Turning Algae into Plastic Apparel

  Women of Algae

C​​harlotte McCurdy is an interdisciplinary designer and researcher whose work focuses on making existential threats, such as climate change, more tractable through design. Her goal: counteract the narrative of climate change as a problem without a solution.

The NYC-based designer is shown in this video from NowThis making carbon-negative plastic, including plastic apparel, from algae. Once she collects the algae Ms. McCurdy returns to her laboratory in Brooklyn where she then adds plasticizers and uses a heated water bath and custom glass molds to create and form the plastic. After many trials and errors she finally figured out how to manipulate the algal plastic in order to create her designer apparel.

For her project “After Ancient Sunlight,” Ms. McCurdy fashioned a water-resistant raincoat from a plastic-like material she developed made of algae, which naturally sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The carbon-negative jacket debuted as part of “Nature — The Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial.” Fast Company selected it as the winner in the Experimental category in 2019 Innovation by Design awards and it has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, Wallpaper, Gizmodo, Grist, and beyond.

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