Packing it up with Mushrooms

By Susan Littlefield

You're probably used to having piles of foam packing ″peanuts″ cascade out of shipping boxes. But how about some packing material that really comes from the natural world? That was the idea of a couple of innovative mechanical engineers in Green Island, N.Y. Their company, Ecovative Design, uses mushrooms as the main ingredient in the packaging blocks it produces.

Actually, the packing material isn't made of what probably comes to mind when we think of a mushroom, which is the fruiting part of the fungus. Instead what's used is the mycelium, the root-like network of fine strands of fungal material that threads through the wood or other substrate on which the mushroom grows. These fungal filaments are used to bind together the husks of seeds or other agricultural byproducts to create an eco-friendly, compostable packing material that offers an alternative to packing products made from non-renewable resources.

The five-year-old company is growing as fast as -- well -- mushrooms in the rain, and they have plans to expand their line to products as diverse as footwear and car bumpers.

To read more about Ecovative Design and its fungus-based products, go to: Burlington Free Press.

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