Faux leather, or vegan leather, can be made of different things. Some can be made from synthetics like plastics, others can be made from natural fibres. One thing all vegan leathers have in common however, is that they are all made without the use of animal products, however not all are necessarily environmentally friendly.
It might seem hard to sift through the noise and green washing, so we thought we'd lend a helping hand and break it down for you.
How is Faux Leather Made?
Most mass market faux / vegan leather is made from either polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU), which are plastic based materials derived from fossil fuels.
PVC contains plasticisers such as phthalates which are used to help flexibility. Phthalates are extremely toxic. PVC has been described by Greenpeace as the “single most environmentally damaging type of plastic”.
PU is the slightly less toxic younger cousin of PVC, however it also produces hazardous toxins during the manufacturing process and is also petroleum (fossil fuel) based.
Something to watch out for is when products are marketed as "PVC-free". This sounds positive, but it will often mean they are still using PU.
Are There Eco-Friendly Leather Alternatives?
The good new is there has been great progress in the creation of plant based, environmentally friendly leather alternatives.
At LUXTRA we are proud to use Piñatex a pioneering new material made from pineapple leaves. We keep a keen eye on the latest sustainable textiles coming to market and hope to be seen as one of the leading brands championing the next generation of sustainable materials.
What is Piñatex?
Piñatex is a plant based, sustainable, fully biodegradable, 100% vegan, leather alternative. It is created using pineapple leaves, which are a waste product of the fruit industry. A fun fact: pineapples are the second most consumed fruit in the world (!) right after mangoes.
Piñatex not only adds value to the fashion industry, but also gives back to pineapple farming communities in the Philippines. Leaves that were previously seen as a waste product are now sold by these farmers to create a new source of income in addition to their seasonal harvest.