Ecologically friendly alternative to leather from the Nopal cactus

This October two inventors from Guadalajara in Mexico will travel to Milan in Italy to showcase a new product made from the nopal cactus at Lineapelle. Lineapelle is a prestigious international trade exhibition of leather goods which is held twice a year and exhibits “New trends in leather, textiles and synthetics for shoes, handbags, leather goods and leatherwear”. In the upcoming October fair Adrián López and Marte Cazárez will present a new innovation in eco-friendly leather which uses the Opuntia cactus as its base material.

The impetus for their invention was a combination of national pride and a lightbulb moment that occurred when they realised that as the nopal is already used for health promoting topical applications for the skin then why not create a fabric from it. The cactus grows prolifically in Mexico and uses very little water in its production and as such provides an ecologically friendly (and cruelty free) option to that of animal derived leather. These two socially proactive also wanted to support Mexican farmers and field workers and creating a product from what is essentially the national plant of Mexico has allowed them to do this. Huitzilopochtli, it appears, is still hard at work.

In the beginning they were told they were crazy and even their own engineers told them it couldn’t be done but after a long period of trial and error they devised a combination of nopal and cotton fibre which produced an attractive, breathable and durable fabric with a suitable softness and skin feel. The leather is said to have a life of at least 10 years and is suitable for use by the fashion industry as well as for furniture, leather goods, and automotive industries.

Image from El Heraldo de México

This adds another string to the bow of the nopal and its uses as ecologically friendly alternatives to plastic bags and straws which I have discussed in previous posts.

A solution to single use plastic bags. : 11 Jun 2019

The future of straws may be a cactus. : 11 Jun 2019

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