A while back we wrote a post about a specific amazing fungi being able to digest polyurethane, but when thinking about environmentally friendly alternatives to the huge styrofoam (Polystyrene) packaging problem, do mushrooms come to mind?
They will now. In 2007, Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre founded Ecovative Design, a company that creates a mushroom based alternative to styrofoam packaging!
How does it work? After becoming fascinated with mushrooms growing in wood chips, Eben and Gavin noticed how the fungal mycelium (the vegetative part containing thread like hyphae) strongly bonded the wood chips together. this observation inspired them to think about using the mycelium as a bonding resin.
EcoCradle uses agricultural waste such as buckwheat husks, oat hulls, or cotton burrs for the mycelium to grow around which will form to any mold made by the company. After 5 to 7 days in the dark, without water, "the mycelium envelops the by-products, binding them into a strong and beautiful packaging part."
This time-lapse video condenses 14 days of EcoCradle growth into 14 seconds:
Simply amazing! Another amazing aspect of this new earth friendly packaging, which attributes to it's durability, is the fact that inside each cubic inch of an EcoCradle package is a matrix of 8 miles of tiny mycelial fibers!
EcoCradle offers packaging products such as wine shippers, corner blocks, and small or large panels as well as consumer products such as candles, bowls, message boards, Basil starter pots, and even toy "rubber" duckies! Custom products and design are also available.
All these products are made from mushrooms and agricultural byproducts and are 100% compostable!
Below is a short video explanation from EcoCradle's CEO, Eben Bayer, before their launch in 2010: