Why Green Beaches Might be the Answer to Climate Change

Once the lockdown is lifted, many hope to shoot off for a belated summer holiday, for much-needed sun, sea and sand. Here’s how green beaches might help.

The non-profit, Project Vesta, might alarm holiday goers in the future, or, make their Instagram posts a little more memorable.

The project has a unique plan to remove Co2 from the atmosphere, an accidental consequence of which, will turn the beaches of the world green. 

From volcanic gems to clean beach sand

This is no Saint Patrick’s Day stunt.

Olivine is a magnesium-iron salt, sometimes found in volcanos, which can absorb carbon dioxide. 

But if left underground, the rock has little opportunity to help the planet remove greenhouse gases from the air. 

However, if it is dug up, ground into small pieces and left out in the open, a shard of olivine weighing 0.4kg, can absorb the same amount of carbon dioxide from the air, protecting our atmosphere and keeping the sea air clean.

Placing chunks of olivine on the beach offers the greatest level of absorption, because the sea will break down the mineral into shards – saving Project Vesta a step in doing it manually. 

Furthermore, olivine is a mineral which causes no harm to the sea – once the shards have fulfilled their purpose, they will eventually become limestone on the ocean floor. 

Other types of rock can be used for the same process, but are not nearly as efficient as olivine. 

Although there is only a finite supply of olivine on the planet right now, there may be more available but will be a challenge to acquire. In 1794, a series of meteorites were discovered to be comprised of olivine. 

First “negative emissions” purchase by Stripe

In May, Project Vesta made their first sale to online payment company, Stripe, who purchased 3,333 tonnes of olivine, at £75USD per tonne – a total of $250,000. “We’re excited to be Project Vesta’s first customer,” said Ryan Orbuch, at Stripe.

“We hope their work to validate coastal enhanced weathering will improve the world’s understanding of this high-potential negative emissions approach.”

Whilst there is no indication thus far that Project Vesta could have any negative impacts on the planet, the project will use this purchase as an opportunity to learn more about the capabilities of the plan, as well as any undesirable side effects. 

Only last year, Stripe decided to become involved in a “Decrement carbon” commitment, meaning that they would offset their emissions. Their contract with Project Vesta is one such example, as Stripe has also put in offers with other carbon-zero initiatives, such as Climeworks and Carbon Cure, leading the way in billion-dollar businesses supporting environmental causes.

There’s still trouble at sea

There are an estimated 5.25tn pieces of rubbish in the ocean, some of which are swept up onto beaches. Project Vesta will however make discarded Sprite bottles harder to spot.

Keep an eye out in forthcoming CleanTech News articles for details about startups which are making a splash in protecting the seas. 

Helen Adams

Helen Adams is an Editor and Senior Writer for CleanTech News. A keen journalist, Helen developed an appreciation for the need for change in the battle against climate change after travelling and is passionate to communicate this through her work at CleanTech News. Now studying for her NCTJ Journalism MA, Helen wants to champion clean developments using her writing. Presently, Helen is developing her data journalism, video-making and podcasting skills which she is looking forward to incorporating into her role as Editor.