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The Mardi Gras trinkets thrown by parade riders each year are a social innovation opportunity. Louisiana residents buy $15 million annually, produced from petrochemicals. We propose local manufacturing from recycled products instead. Benefits:
Mardi Gras: Made in New Orleans reduces waste in two ways: by reducing demand for plastic trinkets made from petrochemicals and by manufacturing Mardi Gras trinkets from recycled products that would otherwise end up in dumps.
New Orleans based Beads by the Dozen imports about 200, 40-foot-long steel containers of beads a year from China. These millions of trinkets are made with petrochemicals, and many are simply thrown away once Mardi Gras is over. Sourcing our trinkets from recycled materials will reduce this demand.
New Model of Economic Development
Louisiana is like many resource rich areas of the world, leading on indices of poverty and lagging on wealth. In the last few years our featured economic projects have included unsustainable enterprises: a coal-fired plant, petroleum coke plant and expansion of landfills.
Part of our mission is to usher creative thinking about economic development in Louisiana and in the southern U.S. This is the 21st century and we can do better.
Our partner UniquEco Designs is based in Nairobi. While they have an impressive list of customers (including TJ Maxx/Homegoods), they want to share their recycling model. We are using their experience to develop a new product – Mardi Gras trinkets. Their business will grow in stature through the technology transfer to Louisiana.
Jobs and a clean environment are the needs that drive our social enterprise. The unemployment rate in Louisiana and New Orleans is 8%. Among African American men, the rate is 16%.
We estimate that the manufacture of Mardi Gras throws for the first year will require half a dozen workers. Our business will grow. The market is over $15 million per year. This unsustainable aspect of our cultural economy provides a significant opportunity for social innovation. New Orleans has several cultural events – Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World (float makers), JazzFest, French Quarter Festival – that provide a significant economic boon. Mardi Gras: Made in New Orleans can be a such an engine in the region.