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New Orleans organization recycling thousands of discarded Mardi Gras beads

 A parade goer catches a pair of beads tossed from a float in the Krewe of Zulu parade on Mardi Gras Day.
A parade goer catches a pair of beads tossed from a float in the Krewe of Zulu parade on Mardi Gras Day.
Photo by Rusty Costanza/Getty Images

If there's one thing that quickly comes to mind when you think of raucous Mardi Gras parades, it's beads. Whether you're simply trying to snag a souvenir or are trying to earn them in a much more NSFW manner, there's no doubt that those shiny beads are an indelible part of the annual revelry.

According to NPR on Monday, a New Orleans organization is once again taking advantage of the massive amount of beads that get left behind every year by recycling and reselling them ahead of tomorrow's grand festivities.

Since the plastic beads and "throws" such as plastic coins cannot be melted down and turned into something new because of their metallic coating, Arc of Greater New Orleans instead collects and resells them in bulk. Last year, the organization reportedly recycled 120,000 pounds of beads. Recycling coordinator Maggie Perez also tells NPR that at the height of their organizing efforts last summer, workers had about 60 boxes of beads weighing about 1,000 pounds each.

In addition to efficiently reusing the beads, Arc also reaps the benefits by creating "green" jobs for people with intellectual disabilities. As has been done in the past, volunteers will walk behind paraders this year with plastic recycling bins and urge people to toss theirs in once they no longer want them.

Parades in New Orleans have been going on since the Carnival season began on Feb. 15 and will reach their epic conclusion tomorrow as the city officially marks Mardi Gras 2014. Can't make it down to NOLA for the festivities? You can pretend you're there with EarthCam's live streaming app, which gives you a real-time look at hot spots like Bourbon Street.