LAST UPDATED: 21 February 2017
It looks, feels and behaves like leather but there's one very exciting difference — it's made from pineapple leaves. Since these leaves are ordinarily cast aside by pineapple farmers and left to rot, no extra land, water, fertilisers or pesticides are needed to produce this versatile new material. Designer Carmen Hijosa has found a way to turn a waste product into a sustainable and cruelty-free alternative to leather — innovation at its best!
It's called Piñatex and already furniture, accessory and shoe companies (including Puma) are working on prototypes with this durable textile. In fact, shoe company NAE have some Piñatex sneakers on the market already and you can get your hands on them here.
This ground-breaking idea was born when Carmen Hijosa went to the Phillipines to oversee the making of leather as part of her job. It was here that she came to the realisation that traditional leather simply wasn't sustainable and she started looking for what the country had to offer as an alternative. Piñatex provides additional income to farmers and has created a new industry for countries that grow pineapples.
Once we've got these processes perfected, we can bring
theminto any other country that grows pineapples. So we can actually bring Piñatex all over the world.Carmen Hijosa, Ananas Anam
Unlike traditional leather, Piñatex creates no suffering. The tanning process for animal skins uses toxic chemicals which can be harmful to both people and the environment. And it's animals who pay the ultimate price for leather. While cows and bulls are primarily associated with leather, many other animals are killed for their skins as well, including pigs, goats, crocodiles, snakes, kangaroos, seals and more. Whilst some of these animals are also used by the meat industry, it is a common misconception that leather is a by-product. In fact, leather can represent a significant portion of the profit to be made from killing an animal and can have a direct influence on the viability of breeding farmed animals en masse.
At a time when many Australians are actively reducing their meat consumption to help protect the environment and to show compassion to animals, we can look to the materials we use to make a difference in these areas as well. And with innovative materials like Piñatex entering the market, it has never been easier to make cruelty-free and sustainable choices.
So much more than shoes:
- While Piñatex is just on the uptake, leather-free shoes are readily available in Australia. Click here for some of our favourite brands.
- Did the truth about leather surprise you? Find out more here.
- For some eye-opening insights into leather production and the fashion industry, check out the ground-breaking documentary The True Cost on Netflix and iTunes.
- Ready to do more for animals and the environment? Order your free vegetarian starter kit today.