Mexican Entrepreneurs Create Vegan Leather Out Of Cactus Plants
Two entrepreneurs in Mexico have found a creative, cruelty-free alternative to leather, having turned their attention to the humble cactus.
Adrian López Velarde and Marte Cázarez are the duo behind Desserto, a vegan leather that was created to offer a sustainable, animal-friendly alternative to traditional leather, which is usually made by tanning animal rawhide and skins.
"Desserto is a highly sustainable plant based vegan-leather made from cactus, often distinguished by its great softness at touch while offering a great performance for a wide variety of applications and complying with the most rigorous quality and environmental standards," the company's website says.
"The aim is to offer cruelty free, sustainable alternative, without any toxic chemicals, phthalates and PVC. The result, Desserto, the Cactus Vegan-Leather, is partially biodegradable and has the technical specifications required by the fashion, leather goods, furniture and even automotive industries."
The cacti Lopez Velarde and Cazarez use are grown on a 'fully organic' ranch in the Mexican state of Zacatecas, where they're able to cut only the mature leaves of each plant without damaging the cactus itself.
They then dry the leaves in the sun for three days - meaning there's no additional energy required - before processing the organic raw material into what they need to make the Desserto product.
The website also explains that cacti plants are different to other 'C3 plantations' such as corn, as they require much less water.
"Cactus absorbs CO2 during night because only when the environment is fresh the plant opens its stoma capturing CO2, generating oxygen and absorbing water present in the atmosphere which normally comes from the morning dew," it says.
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"C3 plants have a chlorophyll metabolism, these C3 plants need on average 1,000 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of dry matter/material while cactus (CAM) only needs 200 liters, however these 200 liters are absorbed by the plant itself through its natural hygroscopic mechanism."
Speaking to Fashion United about Desserto, López Velarde said the project took two years of research and development.
"I had the idea after working first in the furniture and later in the automotive industry and Marte Cázarez in the fashion industry, where we identified that the problem of environmental pollution was serious," he said.
"As a result, we were genuinely interested in reducing environmental impact, so we decided to leave our jobs and start Adriano Di Marti, a company to focus on developing Desserto, which nowadays is known as cactus or nopal vegan leather."
López Velarde added: "We managed to produce a suitable material that complies with the features and technical/mechanical specifications required by those industries that use animal or synthetic leather; also, thanks to its organic composition, it is breathable, which makes cactus or nopal vegan leather similar to animal leather."
Featured Image Credit: Desserto