Vegan leather is usually shorthand for saying “plastic”. It’s usually not very comfortable, feels cheap, and is best replaced with a nylon strap. What if there were a better way to make a strap, one that would still be vegan, but feel more comfortable, more sustainably than plastic?
Erlambang Ajidarma, head of research at Mycotech, is supplying mycelium leather. Mycelium comes from mushrooms. His team took inspiration from tempeh, an Indonesian dish made by fermenting soybeans with fungus.
“Finally we found one mushroom with a mycelium that can be made into binding material,” said Ajidarma to Reuters, after testing several different types of mushrooms since 2016.
To make the mycelium for production, they grow the fungus on a sawdust base, scrape it off, dry it, and cut to size. It takes about three weeks to make 10 square meters of material, but it costs less than producing plastic leather, and produces less CO2 than cows.
The dyes to color the mushroom leather are also natural, coming from leaves, roots, and food waste. The mushroom leather absorbs color faster than traditional cow leather.
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