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Inside the lab growing leather from mushrooms | Hard Reset by Freethink

Inside the lab growing leather from mushrooms | Matthew L. Scullin, CEO of MycoWorks
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As the fashion industry faces pressure to become more sustainable, many companies are turning to one of the promising leather alternatives on the market: mushroom leather.

It’s not just fringe fashion. In March 2021, the French luxury goods company ​​Hermès released a new version of its popular $5,000 Victoria duffle bag that’s made from mycelium — the thread-like fungal roots that grow underneath mushrooms. The fungus leather shares common traits with animal leather: durability, strength, aesthetics, and feel. But the differences in environmental impact are stark.

The majority of leather products come from cattle, which are one of the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters, mainly through belching methane. And while most cattle are raised and slaughtered for beef and dairy products, leather helps sustain the industry, and the leather tanning process can release toxic chrome into the water supply.

Founded in 2013, MycoWorks is a California-based company that uses mycelium to produce sustainable materials. The startup is one in a growing field that believes the best way to curb the fashion industry’s environmental footprint is through fungi — a vast kingdom of diverse and largely mysterious organisms that account for 25% of all biomass worldwide.

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Read more of our stories on clothing sustainability:
Returning old clothes to the earth can help cotton grow again
Adidas’ sustainable shoes are string art made by a robot
Denim is a dirty business, but biotech bacteria are cleaning it up


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