Super Mario and the gang might have been onto something with all their mushroom gathering. The mighty mushroom is brain food — they are packed with vitamins, minerals and probiotic immune strengthening properties and are also incredibly diverse and versatile. Not only can certain types of the gilled fungi be consumed, they can be turned into sturdy packaging materials and furniture that are non-toxic, biodegradable and non-disruptive to the environment.
Innovative design company Ecovative, based in Green Island, N.Y., has been creating mushroom-based materials since 2007 and recently announced a deal with Ford to develop a fungus-based, biodegradable foam to be used in car bumpers, side doors and dashboards, potentially replacing petroleum-based plastics.
Ecovative is no stranger to clever design, having already won a number of federal competitions and accolades from the World Economic Forum for its alternative to Stryofoam (with its packaging product, EcoCradle) and green-insulation product, Greensulate.
The secret to Ecovative
One challenge Ecovative faces is to ensure that the material is uniform enough to pass safety requirements, especially since its manufacturing process requires growth of a living organism. If the company is able to do this, it could replace the plastics currently used in cars. A fender made of mushroom-based material will decompose after a month of being buried in the soil.
Mushrooms may not please everyone’s palate, but even mushroom-haters can agree they’re good for something.