A living ashtray – PuriFungi's mushroom eats festivalgoers' cigarette butts

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Audrey Speyer

To help prevent the pollution smokers create when attending festivals, designer Audrey Speyer developed a mycelial ashtray that gets rid of discarded cigarette butts by 'eating' them. As these are not only highly toxic, but also difficult to pick up and sadly ubiquitous, the PuriFungi mushroom provides the ideal solution to prevent waste at large events: when festival goers deposit cigarettes in a mix of straw, woodchips and cardboard, a mushroom grows to envelop these, and myco-remediation turns the butts into a resin within 2 weeks. This resin is then usable for bricks, plastic goods and leather ware.

Audrey Speyer's PuriFungi is a multidisciplinary initiative at the intersection of scientific research, environmental activism, and citizen resilience. Citizen kits are currently designed to facilitate a soil clean-up through a natural and innovative technique called mycoremediation. PuriFungi’s mission is to preserve and stimulate urban bio-diversity and deploy citizen resilience actions.


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At the intersection of science, design, and waste management, PuriFungi develops natural cleaning systems.

PuriFungi won the 2019 MoveUp challenge and tested its prototype at several festivals in Belgium and northern France during that summer. Ever since it takes part in exhibitions, workshops, hackathons and conferences about bio-design, urban gardening and environmental awareness.

With the support of the Microsoft Innovation Centre, PuriFungi has began production of

- Incubator and kit for mycoremediation trials
- Bio-ashtray made of cigarettes butts and mycelium from a mushroom species absorbing toxic contaminants from their filters.