There is a new fashionable, durable and biodegradable leather on the market and it is made from pineapples! Piñatex has found a way to process pineapple leaves so that the fibres can be transformed into faux-leather.
Spanish designer Carmen Hijosa created Piñatex after a business trip to tanneries in the Philippines inspired her to create a cruelty-free and more sustainable alternative.
“Piñatex is a byproduct of the food industry,” explained Hijosa. “Once the pineapples are harvested the plants are left to rot.”
Instead of letting that happen, pineapple farmers gather the leaves, extract the fibres and degum them in closed tanks. The fibres become soft and breathable and can be put through an industrial process that turns them into a non-woven mesh material. The entire process does not use any extra water, pesticides or fertiliser beyond what is used to cultivate the pineapples.
“We are completely new…We are an alternative to leather and an alternative to petroleum-based textiles which is sustainable and has a strong sociological and ecological background,” said Hijosa.
Leather not only used to be the skin of a living, feeling animal — it is also a product that requires an incredibly toxic and environmentally-damaging manufacturing process. In order to stop the skin from decomposing the tanning process uses extremely toxic chemicals, many of which are known carcinogens. Alarmingly, The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. discovered those living near tanneries were much more likely to contract leukaemia, sinus and lung cancers and other serious illnesses. Not to mention all the chemicals added to leather make it almost impossible to biodegrade.
Piñatex not only addresses the issues of animal cruelty and environmental damage, its production is also a huge leg-up for the local labour force. Hijosa believes consumers will be interested in buying a sustainable product which helps vulnerable farming communities on the other side of the world.
This is a very exciting product TVB headquarters will be keeping an eye on! Now, time to celebrate with a Piña Colada!