With many people starting vegan lifestyles and forgoing animal products not just in their diet but in everything they own, companies are looking for new ways to give people the things they like – without need for intensive farming and the ethical and environmental quandaries it can come with.
MycoWorks, a San Francisco based company, have developed a new technology that uses fibres from mushrooms to convert plant and wood fibres into a new leather alternative. The company says that it would not be another faux-leather rip off either – "since it's made from natural fibres, it breathes and feels like leather."
The mushroom fibres are called mycelium, and they make up underground networks that connect swathes of fungi. MycoWorks believe in the durability of this organic matter so much than they've made furniture with it – they've even created bricks that could one day be used as a building material.
"This material is performance engineered for durability, water resistance, and a versatile range of finishes," MycoWorks told IBTimes UK. Not only is the new material good for those who don't want to use leather products because they come from an animal, it's also carbon-neutral, organic, chemical-free, biodegradable and fully sustainable, according to the company.
If that wasn't enough, they say that their products are entirely biodegradable. And for the more aesthetically minded, the 'leather' is "uniquely customizable" – textures and features can be grown right into the material.
The environmental impact of industrial scale herds has lately become a larger issue in the public consciousness. Earlier this year, Swedish climate scientists released a study saying that if the EU is to meet its target for reducing CO2 emissions, beef consumption in the continent would have to halve.