm drains, make their way into our water table leeching dangerous chemicals, and are packaged in excessive amounts of single-use plastic that blows off the floats and winds up all over the streets. Freret already reduced the bead count in 2024 replacing them with functional items, and it was clear during my ride that today’s parade-goer is beginning to value quality over quantity – for instance locally sourced items or handmade signature throws. While Mardi Gras will probably never be net-zero, we have a real, disturbing environmental waste problem in New Orleans. It’s time for change and I’m proud to deepen this critical partnership with my krewe to make a lasting impact.”

While Freret will continue to work with current partners to source ample supplies of appropriate throws, they’re calling on the community to voice their opinions and share their connections. Fans can submit their ideas to the krewe as well as join and change the paradigm by visiting their official website.

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Amy Harris
Amy Harris is a writer and photographer who has been traveling for 20 years and flown over 2 million miles to visit over 80 countries on 6 continents. She is a freelance photographer for Invision by Associated Press, AP Images and Rex/Shutterstock. Her work can be seen in various publications and websites including: Rolling Stone, AP Images, National Geographic Books, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Forbes.com, Lonely Planet Travel Guides, JetStar magazine, and Delta Sky Magazine.

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