Mushrooms made into chairs, bowls and other furniture could help to save the environment

A scientist from Doncaster says that ‘mushrooms could replace most things’ and have a massive positive environmental impact.

Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 12:40 pm

Mushrooms could replace polystyrene, according to 23-year-old Ashley Granter, a mycologist from Auckley.

Ashley did not foresee his future in mushrooms when he went to Sheffield Hallam University to study product design.

Ashley Granter and his bowl made from mushroom.

It was his hobby in diving which lead to his passion for the environment and his introduction to the world of mushrooms.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“I saw the amount of plastic in the seas and was just shocked. I realised then that I wanted to do something,” he said.

He uses horseshoe fungus to grow strains of mushroom which can be turned into a material called mycelium that can be crafted into various shapes.

The full uses of the material are not yet known and are still being researched but Ashley believes that it could replace polystyrene and housing insulation.

A mushroom culture growth in a petri dish.

He said: “It could have a huge impact on the environment.

“Plastics last forever, they will outlive our lifespan.

“Whereas mycelium is compostable, it’s all natural and has no negative footprint on the planet.”

The material he creates takes just four to eight weeks to compost and would enrich the soil it’s placed into.

A mushroom culture growing in a pitri dish.

Ashley continued: “I can see mushrooms replacing most things. That might be a very biased point of view but the ability to adapt and change the material’s characteristics are endless.

“Making it waterproof, flame retardant and changing its strength allows for a lot of material applications.”

Ashley works for the company Natura but creates his mushroom pieces in his kitchen in Auckley. He collects the mushrooms from silver birch trees in a forest in Bawtry and then grows cultures.

“The possibilities are still not known, recently a leather substitute has been made so it could even be used in the clothing industry,” he said.

Horse Shoe Fungus collected from Bawtry wood.

Ashley would like to spread the message about the mushrooms advantages through art, sharing his pieces in art galleries and on Instagram to reach a bigger audience.

He said: “I want to challenge people’s perceptions of mushrooms.

“We were all told as children not to go near wild mushrooms, that they’re dangerous.

“But I want to open people’s minds to this new material.”