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•Changing Diapers: Mothering magazine resource editor Kimber Pasquali advocated a radical diaper change: a return to cloth. Not only is the manufacture of disposables resource- and energy-intensive, but every one ever used still exists, she explained, since throwaways take 250 to 500 years to decompose.
•Dung Deal: Biochemist Karl Wald founded Mr. Ellie Pooh, a company that produces decorative paper from Sri Lankan elephants’ dung. The average adult elephant produces 500 pounds of waste per day. Since these mammoth mammals are vegetarians, their dung is basically raw cellulose, which is sanitized and processed into acid-free, linenlike paper enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
•Magic Mushrooms: Fungus authority/“bioneer” Paul Stamets explained why “mushrooms can save the world.” Sporting a hat made from fungal fabric, he detailed how “the grand dissemblers of nature” can absorb oil spills, decontaminate toxic waste sites, enrich and rehydrate depleted soil, neutralize E. coli, and yield antivirals that don’t interfere with lipid metabolism the way protease inhibitors do.—Rob Tierney