Fungi as Packaging, Housing, Meat Substitute

A guy named Eben Bayer has been spearheading recent developments in the use of fungi for biodegradable packaging, housing and even meat substitutes! Although not explicitly covered in the linked blog post, fungi can be used to make packaging that is great for protecting glass or other breakable products at a competitive cost, while at the same time using a smaller carbon footprint to create the packaging.

The packaging is durable enough to be reused if possible, but if it no longer serves a purpose, the packaging can be quickly composted because it contains only brown materials like sawdust and mycelium that have been dried and baked to stop mycelial growth. There are no artificial, non-compostable parts in the packaging. Just break it up and toss it in a compost pile.

Here’s a link to the post: Protecting Fungal Biodiversity Critical to Life on Earth

Background

Fungi are neither plant nor animal. There are six known kingdoms of life on Planet Earth: Plants, Animals and Fungi are the three most understood. Fungal Diversity Survey or “FunDiS” are a citizen science program whose mission is to genetically and photographically catalog as many fungi as can be possibly studied throughout the world. Why? We’ve only recently begun to understand that the diversity of fungi are lot more important to the sustainability of the plant and animal kingdoms than previously known. We’re losing plant and animal diversity at a staggering rate yearly, but just as importantly, we’re losing fungal species too.

Fungi can manage so many of our modern conveniences at a fraction of the carbon footprint we hold today. All we need to do is research and develop those tools. Imagine living in a house made of fungus: it serves both as shelter and as a carbon sink for as long as the house is maintained. We already love eating mushrooms as a species, and mushrooms contain a certain umami element that can often serve well as a meat substitute. New fungal meat substitutes will likely be able to satisfy the cravings of most meat connoisseurs. Fungi are integral to composting, and will be integral to comprehensive challenges that face our world today: food, clothing, shelter, distribution. I look forward to where this adventure takes us!

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