Fixing a Prickly Problem With Cactus Leather
As more and more people are becoming aware of the many woes of the fashion industry, new and innovative solutions are being created. One enormous problem the fashion industry has, is its dependency on animal skin leather. Fortunately, a new cactus-based solution is helping us out of this prickly problem, and creating a new, luxury vegan fashion alternative...
Cactus leather via Desserto
What’s Wrong with Animal Leather?
There are a lot of things that are deeply problematic about our use of animal skin leather in fashion. For starters, it of course not cruelty-free, it is made of an animal who has been slaughtered. An animal who, during their life, likely experienced painful standard farming practices like dehorning without any pain relief. This is important to remember, because leather is not a by-product, but a financially important co-product of the meat and dairy industries which supports animal farming and killing, for both fashion and food.
Aside from the animal cruelty issues involved in leather that the fashion industry needs to be aware of, there's also the question; is leather sustainable? The answer is a very simple and clear no. The Global Fashion Agenda found that cow skin leather (the most common animal killed for leather), was the single most environmentally impactful material to produce. Interestingly, the most common alternative to animal skin leather, polyurethane synthetic leather, has less than half the environmental impact - much more eco-friendly.
Cattle on a feedlot - a kind of intensive farming system considered a 'factory-farm'. A large amount of leather will come from cows who at some point lived in these conditions.
What are the alternatives to leather?
There are lots of alternatives to animal leather. And while even synthetic leather is far better for the environment than animal skins, it's not the long term solution for the most sustainable fashion system we can create.
Materials that have a lesser reliance on fossil fuels, which are at least partially biodegradable, and which don't contribute (as cow skin leather does) to eutrophication, massive greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption, are the real future of fashion.
This is where cactus leather comes in.
Cactus leather via Desserto
Cactus leather: cruelty-free and eco-friendly
Cactus leather is vegan leather, so the bags, wallets and shoes made from the material aren't made of dead animals. The material is instead, made largely from cacti which are grown in Mexico, where they add to the natural biodiversity and flora. No trees have been cut down for the plantation, which relies only on rain water and not irrigation, and which is made up of a cactus species that absorbs CO2 and generates oxygen. Further, the cacti are planted and live in the ground for 8 years at a time, with parts of the cacti cut off for harvest every 6-8 months.
The organic cactus material is then blended with polyurethane to produce a partially biodegradable, more sustainable, high-performing material.