Ariana Whittingham Interviews Julian Mitchell, Co-Founder of LifeCykel - Mushroom Biotechnology for Ecocious Mag.
I am beyond excited to share a deeper insight into the thoughts, feelings and innovations of one of the most incredible humans I have met. Ecocious MAG readers, please welcome my dear friend Julian Mitchell, co-founder of LifeCykel.
Today, I got to chat to Julian specifically about the sustainability of their business as well as his perspective on the world, as it evolves to this day, and his suggestions on how we can get the most out of this beautiful thing we are all currently co-experiencing called "life."
For those that aren't up to speed, yet... LifeCykel is an evolutionary Biotechnology company, globally recognised for their innovative closed-loop development of Medicinal Mushrooms. LifeCykels Mushroom extracts are superior to all others on the Australian market as they are locally grown and formulated ensuring the highest quality ingredients for optimal health.
I have personally been a fan of LifeCykel's for years now and I can truthfully, hand on my heart, admit that these products do work - very well. So well, in fact that all of my family, friends and basically anyone that steps foot into my home will watch me religiously drop their various health potions into my tea, matcha or coffee. This almost always sparks a conversation which leads to their imminent LifeCykel obsession beginning and health blossoming. (FYI: This is not a sponsored post, I am a self proclaimed shroom fan girl)
Ariana: Let's start off with your perspective on what “sustainability” means to you?
Julian: I think that "living a sustainable lifestyle" is essentially us going back to our roots, not only will doing that make us happier it's also going to make the planet happier and once enough of us are on board it's just going to create harmony again on earth – essentially it just about thinking about where our "things" came from and where they will end up, after we use them.
Minimising consumerism can be done by investing in higher quality products and more artisan ways of living, with all materials/textiles/resources… not just fashion, or food. By now we all know when it comes groceries, local and organic is the most sustainable option for the planet, so thats an easy swap, but everything else is just a bit corporatised and through that corporatisation it has been about efficiency, it hasn’t been about health of the individual or health of the planet and so, as humans have become accustomed to the connivence and ease of “I can get “x” cheap or easier” and so through the years of conditioning places like Amazon are now popular because its cheaper and easier and I can get it in 3 days… To live sustainably, we need to change our consciousness which is tricky, but not impossible.
Sustainability is asking yourself “where did this product come from before and where is it going to end up” and, “do I really need it” and “is it making me happier? Healthier?” or… “is it polluting the planet and my own body”
Ariana: What is your “why” for being passionate towards taking care of the environment?
Julian: There are definitely a few things, but I think the core reason is defined by how great I feel when Im in nature.
I'm taking this call right now with just with shorts on, barefoot, with the sun shining down on me… not trying to sound too Byron haha!
I grew up in a country town in Western Australia, down south in Margaret river so I’m used to being in nature and have noticed that’s when I really feel my best.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent some amazing time in London, New York, LA etc, working and having that "big city life" experiences, and not to take anything away from them, but, honestly, we all really need more nature in our lives.
Human “being” and Human “nature” are important terms to remember. In order “to be” and really be more present and not so fearful about our future or anxious about the past - or whatever it may be. Human nature should be about going back to our natural state, of being.
It's great to have technological advancements, wear suits and go to balls and fly around the globe, its amazing really, to have these experiences, but its also equally as amazing to be sitting in a paddock, or a forest, or at a waterfall, or even at the beach and just "being present" in time, space and nature.
Understanding and feeling this way has motivated everything for me, its this lifestyle of being present in nature that I want as many other people, as possible to be able to have the same experience.
Which is why growing mushrooms as a natural product, in a circular business model is our natural, no waste, solution to upgrading people’s health.
Ariana: Julian, you’re amazing… it's fascinating we aren't all regularly practicing "forest bathing" (a Japanese practice of going into the woods, to cure depression and anxiety)
Julian: "The big scrub" which runs along the NSW coastline from mount Wollumbin/ Mount Warning all the way down to Bellingen (Near Coffs harbour) is now less than 5% of what it was 100 years ago. Our largest expanse of subtropical rainforest in Australia, once approx 75,000 hectares and now over 95% of it has been deforested.
