[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/31/art.eben.jpg
caption=”Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre, both 24, created an eco-friendly replacement for Styrofoam.”]
We all use Styrofoam and don’t realize it. Beyond packaging, it’s in the tables we use and the airplanes in which we fly. We’ve long heard, though, that it’s not the most environmentally friendly product, taking 10,000 years to break down. Enter two 24-year-old innovators with some mushroom roots and seed husks.
Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre are the co-founders of Ecovative Design, a company that builds a completely organic and natural Styrofoam replacement. In non-scientific terms, they grind up seed husks and glue the small pieces together with the mushroom root, yielding a product that’s natural and completely compostable. Unlike other sustainable inventions, like ethanol, their product doesn’t come from anything humans or animals can consume, so their materials are available in abundance.
The two now run a 10-employee operation that is fueled primarily by grants and scientific competitions that have brought the young men upwards of $1 million. “If you have a passion and a vision and something that you know is attainable, drop everything and go for it. Don’t keep your side job because your concentration and focus will be deterred. Follow your passion,” Gavin says.
Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview