For many years, the leather industry has provided a broad range of products for fashion, automotive, homeware and beyond. Leather is one of the most traded products and classified as a luxury item.
However, as luxurious as it is, the making of leather is neither environmentally-friendly nor ethical as the global leather industry slaughters more than a billion animals per year for their skin, causing an increase in the number of factory farms and slaughter houses.
Recently, two Mexican entrepreneurs have found a better alternative, having turned their attention to everyone’s favourite desert plant, the cactus.
Adrian López Velarde and Marte Cázarez are the brains behind Desserto a highly sustainable plant-based vegan leather made from cactus which are grown on their “fully-organic” plantation in the Mexican state of the Zacatecas.
The idea for this project was sparked when Adrian and Marte were working in the furniture automotive and fashion industry, where they finally realised how serious environmental pollution was becoming and decided to leave their jobs to focus on something that was more environmentally-friendly. After two years of research, the creators finally marketed Desserto in 2019.
According to their website, “The aim is to offer a cruelty-free, sustainable alternative, without any toxic chemicals, phthalates and PVC. The result, Desserto, the Cactus Vegan-Leather, is partially biodegradable and has the technical specifications required by the fashion, leather goods, furniture and even automotive industries.”
The process of making cactus leather does not pose a threat to the environment as mature leaves are only collected and put to dry for three days until they achieve the optimum level of humidity. In this drying method, no additional energy is required before the organic raw material is processed into what they need to make the Desserto product.
Other advantages of cactus leather are that it’s flexible, durable, partially biodegradable and does not contain plastic unlike synthetic leather. Not to mention, the touch and feel of the material is said to be the same as real leather.
According to My Modern Met, the brand is hard at work negotiating and collaborating with other major brands and players in the industry to make cactus leather more accessible to medium and small businesses. You never know, you might just have your very own vegan cactus handbag before you know it!
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