We do love a good vegan leather product and we also love the Earth, so it's cringeworthy to know that the majority of vegan leather items on the market are made entirely from synthetic materials such as PVC and polyurethane. This means heavy on chemicals, toxins, the use of finite fossil fuels during manufacturing, as well a big waste issue because the majority cannot be recycled or biodegraded.
Thankfully with innovation pushing materials forward, plant-based leathers are being used more and more as a more sustainable leather alternative that is kinder on Earth. Here's a roundup of 5 materials to watch for.
1. Cactus Leather
Desserto® had created an amazing leather alternative made from the mature leaves of the Nopal cactus. Cactus is a natural carbon sink with a great CO2 sequestering capacity and naturally regenerates the soil. The material has none of the toxic chemicals, phthalates, and PVC that conventional leather has.
Audette Cactus Leather Baguette-$395
2. Apple Leather
AppleSkin® is made of organic waste peels and residues and combined with other materials such as PU or coated canvas in order to improve durability. An important aspect of using apple waste is that it is a completely renewable resource, reducing the CO2 impact significantly.
Viron Apple Leather Mules-$255
3. Grape Leather
While grape leather must be mixed with other materials such as organic cotton and synthetics in order to improve its durability, it is a great solution to the waste created by winemaking. Italian biomaterial startup VEGEA uses discarded grape skins from wine waste, vegetal oils, and natural fibers from agriculture.
Pangaia Grape Leather Sneakers-$220
4. Mushroom Leather
MuSkin and Mylo™ are great alternatives to real leather, made from mycelium, the vegetative part of fungus which closely resembles cowhide. The material generates only a fraction of the environmental footprint of actual leather tanneries and is also 100% biodegradable.
Stella McCartney Mylo Leather
5. Pineapple Leather
Piñatex® was one of the first plant-based vegan leathers and is derived from the unused pineapple leaves that are a by-product of the harvest. This material also still mixes other materials or synthetics in order to improve its durability, but with a fraction of the environmental impact.