Mushroom leather: it looks like real leather

Mushroom leather: it looks like real leather

The fashion industry as a whole is unsustainable. Leather is one of the most alarming raw materials, is costly to the environment, animals and even to our wallets. But innovation is here to solve this problem. Find out about the mushroom leather.

Water is present in most leather processing steps. It is used as a vehicle for the diffusion of chemicals and washing of the skins. Clean water enters and exits with aggressive chemical and organic waste to the environment. We’ve talked here in Eat Innovation about the fruit leather, that although promising, it still has a serious problem of lack of resistance. Now there is another sustainable alternative: mushroom leather.

American startup MycoWorks makes their product from the mycelium of mushrooms of the species Ganoderma lucidum, also known as Reishi mushroom, very popular in Asia where it is used to make medicines and teas. One of the advantages is that you can manipulate the shape and size of the material during development. Thus, to reach the size of a piece of cowhide, it only takes 3 weeks while cattle takes approximately 3 years from birth to slaughter.

The fungus is being cultivated in the laboratory, but is easily found in dead wood and agricultural waste such as sawdust, corncobs and hemp. There is still no forecast for the commercial launch of the product, however the startup plans to open a factory in the U.S. in 2017.

Reishi Mushroom

Reishi Mushroom

This is not the only company to invest in ecological leather, Italian Grado Zero Espace also developed its version of mushroom leather. Named Muskin, is non-toxic, does not promote proliferation of bacteria, absorbs moisture, but do not retain it, making it ideal for use in insoles and shoes. This is already on sale for the company Web site (here).

Attempts to reach satisfactory mushroom leather are not new, Myx, developed in Denmark, was released in 2012. It was made by merging the waste from commercial production of mushrooms with hemp or flax, resulting in a more rustic and resistant material.

When will the stores launch their collections made with organic leather?

References: Gazeta Rural, Ciclo Vivo, Science Friday, Core 77

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