Today we’re going to dive deep into the material. What is pineapple leather? Is it a sustainable alternative to leather? Is it a natural vegan leather? How is pineapple fabric made? We’ve got all the answers for you.
‘Pineapple leather’ is made from the leaves of the fruit, and is called Piñatex . It’s far more sustainable than both cow skin leather and conventional synthetic leather, and it looks gorgeous. Piñatex is a woven, coated textile. It is a wonderful replacement for cruel and environmentally damaging cow skin leather.
Pineapple leather is made from the leaves of pineapple fruit plants. These aren’t the leaves that poke out the top of the pineapple fruit, but the bigger leaves of the plant itself, that are most often thrown away before we ever see them.
The fibres of the pineapple leaves are pulled apart, dried out, and then brought together through a processing system which creates a non-woven substrate. Essentially, a flat fabric sheet, sort of like felt, where all the different leaf fibres cross over each other and are fused together. This material is totally biodegradable.
After this stage, the pineapple fibre is coated. This coating makes up between 10-15% of the final material, making it still primarily an alternative to leather made from plants. The coating is partly made from plants too, as it’s made from polylactic acid. This is a sort of thermoplastic which is derived from renewable biomass, like fermented plant starch from corn, sugarcane or sugar beet.
This is all that goes into the material! Unlike all cow skin leather, there are no toxic, or even carcinogenic chemicals involved. And, unlike conventional synthetic leather, there are no fossil fuels in the final material. Piñatex is an almost totally plant based leather.
While we already know this pineapple fabric leather alternative is made from leaf fibres bound together and coated in renewable biomass, we can go back a step farther in the production process, too.
The first stage of Piñatex production is the cultivation of pineapple fruit plants. For cow skin leather, it’s the farming and slaughtering of animals, and for most synthetic leather, it’s the extraction of fossil fuels. Growing fruit is far less environmentally impactful than both.
Approximately 13 million tons of waste is usually produced by the global pineapple industry each year, made up of the leaves normally discarded. By making a sustainable leather alternative from this waste product, Piñatex reduces waste and requires no additional agricultural land for its production.
When we buy cow skin leather, we are also adding profit to an industry. Except, unlike with Piñatex, we aren’t supporting fruit farmers. When farms sell their cattle to slaughterhouses, their skins are sold for a profit. By buying animal skin leather we are directly funding the exploitation and slaughter of sentient beings.
On cattle farms, gentle animals are painfully, but legally dehorned without any pain relief. This means their horns are cut or even burned off and out of their heads. On dairy farms, all the male calves who will never produce milk, but who are born because cows must be pregnant to produce milk, are slaughtered at a few days old. These are both practices behind the production of leather.
Interestingly, when abattoirs have been unable to sell skins, sometimes due to the increased demand for vegan leather alternatives, they have said they’ve lost millions in profit. If slaughterhouses aren’t making enough money, they won’t continue to operate. This is an important thing to be aware of - what we choose to spend our money on makes a difference.
Individual people can make a difference. That means you
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