One of the country’s top young innovators is using mushrooms to grow bio-degradable products.
Ecovative’s foam stools are essentially made from two ingredients, agricultural by-products like corn stalk and mycelium or mushrooms.
“It’s like nature’s glue, so it’s a living plastic and we grow it to create all sorts of materials for your home,” says Ecovative, Co-founder Eben Bayer.
He says its all in an effort to move away from plastic and styrofoam.
His company launched in 2010 using mushrooms as the basis of its foam packaging.
“Which is used by folks like Dell to ship their servers around the world, it’s a beautiful material. It looks like styrofoam but when you get it you can throw it in your garden so you get a nutrient not a pollutant,” says Bayer.
Now his company is taking off with the addition of a new line of mushroom-grown furniture.
The furniture, which starts at around $100 a piece, is something you can technically chew on.
“But we don’t recommend it, they’re structural and they taste pretty bad,” Bayer jokes.
The 31-year-old grew up on a maple sugar farm in Bethel, Vermont.
“The inspiration for all the products you see here today is mycelium, which I saw growing up on the wood chips on our wood pile that I used to shovel into our maple sugar evaporator,” says Bayer.
Now he’s excited to take his company to new heights with his mushroom furniture, which he says are eco-friendly and very durable.
“The material properties can range everywhere from being really soft and squishy to being strong as a nice hard wood and that’s the beautiful thing about biology, based on how you grow it, you gets lots of different properties.”
Ecovative employs about 80 people with its manufacturing plant based in Troy, New York.