Mardi Gras Goes Green and Global: Atlas handmade beads builds a relationship between Uganda and New Orleans

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
Data pix.

NEW ORLEANS --  In Uganda, several groups of women are in the Mardi Gras spirit as they hand craft recycled material to make beads that are heading straight to New Orleans.

This is all thanks to Kevin Fitzwilliam who started the organization called "Atlas Handmade Beads," with a goal of helping the city with waste reduction following carnival season.

"You'd be hard pressed to find someone who hasn't at least heard about the topic of the affect of plastic waste in the storm drains or the plastic waste in the trash," says Kevin.

After contacting different countries to learn about other alternatives to plastic beads, he formed a relationship with the Ugandan people.

Several groups of women work with a biodegradable material that helps form the beads.

"The ladies cut strips of magazine paper, coil those on a pin, and that is finished with a little bit of glue to keep it together. Then, it's hung on the nylon string for the finished product,"  Kevin explains.

Kevin says their partnership has many benefits not only on the home front but also in their local community.

"It's allowing them to buy medication. It's allowing them to send their children to school. It's improving their housing, so you're having a direct impact on ladies lives," says Kevin.

The ARC of greater New Orleans also jumped on board with the idea of going green.

They sell Atlas beads in their own store of re-purposed throws.

So, just one purchase can make Mardi Gras, mighty green.

"A lot of people have stopped going to a high number of parades, because they almost feel burdened by the amount of stuff that they get, but when they catch something special it's that moment that you have between the rider and the parade goer. I enjoy being a part of that," says Kevin.

Kevin is helping Mardi Gras go green in several different ways.

He's even a part of a krewe called "Trash-formers" that helps clean up the waste leftover by the parades.

If you want to learn more about Atlas beads, click here.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.