What is Mushroom Leather?
There are thousands of species of fungi found on our lovely planet. Some mushrooms are edible, some are deadly. Some mushrooms can make you hallucinate, some can help save the world. Mushroom leather looks and feels like traditional leather. It can be used for the same functions and in fashion, but it is sustainable, requiring fewer resources to be produced and solving the ethical dilemma for animal activists.
Most people are making lots of efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. Almost every major car manufacturer has at least one electric or hybrid option available. We are reducing, reusing, and recycling. Even people who aren’t ready to go vegetarian (or vegan) still participate in meatless Mondays. We know it’s going to take a group effort and are willing to make sacrifices, but quality and style shouldn’t have to suffer.
Scientists have discovered a way to use mycelium to manufacture a product that can be tanned and dyed just like traditional leather. Mycelium is the root system, similar to the root systems of plants. This is grown indoors as it doesn’t require light. It also doesn’t use nearly the resources required for raising livestock, much less the animals themselves. A single spore can grow into this “leather” in a few short weeks, versus the years it takes to raise a cow to maturity.
It is also not petroleum-derived like traditional synthetic leathers. It is a cutting edge process that won’t even hit the market until 2021. It’s not even plant-based. Remember, mushrooms are fungus, a weird category that science is learning more about all the time.
Mycelium is infinitely renewable. You can even grow it yourself at home. It doesn’t require a lot of land or water. Not raising livestock for leather means you can save the animals and reduce greenhouse gasses. Win-win.
No Harm Done
Sustainable fashion is more than just a trend, it’s the way of the future. The global climate crisis and perils of throwaway culture are forcing industries to get creative. The fashion industry has already begun to use organic cotton, hemp, linen, and biodegradable fibers.
Breakthroughs like mushroom leather are going to change the fashion game. People are waking up to the disastrous consequences of fast fashion. The average American is dumping over 50 pounds of clothing every year, the majority of which ultimately ends up in a landfill. We need options that are not only better for the planet, but of higher quality.
Mushroom leather is a material that is tough, stylish, and vegan! Veganism means different things to different people, but no matter what it means to you, mushroom leather fits the bill. It also solves problematic issues long associated with fashion issues such as high water usage, pollution, and poor working conditions. The durability of leather has long been one of its greatest strengths, but mycelium is nearly as strong. Companies are even exploring the possibility of thicker blocks of mycelium to one day give an alternative to traditional bricks!
Though the technology is still in its infancy, there have already been prototypes making their way into the fashion scene. Watch bands and handbags have already been produced but there is hope for other items like jackets and shoes eventually. Right now, they are high ticket items but once they are able to be produced on a mass scale, it is expected to be priced competitively with traditional leather.
The market is there and the science is catching up. We can expect to see environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional fabrics popping up more and more. Magic mushrooms indeed!