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Meet the mushroom that could one day replace plastic

A large mushroom protrudes from a mossy fallen tree trunk on a forest floor covered with autumn leaves
Tinder bracket fungus / hoof fungus / horse’s hoof (Fomes fomentarius) on a fallen tree trunk in Belgium. | Photo: Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Here’s one more reason to love a good mushroom: one day, you might be able to make headphones, memory foam for shoes, or even aircraft exoskeletons with it. Researchers just assessed the engineering possibilities with one particularly impressive mushroom and found that it might be able to replace plastic in a whole bunch of different use cases.

Using mushrooms instead of plastic could cut down on the mountains of waste humans create. Plastics made out of fossil fuels are actually really difficult to recycle and usually wind up cluttering landfills, landscapes, and waterways. Materials made with mushrooms, on the other hand, would be biodegradable and could be reused at the end of a product’s life to make more of the same stuff.


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