Two industrialists from Mexico have made vegan leather out of cactus leaves. The brutality-free leather is called Desserto.

Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez are believed to be the earliest to generate organic leather out of only nopal (prickly pear) cactus. They do not use toxic chemicals, phthalates, or PVC in their design.

The vegan leather is partly recyclable. It is adaptable, breathable, and persists for at least 10 years. The stuff feels like animal-based leather. Firms can use it in furniture, cars, leather accessories, and clothing.

The Environmental Impact of Leather

The environment inspired López Velarde and Cázarez to make viciousness-free leather. “We identified that the problem of environmental pollution was serious, López Velarde told FashionUnited.

Tanners treat animal-based leather with 250 different substances, including formaldehyde, cyanide, arsenic, and chromium. These elements enter water bodies— polluting oceans and marine life — and increase the risk of disease for local communities.


Raising livestock — for food or for their skins — produces huge quantities of discharges. Cattle rearing accounts for 14.5 percent of all anthropologic greenhouse gas discharges.

The pair decided on cactus due to its sustainability. The idea of using this raw material was created because this plant does not need any water to grow, and there is plenty of it throughout the Mexican Republic,” López Velarde explained. “Also, symbolically, it represents all of us Mexicans and everybody knows it.”

Enterprises that integrate plant-based leather into their job could lower water consumption by 20 percent.

Currently, the volume used by the fashion industry alone is huge, almost 79 billion cubic meters, which is enough to fill almost 32 million Olympic-size swimming pools,” López Velarde explained.

Vegetarian leather also helps reduce plastic waste by 32 to 42 percent.

The Vegan Leather Boom

Other companies are making cruelty-free leather. Footwear brand No Saints turns food waste into vegan leather sneakers. The firm uses Piñatex — a plant-based leather made from pineapple leaf fibres — as well as apple peels.


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