Design Students Create Fruit Leather Handbags, Car Upholstery From Discarded Fruits And Vegetables

turning food waste into durable fruit leather

Just when I thought food waste prevention couldn’t be fashionable, students from Willem de Academie introduce their take on “fruit leather”. It’s not the chewy, tasty treats you’re probably thinking of. Rather, the design students’ Rotterdam Fruitleather is a hide-like material made solely from food waste. It’s estimated that vendors in South Holland’s outdoor markets throw away about 7,700 pounds of fruits and vegetables every day, according to Ecouterre. The produce is typically wasted because it’s over-ripened or fails to meet cosmetic standards.

Instead of continuing to let the food go into landfills, a group of six students — Hugo de Boon, Aron Hotting, Koen Meerkerk, Maaike Schoonen, Bart Schram, and Miloy Snoeijers — collaborated to make a multipurpose product. Hugo, the lead on the project, shared with Mashable that the group was inspired by cooking methods of edible fruit leathers. First, all of the seeds are removed from the fruits and vegetables then the flesh is chopped and mashed. The paste is then boiled to remove bacteria. The ending result is spread on a “specific surface” to complete the drying process. Here’s a video giving you an inside look at the entire process (which narrated in Dutch, but it’s still fun to watch!).

Extending Fruit Leather’s Strength and Purpose

In hopes of creating even more uses for their flattened fruit leather sheets, Hugo and this team are experimenting with making prototypes of handbags from mangoes, shopping bags from nectarines and lampshades from peaches. There are even talks of using the material as vehicle upholstery. The possibilities are countless for this alternative to chemical laced fabrics and animal leathers.

According to the company’s Facebook page, the designers are currently working to improve the fruit leather’s durability and strength by trying new produce combinations. Who would have guessed that adding pumpkin or apple to strawberry leathers improve their sturdiness? The group is also talking with local chemists to choose the best coating to repel insects and prevent biodegrading.

It’s unclear right now if fruit leather will be next big trend in fashion or upholstery. Nevertheless, the intended message is clear: food is NOT trash! It should be eaten or as a last resort, be repurposed.

What do you think of this product? Do you think it has a future in fashion or design? You can follow Rotterdam Fruitleather team’s progress on their website!

Photo credit: Shuterstock

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