La Cellulose Microbienne; et sa Potentielle pour Créer une Future Écologique
Avora Maitland-Collins
Robert Alexander McMath Secondary
Floor Location : M 119 N

Products that we as humans have used for time immemorial such as leather are quite useful, but unfortunately they drastically effect our environment and all living creatures. If we don't act now, we will continue to face species extinction and rising global temperatures; and this is just the start of a long list of risks to our planet. To produce leather it takes countless hours, resources, energy, and a life. During one year, about 39 million cows are killed in the United States alone! These animals contribute drastically to climate change. On average, a cow produces between 70 and 120 kg of methane every year and takes about 6810 liters of water to produce 500 grams of beef. Furthermore, livestock takes up nearly 80% of agricultural land. Therefore, these animals also contribute to deforestation and species extinction. Obviously, leather affects the environment drastically. But is it a necessary product? The goal of my project was to create an environmentally friendly and vegan product using microbial cellulose. This product works like traditional leather; and also could be used for many other applications. But what is microbial cellulose? If you have already drunk Kombucha (a fermented drink), you are already familiar enough with this organism. When we make Kombucha, tea is fermented using a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). This (SCOBY) is made up of a community of several species of bacteria and yeast that all reside in an interwoven pellicule of microbial cellulose. Generally a SCOBY is composed of Acetobacter bacteria (which turn carbohydrates into long strands of microbial cellulose) and several Saccharomyces and other types of yeast. Using an oven and a few weeks, it was quite easy to create an eco-friendly and authentic leather without the need to destroy the environment. With plant-based eating and living, as well as environmental awareness on the rise; this innovation will be able to solve the large demand for ecological leather substitutes.