June 05, 2022 3 min read
Hello Aoife McNamara community, I’m Clare!
Over the coming months, I’ll have space here to share some learnings about the environment with you all. Hopefully, by doing so together we can begin to open up some important conversations! For my very first newsletter, I’d like to kick off by introducing a term called “Ocean Acidification”.
You might be thinking what has the ocean or the environment got to do with the fashion industry? But I’ll get into just how interlinked they are in a moment. To break it down into the simplest of terms; our ocean is like a sponge. Almost half of the CO2 from anthropogenic emissions in our atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean and it’s rapidly becoming a carbon sink. Scientists have come to discover this process has completely changed the chemistry of our oceans. They’ve even gone so far as to coin ocean acidification as “climate change's evil twin”.
Due to the absorption of CO2 in seawater carbonic acid is then generated and this acidic change is threatening biodiversity and sea life. According to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), there has been a 30% increase in acidity since the industrial revolution and the current corrosivity of the water is directly impacting oysters, molluscs, and ocean corals most of all.
Ecologists have identified that these organisms are becoming brittle and unable to build their essential shells. As acidity levels and the PH of the ocean goes into flux their shells become thinner and they’re unable to reproduce. There’s no substitute for the health of our oceans and even though they’re small, each of these marine creatures at the bottom of the food chain has an important role.
Oysters for example even filter our waters and their reefs can help naturally defend coasts from storm damage. They are veritable ecosystem engineers! And that’s not all - over 300 species of plants and animals rely on oysters for survival. It goes to show that even the most seemingly microscopic and subtle impacts have domino effects. Everything in our world is truly connected.
If we don’t act the consequences can be tidal in scope, but thankfully there is so much we CAN do! Interestingly, seaweed can draw down and store carbon. It’s more or less the soil of the sea and it locks up CO2. There are now robust missions being acted out to bring attention to the ability seaweed has to restore abundance to our water ecosystems.
One of nature's greatest gifts is the ability it has to regenerate itself naturally. If harvested correctly, seaweed growth can be stimulated and grow more abundantly. This seaweed growth rebuilds habitat for marine life and builds coastal resilience in the face of climate change. It’s a win-win situation if we use this scalable solution to climate change as a way to also manufacture the clothes we wear. We can save the oceans by farming (and wearing!) them.
All of us here at Aoife McNamara care deeply about our coasts for the specific magic they offer and the inspiration they lend for each collection. We have taken the realities of these circumstances into focus and thought carefully about how we can best do our part to protect the vibrancy of the Irish coastline - as it’s a part of our identity and the culture of this island.
I am so incredibly proud of the thoughtful “Everything Is Connected”Seacell Pyratex t-shirt. The Seacell shirt is made with luxuriously soft and breathable materials and is partly composed using seaweed from the Northern Atlantic. What’s more, 15% of the profits from these shirts go directly to Ireland's “Clean Coasts” programme. The mission of Clean Coasts is to harvest waste and in doing so protects our Irish aquacultures. We’re so glad to be partnering with them.
Now is as good a time as ever to think about how the materials we choose to put in our clothing can serve the environment. We can radically transform the outcome of climate change if we switch to biodegradable, regenerative fabrics. We can expand the parameters of fashion by making it about choosing fabrics that regenerate and give to our land as opposed to allowing the fashion industry to continue being extractive.
This is just the beginning and nothing is stopping us! Who’s with us?