Where to Donate and Recycle Your Mardi Gras Beads

Once Mardi Gras is over, most people have a mountain of beads sitting around their house or vehicle trunk. Bead recycling is becoming more popular each year, which is awesome on so many levels.

Most organizations that accept beads for recycling then get to work cleaning, repairing and reselling the beads for future parades. LARC, an organization based in Lafayette that serves citizens with developmental disabilities and operates Acadian Village, is able to both provide work for these residents and raise funds through bead sales.

While I am sure Tom and the Bayou Vermilion District Operations Crew will be scooping beads out of the Vermilion River for weeks and months to come (a sad reminder that our reveling takes a huge toll on our environment), at least recycling beads will keep them out of our landfill. And because many beads can contain lead, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, it's important to keep them out of landfills.


  • LARC. The Louisiana Association of Retarded Citizens organization collects broken and unbroken Mardi Gras beads of all styles throughout the year. The beads create job opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. They clean and repair the beads for resale in future years through their shop Beads N More. Bring your donations to LARC's facility near Acadian Village.
  • Arc of Acadiana accepts beads year-round. Beads they collect are detangled, sorted, repackaged and resold. The collection provides employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Drop your beads off at one of Arc's retail locations in south Louisiana. If you're riding in a parade next year, shop for your throws at one of Arc of Acadiana's retail stores and close the recycling loop!
Beads were collected in a truck bed during Le Festival De Mardi Gras in Lafayette for donation to LARC.

New Orleans

Many smaller organizations may accept beads for recycling as part of their community service. Schools may also accept smaller amounts for student parades; just inquire before you bring a full box!

You can always take the initiative and collect beads from coworkers and bring them to LARC or any other organization yourself.

You can also package and sell your beads for next year's festivities. There are usually interested buyers on social media. Just donate any broken beads to a nonprofit that will fix them before reselling.
And on the flip side, I love catching beads that have been through the cycle once or twice. Just this year, I caught some years-old New Orleans krewe beads at a parade. Does it really matter if it says 2000 on it? Nope! Because it's still going to get donated back into the stream, and someone will catch the beads again next year, maybe minus the broken pendant.

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