Home » Trends & Insights » Green wave: The rise of plant-based materials
Green Wave: The Rise of Plant Based Materials | Qalara

Green wave: The rise of plant-based materials


n a world where environmental consciousness is no longer a choice but a responsibility, plant-based materials are emerging as eco-friendly knights in shining armor. The growing significance of these materials is like a symphony, resonating with sustainability, biodegradability, and a commitment to preserving our planet. It is no wonder that they're turning heads, not just among environmentally conscious individuals but also within entrepreneurial circles worldwide!

Most of us are already aware of the Hult Prize, an annual global platform that kindles the entrepreneurial spirits of students worldwide. This high-octane competition takes teams from universities and tasks them with crafting innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. It is a turbocharged race, pushing participants to roll up their sleeves, brainstorm, and carry out their visionary ideas. And the results? Nothing short of remarkable – groundbreaking ideas are birthed, innovative startups launched, and real-world issues tackled.

Let us focus our lens on the ‘Hult Prize 2023’ winner – ‘Banofi Leather’. Founded by Jinali Mody, a name that is soon to be synonymous with sustainability and innovation, Banofi Leather is taking giant strides in rewriting the narrative of traditional leather production. Their secret weapon? A game-changing plant-based leather crafted from discarded banana crop waste. This is where sustainability meets innovation and creativity in a powerful union.

But Banofi Leather is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the remarkable world of plant-based materials. Amidst a surge in research and development within the plant-based materials sector, innovative alternatives are blossoming, ushering in an era of eco-conscious choices. Among these are notable names like ‘Desserto’ from Mexico – a cactus leather, ‘Pinatex’ from Spain – leather like material made of fibre from the waste leaves of the pineapple plant, plant-based dyes, and ‘Fleather’ from India, a leather alternative crafted from discarded temple flowers, along with ‘Malai’ – a sustainable leather-like material cultivated from bacterial cellulose on coconut waste, that are shaping this sustainable revolution.

Qalara’s sellers, too, are riding the green wave, and as we venture deeper into this eco-conscious journey, we will uncover an extensive list of these remarkable plant-based materials used by the sellers at Qalara
Banofi Leather: The Hult Prize 2023 Winner
Banofi Leather: The Hult Prize 2023 Winner

It is fascinating how remarkable journeys often start with a simple question – “Why doesn’t this exist?” This is precisely what Jinali Mody, the founder of Banofi Leather, pondered when searching for a sustainable leather bag. Hailing from India, one of the largest leather exporters in the world, she was well aware of the environmental toll that traditional leather production exacted. Even synthetic leather, often marketed as a vegan alternative, is derived from petrochemical sources, hardly a paragon of eco-friendliness. Frustrated by the lack of sustainable alternatives, Jinali embarked on a mission to replace materials that harm our planet.

Banofi Leather’s innovative journey has led to the development of plant-based leather that harnesses the power of banana crop waste. This eco-friendly leather is not just a novel creation; it is a game-changer. Their patent-pending process does not just reduce environmental impact; it redefines it. The reduction in water usage by a staggering 95% and the cutting of carbon emissions by 90% send ripples of change through an industry historically known for its resource-intensive, polluting processes.

Their impact doesn’t stop at the factory door. Local farmers who previously burned or discarded banana crop waste have found a source of livelihood through this initiative. Sourcing these materials not only helps these farmers but also bolsters their household incomes by a whopping 30%. It is a circle of sustainability that this innovative brand is proud to be a part of.

It is not just about winning a prestigious global competition. It is about creating a ripple effect that will resonate through the world of innovation. Banofi Leather’s victory at the Hult Prize 2023 isn’t just a win; it is a clarion call to innovators, dreamers, and change-makers.

Embracing plant-based materials is not just a trend; it is a necessity. It is a paradigm shift towards a more sustainable, earth-friendly way of producing the goods we love.

Qalara sellers, ever in tune with the rhythms of the planet, have been championing the cause of sustainable production. They have recognized that the future lies in eco-friendly practices and products crafted from nature’s own resources. Let us dive into the list of these remarkable materials.

Bamboo swirl drop earrings
Bamboo swirl drop earrings
Hand weaving Bamboo
Hand weaving Bamboo
Decorative rectangle bamboo trays
Handwoven bamboo trays

Bamboo is a remarkable plant known for its rapid growth and versatility. With its lightweight but robust qualities and naturally aesthetic look, it has become a go-to choice for sustainable products.

