Plants we love

Nature can provide solutions to so many of our biggest challenges, and sometimes the answers are sitting right under our noses. Here are some of the plants (and fungi!) that are doing double duty for our planet.

The theme of the Earth Day 2024 is Planet vs. Plastics, with the goal of reducing global plastic production by 60% within the next 16 years. While it’s an ambitious target, we know we can get there – especially with the rise of plant-based alternatives to traditional plastics.

Mother Nature has provided us with incredible natural solutions, if only we take the time to explore them. Humble ingredients like mung beans, avocados and mushrooms are proving to be eco-champions in unexpected ways.

Let’s look at a few examples of plants (and fungi!) capable of so much more than we realize, along with the innovators championing them to build a more sustainable world.

Once you’ve had your mind blown by the mighty powers of plants, be sure to hop over to There, you’ll find inspirational ways to join the fight against plastic pollution and support other initiatives protecting our planet.

Mung bean

Our secret ingredient. When we discovered that the protein in the mung bean was the key to making eggs from plants, we were doubly delighted to realize the environmental benefits of this tiny legume.

What you know it for

• Delicious beans in soups and curries
• Crunchy sprouts on your Pad Thai or phở

What you might not know it for

• Extremely hardy, drought-resistant and sustainable crop
• The protein scrambles like eggs to make plant-based, more sustainable breakfasts


Learn more about this highly regenerative ocean crop and its ability to replace plastic from the innovators over at Sway, a clean tech startup scaling seaweed-based, home-compostable packaging.

What you know it for

• Crunchy snacks
• Seasonings
• Salads
• Sushi

What you might not know it for

• Can mimic plastic to make durable, compostable, biodegradable packaging
• Can grow 30-60x faster than land-based crops
• Doesn’t require fertilizer, pesticides or fresh water to cultivate
• Growing seaweed can improve the health of marine and coastal habitats in many ways, including: creating habitat and boosting biodiversity, soaking up excess nutrients to purify water, reversing deadly ocean acidification, mitigating erosion by dissipating wave energy, potentially sequestering carbon (as indicated by new research), and providing transitional economic opportunities for coastal communities bearing the brunt of climate change and decades of overfishing.


OUT = Styrofoam. IN = Styrofungi. See the real magic of what mushrooms can make in the work of innovators like Evocative, Magical Mushroom Co. and Mylo Unleather. The more we can make from mushrooms, the better, because mushrooms are nearly unparalleled in their capacity to be grown quickly and sustainably.

What you know it for

• Delicious umami flavor and chewy texture in a range of dishes and cuisines
• A little bit of magic

What you might not know it for

• Sustainable packaging
• Sustainable leather
• Can be grown rapidly and sustainably at scale in small-footprint facilities with minimal inputs


The plant that does it all. We’d be hard-pressed to name something you can’t make with this sustainable crop, which is being used to eliminate plastic and non-biodegradable options by innovators like Cana Pack and Hempitechture.

What you know it for

• Food and textiles

What you might not know it for

• Requires 6x less water to grow than traditional agricultural grain crops, as well as less pesticides
• All parts of the plant can be made use of
• Can be used to make paper, packaging, diapers, rope, building materials, body care products...we could keep going


Get ready to dip into biodegradables and upcycling, because avocados are for much more than guacamole. Take it from innovators like Biofase and Ovavo.

What you know it for

• Guacamole
• Adding healthy fats to a wide range of dishes
• That millennial toast routine

What you might not know it for

• Pits can be used to make biodegradable cutlery and other disposables, or to naturally dye fabrics
• Unwanted avocados can be upcycled into a shelf-stable powder with a wide range of food applications