Is Cactus Leather Vegan + Sustainable?

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 08/03/22 •  7 min read
is cactus leather vegan and sustainable

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Cactus leather advantages:

Cactus leather disadvantages:

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Environment

Fiber source: natural, cactus leather is a natural fiber, made from cacti plants

Biodegradable: yes, cactus leather is partially biodegradable

Destruction: low, cactus leather production is relatively sustainable, no intensive use of water and it is free of phthalates, toxic chemicals and PVC, there are an abundance of cacti already throughout the world and in Mexico where cactus leather was first created, compared to other like materials cactus leather may result in a 32 to 42 percent reduction in plastic waste, depending on the version of our materials that is incorporated, and about 20 percent savings in water consumption

Cactus leather is…

Animals

Kills: none, cactus leather production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, cactus leather production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: none, cactus leather requires very little if any pesticides, chemicals, etc. making it generally safe for wildlife and ecosystems

Cactus leather is…

Laborers

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Cactus leather…

Cactus leather can be used in upholstery, automotive and fashion industries to make shoes, handbags and as an overall cowhide leather alternative.

Alkeme Atelier and AllTRUEist are ethical vegan fashion brands that use cactus leather.

Other names for cactus leather are nopal and nopal leather.

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cactus leather is durable.

durable, long lasting fabrics, materials and textiles

Is cactus leather durable or delicate?

Cactus leather is durable and long lasting when cared for properly.

For every 5 garments produced, the equivalent of 3 end up in a landfill or incinerated each year!

One reason for such wastefulness society’s ever growing desire to acquire. Fast fashion (creating low-priced items at high volumes) is problematic for a number of reasons and promotes the attitude that clothing is nearly disposable.

But another component of such a quick turnaround on clothing is because it’s just not lasting long enough. Snags, stains, warping and shrinkage render items unusable and unacceptable for the  donation pile. Avoid such problems by buying better quality, more durable, long lasting materials. Timeless wardrobe favorites that last for years and years are more sustainable and reduce the need for replacements. It’s worth the extra cost if you only have to buy it once!

Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck full of textiles burns or goes to landfills…

Keep minimalism in mind and buy less, borrow and buy second-hand. Thrift shops offer many inexpensive, unique finds that have already proven to stand the test of time!

cactus leather is sustainable.

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Is cactus leather eco friendly and sustainable?

Yes, cactus leather is sustainable.

Animal materials are a natural fiber and biodegradable unless heavily treated with chemicals. However, they are not at all eco-friendly or sustainable due to the overwhelming strain on natural resources; the water needed, food needed and land usage that must happen for such abundant amounts of animals to live.

Cows consume so much water that it takes approximately 2,110 gallons of water just to make one pair of leather shoes! Animal feed like soy and corn requires vast amounts of land -usually areas deforested in the name of cattle farming or livestock feed production. 

With the high number of animals unnaturally bred onto the planet in the name of human utilization, specifically ruminants (cows, sheep, goats, deer, camels, etc.), they emit high volumes of carbon emissions and contaminate air, soil and water with their waste (excrement). This is also toxic to ecosystems and wildlife. 

Animal agriculture is not good for the environment, human health and of course, the animals themselves. Thus, animal derived, non-vegan materials are not only cruel and inhumane but environmentally unsustainable. 

That’s not to say that all vegan materials are sustainable. There are many vegan yet unsustainable fabrics, materials and textiles. Most of us don’t realize that washing one synthetic garment releases about 2,000 plastic microfibers which then enter the ocean and food chain…or that 30% of rayon and viscose used in fashion comes from endangered and ancient forests. So because a fabric is vegan it does not necessarily mean that it is sustainable, eco-friendly and so on. 

Vegan and sustainable fashion near you is easier than ever with this: Vegan Clothing Brands Per Country List

cactus leather is vegan.

vegan-material

Is cactus leather vegan?

Yes, cactus leather is vegan. No animals must be killed or used in order to produce cactus leather.

Cows, sheep, alpacas, goats, ducks and foxes are animals commonly subject to exploitation for their skins, hair or feathers. In fact, BILLIONS of them die every single year simply in the name of fashion. 

Before buying a pair of shoes, a sweater, a purse, check the materials. Common and unfortunately popular animal-derived materials include leather, suede, fur, feathers, mohair and wool -which often come from places like India and China where there can be NO animal welfare laws or enforcement. If the item does come from a more developed area of the world, such as the United States or Europe, that animal was likely a victim of factory farming. In overcrowded farms they are confined, diseased and must sometimes live their entire lives indoors, never seeing the light of day.

Material from animals may involve slaughtering like leather and fur production, for instance. But in regards to wool or feathers, animals struggle as they are held down and beaten by workers while sheared or as feathers are ripped from their skin. This leaves them bloody and wounded in pain. 

Dressing and decorating vegan is easier than ever with this: Vegan Fabrics, Materials and Textiles List

cactus leather is a material that may or may not have labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is cactus leather a material with laborer issues? At this time, there are no specific reports of worker mistreatment regarding cactus farming but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Cactus leather may or may not have labor issues.

Did you know that the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? Whether agriculture involves crops or animals, the labor behind each and every product made from cotton, leather, wool, etc. cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers.

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, sweatshops and child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence. Unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives simply by being mindful to buy items that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Desserto
Cactus Leather Is the Newest Eco-Friendly Fabric
Vegan cactus leather from Mexico: new favorite for luxury at Lineapelle Milan
Grandview Research: Synthetic Leather Market Worth $40.9 Billion By 2027 | CAGR: 4.4%

Adriane Marie

Grocery Guru, Material Maven, Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful! Use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.

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