This is one of the most unique shoes we would come across as researchers have created biodegradable shoes using mushrooms, chicken feathers, and textile waste, paving the way for more sustainable fashion. The researchers from University of Delaware (UD) in the US created a bio-composite material - sourced sustainably from common regional products that forms the sole of their prototype shoe.
Jillian Silverman, student at UD said, “The fashion industry produces a lot of waste, so sustainability is an issue everyone is trying to address. It’s hard to believe that people are going to change their consumption habits, but with this shoe, when someone gets tired of it or it wears out, it can go into the compost pile and not the landfill.”
The project began in 2015 when researchers made fabric from mushroom mycelium, the interlocking root system from which the part of the mushroom that we eat on our pizza grows. The researchers then experimented with growing different species of mushrooms and using different materials, known as substrates, in which the mycelium forms its network of roots. They grew numerous samples, dried them and tested them for potential use as the sole of a shoe.
Huantian Cao, professor at UD said, “The chicken feathers and the textile products provide the nutrients for the mycelium, and they also are a supporting material for it to grow in. They act like a kind of glue to form a matrix and create a network structure for the mycelium.”
Wing Tang, student at UD said, “I used vegetable dyes and 100 % cotton thread. The design looks like mushrooms look when they’re stacked, and everything is completely biodegradable.”