Eco-friendly attributes:

  • Rapid growth: Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants globally, which means it can be harvested quickly
  • Low water usage: Bamboo requires minimal water, making it highly sustainable
  • No pesticides: Bamboo doesn’t need pesticides to thrive
  • Biodegradable: It is a completely biodegradable material

Product applications:

  • Clothing and fabrics: Bamboo textiles are comfortable and breathable, ideal for clothing
  • Accessories: Bamboo is used to create accessories like sunglasses, watches, and jewelry
  • Furniture: Bamboo furniture is durable and has a natural, elegant appearance
  • Flooring: It is an eco-friendly choice for flooring materials
  • Construction: Bamboo is used in sustainable building materials like scaffolding
Banana fibre sandbar round table mat
Banana fiber round table mat
Banana bark serving tray
Banana bark serving tray
Banana fibre long island runner
Banana fiber island runner

Banana fiber is an extraordinary material extracted from the pseudostems of banana plants. Renowned for its strength, lightweight properties, and natural luster, it is an excellent choice for various eco-friendly products

Eco-friendly attributes:

  • Waste reduction: Banana fiber significantly reduces waste by upcycling banana crop byproducts
  • Chemical minimalism: The extraction process involves minimal chemical usage
  • Eco-conscious farming: It promotes sustainable agricultural practices

Product applications:

  • Textiles: Banana fiber is used in clothing, accessories, and handwoven textiles
  • Paper products: It is used in the creation of sustainable paper products
  • Handmade goods: Artisans use banana fiber in various handcrafted items such as woven baskets, etc.
Tasseled basket woven cane moon handbag
Handwoven cane handbag
Statement iron & cane round napkin ring
Statement cane napkin ring
Cane & mango wood earthy planter
Cane & mango wood planter

Cane is a wonderful material sourced from the rattan palm. Known for its natural durability and flexibility, it is often used in the creation of sustainable and visually appealing products.

Eco-friendly attributes:

  • Sustainable harvesting: Cane is sourced through sustainable harvesting practices
  • Regenerating resource: The rattan palm regrows naturally, conserving resources

Product applications:

  • Furniture: Cane is a common choice for creating durable yet aesthetically pleasing furniture
  • Baskets: It is used in making baskets and woven goods
  • Handicrafts: Artisans use cane for crafting various decorative items such as wall art, mirror frame, etc.
Cork square shaped planter
Cork Textured planter
Hand stitched cork slim wallet
Hand stitched cork wallet
Conscious cork leather sling bag
Conscious cork sling bag

Cork is the outer bark of the cork oak tree, known for its unique texture and visual appeal. It is a remarkable eco-friendly material with various applications.

Eco-friendly attributes:

  • Sustainable harvest: Cork harvesting is a sustainable practice as it doesn’t harm the tree, since it grows back after the harvest 
  • Biodegradable: Cork is entirely biodegradable
  • Natural insulation: It boasts natural insulation properties

Product applications:

  • Fashion accessories: Cork is used to create accessories like wallets, bags, and belts
  • Home decor and stationery products: Cork is used to craft products like planters, pen stands, laptop stands, and more!
  • Flooring: It is a sustainable choice for flooring materials
  • Aerospace industry: Cork’s natural properties make it useful in aircraft manufacturing
Handwoven 100% hemp boho rug
Handwoven hemp boho rug
Princes panel & bishop sleeves mustard hemp top
Princes panel hemp top
Handwoven hemp tavros rug
Handwoven hemp tavros rug

Hemp, a versatile and sturdy plant, offers a variety of eco-friendly benefits. Known for its sustainability and minimal environmental impact, it is a popular choice for various products.

Eco-friendly attributes:

  • Rapid growth: Hemp is a fast-growing plant, requiring minimal resources
  • No pesticides: Hemp cultivation typically doesn’t rely on pesticides
  • Soil enhancement: It naturally improves soil quality and reduces erosion

Product applications:

  • Clothing: Hemp textiles create breathable, durable clothing
  • Accessories and furnishings: It is used to craft sustainable bags, hats, shoes, placemats, cushion covers and more
  • Paper: Hemp paper is known for its strength and recyclability
  • Building materials: Hemp is used in eco-friendly construction materials
indigo-dyed cotton block print blue coasters
Indigo-dyed block print coasters
Chevron natural-dyed hand block printed cotton cushion cover
Chevron natural-dyed cushion cover
Natural-dyed block print reversible kitchen apron with dual pockets
Natural-dyed reversible apron

Indigo dye, derived from the indigofera plant, is a natural and eco-friendly choice for coloring textiles. It has been used for centuries and continues to be favored for its sustainability.

Eco-friendly attributes:

  • Natural origin: Indigo dye is plant-based, making it a renewable resource
  • Low water usage: It requires minimal water for the dyeing process
  • Biodegradable: Indigo dye is biodegradable and does not harm the environment

Product applications:

  • Textiles: Indigo dye is widely used for coloring clothing, including jeans and traditional garments
  • Art and crafts: It is a popular choice for artists and craftspeople to create unique designs
  • Home furnishings: Indigo-dyed fabrics are used for home furnishing items like cushions and curtains

Indigo dye’s natural properties and beautiful hues make it a valuable addition to the world of sustainable dyes.

