Animal free leather on World Meat Free Day
Today (12 June) is World Meat Free Day to draw attention to the bad effects eating so much meat has on the planet. Producing meat produces a lot of carbon emissions and takes up a lot of clean water. Animals are, of course, not only a source of meat, but also leather. Thanks to new innovations, however, there are many ways to create leather-like materials for which no animals are harmed. Below, we have noted some remarkable examples of animal free leather. Happy World Meat Free Day!
Lab grown leather
According to the company Modern Meadow, it is possible to grow your own leather without involving an animal. Only some skin cells have to be extracted via a biopsy, which doesn’t harm the animal. The skin cells are then isolated and multiplied, before they start producing collagen, like they also do in nature. The cells and collagen are spread out on a sheet and stacked in multiple layers. After a tanning process, the leather is done! Read all about the process here.
Fruit and plant leather
About 45 per cent of all fruit produced is eventually thrown away. To do something about this waste, as well as to create an alternative for animal leather, a collective of Dutch designers created what they call Fruitleather, which is made from unsellable fruits. To make Fruitleather, the fruit is deseeded, smashed and boiled to get rid of bacteria. The remaining pulp is smeared out over a surface to dry, creating a leather-like material. You can read more about the project here.
Another leather made from fruit is Grape Leather, for which the skins and stalks of the grapes, a waste product from making wine, are used. This material won H&M’s Global Change Awards.
Somewhere between textile and leather, Piñatex is made from leftover pineapple leaf fibres from the pineapple harvesting process. To create the material, waste pineapple fibres are cut up, layered and processed into a textile. The textile can be created with different thicknesses and can also be processed in a number of ways including dying, printing and treating in order to create different types of textures – even leather-like textures.
Cellulose fibres, a by-product of kombucha tea, can be used to make leather as well. At Iowa State University, researchers grow the material using a symbiotic colony of bacteria. Once the material is harvested and dried, it can be used to make all sorts of products, from clothes to shoes. One drawback of the material is that it absorbs moisture from the air, which makes it softer and less durable.
Cork can also be used to create a leather-like material. Cork leather is made from thin cork shavings obtained directly from the bark of the cork oak tree.
The leaves from the Areca Betel Nut Palm are rarely used, despite being a great material resource, as they turn dry and brittle if not treated. However, through a biological softening solution, the leaves become flexible and soft, with the feel of cow leather.
Fungi are a lot in the news lately, as they can be used to create the most amazing products. Mycelium can be used to create everything from lamp shades and packaging material to dresses. However, fungus spores can also be used to make leather called Muskin. This material is made from extracts from the top of a mushroom and is processed similarly to animal leathers. The tanning process is completely natural, without the use of toxic chemicals.
If you’re not convinced about animal free leather made from plants, it is also possible to use faux leather made from silicone, called Sileather. This material is made from 100% silicone, which is eco-friendly, sustainable, easy to clean, weather- and waterproof, and highly durable.