Urban Conservancy’s Future of Mardi Gras Forum

The Urban Conservancy and a broad coalition of stakeholders including riding and marching Krewe members, throw vendors, Mardi Gras Indians, Baby Dolls, city staff, and nonprofits participated in “The Future of Mardi Gras” Forum on October 18th, 2018.

The UC’s Future of Mardi Gras Forum was an opportunity for “parade goers and parade throwers” to come together to brainstorm about everything from waste reduction along parade routes to locally made throws, and leave inspired to start new Mardi Gras traditions that will make their Carnival experience even better. While the spirit of carnival season is all about letting the good times roll,  we continue to look to each other for inspired ways we can do just that without trashing the city we live in and love.

This community conversation acknowledges that Mardi Gras is one of the key economic drivers of the city, and one that also has an enormous environmental impact. 


Future of Mardi Gras Forum

Where: Carver Theater, 2101 Orleans Ave.

When: Thursday, October 18, 2018

Schedule of Events

5:30 – 6:00 PM Doors open; Networking

6:00 – 7:15 PM  Panel discussion moderated by Errol Laborde

7:15 – 9:00 PM Interactive roundtables; Mardi Gras services/products expo 


More Details

Moderated Panel

A discussion on tradition and innovation in Mardi Gras; What is your ideal Mardi Gras? Hosted by Errol Laborde with District B Councilmember Jay H. Banks (and past Zulu King); Judy Boudreaux (Threaux, Inc.); Antoinette de Alteriis (Costume Director of the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc and the President of the Gulf Coast International Costumers Guild); and John Magill (noted author and Mardi Gras historian).

Round Tables

Tables hosted by topic area experts to share ideas and take action. Table topics and lead facilitators are:

Mardi Gras Civics (Dana Eness): How do the various parts of city government that help Mardi Gras happen operate? How do sanitation, permitting and parade fees work? How do Krewes organize and operate?
Waste Reduction and Prevention (Brett Davis): How can the public and businesses along the parade routes and Krewes be better stewards of our streets? What options and ideas are out there for throw and disposable waste prevention and recycling?

Crafting in Community (Antoinette de Alteriis): Krewes as maker spaces- How do groups create sustainable, repurposed, upcycled, and unique items that express their identity and message with minimal packaging? How has this changed the face of Mardi Gras? How does this translate to a year-round fostering of community and creativity? Can this be scaled up to encompass the larger Mardi Gras experience?

Off the Beaten Path: Neighborhood Traditions (Cherice Harrison-Nelson): What shared challenges can be tackled together by those participating in traditions which don’t include throws but are the product parade goers are coming for (walking/dancing Krewes including marching bands, social aid and pleasure clubs, Baby Dolls, Mardi Gras Indians, and others)?
Open Discussion (Marla Nelson): What topics are not covered by the other round tables? Proliferation of Mardi Gras ladders and other “reservations” on public space for personal use? Parade routes? Bead toxicity? Everything is on the table here!

Learn about the latest in Mardi Gras-related goods and services, including “Mardi Gras throws worth catching.”



LCI Workers Comp, WWNO, Grounds Krewe, Krewe Delusion, The Okra Inn

Collaborators and Expo Vendors

Life City, No Waste NOLA, Atlas Handmade Beads, Sierra Club, Arc GNO, Republic Services, 3D Beads, Throw Me Something Green, NOLA Craft Culture, Bayou Throws, No Straws NOLA, The New Orleans Costume Center, Elektra Cosmetics, Gilda’s SHUZ Suite



Update 3

Feb 2019

The Grounds Krewe has partnered with Entergy, Urban Conservancy, Republic Services, and ArcGNO to organize its second annual “on the route” throw and disposable waste recycling program!

Click here be a volunteer during the Muses parade this carnival season.

Update 2

Nov 2018

by Jesse Baum

Uptown Messenger (November 5, 2018)

Parade throws, one the biggest draws of the Carnival season, have become one of its biggest sources of controversy, with a growing push to move Mardi Gras away from the waste and excess symbolized by the all the plastic beads filling our streets and catch basins after every parade.

An Urban Conservancy conference held at the historic Carver Theater on Oct. 18 was titled “The Future of Mardi Gras.” Its focus was on sustainability and culture; panelists and environmental advocates discussed how to return the focus to the local artistry that creates Mardi Gras’ most memorable floats, throws and costumes.

Read the full article.

Update 1

Oct 2018

The historic Carver Theater on Orleans Avenue was the venue Oct. 18, 2018, where eclectic groups of people shared their passion for Mardi Gras traditions and concerns about how to make the biggest free party on Earth more Earth-friendly. Urban Conservancy director Dana Eness and co-host Brett Davis with Grounds Krewe led discussions around recylable throws (ARC of Greater New Orleans began recycling beads last year and needs more volunteers to help sort and expand); biodegradable materials, including glitter and paints; beads created from recycled magazines; and education for krewes and the public about how  they can change the throw-away culture.


Full article

Future of Mardi Gras Forum Report

On Wednesday, September 12, 2018, over 300 community members attended the Future of Mardi Gras forum. Attendees were asked to fill out a brief survey about their current participation and future vision for Carnival, and 76 did so. Read the full Mardi Gras Forum Report.


2013 Bead Toxicity Report

The Chemical Hazards in Mardi Gras Beads & Holiday Beaded Garlands Full Report



Sustainable Mardi Gras Beads

Atlas Handmade Beads featured on WWL | 2/21/19

Throw Me Something Green!

In this Carnival Edition of New Orleans Magazine, Ashley McLellan and Theresa Cassagne showcase three companies providing eco-friendly Mardi Gras initiatives.

Biodegradable Mardi Gras beads face cost hurdle

The Advocate gets us familiar with the latest developments in biodegradable bead technology by scientists and professors at LSU.

Recycling program returns to Uptown parade route for Mardi Gras 2019

Kevin Allman spotlights the recycling efforts of the Young Leadership Council and the Arc of Greater New Orleans in this Gambit article.

Can Mardi Gras value artistry over excess?

Read Jesse Baum’s coverage of the forum in the Uptown Messenger here.

Melinda Shelton covered the forum for nola.com and got some great photos of our vendors.

Future of Mardi Gras Forum