A Solution to the Dirty Diaper Problem

Bringing a baby into the world generally comes at a huge environmental cost, and in the first few years, a big portion of that cost is in terms of the waste created by disposable diapers, which take centuries to biodegrade in our landfills. It’s bad enough to make any eco-minded parent feel guilty every time he/she clips a coupon for another pack of Huggies.

Well, despair no more. You can now put your dirty diapers to use in that oyster mushroom garden you know you’ve always wanted.

The Economist just published an article about a new development in bioremediation: Alethia Vázquez-Morillas of the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City has discovered that diapers can be decomposed completely in 4 months when fed to oyster mushrooms. And the kicker? You can still use those oyster mushrooms for dinner! (Assuming you sterilized the diapers (with, in their case, steam) before they became mushroom feed.) Of course, if you don’t want to eat the dirty diaper mushrooms, you could also just let them live out their lives before becoming fertilizer for something else. It’s a far better alternative to the unremovable accumulation of hundreds of thousands of tons of diapers in our landfills every year.

It’s not really news that fungi and bacteria can be used to clean up waste (see mycoremediation), but it’s the first time you’ve heard it used to clean up diapers, isn’t it?

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