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18 February 2021

Video: Could T-shirts made using seaweed fibre be the future of sustainable clothing?

18 February 2021

What we wear – and what it’s made of – can make a huge difference to the planet, as Adam Costello knows well. He’s surfed since he was a young lad, spending “rainy holidays” in a caravan on Anglesey, where he went surfing and skateboarding. That love for the sea didn’t leave him, and later, as a graphic designer, “setting up a surf label was the dream” – which is what he did.

Inland Sea was born in 2017, and underpinning it was the desire to “raise awareness of plastic pollution, and how plastic in the cities can end up in the sea”.

He set about designing T-shirts made out of recycled plastic bottles, woven with organic cotton. “[You’re] immersed in the sea every day [when you’re] surfing, you’re on the front line of environmental issues – you’re the first to see the plastic pollution,” he explains. “In a city, you don’t think about chucking out plastic bottles.” But being in the water, Costello’s seen old Pepsi cans and bottles from the Seventies and Eighties wash up and float by.

“The more you look into that plastic pollution – it goes into animals and then into our food chain – the more alarming it is,” he says.

Now, Costello has turned his attention to harnessing the power of seaweed and has launched a Kickstarter campaign – aptly named ‘Does my carbon footprint look big in this’ – to raise funds to develop a range of T-shirts made using fabric that contains seaweed fibre – called SeaCell – and to invest in UK-based seaweed farms, like Car-Y-Mor in Pembrokeshire.

“I’m not trying to be a fashion brand,” Costello notes, pointing out that the fashion industry has a lot to answer for when it comes to waste and overconsumption. “I want to create sustainable clothing that can be used forever, and is also biodegradable. That’s led me to learn about loads of different materials that can be used for T-shirts.” He is very conscious of the fact his T-shirts that utilise recycled plastic, still perpetuate the use of plastic – which is problematic. SeaCell’s product – created using harvested bladderwrack seaweed – provides a welcome alternative.

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So, why seaweed? A sustainable CO2 absorber (seaweed soaks up 20 times more carbon than the equivalent land-based forest), Costello says the fibre produces really soft material that, because of the mineral compounds in the seaweed itself, can also have health benefits for your skin. “They’re good for the environment, and good for you.”

But it’s not just about T-shirts, ultimately Costello wants to run a business that is actively “trying to solve the climate crisis”.

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To find out more about the Kickstarter, visit the website, and to learn more about Inland Sea, visit inlandsea.co.uk.

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