Styrofoam is everywhere! We use it for packaging, restaurant take-out containers, disposable cups, and building materials. It's a cheap, lightweight material, but it's hurting the environment. Styrofoam currently makes up 25% of the landfills in the U.S. alone! We usually only use styrofoam for a day or two to ship a package or grab a drink, but it takes thousands of years to start decomposing. A mechanical engineer named Eben Bayer has developed a new material we can use instead of styrofoam... and it's made from mushrooms!
When Eben was a kid living on his family farm, he discovered something that looked like spider webs holding a pile of wood chips together. Those webs were actually mycelium, the roots of mushrooms. This eventually inspired him to start his company, Evocative Design, which makes packaging materials by mixing local farm waste with mycelium! It takes 7 days to grow the material and it can be molded into any shape. When you're done using the mycelium packaging you can throw it outside, and it will become delicious food for plants or fish! The company has started experimenting with other uses for the material, like beauty products, fashion, shoes, building materials, car parts, and even food!
What could you create with this material? Show us your ideas in the design section!
(Image Credit: Velolia)