Two friends quit jobs, create leather alternative made from cactus

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In Mexico, two entrepreneurs have developed a biodegradable, vegan leather from cactus, which they named Desserto. Friends Adrian Lopez Velarde and Marte Cazarez began developing the material 18 months ago. Alarmed at the poor environmental footprint of the fashion industry, the two quit their jobs and began working on alternative materials. They began tinkering with nopal cactus, otherwise known as prickly pear, as raw materials.

“The earth’s natural resources are under pressure, and the fashion industry, although not the most obvious contributor, is a considerable one,” Velarde tells modern farmer. “It mattered to us to make a line focused on sustainability to address the environmental problems we all face.”

Velarde and Cazarez, who hope to produce 200,000 meters of Desserto by year-end, showcased the material at the recent international Lineapelle leather fair in Milan.