Sustainable Cactus 'Leather' Could Save A Billion Animals Per Year

Amy Pilkington 29 Feb 2020

Leather is one of those textiles that is difficult to mimic in a way that's sustainable. There is an ineffable something about real leather that can't be compared to anything else, but it's hard to justify killing an animal just so that you can have a nice purse.

Some estimates say that as many as a billion animals per year are turned into leather products, but it's impossible to know how many are a byproduct of the meat industry or simply killed for their skin.

Plus, even when you set aside the ethics of animal products, real leather is terrible for the environment.

To turn a raw hide into leather, most tanneries use toxic chemicals that are often washed into the local water supply.

Giphy | Friends

Working with the chemicals is also hazardous for the employees at the tannery. While alternative, less toxic methods are available, they are also more costly.

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Animal rights activists have often pointed to "vegan leather" or "pleather" as an ethical alternative, but that's got it's own set of problems.

Unsplash | Colton Sturgeon

It's basically plastic and we're all becoming more and more aware of how bad the manufacture and disposal of petroleum-based products is for the environment.

For weather-proofing and durability, it's hard to beat leather, so more and more people are trying to find a better solution.

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Entrepreneurs Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez saw this need and began thinking of solutions.

Instagram | desserto.pelle

And their results show a ton of promise!

Basically, their company, Adriano Di Marti, found a way to process cacti into a textile very much like real leather.

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They call their "leather" Desserto.

Compared to both real and faux leathers, Desserto has less impact on the environment. Cacti require far less water to cultivate than other plant-based alternatives and their rugged nature requires less processing to achieve a quality textile.

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The desserto "leather" uses natural dyes too.

Instagram | desserto.pelle

And unlike real or faux leather, it's partially biodegradable.

Those who have seen it in person say that it's almost impossible to tell it isn't real leather and unlike a lot of attempts for sustainable alternatives, doesn't cost any more than the real stuff.

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Is it perfect? Of course not.

But in the quest for a more sustainable world, Desserto is the kind of product that can make a huge impact on the effect industries such as fashion have on the environment and those employed in the industry.

There is no magic bullet for sustainable change, but every step towards it is one in the right direction.

h/t: India Times

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