Better than Plastics? – Insulation and Packaging from Mushrooms

Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre at Ecovative

End of the Plastic Age - Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre at Ecovative

Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre at Ecovative has developed a way to create packaging material and house insulation from mushrooms that are 100% compostable, more fire resistant than plastic alternatives, and created with absolutely zero petroleum consumed.

Not mushrooms exactly, but mycelium, the life force behind mushroom spores.

It’s no revelation that plastics and styrofoam are some of the worst, least sustainable, and least eco friendly products on the planet. In landfills all over the world, 25% of the discarded material is some form of styrofoam. The packaging required to ship that stereo you just purchased required 1.5 liters of petroleum to create just 33 square centimeters of plastic packaging foam.

That styrofoam never actually decomposes, its floating around our oceans, sitting in our landfills, completely unnatural, and today, deemed completely unnecessary.

Eben Bayer has begun ‘growing’ his mycelium alternatives and distributing to companies world wide. The mycelium is combined with waste products, such as corn husks, rice husks, or other organic waste and can be molded into almost any shape. The mycelium bonds with the organic waste and fits into the shape of the mold, generating a zero-waste end product that contains 100% of what was used to create it. This time around Eben produced furniture packing corners, dubbed “EcoCradle” which were bought by a Fortune 500 company and used to ship furniture around the world.

Is it really better?

One problem Eben began to encounter was that the word “green” to many companies meant “too expensive to justify” or “impractical for mass production” Eben adjusted his pitch accordingly, when first trying to get his company off the ground. He began marketing EcoCradle as an efficient product that just happened to be more eco-friendly.

His Greensulate insulation, for example, actually acts as a firewall. It can absorb the heat of a direct blowtorch flame, as oppose to styrofoam that just goes up in a whiff of toxic smoke.

Greensulate won't burn

Unlike your home's insulation, Greensulate won't burn, even under direct flame

The material is quick to produce as well. Once the organic waste is placed into the mold and infused with mycelium, it assembles itself in just 5 days.

How can I get involved?

Eben’s company, Ecovative, is in talks with several Fortune 500 companies to switch over their entire operation to use his products.

EcoCradle is commercially available now, and can be purchased by contacting sales@ecovativedesign.com. Free quotes are available via email or by calling directly at (518) 273-3753 Ecovative Operator : ext. 1005.

Greensulate is expected to begin commercially shipping at the end of 2010.

Ecovate Mushrooms

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