Not actually a weed but an algae, seaweed is one hardy ancient species.
The original superfood, it contains all the minerals and most of the vitamins we need to survive, plus scientists are finding ever more inventive uses for it.
Here are seven ways this sustainable superhero can help you and the planet.
7 Reasons Why Seaweed Is Your Sustainable Best Friend
1. Seaweed could replace your pasta
Get rid of the slimy rubbery image you have in your head. Award-winning start-up Seamore has created a seaweed version of pasta.
It’s harvested by hand after growing wild in Ireland, washed and dried and then it’s ready to eat. That’s it, no process, just wild food nicely packaged.
Atlantic Kitchen use it in their ready meals and also sell it as spaghetti. Low in carbs and high in omega 3 and iodine, it’s one of the world’s most sustainable foods.
2. Seaweed can reduce the cow methane problem
Snigger all you want, cows’ ‘emissions’ are a massive climate change issue, producing 4% of the world’s greenhouse gases. Researchers in Australia have found that just by adding dried seaweed to the cows’ food it reduces their methane production by 99%.
The next challenge? Growing enough seaweed. There are nearly one billion cows on the planet.
3. It’s your new skincare regime
Again, get rid of the yuk factor. No-one’s asking you to slap wet strands of it on your face like a sad mermaid.
Seaweed is amazing for skin issues like eczema and is thought to help with arthritic and muscle pain.
It’s packed full of Vitamins A, B, C and E and can help improve circulation and absorb toxins. Way to go seaweed. There are a few fab seaweed skincare brands out there, like Voya in Ireland and Seaweed Organics in Scotland.
4. It might power your car
In 2012 American scientists figured out a way to turn the sugars from seaweed into biofuel.
Various countries are exploring the best way to do this on a larger scale, including the Scottish Association of Marine Science who are working with Ireland and Norway (big seaweed producers) to find a breakthrough that would lead it being a commercially viable fuel.
5. It will power your garden
With 10 times the minerals of land based plants, seaweed is as good for your garden as it is for you.
Collect washed up varieties and either add directly onto the beds or compost it, as it breaks down it will help convert micro-organisms into versions your plants can use as fuel.
The seaweed will help the health of the roots, improve chlorophyll production and just generally help your plants to thrive.
6. It should go in your bath
The Japanese have sworn by seaweed to increase circulation and get rid of cellulite for centuries. It’s thought to reduce the signs of ageing, soften skin and aid good sleep.
On the west coast of Ireland, there are public seaweed saltwater baths which have been locally popular for over a century. If you can’t get to the Connemara Seaweed Baths, the Cornish Seaweed Company has bath bags you can use at home.
7. It should go with your tonic
Welsh distillery Dà Mhìle makes a Seaweed Gin that is perfect for with shellfish (it has even been served in an oyster shell). 16 botanicals go into the gin before it’s left for three weeks infused with fresh organic seaweed that has been sustainably sourced.
The result? A slightly green gin with a mild taste of the sea. It makes a mean dirty Martini.