Green Building/Remodeling

Published on November 16th, 2011 | by Lynn Fang


Ecocradle: The Future of Styrofoam is a Mushroom

ecocradle wine shipper

Ecocradle is the world’s first packaging material made from mushrooms. In actuality, they are using mycelium, which are the cellular networks of fungi. The mushroom itself is the fruiting body of the fungal mycelium, the part we’ve come to know as food.

In 2007, two graduates from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre, founded Ecovative Design, a design firm interested in sustainably produced products that restore natural resources. Ecocradle was launched in 2010.

How Does It Work?

  1. A mold is created to grow the mycelia into the desired shape.
  2. Next, add agricultural byproducts that would normally be thrown out or burned, such as rice hulls or cotton gin trash.
  3. Mycelium is introduced via a patented process, and is allowed to grow for 5-10 days. The mycelia will metabolize the agricultural waste products and fill the space with their fibrous cells, transforming loose waste into a rigid material. During this time, nothing except fungal growth happens. The mycelium self-assembles lignin and cellulose into strong bio-composites, eliminating the need for high heat, pressure, or energy.

You can compost Ecocradle products in your own home, unlike most bio-plastics that require high heat and pressure to disintegrate. There are no spores used in the growth process, so Ecocradle is hypoallergenic, and you’ll never have to worry about a mushroom growing.

Ecocradle harnesses natural processes to turn waste into new, usable and profitable materials.

See Eben Bayer’s popular TED talk on the process behind Ecocradle development here

[Image used with permission by (Ecocradle)]

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About the Author

is a compost consultant and educator, eco-conscious writer, and intuitive artist. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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