I’ve been pondering the problem of plastics for the past few days and in my research I’ve discovered what some consider being the most menacing member of the plastic family.
Did you know that 20% of the waste in landfills is comprised of Styrofoam? I remember using this material at parties in grade school, at church brunches, and family gatherings. Styrofoam can support a whole meal, making cups, bowls, and plates. Not to mention my last computer came padded in Styrofoam packaging, and come to think of it, so did my TV.
Now consider this: Next time you sip out of a Styrofoam cup or take your new appliance out of the box, take a look at the white material in your hands. This packaging is going to last longer than you. When humans die, our bodies decompose and become part of the earth within the first 100 years. Any Styrofoam that you’ve encountered in your life will still be around long after you’ve been dead and buried.
It’s a disturbing thought. People talk about leaving behind a legacy. Is this the legacy of our generation?
Looking for something to reaffirm my faith in humanity I consulted TED Talks. Here I found Eben Bayer, a man who asks “Are Mushrooms the new plastic?”
Bayer says they could be. Using a part of the root system of mushrooms called Mycelium, Bayer and his collegues have been able to grow an insulating, fire resistant, vapor resistant alternative to plastic which can also absorb impact like Styrofoam. This organic material is compostable, which allows it to fit into the natural recycling system of the natural world. Bayer is proving that the great minds of our time are putting themselves to good use.