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December 6, 2021

From the cute-as-a-button shrooms available at your local supermarket to the vast and ancient honey fungi which have lived in Oregon’s Blue Mountains for thousands of years, these mysterious organisms have always been a source of mystery. While they’ve historically been used to induce spiritual trips or craft medicines, today they’re being harnessed for another end; saving the planet.

In celebration of the international mushroom month, we’re taking a closer look at how these fungi are being used to craft sustainable alternatives to everyday items.

From packaging to plimsolls to plant-based meat, here are five reasons why mushrooms are the future:

1. Plant-Based Packaging

One of the reasons mushrooms are such a sustainable superhero is that farming them doesn’t require much room (or mush-room). Because they can be stacked vertically in growing facilities, a mere acre of land can produce a whopping million pounds of shrooms every year – which means less deforestation to clear growing space.

It’s no wonder they’re being used to combat one of our most environmentally harmful habits; unsustainable packaging. Ecovative Design use mycelium (or mushroom root) to create totally renewable, high performing packaging which biodegrades completely in just one month.

2. Fungi Fashion

Fungi Fashion
Stella McCartney Mylo, Photo @ Stella McCartney

The world market for vegan leather is estimated to be worth $85 billion by 2025, as more and more fashion houses make the switch to cruelty-free and sustainable fabrics.

Faux leather or unleather can be made out of anything from pineapple to cactus, but Mylo – the mushroom-based leather produced by Bolt Threads – looks set to take over the industry.

Stella McCartney has already collaborated with Mylo to create the first vegan mushroom leather clothing. And with Adidas and Lululemon also set to partner with the brand, there’s much more mushroom fashion soon to come.

3. Mushroom Meat

From Michelin star restaurants to McDonald’s, everyone is jumping on the meatless meat bandwagon. Plant-based proteins are an easy, healthy switch that’s good for your body and even better for the planet. It’s no wonder they’re projected to take 10 per cent of the global meat market by 2030.

Mushrooms – with their naturally meaty flavour and texture – have been indispensable to many of these companies. Visionary producers Atlast cultivate speciality mushrooms that in their labs, while Australian mushroom-based meat company Fable Foods is heading to the UK on the back of a hugely successful round of investment. And many popular plant-based proteins – including Quorn, who are behind KFC’s vegan burger – are just flavoured masses of fungal mycelium. Read more:

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