San Francisco-based startup MycoWorks uses mycelium, a mushroom fiber, to grow sustainable, customizable leather.
Feeding and clothing the world is expensive, requiring extensive amounts of time, money, resources and land. Innovators are increasingly looking for ways to make more with less. Much of the work being done in the food and agricultural industries is focused on creating carbon neutral processes. There are recycled coffee grounds used for fire logs and red solar panels increasing the efficiency of greenhouses. Using one of nature’s most abundant products — mycelium, the fibers that form the base of mushrooms — MycoWorks is producing sustainable, animal free leather.
Mycelium can be grown in almost any food and agricultural waste, which the MycoWorks team injects with live cultures of reishi mushrooms. As the mushrooms grow, they adhere to each other, allowing designers to manipulate the growing product. Different textures, thicknesses and shapes can be grown. A cow-sized mycelium “hide” takes around three weeks to grow, as opposed to the years it takes to raise livestock. By growing products from what would normally be rotting waste, mycelium captures carbon dioxide, thus creating carbon neutral leather.
What other ubiquitous items could have their natural properties be put to alternate use?