Sustainable Material Innovation: MycoWorks Mushroom Leather

Whilst Co2 pollutants emitted from cars and other modes of transport are undoubtedly harming the planet, this is nothing compared to the environmental impact of the animal agriculture industry. Co2 emissions caused by livestock equate to more than the entire transportation sector put together. This made me question the importance of inventing new, expensive materials to tackle and reduce the amount of pollution caused by cars, while a seemingly far more detrimental issue continues to exist.

It seems as though the damage caused by vehicle pollutants is talked about far more than the damage caused by the animal agriculture industry, despite the latter seeming to cause considerably more harm to the planet. If people were given the option to either buy an energy efficient car or to stop buying leather products and consuming meat, I’m sure the former would be preferred by the vast majority. Our society has such an attachment to meat which makes it a much, much harder issue to tackle than just adapting the way we travel.

Thanks to advances in science and technology, many eco-friendly alternatives to animal products are currently being developed. An example of this is MycoWorks – this company has developed a natural alternative to leather grown from mycelium (mushroom tissue) and agricultural byproducts. This material is 100% organic, chemical free, and is even biodegradable.

However, this material still has a long way to go before it can be considered truly sustainable and eco-friendly; MycoWorks undergoes the same toxic tanning process as leather. This process has huge environmental implications – not only does it require a huge amount of energy, but it also releases many harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. In addition, a number of studies have concluded that people who live in close proximity to tanneries are at a greater risk of developing cancer. With these factors in mind, the manufacturing process of this material still has a long way to go – although I think that this is undoubtably a step in the right direction. Changing public attitudes about the power of plant based alternatives to animal products is crucial if we want to create a more sustainable future.

References

Mycoworks Homepage. [online] Available at: https://www.mycoworks.com/ [Accessed 23 Oct. 2017].

Conscious and Driven Innovation. [online] Available at: http://ideas-block.com/conscious-driven-innovations/ [Accessed 23 Oct. 2017].

PETA. (2017). Environmental Hazards of Leather. [online] Available at: https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/leather-industry/leather-environmental-hazards/ [Accessed 23 Oct. 2017].

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