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Mississippi Aquarium launches recycling drive for Mardi Gras beads

Photo courtesy of the Mississippi Aquarium

With nearly two weeks remaining until the end of the Mardi Gras season, the Mississippi Aquarium is partnering with the Arc of Greater New Orleans to recycle this year’s collection of beads.

In 2022, Mississippi Aquarium collected over 10,000 pounds of beads, which were repurposed and resold to reduce litter and contamination of the coast’s waters.

According to a Journal of Environmental Protection study, 51 percent of beaded necklaces had bromine greater than 10,000 ppm, and 27 percent had between 1000 and 10,000 ppm.

“Mardi Gras beads are plastic, and plastic is not benign; it is loaded with chemicals like bromine and chlorine as well as heavy metals like lead,” Elizabeth Englebretson of Plastic Free Gulf Coast said. “When Mardi Gras beads end up as litter in our environment, these chemicals leach into the soil and the water. The Gulf of Mexico has some of the highest microplastic concentrations globally. We must do everything we can to stop plastic from entering our waterways.”

Community partners this year are Mississippi Power, Beau Rivage, D’Iberville High School’s Eco Warriors Club, MGCCC, The 334th TRS at Keesler Air Force Base, Plastic Free Gulf Coast, and MSU Coastal Research and Extension Center.

Beads will be collected from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. daily until March 22, where they will be taken to Arc of Greater New Orleans to be recycled. The recycling bins are located at the aquarium’s ticketing plaza and in front of the security office on 22nd Avenue in Gulfport.

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