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Designed and made by Mayya Saliba / Image courtesy of Ananas Anam

This Gorgeous “Leather” Bag is Actually Made from Pineapples

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Designed and made by Mayya Saliba / Image courtesy of Ananas Anam

You already know that pineapples are delicious and super rich in Vitamin C, but did you know that they could be transformed into a fabulous purse or great pair of running shoes?

It’s hardly a secret that eating a vegan diet is kinder to animals, and many experts believe that a plant-based diet can have life-changing effects on the health of an individual and even the world at large. With the number of vegans around the world on the rise, it’s not just the food industry that needs to adapt. The growing public demand for alternatives to leather and other animal products when it comes to clothing and textiles means that companies are coming up with all sorts of creative options. One London-based company, Ananas Anam, has devised a delicious solution to creating vegan materials: Pineapples.

Called Piñatex, the environmentally-friendly textile is created from the fibers of leftover pineapple leaves, which are extracted through a process known as "decortication." Since the leaves are a byproduct of the pineapple harvest, there is no need for extra water, land, fertilizers, or even pesticides to produce the material. It has a low environmental impact, can be easily mass produced and, perhaps most importantly, is affordable for consumers looking to give their wardrobes a socially-conscious makeover. As the pineapple leaves are harvested in the Philippines by local farmers, Ananas Anam’s products are also helping to create more jobs.

“The farming communities in the Philippines will benefit from the added income from the extraction of the fiber,” Jeanne Rideau, Ananas Anam’s public relations and communications manager tells mental_floss. “Moreover, the potential use of biomass, which is the byproduct of the fiber extraction, will give the farmers the opportunity of using natural fertilizers.”

Image courtesy Ananas Anam

Spanish designer, researcher, and entrepreneur Dr. Carmen Hijosa is the founder and chief executive officer of Ananas Anam. Hijosa’s first company was based in Ireland, where she designed and manufactured leather products for such companies as Harrods. Her work eventually brought her to the Philippines, where she saw a traditional Filipino shirt made out of pineapple leaves.

“As a designer, my objective was to create a product that carried social and ecological responsibility throughout its life cycle, and through it, do something about how to sustain and indeed to heal planet Earth through our actions,” Hijosa says. “Piñatex represents a sustainable solution in the face of today’s social and sustainable dilemmas.”

In an interview with Crane.tv, Hijosa explained that to create the final Piñatex material, the pineapple leaf fibers are made into a mesh, which then goes through both "mechanical and chemical processes to make it into a very strong product" that can be used to create a variety of products, including clothing, shoes, purses, accessories, and even upholstery.

Designed and made by NAE Vegan // Image courtesy Ananas Anam

You are probably wondering where to get some cool pineapple shoes of your own. Well, the wait is over—at least in certain parts of the world. A selection of the company’s products are available for purchase in the UK, as well as online. And well-known brands including Puma and Camper have already made prototypes using Piñatex.

Perhaps the even bigger question everyone is wondering is: do Piñatex products actually smell like pineapples? “No, there is no smell,” Rideau says. Now you know.

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Animals
Why Blue Dogs Have Been Roaming Mumbai
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Press TV News Videos, YouTube

Residents of Mumbai began noticing a peculiar sight on August 11: roving stray dogs tinted a light shade of blue. No one knew what to make of these canines, which were spotted in the streets seemingly unharmed but otherwise bucking nature.

Concerned observers now have an answer, but it’s not a very reassuring one. According to The Guardian, the 11 Smurf-colored animals were the result of pollution run-off in the nearby Kasadi River. Industrial waste, including dyes, has been identified as coming from a nearby manufacturing plant. Although dogs are known to swim in the river, the blue dye was also found in the air. After complaints, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board investigated and found the factory, Ducol Organics Pvt Ltd., was not adhering to regulatory guidelines for waste disposal. They shut off water to the facility and issued a notice of closure last Friday.

“There are a set of norms that every industry needs to follow,” MPCB regional officer Anil Mohekar told The Hindustan Times. “After our sub-regional officers confirmed media reports that dogs were indeed turning blue due to air and water pollution, we conducted a detailed survey at the plant … We will ensure that the plant does not function from Monday and the decision sets an example for other polluting industries, which may not be following pollution abatement measures.”

Animal services workers who retrieved five of the dogs were able to wash off the dye. They reported that no other health issues were detected.

[h/t The Guardian]

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environment
A Coral Reef in Mexico Just Got Its Own Insurance Policy
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The Puerto Morelos coral reef, about 20 miles south of Cancún, is one of Mexico’s most popular snorkeling attractions. It also serves a vital purpose beyond drawing tourists. Like all reefs, it provides a buffer for the coast, protecting nearby beaches from brutal waves and storms. And so the beachside businesses that rely on the reef have decided to protect the coral as they would any other vital asset: with insurance. As Fast Company reports, the reef now has its own insurance policy, the first-ever policy of its kind.

Coral reefs are currently threatened by increasing ocean acidification, warmer waters, pollution, and other ocean changes that put them at risk of extinction. Mass coral bleachings are affecting reefs all over the world. That’s not to mention the risk of damage during extreme storms, which are becoming more frequent due to climate change.

Businesses in Puerto Morelos and Cancún pay the premiums for the Reef & Beach Resilience and Insurance Fund, and if the reef gets damaged, the insurance company will pay to help restore it. It’s not just an altruistic move. By protecting the Puerto Morelos reef, nearby businesses are protecting themselves. According to The Nature Conservancy, which designed the insurance policy, coral reef tourism generates around $36 billion for businesses around the world each year. Perhaps even more importantly to coastal businesses, reefs protect $6 billion worth of built capital (i.e. anything human-made) annually.

When a storm hits, the insurance company will pay out a claim in 10 days, according to Fast Company, providing an immediate influx of cash for urgent repair. (The insurance policy is tied to the event of a storm, not the damage, since it would be hard to immediately quantify the economic damage to a reef.) The corals that break off the reef can be rehabilitated at a nursery and reattached, but they have to be collected immediately. Waiting months for an insurance payout wouldn’t help if all the damaged corals have already floated away.

The insurance policy is one of many new initiatives designed to rehabilitate and protect endangered coastal ecosystems that we now know are vital to buffering the coast from storm surges and strong waves. Coral reefs aren’t the only protective reefs: In the eastern and southern coastal U.S., some restaurants have started donating oyster shells to help rebuild oyster reefs offshore as a storm protection and ecosystem rehabilitation measure.

Considering the outsized role reefs play in coastal protection, more insurance policies may be coming to ecosystems elsewhere in the world. Hopefully.

[h/t Fast Company]

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