Designers are increasingly turning to alternatives to plastic, and one popular replacement comes from fungus. Experts are experimenting with mycelium for everything from construction materials to fashion and now sporting equipment, such as bicycle helmets. A new project allows the consumer to ‘Grow It Yourself’ to avoid plastic without sacrificing durability.

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rendering of mycelium bike helmet

Created by NOS Design and Agustin Otegui in collaboration with Diego Mata and Axel Gómez-Ortigoza, the Grow it Yourself Helmet is 100% compostable, breathable and impact-resistant.

Related: World’s first “living coffin” made of mycelium is used in a burial

person holding helmet prototype made from mycelium
rendering of mycelium helmet with teal and orange straps

Made from a combination of hay and mycelium, the helmet literally grows from natural materials that will decompose back into the soil in about one month after the helmet’s lifecycle. NOS Design developed the idea in conjunction with Polybion, the company credited with developing a foam-like product called Fungicel made from mycelium. Not only is the material eco-friendly, but used in a helmet, it offers impact-resistance to protect the rider without the environmentally hazardous, petroleum-based plastic foam typically found in helmets. In addition, mycelium is affordable and naturally fire-resistant.

traditional plastic bike helmet next to cardboard helmet model
diagram of natural materials going into mycelium-based bike helmet

The product is aimed toward all users but was developed especially for children who quickly outgrow helmets, perhaps requiring several before reaching adulthood. In addition, the Grow it Yourself Helmet provides an alternative for commuters who rely on community bike lending systems that don’t offer personal protection.

mycelium bike helmet prototype in an oven
child wearing tan mycelium helmet

Mycelium is a web-like, branching system of filaments called hyphae. The mycelium-composite manufacturing cycle starts with this naturally occurring, vegetative part of a fungus. While naturally sourced, it can also provide jobs and economic growth in rural areas that have space to propagate the fungus. In fact, it can be cultivated in your own backyard, allowing you to truly Grow it Yourself.

Mycelium isn’t new to the product development market. In fact, it’s quickly gaining attention within the construction industry as an alternative to cement. It’s also ‘growing’ in popularity for use in packaging, acoustic panels and interior design materials, among other products.

+ NOS 

Via Yanko Design

Images via NOS