The Splendour of Algae
Step into the Deep Green Forest tent and discover how algae can contribute to a more sustainable future.
Alongside this year’s stellar lineup, Australia’s premier outdoor music festival, Splendour in the Grass, will get a sustainability boost thanks to a microscopic plant and a passionate group of young researchers affectionately dubbed "the algae crew". Instead of grooving to the music beats they’ll be welcoming festival goers to the Deep Green Forest tent courtesy of the Deep Green Biotech Hub (DGBH), where they can soak up an oxygen-rich environment whilst exploring personal hopes for a sustainable future.
If this all sounds quite “zen” there is, in fact, a lot of science behind the experience which aims to get audience members attending this regional event to learn how science can cross into art, design and sustainable solutions for our planet. All part of a 10-year celebration of Splendour Forum at Splendour in the Grass.
Dr Alex Thomson, DGBH Manager and serious algae cheerleader says she hopes the audience at the festival will be open to “the potential of algae, these awesome little aquatic plants that have been around for millions of years”.
We want to increase the awareness of algae as a versatile and sustainable resource. By 2050 we’ll need between three to five ‘earths’ to feed and sustain our global population.
Dr Alex Thomson
Manager, Deep Green Biotech Hub
UTS startup MyImpact will be showcasing their new app to help festival-goers track their carbon footprint.
“When people enter the tent they’ll be invited to calculate their carbon emissions, choose an algae to help offset them and contribute to the growing ‘trees’ within the tent,” she says.
Which is where the oxygen comes in – algae harvest the energy of the sun to grow, soak up carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen to the atmosphere, thus sustaining life.
There’ll be plenty of activity inside the oxygen enriched tent, including story time with Dr Mark Liu from UTS School of Design, a chance to absorb sustainability science and make a pledge for the planet.
But the algae story for Splendour doesn’t end there. If inside the tent is about getting people to imagine their own sustainable futures, outside the tent is a chance to interact with the UTS Living Lights installation that debuted at Vivid Sydney in 2018.
Living Lights was Vivid Sydney’s first living installation. Made of living, breathing algae, with their colours emphasised with LED lights for night viewing, the installation was conceived by scientists at the UTS Climate Change Cluster. The installation takes algae out of the lab and into the public domain where messages around sustainability can be told in a fun, engaging way. As well as offsetting some of the festival’s carbon emissions through oxygen production Dr Thomson says “this ‘algae forest’ will keep on giving”.
“As an added bonus the algae cells generated by the installation during the festival can be returned to the earth and used as fertiliser to help restore the environment,” she says
So if you’re after a sustainable chill out between performances at SITG head to the Deep Green Forest tent and, as the sun goes down check out the UTS Living Lights nearby.
Oh, and spare a thought for the algae crew, especially “Dr Alex” – as well as all that algae to tend to she’ll be spreading her sustainability message in the Splendour Forum Science Tent, leaving little time for catching headline acts like Chance the Rapper. Splendour in the Grass plays at the North Byron Parklands from Friday 19 to Sunday 21 July. For the location of the Deep Green Forest tent check www.splendourinthegrass.com for the site map, coming soon.
About the Deep Green Biotech Hub
The New South Wales Deep Green Biotech Hub (DGBH) dares to turn the state of NSW deep green through the application of algae biotechnologies and Australian innovation. Located at the University of Technology Sydney, the DGBH brings together researchers, SMEs (small to medium enterprises), industry, start-ups, students and other stakeholders to propel NSW to the forefront of algae-based biotechnology innovation in Australia.