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Mushrooms hide in the dirt and they invisibly process waste from the forest, recycling it into usable material for plants and trees. So how could they play such a major role in building a more sustainable world? Fungi are a model of interconnectedness that illuminates new ways of living.
Fantastic Fungi highlighted the work of William Padilla-Brown, the founder of MycoSymbiotics.
He found a way to change his life and his neighborhood through mycology.
“I was a city kid, I just played video games. My parents never really took me on hikes or went outside. So finding mushrooms to me was like a spiritual journey.” Today this self-taught “citizen-scientist” is one of the most respected mycologists in the world.
Networks of beings connected in one pulsing ecosystem is the real truth of the natural world. When humans learn from fungi and incorporate this system thinking into the human world, the result is a much more sustainable way of life. This is how we use fungi for a sustainable world!
One powerful example is how some farmers are beginning to grow mushrooms instead of livestock. This process often involves less square footage, and typically produces results in much less time. Mushrooms production also results in less CO2 emissions than those resulting from raising livestock. In another sustainable twist on grain farming, some growers are using spent grain as a planting ground for mushrooms. Previously, animals had been allowed to eat this grain and it gave them gas, resulting in lots of methane gas emissions. Instead, a nutritious crop of mushrooms can be grown in the wasted grain pile. This creates additional jobs and nutrition without harming the environment.
Overall, mushrooms have a lot to teach us about sustainability in two ways. The first is that the actual material of mycelium is very sustainable. It can be used in architecture, as packaging, and to replace other non-sustainable materials. The second way is that fungi follow a model of existence that is based on interconnectedness. Fungi exist in symbiotic relationships with the rest of the plant world. They make it possible for dead matter to decompose and be used to nourish new growth. Mushroom networks communicate via vast underground connections, spreading wisdom over miles just by staying connected.
We can learn from fungi in many ways to help us build a more sustainable world. Start here to learn more about the role mushrooms play in creating a sustainable future.