India being a developing nation, in terms of technology most specifically, textiles have taken a turn towards sustainability. The textile industries of India are more conscious about being environmentally friendly and conservation of their resources to fulfill their social commitment to a sustainable world. But are the textile industries being able to live up to terms of the word “sustainability?” The roadblock here is the term “leather.” As commonly known, leather is durable and luxurious. What makes it luxurious in the world is that it has extracted from the animal hides of alligators, crocodiles, reptiles, snakes, deers, pigs, lambs, cows, thus proving its authenticity. Leather is expensive and regarded as a biodegradable material, but what is the real cost we are soon gonna pay off for making luxurious leather products in the future? That question will be valid if there are going to be any animal left to derive leather from.
With the inclination of the world’s textiles towards the factor “sustainability,” will the luxurious worth of the “leather” remain? There is a growth in the demand for leather as a material for the goods in the industry. Simultaneously, there are countries that, keeping the quality standards in mind, are also avoiding the use of harmful chemicals to produce more sustainable products of leather. In India, the leather industry is blooming, thus creating bright career options in the field of technology and designing areas. But again, the question arises, at what cost? At the cost of giving up on our ecosystem and wildlife? Is it even sustainable? No, it’s not. After the leather is derived, it does not remain eco-friendly due to the addition of chemicals; create pollutants and toxic waste. The natural breeding of animals gives out carbon emissions and pollutes the air soil and water. Thus, proving to be toxic for the whole ecosystem. It takes approximately 20-25 years to decompose completely because of the tanning process done. The whole world is talking about turning into a vegan in terms of food, we are nearly neglecting the fact that we are using the non-vegan material “leather’” without looking for a suitable alternative for the same to maintain its value.
Coming up with creative solutions for a problem is what sets a base for a person with a creative mind. Innovations are what defines new technologies. With these two factors going hand in hand, we are in the process to come with an answer to the question of how can “leather “as a material contribution in the terms of sustainability. The leather industry is enforcing laws for improved and sustainable solutions by investing in top tanneries.
According to research by the Vogue Business, the top most global industry of the world, the Leather Working Group is working towards the usage of authentic ways to assure that the tanneries have a minimal effect on the ecosystem. But how can Leather become a wholesome material, wherein no wildlife is affected.
Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez used the “cactus plant” to grow in the Mexican state, to replace the hides of animals, known as Desserto. Cacti leather proves to be a vegan material which also will give a unique and ravishing look to the leather products. It was applauded for its durability, elasticity, brilliant texture, feel, color and softness. Thus acting as the best-suited replacement for a sustainable ecosystem.
Mushrooms are nothing but an edible fungus called Phellinus ellipsoids, which surely grow in abundance. Leather is made from mushrooms is termed “Muskin,” made from the caps of mushrooms. The originator of the leather, Grado Zero, assures the usage of eco wax for the eco-friendly production of the products. This mushroom leather has a mutual benefit. How? It’s because these fungus feed in the tree trunks thus rotting them. Because these mushroom caps will be used, they will not only replace the animal leather but also ensure a healthy environment. Muskin is water-resistant, non-toxic, and durable for the products.
Yet another popular vegan form of leather is pineapple, known as the Piñatex’s leather, made from the leaves of the fruit. It was discovered by the London-based company, Ananas Anam Ltd. The raw material of this leather is food waste. Pinatex leather creates a good opportunity for the farming communities, therefore a creative and sustainable byproduct.
Replacement of animal leather with more environmentally friendly leather material is the need today. Without wildlife being affected, it will lead us strictly on the path of sustainability and create something different and innovative which would boost up the industry of textiles in ay ways. It will also reduce pollution and toxicity as these environmental and vegan products will be the new base setters.
It will also create farming opportunities for many people. Keeping up with the latest trend sustainability, will not only be beneficial to those terms but will also prove to be of great success if the textiles designers take it forward.
It’s not that there aren’t any alternatives or solutions to it. There are some which have been already discovered, but it’s on us, the And come up with these “go green” kinda, if we take u the idea of growing plants like cactus. By mending our ways of living a luxurious life, it will bring a healthy lifestyle for those poor animals from whom we take away their skin. The textile designers and those working on the technologies related to textiles, come together and find more ways to go fully eco-friendly in every possible way we can for the benefit of our future generation.
Author – PEARL BANSAL,
Student, Textile Department, NIFT, Chennai