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Mycelium 101: How can mushrooms help solve the issue of single-use plastic?

Stories

4-minute read

What is neither a plant nor an animal, has over 1.5 million different varieties, is the most prolific recycler in the world and can be used to make everything from coffee to lampshades?

Mushrooms.

Their roots, called Mycelium, to be precise.

Now available for pre-order: Seedlip’s new bio-contributing mycelium gift set with Seedlip Spice 94 and a recycled glass Highball. We know many of you must be thinking ‘myceli-what?’

This handy breakdown of Mycelium 101 will hopefully help to explain the real magic in this mushroom packaging, and how it can help solve the issue of single-use plastic.

So, what is Mycelium?

Mycelium is the largest organism on the planet.

It is the branching, underground, root-like structure of mushrooms that enables the plants to communicate with one another and exchange nutrients.

You can think of it as Nature’s internet. An invisible network where connections, links and exchanges are happening unnoticed beneath our feet.

Mycelium is also Nature’s biggest recycler. It breaks down toxins, such as plastic or oil, turning them into available nourishment to help other living organisms thrive.

As it consumes organic matter and contaminating substances, mycelium branches out, quickly creating a web of thread-like filaments [hyphae]. These quick-growing filaments are what makes mycelium an efficient packaging solution. It takes around seven days to grow our mycelium packaging – and, then, approximately 40 days for them to biodegrade.

How does Mycelium technology work?

We have Magical Mushroom Company to thank for the mycelium technology that makes this package possible. The process starts by upcycling natural crop fibres, such as corn husks and hemp, that are of no further use to regional farmers. Applying the same natural process that occurs in Nature, the mycelium works to break down these natural fibres. In doing so, they form their characteristic web of durable thread-like filaments that can be shaped and directed into various types of product packaging. This occurs inside an environmentally controlled vertical grow system within a matter of a week.

The result is a fully biodegradable, recyclable and compostable alternative to petroleum-based polymers in traditional packaging. It’s both lightweight and durable, as well as moisture and fire resistant. And, no, it does not mean your Seedlip gift set will sprout mushrooms at any point.

What does it mean for packaging & plastic usage?

Mycelium provides a robust, sustainable alternative to plastic foams, such as polystyrene. Rather than break down into microbeads harmful to wildlife and marine habitats, the mycelium packaging breaks down into, well, nothing at all… and adds useful nutrients to the soil. This is what it means to be bio-contributing.

Sebastian Cox made lampshades with it, Seed packages their probiotics in it, and IKEA replaced all their polystyrene with it. Mushrooms are the future of packaging solutions. And considering the world currently generates 2.01 billion tonnes of solid waste annually, of which paper and cardboard make up 17 percent of global waste and plastic 12 percent [World Bank 2020], we’re in need of a solution as such.

Mycelium is fully home-compostable, so not only is it not contributing to global waste, but rather bio-contributing to the soil. Plus, it uses only a fraction of the amount of energy needed to produce plastic or cardboard.

We are so looking forward to launching our Seedlip Spice 94 Mycelium Gift Set made of this magical, natural material–and even more excited to throw them away. Pre-order a pack for yourself or as a gift HERE.

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