A groundbreaking eco-revolution is washing over the surfing industry, powered by a remarkable innovation: mushroom-based bodyboards.
Enter the Magical Mushroom Company (MMC).
Born in 2019 in Surrey, England, MMC first made waves as a packaging firm with a green thumb, crafting biodegradable packaging from mushroom roots called mycelium.
They've since produced over 1.5 million pieces of Mushroom Packaging, winning the attention of major brands like Selfridges, Lush, Diageo, and Raymarine.
Now, MMC and a team of surf industry veterans are joining forces to take this eco-innovation to the shores, carving out a niche in the world of bodyboards.
The co-conspirators on this venture include Tim Lupton, co-founder of Predn Surf Co in Cornwall; Chris Martin from People of the Earth; and Ryan Little, MMC's veteran industrial designer.
Their mission is to revolutionize the surf industry by replacing cheap, disposable bodyboards with a sustainable alternative.
The Magic Mushroom Recipe: Mycelium and Hemp
Mycelium, a natural polymer, is the core ingredient in MMC's sustainable bodyboards.
These fungal roots grow exponentially underground, serving as a nutrient source for forest flora and providing the water-resistant property to the boards.
The second magic ingredient is hemp.
Used in 98 percent of MMC's products, the woody core of hemp locks up around 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare, making these boards not just neutral but beneficial to our planet.
MMC also experiments with a wide variety of other natural by-products, including wheat and sawdust, and even discarded mushroom-based bodyboards.
Challenges and Triumphs
Every innovation faces hurdles, and MMC's mushroom-based bodyboards are no exception.
The goal is a bodyboard with the optimal balance of flexibility and stiffness, suitable for users of varying weights and ages.
Add in the necessity of an exterior layer for protection and longevity, and you've got a puzzle that challenges even the most skilled industrial designer.
Nevertheless, MMC has already achieved significant milestones:
- The team has designed an eco-friendly alternative to disposable bodyboards, catering to casual surfers rather than competing with high-end boards;
- With continued research, the perfect balance of flex and stiffness is within reach, promising an enjoyable experience for beginner and intermediate bodyboarding levels;
- Various solutions have been explored to ensure the boards withstand the ocean's demands;
- MMC has devised a comprehensive cost model, demonstrating that once the coating solution is resolved, these boards can hit the market at a price comparable to conventional boards;
A Commitment to Mother Earth
The mycelium and hemp-based bodyboards aren't just designed for fun - they're designed to last.
Once they've ridden their final wave, these boards don't end up in landfills.
Instead, they biodegrade naturally or can be ground down to feed the production of new boards, ensuring a cycle of sustainability.
The manufacturing process also plays its part in reducing carbon footprints.
MMC plans to use existing factories' spare capacity, collaborating with local partners to set up micro-plants for localized board production.
This reduces transportation emissions and supports local communities, riding the tide of sustainability from start to finish.