Just when you thought you couldn’t be more obsessed with the magic world of fungi and all of their health, beauty and wellness benefits - think again. Across the world, companies are beginning to utilize mushrooms in ways you’ve never seen before.
From natural skin care products to vegan bacon, mushrooms are leading the conversation about sustainability in a variety of consumer markets. But how are they making these products out of mushrooms? The answer is both simple and complex: Mycelium!
Mycelium, or the root structure of mushrooms which are composed of dense, thread-like strands of tissue called hyphae, are a possible solution to sustainability problems faced by industry.
In short, mycelium absorbs small molecules of sugar, or often plant and tree waste. Then, they break these enzymes down into tiny morsels that they can digest in order to grown. As mycelium grows, they establish an intricate and intelligent network of invisible-to-the-naked-eye fibers to create a root system.
Once their network of information highways are complete, they usually move onto their next project - growing a mushroom! However, this is where scientists have begun to disrupt the process. By controlling the temperature, humidity and other environmental factors, scientists have discovered that they can stop the mycelium from producing a mushroom, and instead can coax them into building predictable fibrous formations.
In this controlled environment, the invisible fibers of mycelium evolve into thin, visible sheets in just a few days and into heavy, dense sheets that can be inches thick after just one week. This rapid growth makes mycelium a perfect candidate to replace some of the leading materials that are polluting our earth, like plastic and styrofoam. Mycelium is changing the way we package items, make clothing, consume vegan food and way beyond.
Below are some of the exciting products that mycelium has made possible:
Packaging made of mushrooms is one of the most revolutionary creations in recent years. Mushroom® Packaging, created by Evocative Designs (one of the leading companies in mycelium made products) is made with only two ingredients: mycelium and hemp hurds. Hemp hurds are wooden waste that is separated when processing hemp, and work together with the intelligent mycelium to create an incredible alternative to plastic packaging.
What's more? Mushroom® Packaging can be added to your compost and will break down within 45 days.
(Mushroom packaging by our friends at Ecovative Design)
Once you start diving into the world of mycelium, the possibilities are endless. The skincare industry is projected to reach $37.13B by 2026 and will create more waste than even imaginable.
Frontiers in the mycelium industry are aiming to impact the amount of waste in the beauty world by creating mycelium made sheet masks, make-up sponges, toe spacers, eye masks and spa slippers, all of which are ‘disposable’, but when added to soil will compost in less than two months.
The fashion industry is unsurprisingly the 2nd most polluting businesses in the world aside from the oil industry. It consumes and wastes an absorbent amount of water and is to blame for over 10% of the total global carbon emission. These unsustainable numbers show just how vital it is that the apparel industry gets a makeover with mycelium. From the foam in sneakers to straps on backpacks, mycelium is being molded into a variety of products in the apparel world.
Amazingly, mycelium is being used to create leather-like fabrics at a much lower carbon cost. By using the same process as mentioned earlier, fashion designers are taking mycelium sheets and treating it and manufacturing it like real leather. Some say that mycelium ‘leather’ even outperforms real leather in the long run.
(Mycelium imitation leather by Bolt Threads)
Vegan food is more popular than ever. Over 6% of Americans say that they are living a vegan lifestyle, which is up 500% since 2014. With so much consumer need for vegan products, mycelium meats couldn’t come at a better time.
Companies like MyEats are changing the way we think about bacon. Using similar technology that was developed to make leather or product packaging, scientists are also creating mycelium meat alternatives that look and taste like the real thing. Because there is no volumetric limit to the growth of mycelium, it can be grown into any 3D shape or processed to shape once grown. Mycelium also offers meatless consumers a range of nutritional benefits, such as fiber and protein.
(This steak is 100% mycelium!!! From the team at Meati Foods)
Looking For Your Mushroom Fix?
Alchemi Mushrooms is a mushroom supplement company that aims to bring nature's true medicine into your daily ritual. Every mushroom we grow is picked and grown from spore to sale on our organic family farms. Our mushroom capsules and powders can help boost your immune system, give you energy throughout the day and improve your overall wellbeing. Try any of our products to see how mushrooms can impact your life!