Ariana: Its heartbreaking! It's happening near me too, each week I notice hundreds of trees are being cleared for all these massive housing estates. I see the environment as a living being, one that we depend on for survival, and when it gets cleared I feel really uncomfortable.
Julian: That’s it! Really, that’s how we all need to be thinking… Where we can start with that though, as it could be overwhelming to think about at first.
Individually, we each play important roles in what we consume and what we purchase - most importantly. We are voting everyday with our how we spend our money, hence why Ecocious exists as a facilitator of that.
Choose Ecocious over Amazon!
Ariana: I need to ask you more about LifeCykel's Closed loop System. I recently put up a poll on my personal Instagram asking my audience a yes/no - if they are familiar with the term "closed loop/ circular economy" and an astounding 95% clicked no.
Julian: Closed loop and circular economy essentially means what we were talking about just before which is closing the loop on “waste.”
In nature there is no such thing as “waste” since everything goes back to the soil, it breaks down, it gets used up as nutrients and then something else is able to grow from it. Getting inspiration from that is what sparked the idea for repurposing coffee grounds waste – which typically goes to landfill so we decided to divert that energy source to grow mushrooms, and from the mushrooms we create health products.
It's important we all think about our materials and resources, understanding which ones are finite or limited and making sure we avoid using all of them, which paints the picture of capitalism which is the classic story of using something, lead, coal or whatever it may be, in an excessive manner with no concern for any health effects or waste and pollution which are created as by products – Closed loop and circular economy businesses are innovative and responsible for our natural resources and consider their impact on the environment.
Ariana: 7 years ago you started by repurposing coffee grounds from local cafes in Byron to grow premium mushrooms, are you still using coffee grounds today?
Julian: Yes, we use them in our grow kits (shop: circular economy grow kits here) these kits are amazing! You can grow mushrooms at home, on your kitchen bench or anywhere in your house or apartment – we’ve made it super simple and in just 10-14 days, voila! You are harvesting your own mushrooms. It's one of our most popular options for “gift ideas” and they do contain repurposed coffee grounds waste.
Some of our mushroom extracts do as well. The beautiful thing we understand about mushrooms is, whether its coffee waste or sawdust waste - which is left over from building material industry or from the wood industry… or even an agricultural waste like “bagasse” (which is the waste from sugar cane/ the sugar industry) all of these can be used!
Mushrooms can eat the coffee/sawdust/wood/sugarcane scraps as a food source to grow. Inherently that’s one of the reasons why we chose mushrooms, as they are so circular in nature. Its been important to us since the beginning - that’s why we with the Lifecykel logo the circle around our name is to emphasise the circular nature and mushrooms are known as nature's recyclers.
Over the last 7 years the journey has also expanded into the US market. We have an operation facility there, and in the same fashion as Byron, we grow everything ourselves! If we had to choose one thing that really separates us, in the mushroom space specifically is that we grow and extract everything ourselves and that came, again, from the passion of not wanting to import things since we don’t have to.
As an example, we don’t need to eat fruits and vegetables imported from another country when they're growing locally. You could live in an area that’s abundant with orange orchards but then if you go into the local supermarket and you’ll notice the oranges have been imported from California and its like… hang on, we have oranges in our town so, why is that happening?
Not many people are aware of this but, within the mushroom space 95% of mushroom powders on the market are all coming in from China... I think we can all agree from a health level, we don’t really want to be ingesting and absorbing the air or water from China. if we don’t have to. That’s why we started with our own process and we quickly realised we could re-create our method from Australia, for the Australian market again in the USA for the USA market.
One of our biggest passions in what we do is localisation. In some industries you can do it a lot easier than others, in some you can’t at all. When you can’t, you must try to find the most sustainable option that has as low of a footprint as possible and then also try to do invest in some restoration/ conservation to combat impact from importing.
Ariana: I really need to ask you the benefits for each of your most popular products, some of my most popular DM Q's are: ““which one do I need and what are they all for.” I do my best with the knowledge I have but whilst I have you here please share the rundown.
Julian: Of course, Medicinal Mushrooms have many amazing health benefits – so ill try keep each one short & simple.
There are a few that are most popular but each one has very different benefits.
