Mardi Gras memories should last forever. Beads? Not so much.
A few years ago, 93,000 pounds of Mardi Gras beads were pulled out of clogged catch basins on a five-block stretch of St. Charles Avenue. Clogged basins leads to flooding here in New Orleans.
Throw me something biodegradable, Mister!
Hopefully, you will take your beads home .. there are so many things you can do with them and they are definitely recyclable; we enjoy catching beads from our truck floats from prior years.
However, in 2018, our local newspaper reported that LSU biology professor Naohiro Kato set out to solve the problem by creating biodegradable beads made out of algae. Problem is the beads cost about $5 per necklace while plastic necklaces bought in bulk are just pennies.
Then just recently, staff writer Halle Parker reported on a Houston company making beads out of starch extracted from corn, wheat, rice and potatoes. The company is owned by the child of a Louisiana native.
According to Halle, “Instead of taking years to break down into tiny, toxic bits, the plant-based beads will degrade within months in most settings. That means if the beads wash into the catch basins of New Orleans or find their way to a landfill, they will fully decompose on their own without releasing harmful chemicals in the process.”
These beads will be packaged in Louisiana and float riders will be able to purchase them online for as low as 93 cents per necklace.
Still ... we recommend you catch your beads, take them home, and enjoy them or give them to others who will use them in their next parade! Check out these articles -- a local who creates art from beads his family catches at the parades and how to recyle your beads in the community: