Let’s all do our part to be more sustainable during carnival season!
During an anticipated season of excess, is it a total bummer to be thinking about sustainability and the environment? ricRACK doesn’t think so! This year local designers & sewists created functional throws repurposed from textiles utilizing off-cuts from old Mardi Gras float rider tunics and other fabric scraps. ricRACK collaborated with several krewes to design unique throws and highlight the myriad of ways there are to repurpose textiles and scraps while creating your own signature throw or carnival costume. This project is supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council.
If you catch any handmade throws, please use #throwmesomethinghandmade when you share them online to help spread the message that a more sustainable carnival season is valued & possible.
2023’s Designers & Sewists:
2023’s Krewe Partners/Parades:
Chewbacchus subkrewe Brainiacs
Krewe of Green Beans
Made possible with support from:
What if we prioritized reusability over cheap plastic beads? Utilization over mass consumption? Handmade over mass produced?
ricRACK plays a major part in growing the next generation’s artistry, independence, and environmental consciousness – stitch by stitch. Before ricRACK, no organization in New Orleans was focused on waste reduction and skill building with textiles and we’re excited to extend that mission into helping create a more sustainable Mardi Gras.
“This is ricRACK’s second year creating handmade throws for Mardi Gras, and it’s incredibly empowering to see so many more folks willing to engage in the conversation this year. It was an honor to partner with cultural institutions like Ashè and icons like DJ Soul Sister to get the word out about the value of a handmade throw. Speaking with the art and environmental science students at Sacred Heart during their Cardnival workshop made it clear that the younger generation is actively ushering in change. It is my hope we are collectively participating in a vital shift toward less waste and trash during Carnival season.”
- Executive Director, Lizz Freeman
In 2017 crews working under a $7 million emergency contract pulled 93,000 pounds of Mardi Gras beads - more than 46 tons - from clogged catch basins on St. Charles between Poydras Street and Harmony Circle.
Plastic beads haven’t always been a part of Mardi Gras. Some may not be aware that the entire lifecycle of a strand of Mardi Gras beads is bad for the earth. The beads are born in an oil field before being transformed into plastic. From there they are shipped to a factory in China and created through exploited labor practices. Purchased for pennies, the beads are then shipped to New Orleans where 25 million pounds of them will be tossed from a float. The majority of them end up in a clogged storm drain or are eventually discarded into landfills, releasing toxins all along the way.
In 2022, with support from the community, ricRACK diverted more than 30,000 pounds of textiles from the landfills. This Carnival season, the organization is encouraging New Orleanians to continue to shift the focus from cheap plastics to reusability and functionality. Handmade/Repurposed/Upcycled throws will never be as cheap to make, but valuing the labor it takes to sew and create is another one of the organization’s goals. Each year, more and more creative thinkers and artists are coming together to problem solve ways to make an impact on waste reduction during Mardi Gras and ricRACK hopes to encourage everyone to take the pledge to participate in a more sustainable Mardi Gras in 2023 and beyond.
Other Inspiring New Orleans organizations and business doing their part: