Mushrooms might not seem so special — something that you put in your soup or grow on your lawn. But the applications for using mushrooms to solve sustainability challenges seem almost magical. While scientists have identified around 75,000 species of fungi, there could be as many as a million fungal species yet to be identified. Given their many uses, innovators around the world are finding exciting new ways to create value from mushrooms, from replacing plastics to creating biofuel.
Here are four of the most interesting:
1. Replacing plastics
New York-based company Ecovative has found a way to turn mushrooms into materials that perform like plastics but are made by mushrooms — specifically by their webs of thread-like roots, known as mycelium, which consume crop waste. These materials can be grown and recycled, rather than drilled, pumped, refined and discarded.
Plastic waste is a major problem, and it’s only getting worse. Americans are creating more plastic trash than ever, and very little of it gets recycled. Plastics and their byproducts are trashing our cities, oceans and waterways, and contributing to health problems in humans and animals. By 2050, there may be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans. That’s why any alternative to...