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West Virginia entrepreneur finds innovative replacement for plastic products

By Sarah Richardson

Mountain Messenger

West Virginia University Institute of Technology student and Iranian native Nima Shahab-Shahmir, CEO and founder of Future Fungi.
(Future Fungi photo)

LEWISBURG, W.Va. — It’s no secret that plastic is terrible for the environment. According to the New York Times, over 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year, and only ten percent of that amount is recycled.

Roughly seven million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean per year, causing catastrophic damage to marine ecosystems. Despite popular campaigns encouraging recycling and reusing, landfills remain overflowing with Styrofoam and plastic material. One local WVU Tech student, Nima ShahabShahmir, 24, has come up with a unique and inventive way to combat this devastating issue that affects everyone on the planet.

ShahabShahmir, a first-generation Iranian-American, founded Future Fungi in 2016, a research project/business plan focused on replacing plastic and Styrofoam with mushroom mycelium-based products. Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus such as a mushroom, and ShahabShahmir is using patented methods to create eco-friendly alternatives to daily used items out of the filament-like substance. The mycelium-based products are not only waterproof, but also flame retardant, shock absorbent, and lightweight. And, most importantly, unlike plastic products that take over nearly 400 years to decompose, Future Fungi products break down in just a few weeks.

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