Leather, which is used for its permanence and versatility, has long been associated with grandeur brands. The production process of the glamourous leather product is involving with huge amounts of energy and exposes workers to a sea of toxic chemicals.
We can turn to sustainable vegan-based alternatives that imitate leather’s appearance, strength and touch also.
Here are some recent vegan-based alternatives that shows tremendous prospect.
Pinatex from pineapple leaves
It is made from pineapple leaves developed by Dr. Carmen Hijosa and manufactured under Ananas Anam. Pineapple leaf fiber distracted mechanically, then washed and dried before being purified using enzymes. Its production cuts down on waste (5% compared to 25% of real leather and it can be recycled into fertilizer.
The fabric is water-resistant and breathable, yet light with superb tensile strength. It has already caught the attention and been used by top brands including Nike and Hugo Boss.
Mycelium from mushrooms
Mycelium is the branching underground root system of mushrooms developed by textile fiber company, Bolt Threads, manufacturing by Mylo and involves recreating the growing conditions of mycelium’s natural habitat by using the forest floor but in a lab.
The whole process takes just a few weeks instead of the two years it takes to rear a cow for hiding suitable for leather production. From footwear to bags, yoga mats to handbags, Mylo has been featured by Stella McCartney for an exclusive bustier top and trousers and Lululemon for a yoga mat and bags.
There are unlimited possibilities for this eco-friendly material. The final material is a sustainable alternative of leather that is soft, supple, strong, and suitable to produce a wide range of products.
Fabric from orange
Orange Fiber won the 2015 Global Change Award by the H&M Foundation for its ingenious combination of Italian heritage – textiles and food. The innovative and sustainable fabrics developed by the Italian company Orange Fiber. Adriana Santanocito and Enrica Arena, the founder of the company, launched a citrus capsule collection making it the first fashion house to use Orange Fiber fabrics.
Each year, over 700,000 tons of citrus juice by-product is wasted in Italy, costing both the processing industry and the environment. Then they Transform trash into their treasure. Orange fiber applies knowledge in the textiles sector to discarded citrus peel to produce a lightweight cellulose yarn that is ethereal, soft, and silky.
Highly versatile, the resulting fabric echoes the exquisite high-end fabrics used in premium and luxury fashion brands. Besides everything, the fabric is biodegradable and ultimately forms a closed-loop system. The fabric made another highly anticipated appearance in H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection.
Coffee ground fiber from coffee
The coffee grounds used to create the yarn are taken and recycled from some of the world’s largest coffee vendors, like Starbucks. In this way, the company gives a second life to coffee grounds which would have otherwise ended up in the trash.
Most coffee drinkers simply throw away coffee grounds after making their coffee. But it is an important raw material that can be used to make coffee ground fibers.
Taiwanese textile company Singtex’s technology combines the post-patented processed coffee ground with polymer to create masterbatches before spinning them into yarn.
The final coffee yarn is multi-functional and can be used in a variety of products, from outdoor and sports performance wear to household items used every day. Fabrics made out of coffee ground fibers like S.Café by Singtex shown here offer excellent natural anti-odor qualities, in addition to UV ray protection and a quick drying time.
Now, the challenge remains in taking the fiber globally and ensuring more apparel brands incorporate it into their collections instead of conventional fabrics and that it extends its reach outside of the fashion and textile industry.
Banana fiber from banana
It is one of the world’s strongest natural fibers made from the stem of the banana tree and is incredibly durable and biodegradable. The fiber consists of thick-walled cell tissue, bonded together by natural gums and is mainly composed of cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin.
Banana fiber is similar to natural bamboo fiber, but its spin ability, fineness, and tensile strength are said to be better. Extracting the banana fiber from the banana stems is not an easy, or simple, process but a labor-intensive one.
Banana yarn or cloth is made by boiling strips of the sheath in an alkaline solution to soften and separate them. Once this is done, the fibers are joined together to create long threads which are then spun wet, to prevent them from breaking.
Afterward, the threads can be dyed or weaved. Banana fibers can be used to make ropes, mats, woven fabrics as well as handmade papers. Green Banana Paper, a company based on the island of Kosrae in Micronesia, is using banana fiber to make vegan wallets, purses, beads, and paper.
Bangladesh has a huge opportunity to work on vegan leather and natural fiber. Utilizing the country’s village people to produce fiber from the banana tree, the government can take the necessary action as the banana tree is available in most of the villages of Bangladesh.
Pineapple is also available in hilly areas of Bangladesh. So, it is a huge opportunity for Bangladesh to go for producing stainable products utilizing its land and manpower effectively.