GreenTech: Good Things In Seaweed Packages

If there’s a singular dream that American’s seem to share, it’s that of home ownership… and to be a key part of the build, if possible. We’re seduced by the idea of the joined two-by-fours going up, beautiful cotton candy colored insulation fitted neatly between them, and the sheetrock hung, just in time for us to pick the paint. We’re in love with homes, and everything about them… and soon, we may get a new variable in our home-building fantasies in the form of seaweed building materials.

Somewhere, far from here, at the Feldballe School in Rønde, Denmark, students are already poised to experience classes in a building designed to reduce carbon emissions. In a 2,700-square-foot structure housing science labs and classrooms, young minds will be shaped sitting in a building with its walls full of a concoction called eelgrass for insulation. This special insulation is made of seaweed and straw, and it’s an example of one fantastic greener option now available to builders moving forward.

From Lab To Lunchbox

Maybe soon, our kids will be going to school in eelgrass-filled buildings… one thing is for sure, no matter the timeline on that, we’re expecting to see seaweed creep into their lunchbox very soon. Little Johnny may eat as healthily as possible, but we guarantee he’s still dealing with plastic or aluminum in some way. A company called Notpla is putting a stop to that. It’s quite brilliant, they made edible pods from seaweed coating to replace juice boxes, water bottles, and coke cans.

That’s right… you may soon be packing little Johnny a seaweed juice pod, and it’ll feel good too. Or maybe he’s going out to play and you pop a few in his backpack. His only job then is to stop, throw one in his mouth, and he’s off to the races. They’re catching eyes too… and pocketbooks, as Notpla was recently awarded just over a million dollars from Earthshot Fund, with which they’ll expand to more seaweed-based stuff, like food containers and additional packaging.

Wondering where we’ll get all the seaweed? It seems that’s being handled. Soon, the world is getting its first commercial-scale offshore wind seaweed farm, thanks to Amazon. We say it handles things because this project could become the shining model against which future seaweed farms are compared. If successful, the colossal project could demonstrate the nestling of seaweed between ocean turbines to feed our seaweed aspirations.

Once finished, the North Sea Farm 1 project will consist of 25 acres of seaweed off the Netherlands coast. Operations should begin later this year, with first harvest in spring 2024. Yields are expected to be at least 6,000kg of seaweed right off the bat. The project has the blessings of the locals, so they’ll be leading in the form of collective of Dutch seaweed farmers and businesses called the North Sea Farmers. “Collective” is no longer a dirty word, we like it.

Beyond Amazon

Not only could this project act as a blueprint for others, it could also signal a shift in farming. It’s no secret our land is suffering, and we need to let it rest and recuperate. Water could be the answer to that… yes, we mean farming in water. Fact is, by 2050, we’re looking at trying to feed 9.8 billion people, and we have a lot of ocean to work with. Scientists think this shift could be just what we need to kill several birds with one stone.

The inquiries being put to the space are promising… like finding out if we can cultivate seaweed the same way we do land crops now. Some studies tell us seaweed and other ocean-grown food could one day make up 10% of our diets. That’s great for our soil, and it could reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by billions of tons a year. Maybe it’s time to invest in a seaweed cookbook… see you in next week with more from the green tech space!