We responsibly source and manufacture our goods using only natural and recycled materials. We carefully consider each provider in our supply chain, and every material in our products. We craft the highest quality, longest lasting product possible, while carefully considering the carbon footprint of everything we produce. We are primarily working with vegetable tanned leather to call attention to the myriad of environmental, and public health issues, from chrome tanned leather production. Read more about why we launched by working with vegetable tanned leather in our FAQs section here.
As we’ve grown, we’ve incorporated materials like our blend of recycled plastic and upcycled cotton, and our sugar cane paper journals. As we continue growing, we’ll incorporate fiber from the camelid family (Llama, Alpaca, Vicuña and Guanaco), Andean plant fiber, and more.
Full Grain, Vegetable Tanned Leather
Vegetable Tanned Leather:
Our leather is vegetable tanned using tannins from Quebracho & Mimosa trees. Quebracho & Mimosa trees are native to the Andean region. The bark and pods from these trees are ground to create a powder of concentrated tannins. The hides are placed in the wooden tumbler and mixed with the natural Quebracho & Mimosa tannins for several days, until they come out a beautiful beige color. Vegetable tanning is safe for the environment, and leatherworkers.
Learn more: What is Vegetable Tanned Leather?
Chrome Tanned Leather:
90% of leather in the world is chrome tanned. Chrome tanned leather damages the environment, and is dangerous for the health of leatherworkers. Chrome tanned leather is significantly faster and cheaper to produce than vegetable tanned leather. The cheap, expedient production is unfortunately why it is so widely used, despite its list of negative externalities. Read more below about chrome tanned leather, and its damaging effects on the environment, and leatherworkers.
Vegan leather is made from leather alternatives, commonly polyurethane. Our vegetable tanned leather is high-quality cowhide leather, sourced from a single abattoir. We are always learning more about the development of new leather alternatives, and are particularly excited about the potential of cactus leather, and mycelium leather. Read more about the risks of polyurethane leather, and the exciting developments of other vegan leathers.
Full Grain Leather:
Full grain leather leaves the entire hide intact, without removing the strongest part of the hide which is the outer grain. The grain is the outermost protective layer of the hide, giving leather its durability and longevity.The outer grain shows marks and blemishes from a cow’s life, like branding marks for example. We don’t use the leather pieces with branding marks, except to make items for ourselves, we think it’s cool. A lot of companies sand down, or even split the leather to produce a uniform, blemish free surface, doing so compromises the quality and longevity of the leather. We use full grain leather to extend the life of our leather goods, and help them age with beauty. Full grain, vegetable tanned leather develops a patina, meaning it darkens and softens with exposure to sunlight, oxygen, and the natural oils from your hands. Learn about what’s being passed off as “genuine leather” these days, and the differences between full grain leather and other kinds of leather below.
Learn more: What is Full Grain Leather?
Recycled Plastic Thread
We’re quite literally drowning in an ocean of plastic. Not only is the ocean filled with visible plastics like water and soda bottles, but microplastics actually make up the largest percentage of waste in our oceans. Microplastics can come from synthetic clothing, like polyester, that come off in the washing machine, and make their way into our waterways. These microplastics end up climbing the food chain, and concentrate in larger fish, which we in return eat. How’s that for a disgusting closed-loop cycle? Removing existing plastic from the environment, and turning it into a long lasting, high quality product, is a top priority at Alta Andina. We’re thrilled to be working with a blend of recycled plastic thread (PET or polyurethane tetrate) and upcycled cotton, producing a canvas like material that’s durable and sustainable.
Cotton is one of the most widely used materials in the world. Due to the substantial amount of water used to grow cotton, it is a commodity we cannot afford to keep using at the current rate of consumption. Fast fashion retailers throw out a large majority of their unsold product lines, which amounts to completely wasting all the water that went into growing the cotton that produced the discarded clothes. Small pieces of cotton that are too small for individual garments can be swept off factory floors, and repurposed into cotton thread. We use that thread to weave with recycled plastic, creating our canvas like material. By using this otherwise discarded cotton, we help reduce demand for new cotton, while helping get the most out of each drop of water used to grow cotton.
Hardware can make or break a product. High-quality hardware stands the test of time and is enjoyable to use. We utilize bronze clips, brass key rings, brass snaps, and copper rivets. Each rivett is hammered in by hand, and therefore each one will flatten a bit differently. You may notice the slight variation rivet to rivet. To us, those little imperfections are what make the product perfect.
Sugar Cane Paper Journals
Our leather journal covers include Alta Andina’s own sugar cane paper journals. Sugar cane paper is made from the otherwise wasted byproduct of sugar production, and has a lower carbon footprint than recycled tree paper. Isn’t that sweet?
Our product boxes are made with 100% recycled cardboard. We use the same sugar cane paper for our product insert booklets that we use in our journals.