Is Leather Sustainable?
Is leather sustainable?
Leather is a material that often takes the spotlight in the fashion industry. There are many opinions regarding using leather for fashionable purpose because of the association with unethical standards. However, with the rise of sustainability and companies being forced to change their approach, a new wave of ‘leather’ has become the new trend.
Currently leather has taken many forms; vegan leather, faux leather to eco-leather. For example, vegan leather is a synthetic replica of genuine leather and eco-leather, still sourced from an animal but incorporates eco-practices. Yet, many are still unaware of some of the changes companies are implementing. Due to the rise in sustainability and best practice, many companies have looked into alternative ways to source, manufacture and transport leather.
We are now going to share five reasons why leather should be considered sustainable. Additionally, we will give you some advice on how to spot eco-friendly companies creating fashionable leather pieces using best practices.
One important fact to consider is leather (that hasn’t been processed with significant chemical treatments such as tanning and texturing) will biodegrade in 80 -100 years.
However, ‘vegan leather’ may take 1000+ years. Unfortunately, many companies have ‘jumped’ on the greenwashing trend and considered all synthetic materials as leather. Although vegan leather does not harm animals, the challenge is non-biodegradable waste is building-up on our planet. This not only effects eco-systems but biodiversity too. Sometimes leather can be integrated with other biodegradable fibres such as wool and cotton, which will also biodegrade quickly compared to synthetic materials.
2) Durable and Strong
The majority of luxury, high-quality products are sourced from natural materials that are biodegradable and durable and strong lasting several years with minimal challenges.
Leather is durable and has been recognised for its properties for over a millennium. The material has been used for protection against harsh weather conditions and cold temperatures. Overall leather has been used for both practical and functional purposes. As the material is strong and durable, it can last longer unlike synthetic materials, that may be exposed to damage faster. Generally, the more durable the material, the slower it will take to go to the landfill!
Durability and strength go hand-in-hand with quality. In general, Leather is often referred to as good quality and durability; however, craftsmanship is often forgotten.
A handful of small businesses or sustainable lead companies have created leather by using a variety of hand-made techniques and craftsmanship. Ultimately this is for the environment as it uses less energy and resource. However, it’s important to understand that how you look after your leather garments contributes to sustainability. Unlike synthetic- fibres, if you take care of your leather fashion pieces, you will likely have a garment for life. Keeping your germens away from direct sunlight or water will give the garment the respect it deserves and promises longevity.
4) The By-product Meat
Large companies under pressure to keep up with demand from the fashion industry often use unsustainable methods and techniques.
It’s no secret that sometimes companies may source leather by harming the animal. However, sustainable lead companies will work with local suppliers in their local area who may look after cattle using traditional and organic farming techniques. Many of these local suppliers initially use the meat to feed local communities and encourage traditional trade. Companies that put sustainability first will only use the by-product of the meat and often use every scrap. This is not only sustainable but promotes zero-waste. Additionally, factually animal skin represents a small part of the animal compared to animal meat. The food industry should also take on responsibility for implementing more sustainable practices.
5) Eco-Leather Process
When reviewing sustainable leather options, you also need to keep in mind the company’s manufacturing process. Unfortunately, many companies will use toxic chemicals and treatments to make the leather last longer; however, this shouldn’t be the case. A few sustainably lead companies may create leather garments without using harsh chemicals such as chrome-free, veg-tanned treatments; following ethical standards. Additionally, hand-made processes use little chemical processing which is also better for the environment.
So, there you have it, 5 reasons to think about before purchasing sustainable leather. Overall it’s a very personal decision whether you decide to purchase leather products or not. However, it’s important to acknowledge the traditional ways of sourcing and manufacturing leather can be very unsustainable. Therefore, research, review and gather information about the company before purchasing to understand whether the company is implementing sustainable practices.