Millions of cows, tonnes of toxic fumes and gallons of clean water all used on one, unnecessary material: leather. What non-polluting material can be developed to replace this harmful material? Two mexican friends have faced up to this problem, and found the perfect solution: Desserto, a leather made from cactus.
These two friends both worked for factories which used leather (a sofa factory and a car-seat factory), and they got together to find a solution. As they were in Mexico, they wanted to find a common material that could be farmed easily, and they also wanted it to have 0 impact and be biodegradable. After loads of research, they found out that the prickly pear cactus leaves (see image below) corresponded with the characteristics.
The plant, which is very common all over Mexico, has the characteristic of growing again, as only the leaves are used, so there is no need of doing huge plantations everywhere. It is sustainable. It also needs very little water, as it is a cactus, so the water problem would be solved too. How does it become leather, though? First, the cactus gets mashed. Then, it is processed so that the fibers only stay in the mash. Finally, it is brought to a machine that transforms fibers into leather. The leather is initially green, which is a great colour itself, but if you want to change the colour, there are natural colorants which will do it easily.
This vegan leather project will make a great difference if it will become famous, because after all the terrible man-made attacks on our environment, like the icebergs melting, desertification, and pollution people want to save the world and perhaps having alternative offers, such as vegan leather, will help people understand the impact our choices have on the planet – and there are alternatives out there!