Guest Blog by Anaïs Passera of Grown.Bio with an update by Claire Attkisson
Carbon is not the problem. Carbon is not the enemy. Carbon is a key building block of all life. It belongs. It belongs in our soil. It belongs in our bodies. It does NOT belong in such huge quantities in our atmosphere and air. This may sound insane at first. You see, sustainability has a narrative problem. The sustainability community focuses on the “moral” narrative too much and at our peril: “do good”; “be less bad” ;“do the right thing”; “zero carbon”; “net zero”….It’s easy to get caught up in this language. I do too. We see climate change as a moral cause because we are finally seeing the true cost of designing and powering an economy outside of the laws of nature: our very own human existence is hanging in the balance. It’s not “save the polar bears” time. It’s “save the humans” time. Now we’re awake. Well, at least some of us are.
Why I take issue with the moral sustainability narrative is that it makes some of us “good” and others “bad”. This division will never lead to global change and success. Instead, McDonough (founder of cradle-to-cradle design) and Benyus (founder of biomimicry) argue that nature has already figured out how billions of species can thrive together over billions of years.
So how does nature do it? Nature’s laws of life are:
1. There is no such thing as waste, just biodegradability: death=life; waste=food;
2. Energy comes from the sun;
3. Oxygen and carbon are the bases of all life;
4. Nature competes, but mainly cooperates through symbiotic relationships. We didn’t set out to design our global economy to harm people and destroy the planet. Now we know.
Now we know carbon belongs in the Earth and in us. The sustainability narrative I’m promoting is about sharing what makes “good design”. Good design isn’t just how cool something looks or functions (yes, this is very important), but how it incorporates the laws of nature. Good design fosters life.
Grown.Bio is a company designing packaging and products that do just that—naturally. Grown.Bio grows material from mycelium and wast-streams, creating a fully biodegradable material that also captures and stores carbon.
Grown.Bio support the transition to a circular economy by creating a biodegradable product through a production process that is CO2 negative. It is the ONLY material, together with algae, that is capable of acting as a carbon sink.
How is this possible? Mycelium is a living organism that captures CO2 from the atmosphere during its growth process and stores it in the material. How wonderful is that!
Mycelium is the root system of mushrooms. This allows Grown.Bio to literally grow products such as packaging, insulation panels or interior design objects and furniture. Mycelium has a binding effect and ensures that the grown network of fungal threads glues a substrate together.
Any product shape and size can be ‘grown’ in a mold. The process takes about 5 days, after which the product is removed from the mold to be dried in an oven. This stops the growth process of the mycelium and therefore ensures a sturdy material!
Products made with Mycelium are a sustainable alternative to plastic-based materials such as polystyrene foam. Due to its properties, it can perfectly serve as protective packaging or insulating panels.
Due to its lightweight, velvet touch texture, many companies have already showed interest in changing the way they design and use packaging. A few examples are MyBacs and Haeckels.
Why is this innovation a circular solution? Since Mycelium packaging is a biological nutrient free of toxins and is 100% biodegradable, its end of life is either as an object of interest in your home as a newspaper holder, a candle holder, a pot for a plant, and more. Mycelium packaging also makes for a healthy compost for your home garden: when broken into small pieces, the parts decompose within a few months.
About Grown.Bio: Our mission is to make a positive impact by changing the way people and companies see and use packaging. These days, it is essential to work together with nature; we grow living organisms into shapes that are useful and then biodegradable. It is the story of circular materials that makes our product as beautiful as it is!
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