The Power of Fungi: If you go out in the woods today it’s likely you’ll notice the forest floor is popping with mushrooms; some edible, some medicinal (for body and mind) and some poisonous. The part of the fungi organism that is visible above ground is called the fruiting body and it’s tiny compared to the mycelium, or root structure which collects, stores and sends information to other plants and trees via vast branching networks of fine threads under the forest floor. The term “Wood Wide Web”, coined by BC scientist Suzanne Simard in 1997, explained her understanding of the complex ways in which trees and mushrooms communicate and share resources. The wood wide web is 500 million years old and connects an estimated 90% of land plants!
There are millions of species of fungi and they are found in every ecosystem. Being neither plants nor animals, they have their own kingdom of classification. Without them doing the vital work of decomposing dead materials, regenerating soil, and creating collaborative relationships between plants through their mycelia, neither plants nor animals might exist today. Humans have been in relationship with fungi from our beginnings and they’ve been integral to our evolution. It’s no surprise then that many mushroom gurus, like Paul Stamets believe they could help us manage many environmental issues.
The more that scientists study fungi, the more their power is revealed. Fungi are able to bioremediate polluted sites - including oil spills – as well as process heavy metals and radioactive material. Some species can break down plastics and are used in landfills to deal with toxicity.
Fungi can also act as a water filter and carbon sink. They can be grown to feed livestock. Designers are now using mycelium as a fibre to create clothing and accessories, particularly as cruelty free alternatives to leather. Fungi can offer an alternative to meat, and can be used to grow buildings, home insulation, sound proofing material and to create all natural, strong, and biodegradable packaging.
Big companies like Dell and IKEA have stopped packing their products in polystyrene in favour of mycelial packaging and more companies are getting on board. Mycelium grows in a mass of branched fibres, attaching themselves to whatever surface is offered. When clean, low-value, agricultural waste like hemp, corn husks, wood chips or straw is inoculated with mushroom tissue, the mycelium will bind the waste into the exact shape of desired packaging. In five to seven days, the mycelia fill in the mold, after which it’s heated to dry stop growth and ensure the absence of spores and allergens.
As opposed to plastic packaging this is a renewable resource that is easy to grow and needs very little water, light or space to produce at an industrial scale. The resulting product is lightweight, and mold, water, and fire-resistant. It’s also home compostable and some companies are even infusing the packaging with wildflowers and grass seeds to make it bio-contributing. As well, it puts agricultural water to good use, consumes 88% less energy than what is needed for plastic production and uses 90% less CO2 than plastic production. Go fungi go!
For a deeper dive into the power of mushrooms check out the Netflix documentary Fascinating Fungi, the book Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake and the BBC Radio show Fungi - The New Frontier.
Island Trash Removal: Because Waste Manager Mark will be away on his honeymoon the second Wednesday of November, the trash removal day at False Bay barge ramp will be November 15, 2023. 10:00 am until the barge is full. Any changes due to weather will be posted on the email list and FB Lasqueti Hotwire. Please call Mark if you have any questions. 8601 or 250 240 9886
Recycling Depot: Fall/Winter Hours Oct 1st-Mar 30th
Mon 10 am – 2 pm, Thursdays 1 pm - 5 pm
Closed on Statutory Holidays. All recycling is monitored. Please bring it CLEAN and DRY.
Free Store: Fall/Winter Hours Oct 1st - Mar 30th
Monday 10 am – 2 pm and Thursday 1 pm - 5 pm
Please respect the signs. Drop donations during open hours so they can be quarantined. Outstanding items only, i.e. clean, usable clothing and household items. Please, NO food, garbage, recycling, TV’s, soft foam, batteries, electrical devices, mattresses or hazardous materials, ie: chemicals, fluorescent light tubes, prescription/non-prescription drugs, or pills in general. There are recycling programs on Vancouver Island for many of these materials.
Recycle BC Website: www.recyclebc.ca/what-can-i-recycle
Return-It Beverage Depot open 24/7 Front left of Free Store. Open 24/7. Front left of the Free Store. NO refundable glass (beer, wine, hard liquor) bottles, please take these to the nearest Return-It Beverage depot yourself. YES to aluminum beer, cider, pop cans, coconut water cans, boxed wine cartons (leave them intact) and tetra juice packs, including (rinsed) milk and milk substitute containers. Please leave the caps on and push the straws in and do not crush containers. Labels can be left on.