Austin, Texas froze over in 2021. Northern California continues to set records for massive forest fires year after year. Australia also suffers from devastating forest fires and recently just endured a set of biblical floods. We’ve seen more climate disasters in the past two-and-a-half years than we ever have. So, why do people pretend climate change isn’t happening?
As someone who reports on the environment, my guess is because it’s scary — Hollywood movie-level scary. Climate change triggers anxiety and can send you into a spiraling fit of panic, which can spit you into a dark void of existential dread. It’s easier to ignore it and live in a state of denial.
But we can’t continue ignoring the elephant in the room, otherwise nothing is going to change — and that’s not an option. The carbon concentration in our atmosphere just hit an average of 420 parts per million for the first time since humans walked the Earth, and industries are largely to blame for this record-setting bummer.
The fossil fuel industry has the most behemoth footprint, and many argue it’s largely responsible for the climate crisis. The cannabis industry also has a large — and growing — footprint because it’s a nationwide industry and requires using a lot of natural resources to keep the supply chain moving. Cannabis' carbon footprint is considerably smaller than the fossil fuel industry's, of course, but the cannabis industry can do a lot better — especially regarding cultivation and packaging, both of which are regulatory issues.
Between regenerative cannabis farming and utilizing hemp for plastics, textiles, paper, construction, and biofuel, we can choose a future of remediation and environmental health. But it’s going to take education and brands, like SeaWeed Naturals, making the environment central to their messaging.
Seaweed Naturals was founded by ocean conservationists Ashlan and Philippe Cousteau, the grandchildren of the iconic, multi-hyphenate environmentalist-scientist-filmmaker-ocean lover, Jacque Cousteau. The line offers THC and CBD gummies, tinctures, and various types of balm, all of which are made with marine botanicals.
This new ocean-centric brand is shedding light on how capitalism can positively impact the environment — through participating in the Blue Economy, for instance — and why we need the ocean in our fight against climate change. We caught up with Ashlan Cousteau to learn more about the relationship between cannabis, consumerism, and climate change, and what we can do to be better Earth stewards.
What is the Blue Economy and how can more businesses incorporate it into their operation models?
The Blue Economy is the sustainable use of our ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystems. Many people and businesses don’t think about how important our ocean is, but it's the ocean that controls our climate, waters our crops, ships most of our products, provides protein for billions of people around the globe, and produces over half of the available oxygen in our atmosphere. Putting the ocean front and center in our minds and business plans is a must.
What made you decide to bring SeaWeed Naturals to market in California?
We live in California and we love California, so it was a natural first state to launch in.
What makes SeaWeed Naturals’ products different than other cannabis brands?
Philippe and I created SeaWeed Naturals as an impact brand; to restore the ocean, create sustainable jobs and improve people's lives. SeaWeed Naturals is for people and the planet. And we realized that while there are good products on the market, we still haven't found another brand that combines the therapeutic properties of THC and CBD with the healing power of the ocean, which we do through restoratively farmed seaweed and omega-3s sourced from algae.
What health benefits can people get from ocean botanicals?
Seaweed and algae are naturally occurring ingredients that hydrate, minimize fine lines, promote collagen production, boost radiance, and help treat hyperpigmentation in skin. They are also rich in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamin C, and collagen. Marine algae (which contains Omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA) helps relieve inflammation in the skin and reduces aging from environmental aggressors like pollution. In addition, seaweed is safe for all skin types including those prone to breakouts and rosacea.
When ingested in our edible gummies, seaweed is a superfood and the Omega 3 Amino Acids have been proven to improve the health of your skin, organs, bones and joints — and crucially — your brain. In addition, Omega 3’s have been shown to combat inflammation and fight depression and anxiety. Most people who currently take Omega 3s are getting them from fish or krill oil, which is a fishing practice that is devastating our ocean. And fish and krill don't make their own omega 3s, they get it from eating algae. So we cut out the middleman (or middle fish!) and get it straight from the source.
Is there anything ocean lovers who also love cannabis can do about all the plastic in the ocean?
Yes. Cut down on your own plastic use everywhere you can. Look for bar shampoo and conditioners, wooden toothbrushes, switch to old-school safety razors, menstrual cups and more. Even our clothes can be plastic (nylon and acrylic).
When buying cannabis products, skip the ones that use plastic. Talk to your budtenders and store managers about the amount of plastic in products and use your voice to tell brands to do the right thing on social media. We promise they will listen! And support brands that are committed to cutting down plastic not just in their packaging but throughout their entire supply chain.
What is your advice to people who feel hopeless about climate change?
It is easy to feel anxious, frustrated, and downright scared about climate change. But there is HOPE! The good news is nature has an incredible power to regenerate. We have seen it with our own eyes all over the world. From Bikini Atoll to Cabo Pulmo Mexico, from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, nature can restore itself…we just have to give it a chance to do so.
How can the cannabis industry make an impact in the fight against climate change?
Being young and evolving, the cannabis industry and its consumers can stand up and become a leader for putting our planet first. And that is really exciting. We can become the example of other industries like manufacturing and agriculture on how to do things right. Currently, there are problems the cannabis industry needs to solve, like energy-draining indoor growing operations, large water usage and so much plastic packing. But if we all come together, we can overcome these hurdles and become a beacon of regeneration. By adopting solar, innovating the way we water, switching to better packaging and farming regeneratively and biodynamically, cannabis can not only sustain but restore our land, our soil, ourselves, and the planet! And that is truly exciting.
How can cannabis consumers use their purchasing money to positively impact the planet?
One of the most powerful tools we as consumers have, is our wallet. Use it to support businesses that are doing the right thing. Look for companies that align with your values. It's one thing for companies to give a tiny bit of their profits back to charity. It's a much different thing for companies to stand up for the planet, to stand for the betterment of all people, and to protect what they love. Supporting those businesses is how you can truly change the world.
What do you want people to know about SeaWeed Naturals?
Philippe and I have put our heart and soul into this brand. We didn't just put our name on the packages, we started this company for a purpose and that is to improve the lives of people and the planet for today and for the future. We hope you will join us.