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Sunday, January 12, 2014

VIDEO: You can't cook with styrofoam

Using Shrooms to Solve the Packaging Problem

The holidays have just ended and I’m sure most people can confess to shipping a package padded with Styrofoam. This Styrofoam is destined for the landfill, where it will stay for eternity, because Styrofoam doesn’t decompose. There’s got to be a better way to safely ship valuables without using a product that is so wasteful.
In fact, there is.

The company Ecovative has developed a sustainable Styrofoam alternative (short for ecology and innovative), which they’ve named aptly named “Mushroom Materials”. As the name suggests, “Mushroom Materials” is made from agricultural waste bound together by fungus’s mycelium, which is the vegetative growth stage in fungus. Instead of being thrown in the trash,  used “Mushroom Materials” can be thrown to decompose in the garden.

Though they do not make packing peanuts, they do come in a variety of shapes and can be customizable for businesses. Ecovative is hoping to expand the uses of this innovative product, and are working on a range of other experimental projects besides packaging. Some of these projects include insulation materials, a house (see below video) and surfboards. According to their website “Mushroom Materials” are cost competitive with plastic foams when bought in volume.

Ecovative has received grants from the National Sciences Foundation, the EPA, and the USDA to name a few.  Hopefully Ecovative will continue to receive funding to experiment with the power of mushrooms.

  Mushrooms via Shutterstock