Another Year, Another Invasive Python Initiative: Inversa Leathers

The invasive Burmese python has become the apex predator in the Florida Everglades, displacing the native American alligator. Photograph: Dorling Kindersley ltd/Alamy

We have been paying attention to this problem for more than a decade, and seen ideas like this before; until the problem is mitigated, we will continue sharing:

Could handbags be the haute couture solution to Florida’s python problem?

Invasive Burmese pythons are devastating wildlife but one firm believes turning snake leather into accessories could be a win-win

The fight to eradicate Burmese pythons from the Florida Everglades has intertwined with New York’s haute fashion scene in a project launched by a group of environmental activists who have already experienced success working with the skins of other invasive species.

The Tampa-based team, founded by a group of former college friends with a passion for scuba diving, cut their teeth transforming the skins of non-native lionfish off the US south-east coast and Caribbean Sea into high-end sneakers in partnership with the Italian shoemaker P448.

But with up to an estimated 150,000 unwanted pythons slithering through the Everglades, devouring ever greater numbers of native wildlife from white-tailed deer to rabbits and rats, according to a recent US Geological Survey (USGS) report, the new venture converting snake skins into designer handbags presents a more substantial challenge.

“Pythons in the Everglades is such a colossal problem, you have to corral so many resources, so much energy, and so many interests to try to tackle it,” said Aarav Chavda, co-founder of the operation the friends have called Inversa Leathers.

“We know we’re not riding in with a silver bullet. It’s a years-long process to combat it, and develop better tools. But the really great thing about this is you have very invested and interested consumers pushing on this problem.

“It brings a lot more attention, resources, capacity, in all walks along the way.”

The process starts with hunters in the Everglades tracking, trapping and humanely killing pythons, which can grow up to 20ft in length. Inversa processes and tans the skins, which Piper & Skye, a New York accessory brand known for environmental ethics as well as its upmarket leather products, makes into a range of colorful handbags. Those at the top of the range go for almost $1,000.

The project utilizes a bounty system similar to the one Inversa operates to incentivize low-income fishers in the Caribbean to whom coral-destroying lionfish are otherwise worthless.

“How a product is made, what it’s made of, and the people who make it are just as important as the product itself,” said Joanna MacDonald, creative director of Piper & Skye…

Read the whole story here.

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