Leather products tend to be a little more pricey than your typical garments made from PVC, they also affect our Earth in the process of making Leather. Leather is made from cattle skin, livestock industry is liable for over 10% of greenhouse gas emissions made by humans. In order for livestock to roam around, forests are deforested. Removing our trees, has a huge consequence on our planet. As a lot of land is cleared in order to make room for the livestock to roam freely. It is estimated that around 80% of our deforested trees around the world is because of agriculture, meaning so many animal habitats are demolished.
Making leather requires a lot of water, it is considered to be one of the thirstiest industries. With around over 15,000 litres of water is required to make just 1,000 grams of leather.
Leather processing has many impacts on our environment. Over 25,000 grams of chemicals is added to every 90,000 grams of animal hides tanned. Most leathers from Australia is processed in many developing countries. It’s very difficult for developing countries to dispose of the toxic chemicals ethically.
How does leather-making impact people?
Leather also has a negative impact on human well-being because there isn’t enough legal protection for those who live in developing countries that make leather. There is so many chemicals involved in making leather which puts so many people’s lives at risk. Those who live near tanneries, where leather is made, often suffer from many skin diseases and have respiratory problems. Some of the skin diseases they might suffer from include eczema.
Some people have even died from being exposed to high levels of toxic chemicals, those who suffer are mainly the workers and those who live near the tanneries. The people who work in the tanneries work many long hours at such low wages.
Does better leather exist?
You can be more ethical when purchasing leather by purchasing second hand leathers or even recycled leather. You can purchase this in many fabric shops and thrift shops. If you would like to purchase real leather goods, we suggest purchasing from brands that are trying to reduce chemical contamination that is caused during the tannery process. Also looking out for Fairtrade certifications when purchasing leather goods is another way of contributing to purchasing leather more ethical.
Can vegan leather be an ethical alternative?
Yes, vegan leather is a great alternative to purchasing real leather. Vegan leather is looks similar to real animal leather. Another name for vegan leather is ‘faux leather.’ Vegan leather is usually made from PU, microfibres or Polyvinyl. Its best to avoid using vegan leather made from PVC. Unless its made from recycled PVC.
Eco-Friendly vegan leather
Vegan leather is usually made from PU, it’s said to be a better alternative than vegan leather that is made from PVC, as it doesn’t use toxic chemicals in the process. Also recycled rubbers and plastics are very multipurpose. There is new materials being made all the time which are sustainable such as cork and bark cloth alternatives.
There is a innovative company that manufactures leather using pineapple leaf fibres, that were thrown away. This is a great solution to making vegan leathers. As it doesn’t involve any harsh chemicals in the process therefore its great for those who live near this company as it doesn’t negatively impact their lives or working conditions.