Plastic is one of the leading causes of pollution and infiltrates the ocean with over 8 million pieces of debris daily. Landfills are being encompassed and overrun by wasted plastics, from one-time-use, to synthetic textiles, to home decor, and more. Plastic production is still high with an annual development of over 380 million tons of plastic materials. Environmentalists and conservationists have continued to spread awareness about the expected dangers, and spark strong actions among high distribution companies in turn – many companies have been created strictly for sustainability purposes. Developing an efficient alternative has been the strong ideal for decades. So what is a strong alternative?

Mushrooms! PermaFungi has been constructing household products and items from mushrooms since 2014. From their first tests and experiments, they believed that mushrooms were the natural, viable answer to the plastic problem. Their mission is defined under three key activities – eat, grow, learn. Their mission is to contribute to the growth of urban resilience. Urban resilience, as defined by activist Rob Hopkins under Transition Movement, to be “the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedback.”

Based in Belgium, PermaFungi produces local and organic food from coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are the main, natural fertilizer for their mushroom farms and the base for their biodegradable lamps. They also provide growing test kits to be used at home, so people learn about urban resilience and reconnect to the healthy practice of food. Through guided workshops and training, they promote and educate curious minds to contribute to urban agriculture, strengthening the concept of a circular economy. Back in 2013, their starting goal with these original projects was based on two observations the company believed they could fix – an abundance of urban waste and the high unemployment rate among the younger generations.

Adding to their next steps in eco-innovation, PermaFungi has developed a sustainable material from their cultivated oyster mushroom champost and mycelium. Mycelium are the fungal threads found in mushroom seeds that can be used as a strong alternative to plastic. It generates 10 times less carbon dioxide and uses 8 times less energy during the production stage. These unique designs and products are made without artificial materials and put through non-chemical processes. This new found material has strong qualities in terms of strength, durability, longevity, fire resistance, and versatility.

There is a long lasting potential for the use of these materials – in design, insulation, packaging, and product progression. The products created from this material are made to order and provide an eco-conscious commitment to our environment.