How mushrooms are used to create sustainable and innovative materials
Mushroom-based leather is a sustainable alternative to traditional leather made from animal hides. It is made from mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, which can be grown and harvested in a matter of weeks. This process has a much lower environmental impact than traditional leather production and does not require the use of harmful chemicals.
MycoWorks: The company behind Reishi
MycoWorks is a company based in Emeryville, California, that uses mycelium to create a material called Reishi that looks and feels like leather. The company was founded in 2013 by Philip Ross and Sophia Wang and has grown significantly since its inception. They have obtained more than 75 patents and now have over 160 employees in the United States, France, and Spain.
How MycoWorks creates Reishi using mycelium
To create Reishi, MycoWorks grows mycelium, the vegetative part of a fungus, in a controlled environment. They feed the mycelium a mixture of agricultural waste, such as corn husks and stalks, which the mycelium converts into a strong, flexible, and durable material. The material is then processed to create a texture similar to leather, and it can be dyed, stamped, and cut just like animal leather.
The potential of Reishi as a substitute for leather
Reishi has a similar look, feel, and durability to traditional animal leather, but with a much smaller environmental impact. The production process for Reishi is much more sustainable, with lower greenhouse gas emissions and water usage than traditional leather production. Additionally, Reishi is fully biodegradable and can be recycled back into the environment.
- Reishi Natural
Soft, full-bodied, luxury sheets that highlight the natural richness, beauty, and variability of Reishi.
- Reishi Doux
Crisp, smooth, luxury sheets with a refined aesthetic that subtly reveals Reishi’s growth pattern.
- Reishi Raw
Satiny, delicate, luxury sheets that showcase the raw aesthetic of Reishi without compromising hand-feel and durability.
- Reishi Pebble
Round, full-bodied, luxury sheets that highlight a classic pebble texture.
Collaboration between MycoWorks and high-end companies
The innovative material created by MycoWorks has attracted the attention of several high-end companies, including Hermès. Hermès, known for its luxury fashion and accessories, has collaborated with MycoWorks to create a leather-like material from mushroom roots. The resulting material is said to be durable, sustainable, and beautiful, making it an attractive alternative to traditional leather.
General Motors Ventures has also invested in MycoWorks and has expressed interest in using the company’s materials in their cars. The use of Reishi in car interiors would not only be sustainable but would also offer a premium look and feel that is expected in high-end vehicles.
Market size and expected growth for leather alternatives
The market for sustainable alternatives to leather is growing rapidly, with some estimates projecting the market to reach over $85 billion by 2025. With the rise in popularity of sustainable materials, there is significant potential for MycoWorks and other companies producing sustainable alternatives to traditional leather.
Interest from consumers and advances in technology
As consumers become more environmentally conscious and demand sustainable products, there is a growing interest in sustainable materials like Reishi. Advances in technology are also making it easier for companies like MycoWorks to produce sustainable materials on a larger scale.
The future of sustainable innovation in retail
The use of mycelium and other innovative materials will play a significant role in the future of sustainable innovation in retail and product, and companies that prioritize sustainability will have a competitive advantage in the market.