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The cellular structure of mushrooms is unique on Earth. Mushrooms can be easily processed into building materials, for example, to create eco-buildings and nature-inspired architecture.
But we’re still discovering the many gifts that the mushroom has to teach us. Here are just a few of the ways that mycelium can be utilized to restore balance to the planet. This is how fungi could save the planet!
Fantastic Fungi filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg explained in a recent interview:
“What do plants need in order to survive? They need soil. Where does soil come from? It comes from the largest organism on the planet. It is everywhere. It can heal you, it can feed you, it can shift your consciousness. It’s under your feet. What am I talking about? Mycelium.”
One lesson the mushroom has for humans is a process called mycoremediation. The phrase literally means ‘to restore balance’. This points to the mushroom’s innate ability to grow in waste and create new life out of compost. In mycoremediation, mycelium can “eat” or break down oil and other chemicals. In environments with chemical or oil spills, mushrooms can break down toxins and continue to grow.
Another sustainable development in fungi science is mushroom plastic. Rather than petroleum-based products that last hundreds of years, mushroom plastic containers are 100% compostable after usage. They could offer an ecologically sound alternative to things like styrofoam shipping packing, takeout containers, and more.
Mushrooms may also be the 21st century’s answer to climate change. Why? They are agents of “carbon sequestration,” meaning that mycelium stores carbon from trees and other plants in the soil, which helps keep our planet alive.
In a more bizarre twist, researchers are now testing fungi from Chernobyl as a potential solution to protecting astronauts from radiation.
The adaptability and interconnectedness of mycelia are the gifts of the mushroom. Mycologists learn more about the healing power of mushrooms every day. The consumption of medicinal mushrooms and explorations of new sustainable applications will only grow as more people realize the powerful nature of these incredible fungi.