By Joakim Ydebäck
In a world where environmental issues are increasingly highlighted, new innovative ideas have been presented to help counter the impending climate crisis. While companies have had a tendency to green wash their efforts for the climate, other companies have presented ideas that might be the starting point of whole new markets. One such innovation is the recent plantations of seaweed that has emerged on the Swedish west coast. In an article in the Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter, it is described how the seaweed production has several benefits when it comes to developing new sustainable ways of living. Perhaps could it be the solution to the climate crisis that we have all been waiting for.
One of the main issues concerning sustainability is our inability to consume sustainably. We need something that replaces such materials as different kinds of plastics that keeps littering our oceans. But nothing has seemed to be as useful and multifaceted as plastic and, frankly, it is everywhere. However, seaweed is thought to be able to replace plastic. Authors of the article in Dagens Nyheter write that innovations have been made where materials made from seaweed can be made into mugs or straws while still perhaps being easily recyclable.
The second point takes us to Læsø, a Danish island in Kattegat between the Danish and Swedish coasts. The traditional houses on the island were built partly using seaweed of different kinds. Especially the roofs were made out of seaweed. It is a sight to behold but could also serve as an example of more green building materials that can replace such non-sustainable materials that we use today. Living green roofs has become a popular thing among more progressive architects. Perhaps these seaweed roofs will make a return as well!
The most acute problem that we need to handle is the ever rising CO2-emissions. It is claimed, by the investors who plan to grow seaweed for sustainable purposes, that seaweed is better at binding CO2 particles than, for example, trees. In fact, often trees release more CO2 than they bind. The main thing is to know how to handle the seaweed and know how to use it for these sustainable purposes. This is a positive prospect for those countries that might not be so lucky and have large and beautiful forests like we do in Scandinavia. Perhaps seaweed plantations are a solution!
New problems need new ideas and solutions. It has been repeated so many times but the climate crisis is our generation’s most dire issue and we cannot waste a moment to not shift to a more sustainable way of living. This seaweed idea might appear a bit silly and we cannot be sure that it is a solution that will solve all of our problems. However, it does teach us the need for innovation and new ideas, rather than repeating our unsustainable habits and hope that they will have other results. It challenges our way of thinking about consumerism, materials that we use and prospective solutions that we might take for granted. Never be afraid new ideas!
Illustration: Pauline Cremer
Joakim Ydebäck is studying at the Peace and Development Program at Uppsala University. After that, his goal is to somehow make the world just a little bit better. If he were to be offered the position of foreign minister, he would not say no. His four main interests include talk radio, international opinion polls, political crises and somber jazz music.