Styrofoam makes up 25% of our landfills in the U.S. That is insane. We may only use it for a day or a week to ship a package, but it stays in our environment for thousands of years. I think I’ve come up with an alternative…
In this animation from Joe’s Big Idea, mechanical engineer and Evocative Design co-founder Eben Bayer tells the story of how a fungus he saw on his family farm eventually inspired the idea of mycelium packaging. Mycelia are white, root-like threads of fungus that branch and weave as they grow and sprout mushrooms. From Fast Company:
Ecovative first launched a decade ago by making packaging, now used by Dell and Ikea, that injects farm waste products with mushroom spawn inside a mold. Days later, the mycelium completes the growth of the product, which can be used as a compostable alternative to Styrofoam. The same process can also be used to grow building materials…
The process involves growing trays of mycelia, along with a nutritious substrate, in long walk-in tunnels. By controlling temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, airflow, and other factors, it’s possible to control the geometry, density, size, and shape of the material.
Learn more about mycelium and Bayer’s work in these two videos: Biodegradable mushroom packaging from Ecovative Designs and Fungus: The Plastic of the Future.
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