Ecovative Featured in Post-Petroleum Design Book

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“Around the world, more and more people are growing concerned about oil and its consequences and are moving toward new alternatives. This movement is happening at all scales, from major auto manufacturers developing biodegradable vehicles to individuals saying no to plastic bags at the supermarket. Governments are taking action too. What these governmental, corporate and individual actions have in common is a commitment to reduce our dependence on oil through post-petroleum design and technologies. Governments recognize post-petroleum design as the way to energy independence and security; corporations are adopting it to build consumer loyalty by doing the right thing for the environment; and consumers are demanding it for the health of the planet and future generations.

My recent book, Post-Petroleum Design, is filled with the ideas that unite these diverse people and projects into a movement that is changing the way we make our world. In it, designers can see how their fellow creatives are using petroleum-free materials to shape bold new designs in everything from electronics to architecture. Businesspeople can learn how to manufacture products with less plastic, energy and waste. Even those outside of design and business can enjoy its eye-opening revelation of innovations from leading designers in apparel, packaging, automobiles and more.

Post-Petroleum Design celebrates their successes and, for the first time, weaves them together in a compelling story. Through its pages, readers can travel the globe, visiting design studios, cutting-edge labs, and remote villages where post-petroleum designers are using everything from bamboo to bioplastics to shape a better future. Vernacular craft traditions, industrial-scale production, even the latest advances in nanotechnology, all hold secrets with the potential to lead us beyond our dependence on non-renewable resources, secrets that are now being unlocked by post-petroleum design.

I invite you to share in my own journey into post-petroleum design and, I hope, share in the excitement I felt as I identified the common principles shared by its pioneers. These principles represent a new culture in design and commerce, and yet they are the same principles evolved over eons by nature herself. Many books on green design and sustainable business espouse principles based on nature, but this book, like my journey itself, is different. In this case, I discovered a community of like-minded designers working with shared interests, and then began to recognize their principles. The realization that they are the very ones that nature works by was profound. It gave me hope that we can go beyond our current petroleum-based paradigm and reduce the threat of climate change, toxic waste and pollution. It is a challenging task, but it is one that is already being taken up by leading designers the world over. With the power to change the world and how we live in it, post-petroleum design is the new oil.”

– George Elvin, Author of Post-Petroleum Design

This post originally appeared on George Elvin’s blog.

We are thrilled to be featured as a solution to the current petroleum based economy. Eben was interviewed for the book and after previewing it, had this to say (found on the back cover):

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You can pick up a copy of the book through Amazon.

Ecovative Supports New York Industrial Hemp

New York is taking its first steps toward regulating the growth of industrial hemp, joining 19 other states with sanctioned programs. Industrial Hemp – the plant Cannabis sativa L. with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content no greater than 0.3% – can be transformed into a myriad of products ranging from cordage to automotive parts and yes, even Mushroom® Materials.

Ecovative supports the formation of the domestic industrial hemp industry. We have tracked the progress in our region and especially within New York. In our home state we are pleased to see that steps are being taken to execute a pilot program that allows institutes of higher education to conduct research on industrial hemp. New York already approved this pilot program. The next step is to pass the permissions and restrictions surrounding that program. If proposed regulations are passed, this research can entail anything from cultivation and harvesting methods to market development.

In addition, Ecovative supports the proposed legislation to add Part 159 to 1 NYCRR, which establishes regulations for research test-plots of industrial hemp. In its current form, the authorized institutes of higher education conducting the research can engage subcontractors to help with aspects of the project. It is Ecovative’s hope that this will allow the local agricultural community to be involved with the projects and learn best practices around growing industrial hemp. In a similar manner, material processors and commercial interests including Ecovative will hopefully be able to take part in these research programs. Early and active engagement by various stakeholder groups in the development of New York’s industrial hemp industry will help to demonstrate the utility of this material and these efforts can be used a framework for other states seeking to adopt similar legislation.

As a material processor, manufacturer, and product development company based in New York, Ecovative believes it is prudent to develop all three parts of the industrial hemp industry – crop growth, material processing, and finished product development. A comprehensive approach to develop will ensure the success of this industry, reducing the risk of delays we have seen in Canada’s development of its own industry.

Ecovative would be highly interested in participating in the appropriate studies to help develop material processing and finished product markets that will utilize New York-grown industrial hemp in the future. At Ecovative we are always on the lookout for new agricultural materials that can be grown and developed in our local region to the benefit of our farmers. This program will benefit the local agricultural community by proving out how a successful and economically feasible industrial hemp crop can be grown in New York. While there won’t be any Mushroom Materials made from New York-grown industrial hemp available anytime soon (the law prohibits the sale or distribution of any of the industrial hemp grown in the test plots), we believe authorizing this pilot program is a meaningful first step.

A public hearing will be held on Wednesday, May 20th at 11am at the office of the Department of Agriculture and Markets, 10B Airline Drive, in Albany. Ecovative will attend to show its support of the proposed legislation, and is expected to give testimony. We encourage you to join us at the hearing and show support for this statute.

