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Cactus Leather: A Complete Guide

August 24, 2022

 cactus leather shoes guide


According to National Geographic, almost half of the exported footwear in the world is made of rubber or plastic. In 2018, 24 billion pairs of shoes were manufactured, and consumers bought 2 billion pairs of shoes (or seven pairs per person) in the United States.


Many shoes are from different plastic materials that are not easily recycled. So, they end up in the ocean or landfills. So, is there an alternative? Below, we’ll delve into cactus leather as a suitable alternative, its process and the benefits of buying cactus leather items.


What is Cactus Leather?

There are two types of leather - genuine leather and faux leather. Natural leather is made from animals, and faux leather can have several origins depending on its use. When comparing cactus leather vs leather, cactus leather falls into the category of faux leather. 


Cactus leather is a natural and easy-to-grow alternative to traditional leather. It’s a sustainable material made from the Opuntia Cacti, also known as Nopal. It can be harvested without killing the plant itself.


Once harvested, the water-efficient, CO2-absorbing raw material is treated without toxic chemicals to yield high-quality and durable vegan leather. The resulting biodegradable cactus leather is smooth to the touch, waterproof, and aesthetically pleasing.


How is Cactus Leather Made?

A single cactus plant can last eight years, allowing a new harvest every 6-8 months. Mature cactus leaves are harvested without cutting the cactus to make cactus leather. 


Once the mature leaves are collected, they go through a cleaning and grinding process. Then, they dry under the sun for three days. Once dried, the proteins and fibers are extracted to make an organic bio-resin mixed with non-toxic chemicals and coated on a carrier.


The Nopal plant is top-notch for its ability to absorb carbon dioxide. With this, cactus leather has a longer lifespan compared to most faux leathers. Depending on the use and maintenance, the lifespan of cactus leather rests on how you take care of it. 


Cactus Leather vs Leather? 

Cactus leather is a leather alternative that doesn’t require animal skins, and many consider it an improvement over traditional leather. If you’re looking for plant-based alternatives to leather, cactus leather is a flexible and breathable option with many positive characteristics compared to other options. It is sustainable, produced naturally, ethically sourced, and animal-cruelty free.

What is cactus leather? Read here.


Vegan Leather: Top Benefits For the Environment

Understanding what cactus leather is and the importance of vegan leather is essential to help you determine your options.

Vegan leather refers to any leather-like material made without the use of animal skins. Non-animal leather is also called faux leather, synthetic leather, leatherette, PU leather, etc.

Vegan leather has two categories:

  • Natural vegan leather
  • Synthetic vegan leather

Natural vegan leather is plant-based materials such as cork, pineapple, and walnut. They could also be materials from fungus, such as mushrooms or algae. On the other hand, synthetic vegan leather refers to materials such as PU leather made from polyurethane or other plastic-based options. 


The Benefits of Vegan Leather

1.It requires zero to minimal potentially toxic chemicals.

The production process for vegan leather requires less CO2. Vegan leather made from pineapples or fungi produce a lesser amount of greenhouse gas emissions compared to PU leather.


2.It is non-polluting.

Synthetic leather sometimes has chemical by-products, and vegan leather still produces substantially fewer toxic chemicals. 


3. It requires minimal water in production.

Vegan leather requires less water for production. However, at Origo Shoes, our processes for natural leather are sustainability-focused. 


4.It’s durable.

Vegan leather is more likely to be safely biodegradable than natural leather products. With proper use and maintenance, vegan leather can last for years. 

If you’re looking for natural footwear with thoughtful design and made from natural materials, Origo Shoes evolves for strength, movement, and balance. We make natural footwear that gives your feet the freedom to move and support your foot’s integrity.

Contact us today to learn more.

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