Food is one of humanity’s most basic needs, and supplying the world’s almost 8 billion people with enough nutrients to survive is a central global concern. In 2020, the United Nations Global Compact (the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative) chose Seaweed Day, June 4, to release their Seaweed Manifesto, a detailed look at the revolutionary possibilities of this amazing sea vegetable. Compiled by private companies, research institutions, UN agencies and civil society, the manifesto is all about how seaweed can literally save the world.
You might not think it when enjoying our snacks, but that humble dried green square has the potential to feed continents and mitigate climate change dramatically. The potential benefits of increasing seaweed production are truly profound, from generating earth-friendly bio-fuel and biodegradable packaging to supporting ecosystems and alleviating poverty. Here’s a taste of the radical yet sane ways algaes like seaweed just might be the most important plant of the future:
Feed the world. One of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, seaweed is not just for feeding humans, but also aquaculture and land animals. Plus it’s amazing natural fertilizer!
The ultimate green crop. Packed full of vitamins and minerals, seaweed requires no fresh water and no land to grow. It naturally captures CO2, mitigates ocean acidification, and helps increase marine biodiversity.
Better resource use. The scale of possibility is immense: oceans cover 71% of the earth’s surface, but currently contribute only 2% to the world’s food supply, calorie-wise. Even a small increase in algae production could make a huge impact in reducing agricultural land use (and related greenhouse gases).
Economic common sense. Already farmed in over 55 countries, it’s an untapped source of revenue for economically fragile coastal communities. Seaweed farms are something of a miracle: growing methods are simple, the required equipment is cheap, and crops thrive in every type and temperature of water, grow fast and require no feed.
It’s literally the future. From medicinal applications to using algae extracts to replace single-use plastics, seaweed innovations have incredible potential that we’re just beginning to understand.
So, every June 4th, we joyfully celebrate this unassuming green superhero. The simple truth is, what we do matters, collectively and individually. Like a pebble thrown in a pond, small personal choices ripple outward to create a powerful effect in the larger world. Thank you for joining the seaweed revolution!