Seaweed vs fast fashion

Glance outside a window at any given time and the streets are heaving with it. When you flick onto the internet or open social media you’re bombarded with images of it and if you’re totally honest, I bet you have quite a bit in your wardrobe. Fast fashion is everywhere, like glitter on a kids face after pre-school, and we have 18.6 billion tonnes of landfill waste from 2020 to prove it.

Fast fashion crisis

Photo by Hannah Morgan

Despite the damning facts we already know, like nine out of ten garment workers in Bangladesh can’t afford food on their current paying wage, or that it takes around 200 years for polyester fibre in clothes to decompose and that 85% of the oceans plastic pollution comes from microfibres found in synthetic clothing, fast fashion isn’t going away in a hurry, so what can we do to quell the tidal wave of multi-coloured smock dresses from last season that are hurtling straight for landfill as I type these words? The usual suggestions spring to mind, only buy from ethical businesses, charity shops or take a leaf out of Matthew McConaughey’s book and just plain refuse to wear a top. But until a larger portion of the world start cottoning on to these ideas - and they are beginning to, evidence has shown 71% of millennial consumers want brands to be more environmentally friendly and ethical (theguardian.com) - we have a huge, polyester problem on our hands.


Photo by Ahmed Carter

Until we battle our way to a fast-fashion free utopia, ethical businesses are looking at ways to reuse, up-cycle and repurpose the materials that are already clogging up the planet and are biodegrading about as fast as my dad can travel on his mobility scooter. That’s where the spotlight swings to seaweed.

Yes, seaweed. The stuff you avoid on the beach, try not to slip on in rock pools and has a look similar to the straggly, wet styled hair of a 90’s Chippendale.

Seaweed isn’t the first material that springs to mind when you think of what you’d like draped across your body unless you’re Aquaman, but the early signs all point to it being one of the most environmentally friendly materials you can wear. When seaweed is ground down into fibres and mixed with organic cotton or potentially combined with recycled materials you’re left with a very soft, wearable, non toxic, biodegradable fabric that won’t expand your carbon footprint.

T-shirts made from seaweed fibre

Seaweed farming is the most sustainable form of farming on the planet. It has zero outputs, no fresh water, fertiliser, land or feed required which blows land-based agriculture out the water, so to speak. Combine this with a Greenpeace accredited factory that use renewable energy, pay a living wage and guarantee a high standard of labour rights to garment workers and you’ve got a fashion hit that’s greener than brussels sprout in Kermit the Frog’s mouth up a Kapok tree in the Brazilian rainforest.

It’s still early days in the production of seaweed clothing however and garment producers are still searching for ways to make items that are 100% biodegradable. Currently, elastane prevents this, though recycled elastane can be used as a more ethical swap.

There’s a small range of other environmentally friendly materials alongside seaweed to consider, organic cotton, bamboo, linen and hemp. However, doing your homework on the company you’re buying from is key as greenwashing has become this seasons black. H&M, for example, advertise a ‘conscious’ range of clothing made from recycled polyester and organic cotton yet are still overwhelmingly producing toxic, environmentally damaging fast fashion and refusing to pay their garment workers a living wage, which is the equivalent of asking Ronald McDonald for health advice based on the fact he has a bacon salad on his menu. If a fashion labels claims aren’t backed up with solid facts, they’re still using plastic packaging or the company states they are ‘working towards being sustainable in 2030’ then try to give them a wide berth. Real sustainable brands invest time, effort and money into natural, biodegradable, organic and recycled fabrics and ethical practices.

If you’d like to check out our range of Seaweed fibre clothing click here, or if you have any questions just drop us a DM @inland.sea on Instagram.

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