Environmental Impact: The impact of Mardi Gras beads is literally worldwide. From the Chinese sweatshops creating the toxic low-grade plastics to the air quality in our own homes caused by off-gasing plastics. Trees suffer as they are drowned in beads along the parade routes. Birds and other animals eat the plastic leading to suffering and death. Literally tons of beads end up in our landfills off-gasing for 100s of years and eventually becoming toxic tar-balls. We aims to protect Louisiana by promoting locally produced, non-toxic Mardi Gras throws.
Economic Impact: Improving the local economy and providing jobs. New Orleans currently has 35,000 unemployed residents. I Heart Louisiana will be able to provide work for 1000s of people: from low-skilled and handicapped workers to the most talented performance and visual artists. Providing jobs means many things to New Orleans. It means tax money for our schools and roads, decreased crime, welfare, food-stamp and unemployment recipients. Studies show unemployment leads to increased mental health problems, homelessness, property blight, drug use and crime. I Heart Louisiana is proud to work towards these goals daily.
Flooding: Mardi Gras beads clog our storm drains and lead to increased flooding. Destroying property, hurting our economy, causing health hazards and polluting our land. I Heart Louisiana believes in promoting superior products that won’t be left on the ground, eventually being swept into storm drains.
Health Effects: Until two years ago, Mardi Gras beads were painted using lead-based paints. While that has quietly subsided, phthalates (plastic softeners) used in bead production are of huge concern. While phthalate-free beads do exist in other places like California where the toxic ingredient has been outlawed, our beads still bear these deadly toxins. Phthalates are linked to dozens of devastating ailments including various cancers, endocrine disruption (birth defects), low birth weight, reproductive disorders, liver and testes damage, allergies, insulin resistance and obesity. Through providing non-toxic throws and educating the public, I Heart Louisiana aims to protect the health of our citizens and future generations.
Human Rights: Mardi Gras beads are made in Chinese sweat shops. Workers are paid pennies to produce the beads, while their factory supervisors get rich and abuse often yields financial rewards . Ingredients for the plastics are chosen based on cost, not safety, putting factory workers in danger of serious health risks. I Heart Louisiana aims to educate Krewe leaders on how to import consciously as well as provides local and Fair Trade alternatives.
Oil Dependency: It is estimated the oil used to produce our annual Carnival throws equals 10% that spilled in the Deepwater Horizon Spill. That means every 10 years, we are dumping the same toxic ton-age on to our beautiful state as BP. Sadly, processed petro-chemicals are likely much worse for the land, water, air and wildlife than the natural crude oil. The process used in making the beads and the ingredients in the plastics makes the recycling of the beads currently impossible. While the local oil industry provides 10s of 1000s of jobs, the oil used in the beads is Iraqi oil.