That leather jacket might make you look sexy, but it comes at a steep price — and we aren’t just talking about dollars. Leather is skin, after all, so something’s gotta die for that look. Plus, the livestock industry is notoriously bad for the environment, contributing to both water pollution and climate change. Nothing sexy about that.
Now, one company is trying solve our leather problem — with mushrooms.
MycoWorks uses mycelium — the fleshy, fibrous part that makes up the base of the mushroom — to create new products like furniture, building materials, and, now, something that looks and feels a whole lot like leather. While it takes three years to raise a cow before its skin suit can be harvested, mycelium “leather” can be grown in just a few weeks. And while one pair of leather shoes might result in 33 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, as FastCompany points out, mycelium produces none at all. It’s also biodegradable, and MycoWorks says it will be cost-competitive with the real stuff. The company plans to open a production facility in the Bay Area next year.
This is just one of many creative new products that harness the power of mushrooms. The miracle fungi is being used in everything from biodegradable packaging to home insulation to human-body composting. Even when mushrooms aren’t magic, they’re still pretty damn magic.