Eben Bayer (US)

Eben Bayer grew up on a maple farm in Vermont (USA). To fire up the boiler, they’d use wood chips, which is how Bayer first learned about mycelium or “nature’s glue”. Heaps of wood chips would start to sprout mushrooms when left exposed to the elements. Chunks would stick together due to the mycelium in the mushrooms. At the time, Bayer probably didn’t think he would ever use this knowledge to transform the packaging industry, but that is exactly what happened.

Ecovative’s core mission is to envision, develop, produce, and market Earth friendly materials, which, unlike conventional synthetics, can have a positive impact on our planet’s ecosystem. The biomaterials company invented Mushroom® Materials, a new insulation material using agricultural waste and mycelium.

Mycelium is added to shredded agricultural waste, bought from regional farmers. The mycelium forms a matrix of white fibres and coats the waste particles. When you break this up into loose particles again and put them in a mold, the mycelium grows through and around the particles, forming a solid structure and filling any void space. After a few days the material is solid and is dried to stop growth and prevent it from producing mushrooms or spores.

Mushroom® Materials do not degrade without exposure to living organisms and moisture. Only if you expose it to the right conditions it will naturally decompose again.

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