Leather is an incredibly popular and durable material for a variety of different products. But creating animal-based products isn’t exactly an environmentally friendly activity.
And other socially conscious customers tend to stay away from the material as well.
But recently, a group of students at Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, may have come up with a way to make an eco friendly leather. And, as it turns out, they’re solving more than one problem in the process.
The students came up with their eco friendly leather idea as part of a flash retail event project. They needed to create a product to sell, but wanted to tackle a social issue as well. So they landed on the issue of food waste. Hugo de Boon, one of the students who focuses on spatial design, told Mashable:
“The academy gives us a perfect view over the Binnerotte Square in Rotterdam, where they have a market each Tuesday and Saturday. We saw how the square would be completely littered with food waste [at the end of the day], so … we realized this was a problem we would want to solve from a designer’s point of view.”
So they created Fruitleather Rotterdam, a project that has now gone beyond their school assignment. They started by collecting leftover food items, such as mangos, oranges and nectarines, from vendors who would have otherwise just thrown them out. And they came up with a manufacturing process, which involves seeding, boiling and spreading the substance, to turn that food into an eco friendly leather material.
The team is still testing the material for things like durability. But they think it has the potential to be used in a variety of different products, from bags to car seats.
The product will definitely need that durability if it’s going to compete with actual leather. The fact that it’s an environmentally conscious brand is nice but plenty of other green businesses have learned the hard way that it takes more than good intentions to actually succeed. Customers still want high quality, attractive, usable products.
But the Fruitleather Rotterdam team may well be off to a very good start. If they can continue testing and working on the process, your next leather bag may not be leather at all.