How Mushrooms Are Changing The Construction And Fashion Industries

Mycelium mushrooms are being used as a sustainable way to create faux leather fashion pieces and insulation for construction projects.

By Iqra Butt | Published

flour mushrooms

Mushrooms are a staple in many households utilizing them as pizza toppings, psychedelic therapy, ​​cholesterol manager, and immunity enhancers. One type of mushroom, named the mycelium mushroom, is changing the way that the construction and fashion industry solves sustainability issues. The mycelium mushroom imitates leather for fashion pieces while also acting as an insulator in construction, both of which create a greener and more sustainable planet.

These mushrooms, mycelium, are a type of yeast classified as fungi. The ability of these mushrooms to be molded into usable shapes and sheets utilized in industries such as fashion and construction lies in our ability to coax their growth process. Eben Bayer of the Scientific American explains that as the mycelium grows it assembles itself into a matrix of interconnected fibers, similar to a robust highway system.

While in nature, the mycelium will eventually grow into the classic mushroom shape, it is precisely at this step that it can be encouraged to grow itself into predictable shapes by influencing factors such as temperature, humidity, and CO2. After merely a few hours of growth, these fibers can become visible, then a web in a few days, and ultimately a malleable sheet within a week. 

This biofabrication process can transform the way we utilize items and interact with the world around us, in a very sustainable way. Ecovative, is a company that pioneered a type of product packaging alternative to styrofoam or plastic, which can then be broken up and used as compost in your garden!

Vogue featured hats made of mycelium, which imitate leather in both look and feel, created by the company MycoWorks. These little mushrooms can also be used in tasty dishes, such as an imitation chicken caesar salad or imitation pork bao buns prepared by Bosque Foods

One of the main ways mycelium mushrooms are creating a more sustainable, greener world is by “solving global challenges,” of which the waste of the construction industry is “one of the largest in terms of impact on the planet and ecosystem,” Oksana Bondar of Biohm asserts. Biohm is a company that has produced the world’s first accredited mycelium insulation that is stated to outperform petrochemical or plastic-based construction materials in both thermal and acoustic insulation. After use, the insulation can be composted to fertilize the soil, another win for planet Earth!

According to BBC, Dr. Mitchell Jones, a researcher at the Vienna University of Technology and an expert on mycelium, attributes its surge in popularity to its weirdness, which is helping mycelium gain awareness and securing funding for research and development internationally in places such as the US, UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Indonesia, South Korea, Estonia, and Australia. 

This mighty mushroom’s versatility and eco-friendliness might have the potential to change the fashion and construction industry for a greener planet. Defaulting in the utilization of these mushrooms can result in resolving global challenges such as reducing petrochemical or plastic-based construction materials and greenhouses produced by fast fashion. This mushroom may just be one of the holy grails in the fashion and construction industry that will help reduce climate change by being a more sustainable option.