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Watch how Modern Meadow’s biotech lab makes an alternative to leather

It’s quite likely that something you’re wearing right now is made of leather. That leather came from a now-deceased animal, and the process to make the piece of tanned hide had a large environmental footprint. In fact, the production and livestock behind the leather we wear produces more than half of the global greenhouse emissions.

Bio-fabrication company Modern Meadow, however, has developed an alternative to leather–and it requires a lot of very technical finesse. Using science, the company grows collagen cells to make a new material–one that looks, feels, and acts like leather, yet is much more eco-friendly. The process of making the company’s materials is fascinating.

We recently got a tour of Modern Meadow’s labs to better understand what goes into making its materials. The process begins with yeast, which is then fermented to make proteins–which are the basis for the company’s bio-engineered material.

In Modern Meadow’s lab, the engineers pinpoint ideal cells that will be the best to grow and scale to make the material. Employees pore over microscopes, computer screens, and data to figure out which cellular groups will be chosen to create a hearty piece of leather-inspired material. Once that’s done, the company tans and dyes the material it was able to produce from a single collagen cell.

To understand the process Modern Meadow follows to make its innovative product, it’s best to see for yourself. Luckily, we got a tour of the lab to see it in action. It’s this kind of scalable technology that may help ween the world from its past wasteful practices.

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