LIONS MAINE = BRAIN
- focus, clarity & creativity
- memory recall
- articulation and mental flow (a lot of people notice that words just come out of your mouth like silk sometimes as it activates part of the brain, that helps everything in the brain connect to each other – so your brain is firing in all cylinders whilst not feeling that caffeinated buzz feeling)
CORDYCEPTS = ENERGY/ VITALTIY (THE ACTIVE MUSHROOM)
- Natural, non- caffeinated, 4-6 hour energy that lasts throughout the day (Better than coffee which gives you a few hours and then a crash, not to knock coffee but you can also add it to upgrade your coffee, if you drink it)
- smooth, consistent, flow – no crash.
- No disruption to sleep
- Won’t drain your adrenals
- Helps tap into our masculine energy – activation and go
TURKEY TAIL = GUT HEALTH
- Helps with any Digestion or Gut issues (good to have with meals)
- Mood enhancer
- Aids Serotonin production, which is produced in the gut (serotonin is the #1 neurotransmitter for “happiness”)
REISHI = CALM THE SYSTEM DOWN (THE ZEN MUSHROOM)
- Calming you down, winding you down
- Great to help you get a good, deep, undisturbed sleep (add to your tea or water before bed)
- Feel light and relaxed during the day if you need that support (Its not going to knock you out, it can just help calm you down during stressful times)
- Centring, grounding
- Helps tap into out feminine energy – flow, calmness & peace
SHITAKKE = HAIR, SKIN & NAILS (BEAUTY MUSHROOM)
- In a concentrated dose, much higher than what you could find in your ramen (you couldn’t eat that many as in our drops)
- Nails – you will notice strengthen and grow faster
- Hair thickens and grows faster
- Skin – Improves the Elasticity/ firmness of our skin (which is important to consider as we age)
CHAGA = MELANIN (BEAUTY MUSHROOM)
- Has the most amount of Melanin out of any food on the planet
- Hormonal Regulation
- Regulation of Circadian rhythm
- Skin – glow
- Eyes – eyes are brighter and more vibrant & the white space will become even more white and clear
They all have their own "special power", most people like to have them spread out over different times throughout the day, some included in their beauty routines etc so once we developed “the Biohacker set” that's when saw how possible it became to completely elevate our customers health. By offering 5 bottles for the price of 4 with free shipping it's a no brainer for people that are looking to upgrade their health, and take things to that next level.
Different people resonate with each one, so the set is a great place to start whilst you work though the support you need with each one.
Ariana: What do you think the world needs more of?
Julian: Empathy and Love.
Empathy for everyone else, everyone is going though things, and often we would have no idea about it so just being mindful to remember to take that into account.
There is so much division right now, between what diets people consume, what teams people follow… whatever it is – there seems to be this division. Right now we need more community around having love for our brothers, sisters and neighbours.
Another thing that we need more of is standing up for what you believe in!
Ariana: I feel like that can be hard sometimes, with cancel culture and shadow banning/censorship online.
Julian: In the last few years this is where I have really started to appreciate the American mindset around "Freedom of speech". You don’t realise, but if you don’t have freedom of speech you don’t have freedom on anything. So if you hear someone saying something that you don’t agree with, yes… it may be annoying but you can't cancel them. You just need to move on or you come with a rational argument, but if you can't do that then we have no foundation of freedom.
So, by standing up for what you believe in is crucial, right now. It might be difficult with censorship and cancel culture but that’s where Empathy is important.
If someone eats a different diet, or dresses a different way or wants to do things a different way we need to accept that – live and let live.
Debate is healthy! At the dinner table, with your family or parents or peers – when done in a respectful way of course.
Ariana: I couldn’t agree more! Last question, what is something you are grateful for today?
Julian: My health. It's essentially the base level of everything. You can go on all these aspirations to do all of these amazing things but if you don’t have your health you can run for a while until it catches up with you until you cant do anything, once you can't do the things you love, you live a lesser life. So everyday, I’m grateful to be completely healthy, both mind and body.
If you've come this far, Julian & the Life Cykel team would love to connect with you! Find them below.
Please feel welcome to use my personal code: ARIANA222 for 10% off purchases via the LifeCykel Website (screenshot this code to use it forever)