NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— As parades ramp up this week, you may want to pay extra attention to some very special beads you can catch.
An LSU professor invented a new kind of Mardi Gras bead that’s made out of something you may not expect—-micro algae.
During Mardi Gras, how many times do you just catch beads and then throw them on the ground—adding to the tens of thousands of pounds of discarded plastic beads?
LSU Biology Professor Dr. Naohiro Kato is hoping to make Mardi Gras more eco-friendly with his new bead creations molded from micro-algae using the algae’s oils.
“You can find the algae in ponds or any body of water,” he said.
With the help of his students he’s creating environmental solutions using the micro-algae and bio-plastics to create strands of beads that the Krewe of Freret and Krewe of Tucks are throwing for the first time this year.
“Once I start showing people their response it is that’s great, I want to keep it,” Dr. Kato said.
These beads are designed to degrade over time and you’ll know you catch them because they are all black and read: “Made with Algae LSU.”
“They are going to be very precious, because there is such a small batch,” Dr. Kato said.
They made 500 beads, but only 320 beads will be thrown at the parades this year.
Being from Japan, Dr. Kato is happy to make an impact on such a world-wide cultural phenomenon as Mardi Gras.
“I’m so excited that I can contribute and join that kind of contribution especially for a new movement for a sustainable Mardi Gras,” Dr. Kato said.
Noble Plastics in Grand Coteau, Louisiana led by LSU alumna Missy Rogers, produces Kato’s biodegradable Mardi Gras beads.