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Faux leather has been praised for providing customers with vegan alternatives to animal leather. Avoiding animal leather is a right of passage for environmentalists, although that being said, many faux leather products heavily rely on using plastic instead. Often derived from two plastic polymers, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU), faux leather is far from eco-conscious. This was the opinion shared by two Mexican business men, Adrian Lopez and Marte Cazarez, with backgrounds in the leather industry. When they put their minds together, they realised that the answer was just before them. 

Image courtesy of Desserto

In Mexico, cacti plants are in abundance, lapping up the sunshine and thriving in warm climates. The plant does not require endless amounts of water, compared to the cows used for animal leather. Despite this, Desserto’s founders did not manage to find the solution straight away. Their researching process lasted for two years, where trial and error consumed every day and their resilience carried the men through. The final product? A vegan leather alternative, derived from Opuntia Cactus, and an innovation leading the way in sustainable fashion. 

Image courtesy of Desserto

How is cactus leather made? 

Every six months, the mature cactus leaves are trimmed from the plant. These grow on the farm simply from Mexico’s scorching heat and the occasional rainwater shower. The leaves are then washed extensively and left to dry for three days. On their website, Desserto claims to mix the dried leaves with ‘non-toxic chemicals’, although the exact ingredients used are not clear. The material can then be dyed or moulded into any shape desired, and just like that, cactus leather is born.

Image courtesy of Desserto

With new innovations such as cactus leather, it’s important to consider how a product impacts the environment during production, in your wardrobe and once it has been discarded. The material is in fact biodegradable and Desserto are proud that it only lasts for ten years. Some people may argue that this makes the product less durable, as it cannot last for lifetimes in many different wardrobes. However, cactus is a plentiful resource and it only takes three leaves to create a metre of cacti leather. 

For more information about Desserto cactus leather, click here.