Mexican entrepreneurs are using cactus to create a sustainable alternative to leather (VIDEO)

Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez wanted to create a vegan alternative to leather, and the answer was growing around them the whole time.

Because they were employed in the automotive and fashion industries in Mexico, López Velarde and Cázarez worked with a lot of leather. They realized how many natural resources go into making leather and how much is wasted every year, and sought to develop a new sustainable version.

Cactus grows across Mexico, and the pair decided to try to make leather out of the plant.

They spent two years doing research and development, and finally found a winning process, which involves cutting organically grown nopal cactus leaves, then cleaning, mashing, and drying them.

The final product can be shaped into any texture, and has been used to make purses, shoes, and car seats.

The fabric is called Desserto, and it is breathable, partially biodegradable, doesn’t stain, and should last about 10 years. López Velarde and Cázarez named their company Adriano Di Mari, and their vegan leather made its debut in Milan last fall. Catherine Garcia