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The Green Life: Delectable Disposable Diapers

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May 31, 2011

Delectable Disposable Diapers

Oyster mushroomsThe debate over cloth vs. disposable diapers has been going for more than 20 years. Usually, environmentalists argue that cloth is better, but this conclusion is far from decisive. And you can’t beat the neatness and convenience of disposables.

Americans throw away 18 billion diapers (112 million tons of trash) every year. Once they get to landfills, they don’t biodegrade. The result? An ever-increasing pile of... well, you know.

So what's a greenie to do? Biodegradable diapers are expensive, and people remain squeamish about cloth.

To solve this dilemma, how about the humble oyster mushroom? Researcher Alethia Vázquez-Morillas of Mexico City's Autonomous Metropolitan University devised a way to take soiled diapers and return them to the soil. Her research show that oyster mushrooms have an enzyme that can break down 90% of the average diaper within two months. The resulting mushrooms are, according to Vazquez-Morillas, entirely edible. And it turns out they've got a "sweet, woodsy flavor."

--Mimi Dwyer

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