Mushroom Sauce

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Earth Day is April 22nd this year. Like a lot of people, I’m always there  in spirit but short of personal recycling and rages against tamper proof, meaning impossible to open, plastic packaging I really don’t pay much attention to the details. But for the past few months, I’ve been looking at ways to provide sustainable and renewable energy for electronic devices.

This led me to this year’s CEA’s Greener Gadget conference. The one product that captured my attention was EcoCradle™ from Ecovative Design. It’s a packing product aimed at replacing Styrofoam which is trademarked by Dow Chemical. The non-trademark name of the plastic is polystyrene and it’s strong, flexible and has a gazillion uses. It’s also made from petroleum and other alleged toxic non-renewable materials and will outlast cockroaches in its ability to defy any attempts to destroy it.

Ecocradle, on the other hand, is made from what Eben Bayer, Ecovative Design’s CEO, calls “nature’s packaging.” The husks for most grains like corn, buckwheat, rice and several others are used as the main ingredient of theproduct. The glue that makes it possible to turn this into an environmentally friendly packing material is made from the roots of mushrooms. Put it in a mold, add water and keep it in a dark, cool place for a week.

What comes out is a shape to cradle whatever device you want protected. The company claims that it’s stronger that plastic so it’s ideal for larger units such as refrigerators or computer servers The newly formed material is not only biodegradable but is compostable and, if tossed in the back yard, will breakdown help renew topsoil.

When asked if the Ecocradle product was edible,

Eben Bayer, CEO, Ecovation

Bayer, paused took a nibble and answered, “Yes, but it doesn’t taste very good and it’s mostly fiber …,” and let the laughter fill the room.

Steve Miller
Stephen C. Miller is an editor, reporter and technology consultant. He writes the blog, The Future Was Yesterday: Technology in the Real World. He has spent nearly 30 years training African journalists throughout the continent in investigative techniques.

Formerly he was Assistant to the Technology Editor at The New York Times. He retired in 2008 after a 20 year career there. While at The Times he supervised the training of reporters and editors in the use of new technologies. Miller started his career in broadcasting, spending 12 years at CBS News in a variety of positions, including Night News Manager.

He is on the Board of Directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors and is past President of the New York Association of Black Journalists. He speaks frequently on how technology is affecting journalism.
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