Desserto, a textile company based in Mexico, has created a plant-based vegan leather that is derived from cactus plants.
This cactus leather is highly sustainable; it is biodegradeable and produced without toxic chemicals, phthalates, or PVC. Its durability is comparable to industrial grade leather and textiles used in the fashion, automotive and furniture industries. The fashion industry has been responding well to cactus leather. LVMH awarded Desserto with second place in its 2020 Innovation Award.
Here’s my thought about this: it’s an alternative to the alternative. For brands that prefer not to use genuine leather, it is a great option. Those companies would typically use PVC’s and polyurethanes which are treated with toxic chemicals to soften it down to consumer-friendly products. Those synthetic alternatives are non-biodegradeable and ultimately end up as landfill.
Genuine leather is naturally biodegradeable and can be produced using natural, non-toxic processes. It is inherently a recycled material, a by-product of the food industry. Leather is derived from livestock that is slaughtered for meat, not for its hides. If the hides or skins are not used to make leather, what would become of them? It amazes me that an animal by-product can be made into a luxury jacket or handbag.
The environmental issue with leather is that livestock emits greenhouse gases. A sustainable alternative to genuine leather would be derived from livestock that is raised in a way that sequesters carbon in the soil, instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.
Some farms have been growing their crops using regenerative agriculture practices, which lets nature do its thing and sequester carbon by photosynthesis. There is some current research in how these practices can be used in raising livestock, and I hope to write about them in a future post.