It’s a fact that in the US, disposable (aka landfill) diaper use is far more prevalent then cloth diapering. According to Oregon State University:
Over 20 billion disposable diapers are sent to landfills each year. This is enough diapers to cover a football field 3 miles deep. Within the last 10 years the average age to potty train children has increased to 3 years old.
Although it would be ideal if Americans switched to reusable cloth diapers or semi-green diapers like [amazon_link id=”B0019I6R0E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]gDiapers[/amazon_link], the culture of convenience makes this highly unlikely. Fortunately, the oyster mushroom offers some solution to the biodegradability issues of landfill diapers, which otherwise can take hundreds of years to decompose.
Eco Geek reports:
Alethia Vázquez-Morillas, a scientist at Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City, has found that oyster mushrooms can break down 90 percent of the material in the poop catchers in only two months, and in four months, break them down completely. And you can still eat the mushrooms, though you may not want to.
Diapers take forever to degrade because their main ingredient is cellulose, which hangs around for quite a while. The oyster mushrooms have enzymes that break down cellulose, which serves them well when they grow on dead trees or other plant material in the wild. So, when grown on soiled diapers full of cellulose, the mushrooms just do their job.
Vázquez-Morillas says the diaper disposing mushrooms are even safe to eat, but I think I would pass.
We have a log on our property that is covered in oyster mushrooms during fungi season. Pleurotus is one of “the most commonly cultivated edible mushrooms in the world”. Not only is it a culinary treat, oyster mushrooms have been used for oil spill clean ups. Will disposable diapers be next?
Photo: Some rights reserved by benketaro
Doug Morris says
Way to go Alethia Vázquez-Morillas! I love knowing that scientists are coming up with clever ways to solve environmental problems that others created.
I agree — Getting people to stop using disposable diapers is nearly impossible. Though Alethia’s method sounds like an ingenious way to solve the landfill issue.
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