In the 1970s, wooden buoys were replaced with expanded polystyrene (EPS) plastic foam buoys, contributing to plastic pollution in the oceans and shoreline soils. These modern EPS buoys degrade in sunlight over time and fragment into tiny particles that eventually become nanoparticles in the water column. To no one’s surprise, this has led to filter feeders such as the clams, mussels, oysters, and fish containing polystyrene nanoplastics.
Since 2011, Sue Van Hook has been pioneering the way towards more sustainable buoys made from mycelium materials, addressing the urgent requirement for new alternatives to plastic fishing and aquaculture gear. After testing dozens of MycoBuoys and making modifications based on expert opinions in her local area, she plans to produce these circular flotation devices that last a season in the water and subsequently return to the land as compost.