If scientists literally all around the world are to be believed, the environment is tanking in a hurry. The bad news is that the majority of international leadership doesn’t seem to be able to hear the alarm bells, but the good news is there are citizens everywhere are stepping up in myriad ways to solve different sets of problems.

One of many issues that’s leading to trouble with our planet is the stress that so many herd cattle put on our resources, and the amounts of methane their poop releases into the atmosphere. Those are just two of the reasons vegans prefer not to eat beef or buy things – like leather – that are also by-products of raising cattle for slaughter.

Two entrepreneurs from Mexico, Adrián López Velarde and his friend, Marte Cázarez, came together from separate industries to solve the problem of leather production…with cacti.

The friends left their jobs in fashion and furniture automotive to dedicate a few years to come up with the idea and the process for transforming cacti into usable vegan leather. It took two whole years before they came out with something they felt was marketable in 2019.

Cacti are a good choice because they don’t put much strain on the environment – they don’t require much water to grow and can thrive in a wide range of temperatures. They’re also very prevalent in Mexico, where the two live.

They call their vegan leather “Desserto,” and it’s the first environmentally friendly organic material made from the Nopal cactus. It’s highly sustainable and doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals, comes in a wide variety of colors, thicknesses, textures, and honestly looks and feels like the real thing.

The cactus “leather” is made by cutting mature leaves from the plants before cleaning, mashing, and drying them under the sun for three days. Then the material is processed into their patented (and secret!) formula.

Anything that’s normally made from cow leather can be made from Desserto. It’s elastic, breathable, highly customizable, and honestly, I don’t see one single reason this can’t take the place of cow’s leather completely in the future.

If you’ve got an idea on how to help save the environment, one issue at a time, follow in Adrián and Marte’s footsteps, will you?

Because it’s looking more and more like the citizens of the world are going to have to save the planet ourselves.