Disposable diapers. They’re one of the biggest contributors to overflowing landfills, piling up at a rate of 1 ton of trash per kid per year. And the worst part is that not a single disposable diaper ever made has yet decomposed. It is estimated that disposable diapers take 500 years to break down, which means the very first disposable diaper created 40 years ago is still sitting in the dump, holding court with all the other sposies that have since joined it. But now, a scientist named Alethia Vázquez-Morillas from the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City has found a way to turn that 500-year span to a mere 4 months, by using oyster mushrooms to accelerate the breakdown. How?
Oyster mushrooms break down cellulose, which allows them to feed on decaying trees. This same substance makes up the bulk of disposable diapers, so putting the two together results in 90% decomposition of the diapers in just 2 months, with full results in 4. Oyster mushrooms can’t solve the problem of human waste being added to landfills that aren’t designed to hold it or filter out chemicals like SAP and dioxin, but these industrious mushrooms hold the promise of at least removing the bulk of diaper waste from landfills that need a break.