This week we're talking about fungus two ways. One that can survive exclusively on polyurethane and another that can replace Styrofoam.
Both polyurethane and styrofoam are not biodegradable, so without a solution, all the plastic bottles and old toys we throw out every year will be sitting in landfills for centuries.
Yes, you can recycle plastic, but that just means turning it into another product and recycling hasn't sufficiently slowed the production of new plastic.
According to a Yale study, globally we produced 245 million tons of plastic in 2006, compared to only 1.5 million tons in 1950.
One of the fungi we're looking at is called pestalotiopsis microspora. It was discovered by a group of Yale researchers on an expedition in Ecuador and can subsist on polyurethane alone in airless environments, like the bottom of a landfill.
The other comes from a couple of college friends who discovered that the sticky substance on the bottom of mushrooms called mycelium could be turned into a glue and when that glue is combined with corn husks and other food byproducts it takes on a form similar to Styrofoam. Their company, Ecovative wants used Styrofoam to become mulch, not waste.
A future with less plastic and more mulch, all thanks to fungus.
I guess it all goes to show that the planet CAN take care of itself, and it WILL take care of itself, no matter what puny "mankind" does or does not do!
That is not to say that we, as individuals, should not do our best to keep our area of responsibility clean!
CM1, USN (RET)
2002 Fleetwood Southwind 32V, Ford V10
Toad: 2006 Jeep Rubicon LJ
Other toad: '06 PT Cruiser, Kar Kaddy dolly
Toy: 1977 Dodge W100 CC SWB, 3/4 ton axles & springs
"When seconds count, help is only minutes away!"
Many many years ago, before we were environmentally correct, we use to dump motor oil, at one spot. A piece, of wood on it. I picked it up and there were lots, of slugs, on it. There many holes and slime trails out of the soil. They were all kinda yellow. It was apparent, to me, they were living in the soil and feeding on the stuff.
It's all a question of time - most everything can be eaten by something, in theory, although for some material evolution might need to take place first. The planet will indeed take care of itself over time. The question in terms of the environment is how fast, and at what point our changes make the planet inhospitable to us. I rather prefer it being a pleasant place for us to live.