Are you frustrated by the sheer amount of plastic “packing peanuts” that arrive in your mail order boxes? Those tiny pieces of synthetic material that stick to your clothes and can wind up in every nook and cranny of your house? If you’ve ever been concerned about the environmental effect those packing materials can have, you may be interested to learn that Evocative Design, a plant in New York founded by Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer, has sidestepped using synthetic material altogether. Instead, their design calls for mushroom parts to comprise the bulk of the packing material, primarily mycelium, the roots of the mushroom you normally wouldn’t see.
McIntyre and Bayer, both in their twenties, have discovered a way to produce mycelium in such a way that it grows together with seed husks or other related offshoots of agricultural production to form shapes that are ideal for packing. They also make a lovely green alternative.
As eco-friendly solutions grow ever more popular, Evocative Design has found itself in exactly the right place at the right time to help out the environment while making a tidy profit for themselves. Business has been so good, in fact, that the young gentlemen behind it have decided to expand into footwear and vehicle bumpers. One of the advantages, they believe, is that the fungus they use can be changed and its growth conditions altered in such a way that there is some flexibility in what it can produce.
Bayer first noted that mycelium had elastic properties as a child on a farm in Vermont. When he teamed up with McIntyre, the boys exhibited their business savvy when they chose packing materials over insulation, figuring that they’d make more money. Now they run an attractive business that may utilize promo codes for interested customers.
Not too bad for a couple of former engineering students who recently turned a deal with the corporation known for producing Bubble Wrap.
The geniuses behind this eco-friendly design also recently increased their workshop area, where employees grow mycelium, mix it with other byproducts like seed husks or stalks, then create the preferred piece by placing it all into a plastic mold. While the mixture remains covered for five days, the mycelium becomes an adhesive as it grows over and through the feedstock. The next step insures that any future mushrooms will be prevented from sprouting as the mixture is heated to kill any fungus.
Anything that can be made of plastic, the boys believe, can probably be replaced with mycelium.
Evocative now employs 42 workers, has received millions of dollars in grant money, and attracts big name companies like Dell, who have an investment in pursuing green initiatives like the one offered by Bayer and McIntyre.
One of the benefits of these fungal chips is that they are created from cloned mycelium, meaning there are no spores involved so no one handling them should have an allergic reaction. In addition, they are completely biodegradable and break down within six to nine months. They can also be eaten, though McIntyre and Bayer don’t recommend this approach to recycling.
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