Mycelium forms the base of our new box and is the root system of mushrooms (fungi). It is usually found underground where its tiny white threads weave together to make a large network. It is an intriguing organism that has an important role to play in nature, as well as in the new material world. We harnessed its ability to grow quickly and to make a lightweight material in our new eco friendly packaging.
Fungai use asexual reproduction through spore germination to produce a mass of interwoven, single-cell wide structures known as hyphae. When multiple hyphae are present this becomes mycelium, as the word mycelium literally means “more than one”. Mycelium initially is asexual unil it joins with other mycelium to form a dikaryotic mycelium (the presence of two nuclei within the same cytoplasm). This then means that it can create their fruiting bodies, mushrooms.
Mycelium plays an important role in decomposition as it breaks down tough organic materials, such as cellulose and lignin. Fungi release digestive enzymes that are used to metabolise complex organic compounds into soluble nutrients, such as simple sugars, nitrates and phosphates.
The mycelium’s threads link the roots of different plants. Around 90% of land plants are in mutually-beneficial relationships with fungi. It can help neighbours by sharing nutrients and information. But they can also spread toxic chemicals through their network to remove any unwanted surrounding plants.
Our New Packaging
The mycelium threads within our packaging intertwine with agricultural waste such as sawdust, flax and hemp husks. It is left to grow around a mould for a period of time. Once the whole mould has turned white, it means that the Mycelium has fully encompassed the form and is acting like glue. It is then removed from the mould and left to grow for an additional short period of time, so it takes on the lovely velvety texture.
Mycelium is an ideal material to use as a packaging material as once it has been dried, the final product is lightweight, yet fire and impact resistant. As it is grown it means that we are not harming any ecosystem to obtain the material and as long as we keep cultivating it in the right conditions it will continue to grow to create new packaging. Also, after being used for its intended purpose, it can be reused, composted or planted in your garden to improve soil quality. Thus, contributing to the natural ecosystem.