MATERIAL DESIGN APPROACHES

Reinventing Leather

Leather tanneries are notoriously toxic. They are often located in regions with few environmental and labor regulations and create wastewater that contains toxic levels of chromium, lead, and arsenic. Additionally, producing leather from livestock is incredibly resource intensive. Large amounts of land, water, and food are required to raise an animal to maturity to harvest a hyde. In fact, 30% of the planet’s land mass is used for livestock grazing and the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

MycoWorks hopes to end our reliance on livestock for our leather needs with their newest mushroom-based product. They have developed a technique of growing mycelium mushroom root fibers combined with agricultural waste that looks, feels, and performs similarly to leather. Their process can be engineered to produce countless textures, colors, and sizes. And while raising a cow to maturity can take three years, growing a cowhide-sized sheet of their product takes only two weeks. Because they can the same use agricultural waste multiple times, their process is carbon neutral and at the end of its life, the product is fully biodegradable. MycoWorks is currently working with several footwear and apparel manufacturers and hope to have mushroom-leather shoes on the market soon.

Indie Bio - Demo Day #3 - MycoWorks

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