Packaging powered by magic mushrooms

Remember those annoying and environmentally incorrect Styrofoam peanuts that would messily tumble out of gadget-packed boxes? It was only a matter of time before packing material got less annoying as well as more sustainable. And while you won’t find packaging made from actual peanuts, what would you say to mushroom roots? That’s one of the key ingredients behind EcoCradle.

Well, mushroom root is the layperson’s term – it’s fungal mycelium, actually, that’s allowed to grow for about 5-10 days among agricultural waste products like rice hulls and cotton gin trash. The end result, according to Ecocradle inventors Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre is “all-natural, rigid material…with similar material properties and cost as synthetic foams like expanded polystyrene,” better known as our old friend Styrofoam.

Like many inventions, EcoCradle came about somewhat serendipitously. Bayer and McIntyre were “fascinated by mushrooms growing on wood chips, and observing how the fungal mycelium strongly bonded the wood chips together” and figured if the fungus could be that durable, it could be put to other uses. EcoCradle is not only durable, but it’s pliable and totally biodegradable. It’s also completely safe and even edible, say the makers, though they note that ”it’s non-nutritious and doesn’t taste good.”

Check out the embedded video to hear more about this noble idea.

Image source: Ecovative Design LLC

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