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Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

We have used leather for thousands of years, for clothes, footwear, furniture, containers and “recently”, in motor cars. An article in The Conversation this morning speaks of the option of making leather products in the near future from mushrooms. We take a quick look at the main points …

The article looks at the ethical issues and environmental sustainability of “wearing products sourced from animals”. Synthetic substitutes have been used and gained a market, but the planet faces the same disposal issues as it does with any plastic product.

Toxic chemicals are used in making leather, and a lot of sludge waste is produced during processing which creates a higher environmental impact than the processing of other animal products.

US companies MycoWorks and Ecovative Design patented fungus-derived leather technologies some five years ago. The process uses the roots of mushrooms, modified with mild acids, alcohols and dyes. The fungal material is then compressed, dried and embossed. The time taken to produce “fungi” or “mycelium” leather is a couple of weeks. Compare that to the years the cow takes to mature! Not only does the final product look and feel like animal leather, it has “similar durability” (see the pictures on the companies’ websites!)

The technology is still a young one and being refined. Once it has passed any teething problems and is manufactured on a large scale, it represents another very healthy step towards planet Earthy surviving and becoming more sustainable.

Find our “Hides, skins and leather” and “Mushrooms and truffles” pages.

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