When over 70% of the Earth is Sea

When over 70% of the Earth is Sea

Today is Earth Day, the world’s largest environmental movement, participated in by over one billion people in 193 countries. It could equally be called Water Day. “Water, water everywhere,” wrote poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and indeed, the world’s seven seas cover over 70% of our planet’s surface. “And not a drop to drink…” continues The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and modern science’s calculation confirms the insight of this iconic 18th Century poem that over 97% of Earth’s water is found in the oceans as salt water.

Marine science is also increasingly discovering the global importance of kelp, a large brown algae or seaweed. Recent research estimates that kelp forests generate approximately $500 billion annually in ecosystem benefits, such as capturing carbon and removing nutrient pollution, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, from the oceans.

Kelp forests have high levels of biodiversity, creating three-dimensional structures under water, which marine species use for shelter and food. Ocean currents are slowed by drag from these kelp clusters, creating a calmer habitat.

Kelp is also a nutritionally rich food source, featuring prominently in Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine as Kombu, whereas in Russia it is known as Sea Cabbage. Closer to home, dulse, kelp’s red coloured sister algae, grows on the North Atlantic coast of Scotland and has the Gaelic name duileasg. Further north, on North Ronaldsay in the Orkney Isles, sheep are kept on the beaches so that they graze on kelp rather than grass, resulting in dark and gamey meat with a unique spicy flavour.

Kelp is also used in ice cream, jelly, shampoo and toothpaste. Kelp polysaccharides are used in skin care as gelling ingredients.

Over the last 50 years, however, climate change, poor water quality and overfishing have damaged 40% to 60% of kelp forests, threatening these ecosystems and the benefits they provide. An echo indeed of the Ancient Mariner’s albatross.

The theme of Earth Day 2024 is ‘Planet vs. Plastics’, and kelp is also a hero of the day. Materials researchers from Flinders University in Australia and German biomaterials developer one · five have developed a new no-polluting seaweed-based coating material “designed to replace conventional fossil-based plastic coatings used in grease-resistant fast food packaging.”

As proud awardees of the Butterfly Mark by Positive Luxury*, we are playing a small part in the environmental struggle by helping to restore kelp forests on the Sussex coast in Southern England.

The waters off the Sussex coast have historically supported dense kelp beds of mixed seaweed with at least six different species of kelps and other large brown microalgae. However, since 1987, over 96% of these kelp beds have disappeared. To help protect essential fish habitats and remove one of the key barriers to help kelp recovery, the Sussex IFCA Nearshore Trawling Byelaw was introduced in 2021, disallowing trawling from over 300 square kilometres of seabed. The Sussex Kelp Recovery Project (SKPP) was launched to support and enable the natural recovery of kelp and essential seabed habitats in this demarcated area.

In 2023, we took positive action by sponsoring four of SKPP’s kelp survey sites. We worked with GreenTheUK to fund innovative research led by Blue Marine Foundation and University of Sussex. We named the four sites after four of the fragrances in our magical, water-based fragrance collection les parfums infinis. The fragrances, thereby site names, LOVER, JESTER, INNOCENT and BECOME are all called after the ARgENTUM Archetypes which are aligned with the element of Water. A thematic and poetic connection with the scientific programme being carried out in Sussex, endorsing one of the brand’s pillars: 'Discover the beauty in balance'. A final point of connection between our brand and kelp is that this nourishing algae is one of the ingredients, along with the patented fusion of Silver Hydrosol and DNA HP, of our balancing silver clay mask, le masque infini.

We also strive to exceed industry standards to ensure our packaging is as sustainable as possible. It consists of recyclable violet glass, uncoated paper and card. We use minimal plastic and are phasing out PAT plastic, replacing with SAN. Our microbiome-friendly fragrance bottles break the mould, being easily deconstructed for recycling. Our outer packaging is fully recyclable, FSC, uncoated card. Boxes can be re-used for storage or gifting. We use minimal glue, relying on clever assemblage. The little glue used is water-based.

As an element, water encapsulates a feminine energy of fluidity and purification. Born at sunset in the tide of Autumn ~ water embodies a peaceful flow of unconditional love, but if locked can entice anger or disconnection. Moist and cold, water symbolises the power of dreams with their ability to stimulate healing and propel the journey of rejuvenation. This cleansing and life-giving element guides your emotions on your quest to feel love.

* The Butterfly Mark is the luxury industry-leading certification, highlighting brands, suppliers and retailers that are committed to having a positive impact on nature and society. The Mark also provides confidence that a business is operating in line with international standards and best practice, while pursuing innovation and making a considerable effort to go beyond 'normal', industry standards.