We chose to experiment on making biodegradable plant pot because when making a positive impact on the environment by buying a new plant, we are also having a negative impact by purchasing the plant in a plastic pot. Plastic come from fossil resources, pollutes the environment and harms animals and humans. By creating a biodegradable pot we could reduce the carbon footprint of the pot and the pollution. A biodegradable material made with mycelium and plant residues like straw can also nourish the soil when it degrades. Therefore, we aimed to create a 100% biodegradable plant pot with mycelium.
Together with our clean lab colleagues we brainstormed some ideas around biodegradable plant pots. Growing biodegradable materials with mycelium is reasonably simple and straightforward. Mycelium grows under the soil therefore in a dark environment and requires a medium on which to grow (e.g. straw, hemp straw), and humidity. The key is to ensure a clean and sterilised environment so that no other microorganisms can grow. The equipment is always sterilised with alcohol. The straw is boiled or steamed as a form of sterilisation and it is left to cool down. The straw can then be mixed with fungi spores. To give the mycelium a shape, in the case of our pot we covered the internal surface of one big pot with foil and placed a 1.5cm layer on the bottom of the pot. Then we covered the external surface of a smaller pot in foil, inserted it in the bigger pot and distributed the remaining mix until the top. Then we closed the top surface with another layer of foil. We placed the pot in a dark and clean space and waited for the mycelium to grow.
We decided to make two types of pots. One substitutes the plastic plant pot in which plants usually come in at the store. This pot can be placed directly in soil and eventually the mycelium will degrade and entangle the roots while nourishing the soil. The other pot is a waterproof version so it can be used for decorative purposes indoors, but it will still be biodegradable. We thought of using a wax and discovered carnauba palm wax which is natural, vegan and biodegradable. It has a melting point 82 ° C making it suitable for interiors. After 1 week the mycelium fully grew in a plant pot. Then, we made a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot.
If you want a step by step guide you can look at this ; Hand out molding mycelium
Do you also want to make a biodegradable plantpot with mycelium? We are organising a workshop next week! Find more information about it here.