Designer clothes, shoes and handbags could be made from MUSHROOMS

Making fashion items like shoes, bags and clothing from mushrooms could be an eco-friendly alternative to traditional leather, according to a study.

Researchers say mushrooms can be pressed and chemically processed to create a substance tough enough to compete with leather.

Traditional leather and its alternatives are usually obtained from animals and synthetic polymers.

But leather production, like all industries dependent on animal husbandry, is bad for the environment because it requires a lot of land and resources and produces large amounts of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.

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Researchers say mushrooms can be pressed and chemically processed to create a substance tough enough to compete with leather. Traditional leather and its alternatives are usually obtained from animals and synthetic polymers (stock)

Study co-author Prof Alexander Bismarck, University of Vienna, Austria, said: “This is where leather-like materials from fungi come into play, which typically , are CO2 neutral and biodegradable at the end of their life. ‘

Leather substitutes can be produced from fungi by upgrading low-cost agricultural and forestry by-products such as sawdust.

These serve as food for the growth of the mycelium – a tangled mass of elongated fungal threads – which turn into a leaf and within a few weeks the fungal biomass can be harvested.

Professor Bismarck said: “As a result, these fungal biomass sheets resemble leather and exhibit comparable material and tactile properties.”

The first biotech companies are already commercializing materials derived from mushrooms, and researchers have made paper and foam building materials for the insulation of button mushrooms.

The authors add: “Fungi as a raw material for leather substitutes offer a cost effective, socially and environmentally sound alternative to bovine and synthetic leather and are of particular interest to consumers and businesses concerned with sustainability as well as for vegan community.

Making fashion leather items such as shoes, bags and clothing from mushrooms could be an eco-friendly alternative to traditional leather, study finds (Stock)

Making fashion leather items such as shoes, bags and clothing from mushrooms could be an eco-friendly alternative to traditional leather, study finds (Stock)

The oldest mushroom in the world discovered in the Congo is 810 MILLION years old

The oldest mushroom in the world was discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and dates back around 810 million years.

Preserved in the rock, the fossil mushrooms were found near the town of Mbuji-Mayi in a “major” discovery that breaks the previous age record of some 350 million years.

Fungi have played a key role in the history of life, helping to create a primordial soil that would later allow plants to grow on the land first.

The primitive fungi grew in a lagoon or coastal lake, the researchers said.

“This is a major discovery – and one that prompts us to reconsider our chronology of the evolution of organisms on Earth,” said article author and geologist Steeve Bonneville of the Free University of Brussels.

The fossilized remains of fungal mycelium – a vast underground network of root-like filaments to extract nutrients from the soil – have been found in rocks dating from around 715 to 810 million years ago.

The ancient rocks containing the fungus are part of the collection of the Museum of Africa in Tervuren, Belgium, while they are found just outside of Brussels.

“The tremendous advancements in this technology and the growing number of companies producing mushroom and biomass alternatives to leather suggest that this new material will play a huge role in the future of ethical and environmentally friendly fabrics. “

Fashion is the second biggest polluter in the world, behind oil, fueling growing interest in renewable and sustainable fabrics.

Leather made from cowhides raises ethical issues as well as concerns about deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions linked to animal husbandry.

Its processing, called tanning, also uses solutions that can be harmful if they get into the environment.

Meanwhile, alternatives to plastic are made from fossil fuels and are not biodegradable.

Professor Bismarck said: “We tend to think that synthetic leather, sometimes referred to as ‘vegan leather’, is better for the environment.

“However, traditional leather can be ethically questionable, and leather and plastic substitutes have environmental sustainability issues.

“Mushroom-derived leather brings none of these issues to the table and therefore has tremendous potential to be one of the best substitutes for leather in terms of durability and cost.”

The co-author of the latest research, Dr Mitchell Jones, currently at the University of Vienna, said fungal leather is emerging as a “promising new precursor” in the quest for ethical clothing.

Write in Sustainability of nature, researchers say the commercial appetite for eco-friendly fashion is skyrocketing among sustainability-conscious consumers and businesses, as well as vegans.

Last year, environmentally conscious designer Stella McCartney unveiled the first handbag made from mycelium.

Dr Jones said: “Renewable and bio-derived clothing is a growing market, and fungal leather is emerging as a promising new forerunner in the quest for sustainable and ethical clothing.”


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