This Mardi Gras, riders will be throwing small jute sacks chock full of either Camellia Brand red beans, New Orleans dark roast coffee, or Jambalaya Girl rice mix as an alternative to plastic beads.
According to Krewe of Cleopatra rider Becca Fox, the idea behind the food packs is to throw something memorable, rather than the same old strands of beads that get stuck in the city's storm drains every year post-Mardi Gras. Not only are they memorable, but the packs will help to reduce the environmental toll that Mardi Gras takes on the city of New Orleans. The packs will allow locals and visitors alike to actually use what they catch at a parade, rather than let it go to waste like so much of the plastic has in the past.
New Orleans native Brett Davis founded Krewe Grounds, a nonprofit organization, with the intent of creating alternatives to standard plastic throws. In 2018, Davis started a volunteer recycling collection drive. A grant from Entergy and a partnership with Arc of Greater New Orleans helped kickstart the effort. Part of Davis' mentality was to replace unwanted items with more desirable ones, rather than just recycling them. Not only are rice, beans, and coffee abundant in Lousiana, but the Southern staples are cost-competitive and central to our city's culture.
The palm-sized packs consist of sealed packets of rice, beans, or coffee stuffed into jute bags, which is a highly renewable and eco-friendly material. The packs sell for the price of $2 apiece.