Recycling and resource management in cultivation

Written by ITW

November 25, 2020

You’re about to pull the last fruit off of a dying cake, it has produced well (or not) and you are ecstatic! (Or not) You look around at all your beautiful harvest in your dehydrator, and then pan your eyes to the corner of the room. You see an old cake, jars or bags, gloves, possibly a worn out mono tub, etc….Trash. Anyone that grows mushrooms will run into the same problem. We could have 2 pounds of trash to make 1 ounce of dried mushrooms

So what should we do with all this trash!? 

The first thing we want to talk about is glass vs plastic. Plastic bags, even the biodegradable ones, can take up to 60-100k joules of energy to create one kilogram of usable material; glass on average uses 16-30k joules for the same weight. Plastics can leach into your mycelium as well in the form of micro-plastics that will become more prevalent the more you reuse the bag. The one redeeming quality, and one that lets my conscious use it… a bag weighs 10 grams, a normal jar can weigh up to a pound or more depending on size. So for quick maths sake let’s say a pound is 500g, We are spending 7-15k joules of energy on a one quart jar versus 2.5k joules on a 10 gram empty bag that holds 3-5 pound of grain. One would need at least three jars to make up that same weight in a bag, 21k vs 2.5 joules of energy (raw materials cost have also been factored in and result in a similar manner). Glass also will form micro abrasions on the surface allowing thermophilic bacteria and spores a space to hideout, bags are clean every time (unless reusing). Personally I am thrashing around in my head about what is better and will leave a lesser impact on our Mother Earth. Ive found a supply of biodegradable bags that have reportedly worked very well for others and I haven’t had an issue as far as cultivating my gourmet testers on them.

Plastic bags, even the biodegradable ones, can take up to 60-100k joules of energy to create one kilogram of usable material; glass on average uses 16-30k joules for the same weight. Plastics can leach into your mycelium as well in the form of micro-plastics that will become more prevalent the more you reuse the bag.

Let’s talk gloves. Did you know that most gloves are reusable!? Yes that’s right! Simply wash your hands while wearing the gloves, coax them off so they dont flip inside out (easier to put back on) and dry them for next time! I have bought one 100 pack gloves 3 months ago and still have over half the box. If you want to test out it’s validity, poke an agar dish after you iso your hands down and I guarantee it will be clean if your lab tek is clean. Personally have worn the same gloves for a week straight with no issues but tossed because they had stained. 

Last but not least is the cake. You could cut it up into serving sizes and feed your family but I think the better option: compost it. Do you know what’s in commercially available compost? Coco coir, manure, vermiculite, nutrient (grain) toss all your cakes in a compost bin and treat it like normal compost. Your plants will thank you and your trash guy won’t know what’s up any more. If you’ve got great tips or tricks to combat mycological waste hit the comments!!

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