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Leather products can now be made of the cactus plant4 min read

January 30, 2021 3 min read

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Leather products can now be made of the cactus plant4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

For years, we skinned cows to create all sorts of fashion items. We made shoes, bags, belts and even coats. They were lovely, colourful and resplendent but there was one major problem. Thousands of cows had to die for our vanity. We still make leather products with the skins of not just cows but all sorts of animals. However, each year, people invent more and more ethical and safe alternatives to leather. They use the bark of the cork tree and bamboo pulp, among other plants and waste products, to create beautiful products.

Michelle Ayres | Custom Cow Leather Works
Traditional leather is essentially the hide or skin of the cow. Image: Michelle Ayres

 Of course, each replacement comes with some issues, and people have complained that these alternatives don’t feel like the real thing. So, as it usually goes, plastic came to rescue, and pleather was born. It feels just like the original thing, and you can use it to create all sorts of products. It’s cheaper, doesn’t take the skin off animals’ backs, and is easy to obtain. Fashion houses around the world have taken to pleather and created ethical products. 

6 Companies Making Vegan Leather From Plants, From Apples to Flowers
This leather made of pineapple skins doesn’t really create the feel of authentic leather. Image: Green Matters

But, with plastic, there is always a catch. Plastic as you know if the world’s biggest polluter. The thin plastic fibres that go into these pleather products are clogging our oceans and killing marine animals. Animals on land are choking on plastic waste as well. Recently, a baby was born with microplastics, or fine particles of plastic, in its body. Such events can have dangerous consequences. We are only beginning to understand the permanent damage that plastic products cause to our planet. 

The choice?

So, is it true that if we do not want to kill animals for their hyde, we must choose one or the other? Either we can have leather products that feel real to touch, look beautiful and last long or cause long-lasting and devastating damage to our planet.

Well, it turns out that this choice is no longer necessary. Worried about the plastic pollution crisis, Mexico-based Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez put on their thinking sombreros and created the first-ever cactus-based leather, under their brand Desserto, in 2019. Their products had the shine and texture of leather and were soft enough to be morphed into all sorts of products.

Now, cactus joins the vegan leather bandwagon

Owliver’s Obscure Observation: Mexico’s Prickly Pear cactus stems are made into a pulp. The pulp is mixed with colours and additives to create the shiny leather that you see.

The products are made of the stems of the cactus plant which naturally regenerates. This means that neither do we have to kill animals to obtain these leather-like products nor do they have to cut down forests to make endless cactus plantations. These eco-friendly products caught the attention of an Indian company as well.

Arture, founded by Shivani Patel, previously made products such as wallets and purses out of cork. While they were eco friendly too, they didn’t feel like authentic leather. Now, they have decided to start experimenting with cactus based leather to see if they can improve their products.

“Cactus leather is more luxurious to touch. It has a leather-like hand feel and it is slimmer compared to cork.

Shivani Patel, the founder of Arture

You can take a look at Arture’s eco- friendly wallets and purses on their website.

With Excerpts From: The Hindu

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