Who Made This Brilliant Discovery?
Leather expert Carmen Hijosa hit upon the idea while visiting the Philippines to consult with the leather industry there. Observing a large waste of pineapple leaves, she realized the leaves had certain features that might make it possible to turn them into a plant-based leather alternative.
Hijosa went back to school at the Royal College of Art in London, developed the material into a patented product and recently launched a manufacturing company of her pineapple-based leather, called Piñatex.
Good News! It Doesn’t Harm The Environment
“It’s created from a byproduct of agriculture, meaning it’s a total waste product,” she says. “This really means that in order to have Piñatex, a textile, we don’t have to use any land, water, pesticides, fertilizers … we are actually taking a waste material and ‘upscaling’ it, meaning that we’re giving it added value.”
Great News! It Doesn’t Harm Animals OR The Environment!!
Making animal-based leather typically involves hazardous chemicals such as formaldehyde and heavy metals such as chrome, all of which can cause problems when they end up in wastewater. Like meat, since leather comes from animals that require massive amounts of feed, it also has a large carbon footprint.
Piñatex offers an obvious solution.
It’s Good For The Economy
Because pineapple leaves would normally be wasted, turning them into leather is an extra source of income for farmers. After farmers take the first step in processing the leaves, separating the long fibers, they also end up with biomass that can be used as fertilizer back in the pineapple fields.
Pineapple Isn’t The Only Option
Other designers have experimented with everything from mushrooms to red algae powder in the search for more sustainable materials.