Listen to the futures and select which future you think is preferable and which is probable
Future #1: Magnificent Mycelia: Decentralised
The object before you is a copy of the 3D printed sculpture Fiore Secondo by artist Joshua Harker. The sculpture is a plastic scaffold which is inoculated with a form of Oyster Mushroom. The mushroom grows inside the scaffolding before consuming the plastic around it, as well as other plastics in situ. In a few months the plastic is gone and the mushrooms can be eaten.
This biotechnology came to prominence in 2028 and was coupled with a growing awareness of the medicinal properties of mushrooms, which were found to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Growing mushrooms at home had become quite popular, so when in 2030 the spores used for mycoremediation became freely available many communities were already knowledgeable in how to use them. Artists like Joshua Harker explored using them with 3D printers to grow furniture and building materials, and people started to spread spores into landfill dumps to address plastic waste.
In 2031, Harker’s Fiore Scondo was used in an award winning environmental art entry where dozens of the flowers were ‘planted’ in the Great Pacific Garbage patch along with wireless cameras. As the public watched the mushrooms fruited and ate an estimated 8% of the plastic waste, before being eaten themselves by dolphins.
Future #2: Magnificent Mycelia: Centralised
The object before you is a model of the M3, a 3D printed mycoremediation device used to consume plastic and turn it into an edible form.
This biotechnology came to prominence in 2028 and the flower you see is a plastic scaffold which is inoculated with patented Oyster mushroom spores. Mushrooms grow inside the flower eating the plastic around it as well as other plastic products in situ. After a few months the plastic has gone and the mushrooms can be safely eaten. This edible marvel was the winning entry in the Climate Now Prize, awarded by King Charles in 2030. After its win it received a lot of attention and investment from venture capitalists and research organisations around the globe. The biotechnology was bought by M3 industries in 2031 and investment into the mycoremediation process resulted in an increased capacity for plastic ingestion. Production started in China in 2032 and soon the flower was being bought in large amounts by countries across the globe for use in tackling their plastic waste problems.
However, the success of the M3 resulted in a re-introduction of single use plastics in many countries. M3 was bought by a transnational food corporation which encouraged consumer behaviour to revert to mass plastic use. A new industry that transported single use plastics to remote sites for mass mycoremediation began.
References and useful links:
Mushrooms as building material