Algae-based biodegradable Mardi Gras beads   Photo: Naohiro Kato, Huffington Post

What’s Mardi Gras without the beads?  They are the symbol of the event — a “must have” if you are there for the celebration.  Last year, Huffington Post reports that almost 1,200 tons of trash were collected after the Mardi Gras parade — and much of it was in the form of plastic beads — indeed, in 2017 workers cleaned out 93,000 pounds of beads from storm drains in historic downtown New Orleans.  But now a biology professor at Louisiana State University has produced algae-based beads that break down over time.  He is working to make it cheap enough to go mainstream because the cost is currently 10 times what it costs to make plastic beads.  Naohiro Kato, the professor, and his Baton Rouge-based company, Microalgae, are working with companies in the nutraceutical industry, which has a high demand for algae-based material because it enables products to be labeled as vegetarian or vegan. Let’s hope he can scale his invention by next year.  Très Bien – une perle biodégradable! 

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