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Guest Post by Ignacio Alejandro Maya

-Corozo buttons are a high-quality, durable and earth-friendly alternative for your garments-

Sustainability is not just a trend, but a necessary step. Consumers are increasingly aware of what they wear, eat, drink, use and who they get it from, so companies are re-evaluating their value chains, materials they use, traceability, production standards and ethics behind each product and service.


How do we make the fashion and clothing industry more respectful of society and the environment? It may seem like change took time, but surely it is through consistent and systematic actions that it is happening.

Photo courtesy of Trafino


Most companies tend to stick with standard polyester (plastic) buttons that come from fossil fuels, which are a bit cheaper but have a negative impact on the environment. Even the so-called recycled polyester buttons use a high percentage of virgin material, require considerable amounts of energy and create a lot of negative waste. While the impact of a small button may not seem significant, large quantities produce obvious environmental effects.


Corozo, or tagua buttons as we know them in Ecuador, are made from a nut that grows wild in Ecuador’s tropical forests. When tender, the nut is liquid and can be drunk by humans. It is very similar to ivory; thus, it is also called vegetable ivory. Grows on palm trees and, when mature, falls to the ground to be sustainably collected by thousands of rural community members as a means of subsistence. These people become the best guardians of the forest that offers them an income. Nuts then pass into the hands of hundreds of artisans to be skilfully transformed into blanks, one by one, pure tradition.


With 33 years of experience, TRAFINO S.A. is the world’s leading company in the export of corozo blanks. TRAFINO acquires the blanks of different sizes from more than 500 artisans – a large part being women -, performs quality controls and exports to button makers in more than 20 countries, who give the finish -design- to the product and sell to fashion brands. As a matter of fact, corozo buttons are not something new, before plastic took over the market, back in the 1940s, a significant part of the buttons manufactured in the world were corozo, including those of the USA Army´s uniform, and have been used since around the 1850s.

Photo courtesy of Trafino

Why choose a corozo button?

  • 100% natural, sustainable, planet-friendly

  • Biodegradable, organic, renewable, recyclable

  • Vegan, no animal cruelty

  • Combines design and craftsmanship

  • Versatile, can be lasered, any design can be made

  • Resistant to washing, dry cleaning and ironing

  • Alternative to polyester (plastic) buttons and other natural buttons that can harm the environment

  • Non-toxic – child safe

  • Can be used in its natural white colour or dyed to any colour (dye to match)

  • At microscopic level, corozo is composed of very tightly wound organic fibres that give the material excellent durability and scratch resistance, contributing to circularity in fashion. Its porous nature allows colours to penetrate deep into the surface, making it an excellent material for dyeing. Corozo is also well known for its elegant natural grain.

TRAFINO created the NGO FOREVER LUNG


TRAFINO created the NGO FOREVER LUNG to protect tropical forests where corozo palms grow wild, by working together with communities & artisans. The Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment awarded TRAFINO the “Green Initiative Prize” for promoting the rainforests conservation through a sustainable management of corozo.


TRAFINO and FOREVER LUNG are working with local universities in the research and planning of a project to restore the buffer zones of tropical forests using native corozo palms and thus help the forest to recover and regain space. Here are some characteristics of the corozo palm tree:

  • Corozo palms have multiple biological interactions with pollinating insects, thousands arrive during flowering time, as well as with wild forest animals, mainly rodents and small mammals.

  • Corozo palms are an abundant and often dominant species in the structure of the tropical forest. For this reason, if we protect corozo palms, we conserve the entire forest and its interactions.

  • Due to the high production of organic matter (big leaves, inflorescences and large infructescence), Corozo palms have a high rate of carbon fixation.

  • Corozo palms prevent erosion and contribute to soil formation.

  • Corozo palms promote the “milking of clouds”, maintaining humidity in forests.

  • Corozo is an important cultural element in the identity of Ecuadorians.

Photo courtesy of Trafino

TRAFINO is also working with The United Nations Small Grants Program, The German Cooperation (GIZ), the IRD (French Institute of Research for Development), government institutions and other NGOs to strengthen and support corozo collecting communities, protect forests and take care of corozo palm trees. TRAFINO is also a member of the HOT PALM project http://bioinca.org/hotpalm-project/


Corozo is not only the best sustainable alternative for fashion and clothing industry in terms of design and durability, but also has a beneficial environmental and social component. By replacing plastic with corozo buttons, brands contribute to keeping tropical forests standing, reducing the carbon footprint of the fashion industry, curbing global warming, among many other benefits that this wonderful story brings. Help us spread the word.

Guest Author Bio

With 22 years of experience working with Corozo, Ignacio Alejandro Maya is Executive President of TRAFINO S.A., a leading company with more than 3 decades exporting this resource of Ecuadorian biodiversity. Passionate about this noble material, he has two Majors in Business Administration and Agribusiness and 2 Minors in Psychology and English from Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador. In addition to a Diploma in Project Management from the Tecnológico de Monterrey, headquarters Toluca, Mexico. Founding member and Executive Director of the FOREVER LUNG Foundation created to work together with local communities to protect forests where corozo grows wild and, through sustainable management of this product, contribute to improving the quality of life of those who collect the nuts and the hundreds of artisans involved in the distribution chain.

Link to website: https://trafino.net/

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