Allbirds put its best foot forward when it stepped into the sustainable footwear sphere. Now, the company is going further with the development of a new, plant-based leather. Made with rubber, vegetable oil and other natural ingredients, this leather alternative, aptly named Plant Leather, has 40 times less carbon impact than animal-derived leather and 17 times less carbon impact than synthetic leathers made from plastics.
The leather industry is a huge polluter. Many chemicals are used to process leather, and tanneries generate a lot of waste. The runoff from leather production negatively impacts air and water quality. It also means killing animals in order to use their hides. While this used to be done in a more sustainable, nose-to-tail manner for thousands of years, today, the process of making leather is not environmentally friendly.
Allbirds hopes to offer the durability and attractive appearance of leather without the harmful side effects that come with producing animal-derived leather goods. Plant Leather is a new material made possible by Mirum technology from Natural Fiber Welding. For those who have been waiting for a petroleum-free alternative to leather, this is a true miracle product. It features no petroleum, polyurethane or synthetic binders.
“Our partnership with NFW and planned introduction of Plant Leather based on their technology is an exciting step on our journey to eradicate petroleum from the fashion industry,” said Joey Zwillinger, co-founder and co-CEO of Allbirds.
Allbirds is a Climate Neutral Certified B Corporation that is focused on combating the use of petroleum-based materials in fashion. The company has already created a eucalyptus-based fiber and EVA foam made with sugarcane, both of which are open-source formulas available for any other company to use, too.
Plant Leather has a small carbon footprint and is fully biodegradable. The leather is naturally pigmented as well. Allbirds plans to use Plant Leather for new shoes that it will be launching at the end of 2021.
Images via Allbirds