If you know the world of sustainable textile, you’ve surely heard about the Piñatex, a material born from an idea of Carmen Hijosa, Spanish business woman that begun her career working in the field of leather goods. The contact with the cruel and polluting reality of the tanning industry pushes her to make the decision of changing path , following her personal aspirations and sensitivity, dedicating time and efforts to the research of an alternative to leather that doesn’t involve any violence to animals and doesn’t impact on the environment. Also the so called “eco leather”, that we commonly find in stores, is nothing but a synthetic material mainly made of PVC, that even if it hasn’t animal origin, impacts anyway on the environment, on animals and even on human beings. The major damages to our seas come, in fact, from the microplastics, small pieces of plastic visible only through a microscope, that are released by our clothes during machine washings and that, consequently, enter our food chain.
At the age of 62 years – “because age doesn’t matter” rightly says – Carmen enrolled in a doctoral research at the Royal College of Art in London, where she finds fertile ground to go on with her researches. Result: in 8 years of hard and intense work, supported by a strong motivation, tied to the wishing to change against a dramatic situation, she gives life to the Piñatex, a fabric with the same characteristics of leather but completely vegetable and sustainable, obtained by a waste product: pineapple leaves.
Carmen Hijosa, not without difficulties, as a woman, starts in Great Britain the company Ananas Anam, with which she collaborates strictly with farmes in the Philippines, that take care of pineapple cultivation and process their leaves, from which are extracted the fibers used for the production of Piñatex.
The slogan of Ananas Anam, on the homepage of the website www.ananas-anam.com, says: “Design isn’t only about the product. Design is about responsibility”. The word responsibility is essential for Carmen Hijosa and implies respect for the environment, but also for the working conditions of pineapple cultivators that belong to populations often victim of exploitation.
The use of pineapple leaves, that are commonly a waste material, gives to farmers the possibility to obtain an additional profit on a type of seasonal cultivation and doesn’t create waste, as the residual leaf biomass is used as natural fertilizer/biofuel.
Nature offers us since ever the possibility of an ethical choice that doesn’t destroy its balances, we’ve ignored it for a long time, but now the change is starting, the companies that are involved in sustainable textile must be supported and promoted as much as possible. Because the turnabout doesn’t only depend on the entrepreneurial world, that needs to propose itself to the market in a conscious manner, but also on us that have to learn to think in alignment with these choices, by adopting an ethical lifestyle that put more attention in everything we do, buy and eat.
Consumerism has paved the way to pollution, exploitation, inhumanity and to materialism. The superficiality with which we often, even unintentionally, choose, causes damage to the community and to the planet, awareness is the weapon to destroy the petroleum industry and its derivatives, intense livestock farmings and the working exploitation of populations in difficulty.