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Opps! We Greenwashed ourselves...

Seaweed carbon offset

So, we may have made a BIG mistake and accidentally 'greenwashed' ourselves...

Since COP26 we have had a rethink as we realised making a statement such as 'we plant a tree to offset our carbon footprint' was effectively a true eco warriors worst nightmare... 

Firstly, what we should be doing is not putting the carbon there in the first place. 

Having a business market themselves around 'carbon offsetting' is super dangerous, as it simply allows the business to carry on, on a 'business as usual' basis (polluting and not changing). So when the consumer makes the purchase or uses that service it leads them to believe they have done something good for the climate crisis when it's much more complex than that.

Unknowingly this is exactly what we did at Inland Sea, we created an idea this year where we promoted offsetting our carbon footprint by investing back into seaweed farms. Whilst this is still a great idea, because seaweed is so much better for carbon sequestration compared to planting trees, it's still the same 'carbon offset' greenwashing statement that we have all come accustomed to. So we feel it's really time to rethink this idea and completely move away from any business or product that promotes 'carbon offsetting'.

Why is seaweed so much better for soaking up carbon especially compared to planting trees?  

Firstly, it's not as simple as asking that question, we should look at protection and restoration first of all. So many of our ancient woodland and rainforests have been and continue to be destroyed at an alarming rate.  If you are looking at any 'tree planting' scheme ensure you support the ones that are protecting and restoring lost habitats due to human activities not just planting large amounts of trees.  The fact is, any new trees will take decades to have any impact on the climate crisis, and we cannot just plant trees in places where there should be no trees, this can lead to even worst biodiversity and more climate crisis issues. 

So, why is seaweed so great?

• Recent studies suggest that wild seaweed sequesters 173 million metric tons annually.  

• Seaweed farming could scale up enough to offset the carbon produced by the aquaculture industry (300,000 metric tons per year).

• Seaweed needs no land to grow and needs no extra water other than the ocean it exists in.

• Unlike many land based crops seaweed needs no chemical fertiliser or pesticides.

• Seaweed grows at an exceptional rate, some kelps can grow up to 28 centimetres a day!

• Not only does seaweed soak up vast amounts of carbon, it can help balance ocean acidification and can soak up pollution helping to maintain and repair a healthy ecosystem.

We still need to be careful though, as seaweed farms could be seen as a form of geo-engineering and therefore the idea needs to be carefully considered. We know of several projects happening to setup large offshore seaweed farms and sink the seaweed after it has grown to ensure the carbon stays locked in, but this is totally new territory and we don't want to make the mistake of 'planting a trillion trees'... there's no time or room for these mistakes.

Seaweed sequestration projects;

https://pulltorefresh.team/

https://www.carbonkapture.org/

https://www.runningtide.com/removing

Learn more/sources;

https://www.theguardian.com/science/audio/2021/aug/31/can-we-really-solve-the-climate-crisis-by-planting-trees-part-one-podcast

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/01/ive-never-said-we-should-plant-a-trillion-trees-what-ecopreneur-thomas-crowther-did-next-aoe

https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2021-2-summer/stress-test/can-farming-seaweed-put-brakes-climate-change