In this episode of The Vegetarian Zen podcast, we’re chatting with Stephanie Downs, CEO and Co-Founder of Uncaged Innovations, a company that creates material that mimics leather without sacrificing the characteristics that make it a desired material for the fashion, automotive, and home goods industries.
We chat with Stephanie about her journey to veganism and her inspiration for creating Uncaged Innovations.
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What is Uncaged Innovations?
The leather industry is a major contributor to animal cruelty and environmental degradation. Every year, over 1.4 billion animal skins are processed to become leather for use in consumer goods. The leather production process emits large amounts of greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. Leather tanneries also are a leading source of pollution due to the large amounts of chemicals they produce leaching into groundwater and soil.
The existing alternative leather substitutes, which are made of petroleum-based plastics, do not solve these environmental issues. These traditional synthetic leathers are the only alternative material meeting industry requirements that can be produced at scale. Plastics, such as PVC, polyurethane, polyethylene, nylon, acrylic, and polystyrene, are all derived from petroleum.
As a response to these issues, activist, vegan, and entrepreneur Stephanie Downs launched the New York-based next-gen leather biomaterials company, Uncaged Innovations. The company’s mission is to create products that are made from sustainable materials, remove animals from the supply chain, and have a positive impact on the environment.
Who Is Stephanie Downs?
With more than 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, over 13 years as an advisor on animal material alternatives to the fashion and automotive industries, and having founded the Material Innovation Initiative and the largest plant-based meat company in India, Stephanie brings her innovative thinking and business knowledge to the Uncaged Innovations team.
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