October 23, 2020

Two Entrepreneurs From Mexico Found A Way To Make Vegan Leather Out Of Cactus Leaves

As one of the world’s most traded products, leather is part of a booming $80 billion industry. But, its use of animal products and harsh chemicals makes leather problematic not only for animal rights activists but environmentalists. Luckily, two entrepreneurs from Mexico have worked to find a leather alternative that is not only eco-friendly but has the look and feel of real leather. So what are they using to make their faux-leather? The answer might surprise you.

López Velarde and Marte Cázarez developed a method of transforming cactus into vegan leather that looks and feels exactly like the real thing.

More info: desserto.com.mx | Instagram | Facebook | twitter.com

Image credits: desserto.pelle

“This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet”—Barack Obama once said. Even though saving the planet can sound like a huge and quite vague concept, there’s always a small step that each of us can take. Though some people prefer going big (and not going home).

And when they do so, they manage to invent something entirely innovative that leaves the rest of us totally fascinated. We’re talking about two entrepreneurs from México—Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez—who developed a method of transforming cacti into vegan leather that looks and feels exactly like the real thing.

Although it took them two years of research and development to design the fabric, they perfected its manufacturing process in July and debuted it to the fashion world in Milan, Italy back in October 2019.

Image credits: desserto.pelle

The entrepreneurs realized the environmental impact of animal leather after they both spent years working in the furniture, automotive, and fashion industries. Upon quitting their jobs, they co-founded Adriano Di Marti to design their innovative leather replacement.

Their patented “Desserto” fabric is made out of cactus leaves that are harvested sustainably every 6 to 8 months. The material is designed to breathe easily while still being durable and partially biodegradable.

In addition to the cactus-based material also requiring a minimal amount of water to develop, it is grown organically in the state of Zacatecas.

The material, which has been made available in a variety of colors using natural dyes, has now been used to make everything from bags and automotive seating to shoes and jackets.

Image credits: desserto.pelle

The Environmental Impact Of Leather

The environment motivated López Velarde and Cázarez to make cruelty-free leather. “We identified that the problem of environmental pollution was serious,” López Velarde told FashionUnited.

Tanners treat animal-based leather with 250 different substances, including formaldehyde, cyanide, arsenic, and chromium. These substances enter waterways — polluting oceans and marine life — and raise the risk of disease for local communities.

Raising livestock — for food or for their skins — generates large amounts of emissions. Livestock rearing accounts for 14.5 percent of all anthropologic greenhouse gas emissions.

The pair opted for cactus due to its sustainability. “The idea of using this raw material was conceived because this plant does not need any water to grow, and there is plenty of it throughout the Mexican Republic,” López Velarde explained. “Also, symbolically, it represents all of us Mexicans and everybody knows it.”

Companies that incorporate plant-based leather into their work could lower water consumption by 20 percent.

“Currently, the volume used by the fashion industry alone is huge, almost 79 billion cubic meters, which is enough to fill almost 32 million Olympic-size swimming pools,” López Velarde explained.

The vegan leather also helps reduce plastic waste by 32 to 42 percent.

The vegan leather these guys create is called “Desserto” and it’s the world’s first environmentally friendly organic material made out of Nopal cactus.

Image credits: desserto.pelle

The Vegan Leather Boom

More companies are crafting cruelty-free leather. Footwear brand No Saints turns food waste into vegan leather sneakers. The company uses Piñatex — a plant-based leather made from pineapple leaf fibers — as well as apple peels.

Porsche’s new Taycan electric car can be ordered with a vegan leather interior. Porsche uses recycled polyester fibers to make the material. It requires 80 percent less CO2 to produce than its animal-based counterpart.

This material is considered to be highly sustainable and without any toxic chemicals. Besides, the company offers a large variety of colors, thicknesses, and textures.

Image credits: desserto.pelle

Adrian and Marte grow their cactus in a ranch which is located in the state of Zacatecas.

Image credits: desserto.pelle

First of all, they find and cut mature leaves of the plant, clean it, mash it, then dry it under the sun for three days, after that they proceed to process it so the material can later become a part of their patented vegan leather formula.

Image credits: desserto.pelle

One of the best things about this vegan material is that it looks and feels exactly like real leather. It’s elastic, breathable, and highly customizable. Anything, that can be made out of classic leather can also be made out of the “Desserto” vegan leather.

Image credits: desserto.pelle

Image credits: desserto.pelle

Image credits: desserto.pelle

People on the Internet seem to really like this idea