-Katie Malysa

Supplemental Information Below

The Path of Relevant Legislation:

The Agricultural Act of 2014 (also known as the farm bill) made it legal for states to establish research programs for industrial hemp. In December 2014 Governor Cuomo signed a hemp research bill thus creating an avenue for New York institutes of higher education to pursue test-plot studies relating to the growth of industrial hemp. At this time Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Richard Ball is proposing legislation that would add Part 159 to 1 NYCRR and establish the regulations around the pilot program.

The Department of Agriculture and Markets drafted the proposed legislation earlier this year. Revisions were made based on feedback given at a meeting of the Industrial Hemp Work Group. The group consisted of representatives of higher education institutions that may be involved in the pilot program, Department members, and an Ecovative representative, among others.

A public hearing will take place on Wednesday, May 20th at 11am at the office of the Department of Agriculture and Markets, 10B Airline Drive, in Albany. Ecovative is expected to give testimony and show its support of the proposed legislation.

Industrial Hemp Products Information:

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Source: Johnson, Renee. Congressional Research Service Report “Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity”. 12 February 2015. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32725.pdf

GIY- Gettin’ Technical

Just as spring is in full bloom, so is our recently launched GIY program. Since the launch, we’ve been inundated with orders and many questions regarding some of the more technical aspects of our GIY Mushroom® Material. Why did we choose this amount of material to put in the GIY bag? Why do we need to use plastic bags with a filter-patch? Why do we need to add water? These are some of the questions I hope to address today in this blog post. My name is Dan, and I am one of many lucky employees at Ecovative working in the research and development department. One of my beloved projects has been working on GIY- specifically being able to dehydrate our Mushroom Material and re-grow it at a later date. Now that we’ve successfully achieved this goal, let me break down the more technical aspects for you folks growing this at home and hopefully answer some questions you may have.

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As a refresher, at Ecovative we grow material using mycelium from a mushroom, more technically known as a basidiomycete, on agricultural waste products such as corn stover. We then use thisgrown material for various industrial purposes including protective packaging and engineered wood. Mycelium is a collection of hyphae, which are the vegetative units or cells of fungus. One truly amazing physiological function of our particular fungus, as well as some other select organisms, is the ability to withstand periods of anhydrobiosis– a state of dehydration. This ability allows our fungus to temporarily suspend metabolic processes– that is to stop chemical reactions necessary to sustain life- when environmental conditions aren’t ideal, such as being under a state of extreme dryness. This exact ability is what allows us at Ecovative to offer you folks our GIY product without the overnight shipping costs, and what allows you to store it at home for up to 6 months!

Needless to say, this fungus is truly remarkable. However, as with all living organisms, certain environmental conditions must be present in order to sustain life. For instance, suspending metabolism is not an indefinite activity- this is only meant to work for short periods of time until conditions become favorable again. Additionally, just as humans need oxygen to create energy, so do fungi. This is known as cellular respiration. This brings us to our first question: why have we chosen this amount of material in each GIY bag? It’s because of the interplay between oxygen and carbon dioxide. Too much Mushroom Material in a dehydrated bag creates a scenario where the fungal cells deep in the center of the bag will not be able to access and utilize oxygen to create energy. This will result in dead fungal cells and the growth of any bacteria that may be present. Further, if there’s an excess of Mushroom Material in one bag there will be too much carbon dioxide (a by-product of cellular respiration) for life to exist- unless there’s air exchange! This brings us to our next question: why have we chosen a plastic bag with a patch as a growth chamber for our GIY program?Featured image

The bag is specifically designed to allow for passive air exchange between atmospheric gases via the filter-patch near the top of the bag. Again, the ones we’re focused on are oxygen and carbon dioxide. Without the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, the Mushroom Material would not grow and other opportunistic organisms may appear. This is also the reason we specify in our GIY instructions not to fold over the white filter-patch, as this would prevent air exchange. These growing vessels are industry standard when growing fungi for the ability to exchange air and also prevent contaminants from entering, which makes them very suitable for this product.

Another benefit is the ability to keep moisture contained in the bag. During our dehydration process we evaporate nearly all the moisture from the fungal cells – triggering the fungus to temporarily suspend metabolic activities. Once water is reintroduced back into the system at a specific volume, the fungus begins regular activities again and will undergo cellular respiration once again. We talked about carbon dioxide as one by-product of cellular respiration; another by-product is water in the form of vapor. As more and more cells undergo respiration, more water vapor is released into the bag and this starts to increase the relative humidity in the bag. You folks at home will notice this when you see tiny beads of water droplets (condensed water vapor) on the inside of the bag. This is a good sign and means the humidity is increasing, which is important for robust mycelium

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As you can see, fungi are quite complicated, just as we humans are. We both require very specific conditions in order to survive and thrive. Fortunately, our planet has laid out these exact conditions we require to live, which is why we at Ecovative are committed to working WITH the planet and not against the planet. This is also why we are offering our GIY product; we want YOU to work with the planet and get involved in any way you can. We’re extremely excited about bringing this product directly to you folks at home and can’t wait to see what you create!

Happy growing,

Dan

GIY kits are available on our webstore: shop.ecovativedesign.com