Coconut water is the best thirst quencher in the scorching heat of summer months. But there’s more to this humble drink than meets the eye. Malai, a lesser-known, Kerala-based startup is using coconut water as base material to develop alternative leather that can be used for making bags, shoes and other products.
Across the country, the leather industry is known to be one of the leading agents of industrial pollution. So, when I stumbled upon what Malai is doing, I was mighty impressed. What goes into the making of Malai leather? Bacterial cellulose (developed from coconut water), fibre from banana stem, sisal fibre and hemp fibre. They also use natural dyes, natural gums and starches. Result? A flexible, water resistant, and biocomposite material that has the look of leather and feel closer to paper. Fascinating, eh?
What I found even more awesome is that the process of creating this biodegradable and vegan leather does not harm animals, consumes less natural resources (energy & water) and does not use any toxic chemicals throughout. Plus the material itself is so flexible that it can be easily moulded into shapes without seams or stitches jutting out. With the aesthetics and workability of leather, this vegan alternative can be cut, stitched, glued, embossed, printed and painted. It can be moulded to 3-dimensional forms too. They offer a distinctive colour palette (natural, dusty pink, cumin yellow, cutch brown, light indigo, dark indigo, leafy green, madder red and dark grey) created using only natural dyes, available on their website. They also offer A4 sized sample sheets for checking the look and feel of the material. They are working on making their products available on their website soon, but till then, all you need to do is drop them a mail with your requirements and they’ll be happy to help you out.