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4 Reasons to Love Algae

There’s So Much To Love About Algae

Algae as a renewable resource is an increasingly hot topic as research is expanding on their benefits, uses, and cultivation. Ranging from minuscule microalgae to seaweed (macroalgae), their speedy growth makes them a rapidly renewable resource, while their variety and versatility offer many contexts and uses. On top of that, with their superior nutritional profile they have the potential to nourish people, animals, and other plants.

Algae are expected to be a game changer for a sustainable future. Here are some examples of what makes them so impressive.

Algae Are Good For The Environment

Microalgae requires no land to grow, thriving in freshwater or saltwater. Like other plants, they consume CO2 and produce oxygen, but they are much better at doing so – as much as 200 times more efficient than trees. They also are a natural purifier of contaminated water, cleaning up pollutants, absorbing waste materials, and even enriching the water without the need for chemical treatment.

Algae Grow In Useful Ways

Microalgae’s ability to purify water has spurred projects to integrate algae growth with municipal wastewater treatment. The plants also thrive in vertical containers, which opens up possibilities for vertical farming and, in turn, CO2 cleanup in dense urban climates. As a bonus, microalgae glow as they grow and so vertical farms can additionally be a lighting source.

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Hungarian designer Peter Horvath’s BioLamp, a streetlight that sucks in city air to feed glowing algae. Image via Coroflot.com

Algae Can Be Used In Bioplastics

Bioplastics is a developing industry and algae are a leading contender. Bioplastics manufacturer Cereplast paved the way with a resin that replaces half of synthetic material with post-industrial algae. A trio of designers in London took this a step further to create edible plastic, dubbed Ooho, that holds liquids in a balloon-like package. Aside from being biodegradable, what makes the plastic appealing is that it is incredibly cheap to make – one cent per Ooho.

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The Ooho is an edible water bottle designed from algae. Image via Dezeen.com

Algae Is A Food Source

Supplements spirulina and chlorella have already become household names for many. These strains of algae, along with many others, offer a big bang for their buck with protein, minerals, and vitamins, and are said to have detoxifying and immune-boosting properties. Because algae can grow quickly and cheaply, algae-based foods are being promoted as a tool for combating malnutrition. Algae are not just for people; they already are used in aquaculture to feed fish and they present a more healthful and economical alternative to conventional livestock feed.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many uses of algae – biofuel, cosmetics, and fertilizers are additional applications for the seemingly miracle plant. The possibilities are exciting and seemingly endless in our future.

About The Author

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Molly is a student at the Boston Architectural College obtaining a Masters in Sustainable Design. Originally from Mount Desert, Maine, Molly is a lover of both the natural world and city living and hopes that the two can coexist practically, responsibly, and beautifully. Molly's interests lie particularly in food supply and nutrition.