Leather is a passion for some, and a point of contention for others. Creating leather products in recent years has become a process that is extremely environmentally unfriendly. Massive cattle farms require a lot of resources to maintain and harm the environment in many ways, just to name a few:
- Destruction of natural ecosystems for the land needed to house the cows
- Land to graze
- Land to produce feed
- Resources consumed to manufacture & transport the feed
- Massive amounts of water
- Antibiotics & medicines and all of the resources consumed to manufacture and transport those
- Methane and manure pollution
Additionally, the process for tanning the hides has gone from a natural process in the past, to one that requires many harsh chemicals used in abundance. The modern process involves even more water to treat and color the hides, and the waste-water often contains a lot of pollutants.
Not to even mention the carbon footprint of sending the finished hides for assembly into various products, then packaging, and finally, distribution to stores. From there, there is even more pollution created for you to drive to the store or have them delivered to your home.
As you can see, this whole process is one that is extremely polluting and consumes a massive amount of resources.
And, this is why Modern Meadow has created Zoa. They have developed a new biofabrication process that allows them to “grow” stunning leather creations, all without harming any cows and with the added benefit of reducing the carbon footprint of the modern leather producing process. According to their website, it is the “First Ever Biofabricated Leather Material Brand”. So, what is their secret process?
They take base pairs of DNA, then cut and replace sections of it with new base pairs. This creates new, unique strands of DNA. By doing so, the company says it can instruct the cells to form the type an quantity of collagen needed to produce different textures of leather.
From this point, they grow the leather by feeding them the proper nutrients, allowing the cells to replicate quickly. After the collagen forms the fibril bundles which eventually turn into a network of fibers. Then, they add their “secret sauce” to further process the fibers into a supple leather material. They the tan and finish the hide using what they describe as an environmentally responsible method.
Though it is still not vegan-friendly, this is a huge step in finding innovative ways to keep producing the products we love while reducing our carbon footprint and moving away from animal slaughter.
However, there are other companies taking environmentally-friendly vegan “leather” to a whole new level. In fact, it is so easy to create, you can do it in in your bathtub at home. For more on that, read this article about Biocouture & KombuchaCouture and find out how you can make vegan leather at home!