Thursday, 1 September 2016

Pineapple Leather Anyone?

Every day, more people are turning towards healthy, environmentally-friendly alternatives to products which, to put it bluntly, do result in death and destruction. Polluted air and oceans; the killing of animals; the use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals; and the resulting effects on our health are so last year. Life-friendly alternatives are coming into fashion, one of these being "leather" made from pineapple leaves.

Leather expert Carmen Hijosa invented the non-woven pineapple leather, trademarked as Pinatex, in response to the problems with conventional leather production. Unlike cotton, no additional land, water or other resources are required to produce it, as pineapple leaves are typically a waste product. It also gives farmers extra income, which is much-needed in many regions where crops such as pineapples are grown. Where most of the cotton plant is left to die after harvesting, pineapple leather means that all parts of the pineapple plant are used. As well as being sustainable, biodegradable and reusable, the "leather" is very versatile, as it can be cut, molded, painted, dyed, oiled, waterproofed and stitched. Cotton can use up to 20,000 litres of water per kilogram, and conventional farming of the plant is responsible for over 25% of all insecticide and 12% of all pesticide use.

Stylish. Source: TR2HG
Leather, whether it's real or synthetic, is no better. You are not just killing an animal; even if you do eat meat it is a cause for concern, since toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde are used in its production.  The chromium used to produce leather has been found to cause cancer and other issues in both the animals where it is dumped, and in the humans who work with it. When inhaled, chromium increases the risk of asthma, bronchitis, respiratory polyps, enlarged lymph nodes and pharyngitis. It can also cause erosive ulcerations in the skin that do not heal. As for cancers, chromium is now known to cause lung, nasal, testicular, bladder and pancreatic cancer. In fact, Germany has banned the use of the most dangerous form of chromium, Cr+6, in leather production since 2010.

Synthetic leather is usually made from plastic, which comes from petroleum, a finite resource that can become all sorts of toxins. Sometimes, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is involved, a product that contains phthalates among other chemicals. PVC also frequently contains the increasingly unpopular BPA, and is used in making a wide range of products from shoes to catheters to toys. Because of the chlorine content, dioxins are released when PVC is manufactured, burnt or landfilled, and at least one of the dioxins is a carcinogen. Phthalates, BPA and dioxins are also endocrine disruptors, which negatively affect hormone production and activity. With manufacturing and often use of both conventional and synthetic leather being harmful to producers and consumers, why not switch to plant-based substitutes?

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