Friday, 22 January 2010

See? Shells

Having spent the past week on a beach, I've been thinking a lot about packaging. The high tide line was strewn with orange, yellow, blue and green plastic debris, which although colourful is still ugly and heartbreaking.

A tiger clam shell however could never be described as ugly, and as all-natural packaging it biodegrades with relative ease. Still it holds opportunities for upcycling, as villages in the Philippines have discovered. Tiger clams are a part of their everyday diet, and previously the shells had been regarded as waste. But now they've been selling tiger clam shells to a spa company that's devised a way to use the shells in massage. Lava Shell massage is similar to hot stone massage, except the shells contain algae and dried sea kelp that, when blended with salt water, generate their own controlled heat for an hour-long massage. You can read more about it here.

In a seashell: some seaworthy trivia

Molluscs, the creatures that produce seashells, are among the oldest existing life forms on earth. The tiger clam survived the extinction event that wiped out nearly all other species on the planet and resulted in the Ice Age.

Seashells are composed of calcium carbonate, the same material found in our bones and teeth.

Tiger clams are a natural reducer of greenhouse gases; they process CO2 out of the ocean water, which in turn allows the ocean to absorb more CO2 from the air.

All clams, including the tiger clam, are capable of producing pearls.

Seashells are among the oldest forms of currency on the planet. Many of the first coins minted were emblazoned with seashells to show that they were currency. In fact, in some parts of the world they’re still legal tender.

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