The disposal of textile waste may one day involve mushrooms.

The most sustainable strategy would involve destroying existing products rather than using mycelium to make new ones.

Fashion has been looking for years to discover a sustainable substitute for leather, from materials created from orange peels to the firm funded by Leonardo DiCaprio to develop a specific form of lab-grown leather using only a few animal cells. The $100 billion in annual sales of the top five fashion system firms in Europe are currently dominated by the leather goods market, which is expected to expand by 63% by 2030. Leather goods are the lifeblood of the modern luxury sector. Furthermore, mushrooms stand out among the many eco-friendly substitutes for traditional materials. Mushrooms are naturally abundant in nature, grow quickly, and require much less water than conventional textile production. They are widely used in the home, beauty, and wellness industries, featured in documentaries like How to Change Your Mind, and known for their psychedelic, therapeutic, nutritional, and occasionally harmful effects.

Theoretically, a mushroom product can be strong, vibrant, and water-repellent in addition to being entirely biodegradable. For all of these reasons, Balenciaga and Hermès will soon produce bags, coats, and shoes made from the same material, and Stella McCartney has chosen mycelium for her new it-bag, Frayme MyloTM. However, the production process is still difficult and costly. The most sustainable strategy, however, would include destroying existing items rather than using mycelium to make new ones. .

In an effort to create a more environmentally conscious future where waste disposal, particularly with regard to textiles, is not a concern, the Esprit brand recently recruited the sustainable firm Pentatonic. This initiative once again makes use of the benefits of mycelium. Instead of a single mushroom, a mushroom grows from a massive underground network resembling a root system.. The two companies collaborated to test mycelium, according to The Face, and discovered that the “hungry mushrooms” chewed through undyed items more quickly and ate organic fibers like cotton and hemp better. A Pentatonic representative told the British magazine that “seeing the mycelium eat the garments in such a short period was a reminder of how this initial inquiry could lead to a new set of possibilities.” A disposal method that will probably be accessible in 2024.

Alternative textiles made from bacteria or mushrooms may still be a long way from upending the entire fashion industry, but they now seem like a promising direction worth exploring. However, using the same material to destroy clothing rather than make it can also be considered as an act of environmental protest and a reflection on the industry’s frantic rate of production, given the continued overconsumption and toxic waste of the traditional textile and fashion business.

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