Mushrooms used to make homes and clothes

Mushrooms are popping up where you might not expect them — in buildings.

While fungi are normally the last thing you want to find in your walls, several new companies have other ideas.

They are using the root structure of mushrooms, a substance called mycelium, to make new, tough materials.

Mushrooms are actually like the fruit of the mycelium fungus. Mycelium is very strong in relation to its weight, and grows quickly, which makes it useful for buildings.

A company in London, Biohm, uses it to make insulation panels. It can be grown from sawdust and biodegrades easily, giving it many advantages over plastic panels.

Soon you might be kept warm by eco-friendly fungi. But it is not just your house. You might be wearing it. MycoWorks, a San Francisco based company makes a leather substitute called Reishi from mycelium. They have already made a designer handbag.

Again, there are lots of environmental benefits to using mushrooms rather than cow-skins to make your jackets and bags.

Mycelium can be grown from waste, and so does not need extra farmland to be used for it. While it is alive, it also absorbs CO2 through photosynthesis. And when you are done with it, you can throw it away and it will help other materials break down. One day we may even be able to grow living mushroom houses.