Hand stitched jute pouch bag
Hand stitched jute pouch bag
Properties of Jute
Properties of Jute
Handwoven jute & cotton sooty basket
Handwoven jute sooty basket

Jute, often referred to as the ‘golden fiber,’ is a natural and renewable resource. It is admired for its strength and versatility in creating environmentally friendly products.

Eco-friendly attributes:

  • Renewable resource: Jute plants grow quickly and are readily replenished
  • Biodegradable: Jute fibers are fully biodegradable
  • Minimal chemicals: Its cultivation requires fewer pesticides and fertilizers

Product applications:

  • Bags and sacks: Jute is a popular material choice for reusable bags and packaging
  • Textiles: It is used for clothing, rugs, and other textiles
  • Decor: Jute is employed in creating home decor and handicrafts
Handwoven seagrass lines table runner
Handwoven seagrass table runner
Handwoven seagrass striped placemat
Handwoven seagrass striped placemat
Handwoven seagrass striped brown placemat
Handwoven seagrass striped placemat

Seagrass, originating from underwater meadows, is a unique and sustainable choice for various products. Known for its strength and marine-friendly properties, it is a preferred eco-material.

Eco-friendly attributes:

  • Marine conservation: Harvesting seagrass supports the conservation of underwater ecosystems
  • Biodegradable: Seagrass is completely biodegradable and doesn’t contribute to land or water pollution

Product applications:

  • Furniture: Seagrass is used in crafting stylish and eco-friendly furniture
  • Baskets: It is a top choice for weaving baskets and storage items
  • Decor: Seagrass lends a natural, coastal feel to home decor
Woven straw basket
Woven straw basket
Woven straw earthy handbag
Woven straw earthy handbag
Woven straw basket
Woven straw basket

Straw, primarily derived from agricultural byproducts, offers a unique, rustic charm to eco-friendly products.

Eco-friendly attributes:

  • Sustainable byproduct: Straw is often a byproduct of agricultural processes, reducing waste
  • Natural/ Farmhouse aesthetics: It lends a natural, rustic look to products

Product applications:

  • Home decor and furnishings: Straw is used in creating decor items like lampshades and wall art
  • Bags and accessories: It is employed in crafting sustainable bags and fashion accessories
Water hyacinth nesting storage baskets
Water hyacinth nesting storage baskets
Handwoven water hyacinth cat laundry hamper
Handwoven water hyacinth laundry hamper
Water hyacinth nesting storage baskets
Water hyacinth nesting storage baskets

Water hyacinth, an aquatic plant, is an unusual yet sustainable material. Its rapid growth and ability to be used in various products make it a noteworthy eco-choice.

Eco-friendly attributes:

  • Rapid growth: Water hyacinth is fast-growing, providing a readily available resource
  • Water purification: It is known for its capacity to purify water bodies

Product applications:

  • Furniture: Water hyacinth is used in creating unique, natural-looking furniture
  • Baskets: It is a popular choice for crafting baskets and storage items
  • Decor: It lends an earthy, organic appearance to home decor
Rattan open weave laundry basket
Rattan open weave laundry basket
Natural rattan table napkin ring
Natural rattan table napkin ring
Handmade rattan round mirror wall decor
Handmade rattan mirror wall decor

Rattan, a tropical climbing palm, is celebrated for its durability and versatility. Found in the tropical forests across Asia, it is a sustainable material choice for a range of eco-friendly products.

Eco-friendly attributes:

  • Renewable resource: Rattan is a rapidly renewable resource, making it environmentally responsible
  • Minimal waste: Rattan harvesting results in minimal waste
  • Sustainable growth: It is grown without the need for extensive pesticides

Product applications:

  • Furniture: Rattan is popular in crafting sustainable furniture, including chairs, tables, and shelves
  • Baskets: It is widely used for making sturdy and stylish baskets
  • Decor: Rattan brings a warm and natural aesthetic to home decor

Qalara, as a marketplace, has embraced the green wave by aligning with eco-friendly practices. By choosing to shop on Qalara, you are not only gaining access to a wide array of exquisite, environmentally responsible products, but also actively participating in a movement that values our planet’s well-being. Explore Qalara’s offerings to find a diverse selection of eco-friendly products.


In a world increasingly concerned with environmental issues, the role of plant-based materials has never been more crucial. The significance of these materials lies in their potential to reduce our carbon footprint and minimize environmental harm. The power to shape a sustainable future rests in our choices. Let us choose wisely, and shop thoughtfully, and together, we can weave a greener narrative for generations to come.

~ Written by Utkarsha Rai

Gauri is an experienced B2B & e-commerce content marketer who likes to walk and thinks words are truly wondrous.


  • Inspirational read. It’s amazing to witness waste transform into sustainable wonders. Thanks for sharing this. All blog posts on this page is just fantastic..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.