How Mushrooms Are Saving Our Planet, Through Alternative Packaging, Food, Clothing
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Plastics have become one of the most wide-spread, harmful substances around the world, due to its excessive use and non-biodegradable nature. In America, more than 100 billion plastic bags are discarded annually. The use of plastic is now plaguing us: About 91% of plastic is not recycled and we consume about 5 grams of micro plastic waste in our food every week. Now there is a possible solution, by using fungus, mycelium. Mycelium technology, plastic-like replacement with many uses and new opportunities for products even in wearable technology, might just be the next boom. Let’s take a look at how mycelium technology can help us to achieve a more renewable and cleaner future, in the video published on June 22, 2021, “Is Mycelium Fungus the Plastic of the Future?” with Matt Ferrell, in Undecided with Matt Ferrell, below:
Mycelium in the underground organism, with root-like body for fungi that produces mushrooms. If comparing to a plant, mycelium is the root and the mushroom is the flower. Fungi are important in ecosystems due to their ability to recycle nutrients, allowing previously locked away nutrients to become available to other organisms, such as plants. Mycelium is robust and able to spread easily under the right conditions. As it grows it releases enzymes to digest the surroundings and absorb the nutrients. Eventually the cells begin to branch out and continue to grow to build a vast mycelial network, and it’s only when it’s fully built that mushrooms begin to grow. And this is where we can tap into its potential. Rather than letting mushrooms pop up, humans can create forms around the mycelium as they grow to build predictable structures by providing a framework.
The production process is very simple: it uses a mix of agriculture waste, which could be anything from hemp to wood chips, and it’s bound with mycelium structures. After that, the base material for most mycelium-based products (foam) is put in molds for whatever one is trying to make, and placed in an environment with controlled CO2, humidity levels, airflow, and temperature. It’s a quick process because fibers can be found after just a few hours and a visible layer after a day or two. Usually within a week, the mycelium foam fills the mold. So, overall it takes about a week. Mycelium foam is a great insulator, resilient, safe, strong, and biodegradable, which opens up a world of possibilities for a wide range of products (such as packaging, clothing, construction and even food. Unlike plastic and other synthetic materials, which can take hundreds of years to decompose.Mycelium-based products naturally degrade after their intended product cycle. Furthermore, mycelium foam is inexpensive and cost-competitive with polystyrene foam. Mycelium technology has spawned a lot of companies from several industries around the world.
The pioneer of mycelium technology was Ecovative, introduced mycelium technology in 2006. With more than 40 patents in 31 countries, most mycelium composites and materials are actually made under their license. Ecovative developed several branches of products. Its MycoFlex technology, for example, is used to produce everything from lightweight insulating lofts for gloves to high-performance foams in footwear. It’s heat resistant, insulating, breathable, and strong. In packaging materials, they’ve created a high-performing, cost-competitive solution that provides thermal insulation, water resistance, and decomposes in the soil within 45 days. It’s a great alternative for polystyrene. Mushroom-based packaging uses only 12% of the energy from plastic production and generates 90% less CO2 equivalents. Some examples of companies licensing this technology are the Magical Mushroom Company is the U.K., Paradise Packaging Co. in California, Grown.bio in the Netherlands, and BioFab in New Zealand. IKEA announced that they’re going to replace styrofoam packaging with MycoComposite for all of its products. Ecovative has also spun out Atlast Food Co. which creates whole cut plant-based meats. Unlike other plant-based meats, the products from Atlast have almost no processing. Part of the reason it works so well as a fake meat is because mycelium fibers grow together in a tissue that resembles the fiber-like texture of muscle tissues in animals. Bolt Threads is using their Mylo technology as a sustainable alternative to leather will be seen in the market through their partners, such as Adidas, Kering, Lululemon, and Stella McCartney. Adidas has recently launched the Adidas’ Stan Smith Mylo, the first shoe of its type to be made with mushroom-based material. It was used in the classic three stripes, heel tab overlay and signature branding that their shoes are known for. For most products, mycelium is heated long before it reaches the customer in order to kill it, maintain the product’s intended form and prevent growing mushrooms and spewing spores.
A biotech company in upstate New York designs products made from the root structures of mushrooms. It takes about a week to grow their alternative to styrofoam packaging. And their vegan meat can be sliced into whole cuts and crisps up like bacon when fried, in the video published on April 11, 2021, “How Mushrooms Are Turned Into Bacon And Styrofoam | World Wide Waste“, below:
To Appreciate Mushrooms, in the videos below:
William Padilla-Brown is a citizen scientist who, at a relatively young age, taught himself the ways of mushroom cultivation in order to change the world. William made waves as the first American to grow cordyceps, a rare orange mushroom that grows from the larvae of insects. William heads a citizen-run research center dedicated to environmental regeneration efforts with the belief that connecting more to the environment will aid humans in its preservation. He advocates growing your own mushrooms as a means for both food and education, in the video published on Jun e10, 2021, “Growing the Rarest Edible Mushrooms“, below:
In the video published on Sept 4, 2020, “Stephen Axford: How fungi changed my view of the world“, below:
Step into the mushroom kingdom and unlock the secrets of fungi. From lions mane and reishi to shiitake and pink oyster, these healthy and delicious mushroom species are worth the effort it takes to grow them. With incredible cognitive and neurological benefits, these mushrooms may hold the key to solutions for many of society’s ailments, in the video published on July 9, 2020, “Cultivating Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms | PARAGRAPHIC“, below:
Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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