Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Biodegradable Mushroom Packaging

I find that mushrooms are one of those things most people have strong feelings about--they either love them or they hate them. I personally have had a lifelong NOT love affair with them. It's a texture thing, I don't like them at all, and as my mother (a mushroom fan) will attest--I never did!

But, I think I might have found my favorite use of them yet. They are being used more and more in biodegradable packaging. As a person who has an equal detest for packaging, this may be my personal equivalent of 2 "wrongs" that do indeed make a "right." It can replace those big evil styrofoam blocks we find in hundreds of products we buy. Styrofoam, which is the branded [but more known] name for polystyrene foam, is made of plastic which comes from the limited resource of petroleum. We all know how hard that resource is hitting us at the gas pumps these days!

Using mycelium (a fungus--which, of course, is plant based--and is the root structure of mushrooms) with hemp hurd (a byproduct of the hemp fiber industry), companies such as Ecovative Design can create molds for packaging. Several years ago IKEA made a commitment to biodegradable mushroom packagingIKEA has a deep commitment to environmental sustainability, so it should be no surprise that this is one of their initiatives. But, IKEA is not alone in in using this type of biodegradable packaging. Dell and Crate and Barrel are also on the mushroom bandwagon. Here is a video from Ecovative Design that shows the making of these mycelium molds.

When the mushroom-packed product gets to your house, you can break apart the packaging and put it out in your yard, compost, or garden and it will decompose in a few short weeks. Additionally, it adds nutrients to your soil. Styrofoam, which takes 500+ years to biodegrade and is a carcinogen, certainly can't do that.

This type of packaging being around for more than a decade. Given that, we should be seeing more of it than we do. But the good news, according to Ecovative Design's blog, they are growing (not to mention, they earned $60 million in 2021), which means it is becoming more and more commonplace. I "root" for more mushrooms than ever before! (Pun intended!😊)

Videos from and and picture from

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