Taking a walk on the ethical side is as rewarding as it seems. However, it’s also much harder than it looks.
To get you resistant good looking shoes, clothes and accessories that aren’t made out of leather can be tricky. Especially if we try to avoid plastics at all cost.
Some might say that leather is better for the environment, because it lasts longer and is less polluting than the polyester gang. But, we can’t overlook that leather doesn’t exactly grow on trees. And even if leather itself isn’t polluting, the industry behind it sure is. As you can see it’s quite the dilemma. Or at least it was, before Carmen Hijosa developed Piñatex.
After years of designing products made of leather, she became more and more aware of the horror of the industry. It was detrimental to people, animals and the environment that surrounded them. So she started exploring more sustainable and kind alternatives like Natural fibers.
She found that for more than 400 years people in the Philipines had been weaving and making their clothes from Natural fibers. These fibers could be found in pineapple leafs anywhere in those forests, and many consider them Waste. This taught Carmen, and all of us who listened to her story, that nothing is Waste. It’s always a matter of perception, because everything can be used and repurposed!
After 7 years Piñatex was finally born, and Carmen wanted to industrialize it, so that everyone could use it. However, to do that she would need more leaves than ever. So with the support of a Philippine company she developed the supply chain she needed. But not an ordinary one. This resulted in a circular economy, where all the pesticides and nutrients come from the plants themselves. Basically the older plant’s juices will be fed to the younger ones. Every little bit is used and there is no room for waste and no need for extra chemicals. you can watch her Ted Talk here, where she explains all these marvelous details: Ted Talk Carmen Hijosa
The finishing of the textiles is made with Bonditex, the Spanish company that completed the product’s name.
Carmen also stresses that because the Pineapple is the second most popular fruit in the world, there are about 25 million tons of pineapple leafs that are considered Waste. So much so, that in many farms they even burn them away. Being the Philippines the third largest producer, it produces 10% of all pineapple, which translates into about 2.5 million tons of leafs. That equals 180 million square meters of pinatex. For that amount of leather, you would need 540 million skins of cows.
As you can see these pineapple leafs accomplish better results for our economy and for our environment. Piñatex can help end the atrocities of the leather industry, while freeing both the animals and the people who depend on them, to pursuit a much happier life. It’s true, unemployment is one the biggest fears new technologies bring about. But here that’s not the case at all.
Farmers will have safer work conditions because of the lack of chemicals, and they will be better paid. Once again we as the consumer, can have a say in this. If more and more people turn to products with certificates like fair trade and environmentally friendly, companies will be pushed to go in that direction, by paying fair wages and investing in materials like this.
We can see that happening now and it’s beautiful. Always remember that it might hurt a bit to buy something that is more expensive than what you’re used to. It might mean that you’ll have to wait, and that your closet won’t be as full. But trust us, the animals and the people who are making the cheap products we like buying, are suffering much more.
NAE was the first shoes brand to produce with Piñatex and we are so proud of that. Tells us if you know our pinapple leafs shoes, and your overall opinion about it! It feels like a the most positive revolution and we want all of you to stand with us!
Have a beautiful day,