Cactus Leather

Leather is a durable and popular material, but it’s not exactly environmentally friendly. It’s made from animal skin, and treated with harsh chemicals, so it’s not only cruel, it also never biodegrades.

Most leather alternatives are petroleum-based plastics that are less breathable, harder to clean and also don’t break down.

But now there’s a new vegan leather that is made from the strong fibers of the prickly pear or “nopal” cactus. It is the national plant of Mexico, where it grows easily without water and is used for a variety of purposes.

Mexican inventors Adrian Lopez and Marte Cazarez have created Desserto, a cruelty-free, sustainable leather without any toxic ingredients or plastics.

It took over two years of experimenting until the inventors perfected a way to mix the cactus fiber with cotton, creating a soft, durable organic fabric that breathes well and can be used for clothing as well as furniture, and automotive products. The fabric lasts for up to ten years and is partially biodegradable.

The inventors showcased Desserto at an International Leather Fair in Milan, Italy, where it was well received. They are now busy rolling it out to companies in different industries. Lopez and Cazerez estimate their material could yield a 30 to 40 percent reduction in plastic waste, and a 20 percent savings in water consumption compared to the real leather production.

Not only is this plant-based innovation good for the environment and cruelty-free, it’s also good for business in their home country of Mexico, from farming to production.

For the inventors, it’s not just about fashion and the environment, but it also completes their mission to support their local economy and beyond.

Where there’s a will there is a way and the inventors of Desserto, prove that innovative thinking with the abundant resource of cactus is a win-win for all.