A sustainable alternative to animal skin

Mushroom leather (Photo credit: Le monde)

Can mushroom leather change the way we think, wear and consume fashion? Recently, scientists have developed a new type of vegan leather made entirely from mushroom root that looks, feels and even smells like Real leather.

Animal leather, one of the most purchased products in the world, is the key to a 80 billion dollars industry. However, creating animal leather requires raising animals, the associated CO2 emissions, and toxic chemicals. The finished material made from animal leather always irritates animal rights activists, environmentalists and even fashion designers. Now, fortunately, Mushroom Leather has the solution to some or all of these problems. Let’s discuss in detail:

What is mushroom leather?

  • It is a vegan-friendly substance used as an eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to animal leather. Mushroom leather is made from mycelium (the vegetative part of a mushroom). A mushroom or mushroom-plural is any member of the group of Eukaryotic organisms.

  • Eukaryotic organisms contain microorganisms like yeasts and molds, as well as fungi. Fungi, different from other life forms, have their own kingdoms on this planet, such as the kingdoms of plants and animals. For this, mushrooms have unique characteristics.

How is mushroom leather made?

  • The innovative idea of ​​creating a leather-like material from mushrooms dates back to 2012. First reported by FastCompany, the fabric is named Mylo and it’s made up of mycelium – the root-like part of mushrooms. This material is that the creation of Bolt threads, a materials solutions company that seeks natural and sustainable materials.

  • They’ve partnered up with a company that grows mycelium indoors in stacked trays. The rooms are air-conditioned, which simulates the conditions under which this organism thrives, in the forest. Mushrooms grow well on sawdust – mostly sourced from the lumber industry and when fully developed the mycelium almost looks like a layer of marshmallow inside the tray.

  • This is then handled with a set of proprietary steps which are confidential. After that, the fabric goes to the tannery, much like regular leather. The company has partnered with tanneries that focus on sustainability and use a method that removes toxic chemicals such as chromium. But since it’s not real animal skin, it also takes a bit of processing to get started.

  • To date, the company has produced over 5,000 iterations of the fabric, the ultimate version gets the classic embossed leather texture, making it difficult to differentiate from the original. According to the researchers, the feeling is much more natural and unlike plastic or synthetic alternatives.

How durable is mushroom leather?

  • The whole process of making mushroom leather is in the spirit of the circular economy and is completely sustainable because this natural fiber is biodegradable at the end of its life cycle. Apart from this, at the end of the whole process, the organic waste streams released, such as agricultural waste, are valued.

  • In addition, this kind of alternative to leather can reduce the need for industrial animal agriculture, the main supplier of animal leather for fashion.

  • Mushroom leather has a positive environmental impact that goes beyond replacing animal leather and synthetic leather, also solving the problem of plastic pollution.

Is Mushroom Leather Beneficial For Human Skin?

  • Mushroom leather is a light and very flexible material, which makes it practical for a wide range of products. Tests carried out by Zvnder, a German company specializing in mushroom leather accessories emphasizes that: “When in direct contact with the skin, fungus leather shoes have improved the condition of athlete’s foot. Even as a watch strap, this material prevents skin irritation in people with eczema. In addition, given its very absorbent natural characteristic, mushroom leather can absorb a lot of moisture.

  • Hence, mushroom leather shoes no longer need harmful chemical sprays to remove bad odors. Another important factor for human skin is the material’s unique ability to hold a large amount of air. That is why products made from this material are not only exceptionally light, but also have an excellent insulating effect.

To conclude, I would like to say that the possibilities of what we can create with Mushroom Leather are endless. Although Mushroom Leather is still a new material, it needs time to gain acceptance, reputation, and mass consumption.

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