Project Proposal – Jennifer, Damon, Will, Michael

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  • Our Idea

We propose to use mycelium to transform the large quantities of plastic waste in the ocean into biodegradable material. Specifically, we propose to grow a mycelium island on top of the giant trash pile of predominantly plastic waste located in the Pacific Ocean. There is existing research on using mycelium to degrade plastic, but previous work does not specifically focus on the plastic that is currently in the ocean, nor has any of the previous work proposed to deploy mycelium on this scale. Current attempts to reduce plastic waste in the ocean focus on filtering and removing plastic, whereas our approach would seek to transform the plastic into a non-harmful material.

  • Discussion About Contributing Factors

The overall goal of our project is to have a positive effect on the environment by reducing the amount of non-biodegradable plastic in the ocean. Before deploying the mycelium, we would need to determine exactly what the mycelium will turn the plastic into and what effects mycelium and its byproducts will have on the ecosystem. However, most of the concerns we would have about mycelium (such as any ecological problems associated with having a large amount of floating material in the ocean), are already being caused by the existing plastic garbage. In order to balance the O2 absorbed by and CO2 produced by the fungus, we would suggest growing plants on the mycelium island. Certain plants, such as bamboo, could also add increased physical stability to the island.

Our mycelium island could potentially grow large and stable enough to support human habitation, which opens the possibility of additional benefits to our project. The mycelium island could potentially serve many functions to human inhabitants, such as 1) serving as an isolated biological research space free of established ecosystems or invasive species, 2) a destination vacation spot, the profits of which could be used to continue the ocean cleaning efforts, or3) a potential home for refugees fleeing ecological disasters, particularly island nations and cultures that are at risk of disappearing due to rising sea levels.

  • Time Line

Week of March 26th – April 1st

Wednesday, March 28th – Project Pitch & Proposal

End goal: Be solid on subject and do research to learn as much as possible about mycelium

Week of April 2nd – April 8th

Wednest day, April 4th – Look, Ask, Learn, Try

End goal: begin sketches of actual island/start envisioning prototype|art instillation.

Week of April 9th – April 15th

End goal: start making presentation with final sketches | figure out how to present the information

Week of April 16th – April 22nd

Monday, April 16th – Project Update/Presentation

End goal: Be finished with art instillation and close to finish with presentation

Week of April 23rd – April 29th

End goal: Finish up all loose ends

Week of April 30th – May 6th

May 1st: turn in final documentation

  • Parts List

Computers, Drawings, Software, Mycelium, Art Supplies, Pictures, Video

  • Implementation

The way we plan on implementing our idea into the world is through building a floatable form mycelium that we can then place on the coast of California. We hope that we can place it into the environment and have it live on its own while it travels the coast collecting destroying the plastic waste that has now become part of the ocean. The island will become self sustaining, leaving it to slowly become part of the ocean and hopefully become a earth friendly replacement of the plastic island that lives out there now.     

  • Motivation

Our project will try and motivate people to see that cleaning up our oceans for a healthier planet is not an impossible feat. We can show this by making an all organic island that is self sustaining. This project is also an opportunity to talk about the ethics of building your own island and placing it near countries and whether world governments would be accepting of this idea. We will also cover the effects of the mycelium island on the oceanic ecosystem. Our project also may cover on finding a solution to world hunger considering that the excess waste from the island may be edible.

  • Similar Projects

-There are two projects that are close to ours but not quite the same. One of them is called the waste shark. Waste Shark, or otherwise known as the Wall-E of water, is an automatic ocean cleaner. It has a camera that pin points trash and swims to it for collection.

– Another project simialr to ours is a project from a kid named Boyan Slat. He has raised $320 million in funding in order to make a large scale garbage-collecting coastline in the water. These massive floating booms will sit on top of the water and collect trash much like a beach.

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