Did you ever think the words “mushroom” and “fungus”  would be found in the same sentence as furniture packaging? Well, you’re about to see it at Ikea.  In an effort to reduce waste and increase recycling, furniture retailer Ikea is making waves with plans to use “mushroom packaging” for its products.

Developed by American company Ecovative in 2006, “mycelium packaging” is created by growing mushrooms around clean agricultural waste, such as corn stalks or husks, until it becomes a hard and takes the desired shape.

With plastic and styrofoam destroying our ecosystems and harming animals, this switch is a major victory. Polysterene, also know as Styrofoam, is a ubiquitous form of packaging used by millions of retailers worldwide. In fact, according to the French Ministry of Ecology, more than 14 million tons of polystyrene are produced globally – to the detriment of both people and the planet. This material is classified as a“possible human carcinogen” and neurotoxin which can pose serious health concerns to humans. Chronic exposure to styrene can have more severe effects, such as damage to the nervous system, chronic fatigue and has been linked to an increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma. Not to mention, Clean Water Action classifies polystyrene as a pervasive marine pollutant, and many marine species mistake this waste as food. Given the negative health impact this product is thought to have on humans, it certainly isn’t a good thing for marine animals either.

Luckily, an end to this vicious cycle of pollution may very well be in sight following Ikea’s lead. This new “mushroom packaging” biodegrades within weeks and can simply be tossed in the garden. We certainly hope that other retailers will follow suit!

In the meantime, we can all work to make a difference by reducing packaging waste in our own lives. Check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign to learn how you can cut plastic waste right at the source.

Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.

Image source: Ecovative