Today, many of us strive to be conscious consumers. Perhaps you’ve made the switch to all natural skin care products or have begun to examine labels more closely at the grocery store. But what about your clothing and accessories? It’s something you use, touch, and wear every day.
Part of being a conscious consumer is knowing exactly where your products came from and how they were made. We choose to produce our products with Vegan Leather and recycled paper (or other sustainable alternatives) whenever possible. We’re “Animal Free” certified by Farm Sanctuary, so you can count on natural products that deliver the highest caliber of quality. We promise, you won’t even know the difference and you’ll feel way better about choosing environmentally conscious products that don’t harm any animals in the making!
The ways in which leather production negatively impact the environment are seemingly endless, but for the sake of this article let’s highlight the three main areas: the environment, the animals, and the people.
Methane is one of the six man made greenhouse gases affecting our environment. Cattle farming is one of the leading causes of Methane pollution and it’s no wonder why. Raising cattle requires a lot of resources, aside from food and water it also requires a shocking amount of pastureland. What’s wrong with that? In order to create proper farm land for these cows it requires chopping down trees and stripping the natural land. A whopping 70% of the Amazon rainforest has been cleared to make way for pastures for growing feed crops or raising cattle. This is contributing to MASS DEFORESTATION which causes millions of species to be rendered homeless, and contributes to climate chain. Cattle farming for commercial purposes (meat, leather, etc) is a leading contributor of climate change.
Some leather companies might call their product “eco-friendly” but that simply isn’t true. The process of turning animal skin into leather requires a ton of energy, chemicals, and releases large amounts of methane into the environment - no matter the process! Most USA made leather is made by “chrome tanning” and all waste from this process is considered hazardous by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)… now that doesn’t sound safe OR eco-friendly to me.
A recent study showed that cited that Animals on factory farms produce 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population, without the benefit of waste treatment plants. The EPA has even acknowledged that livestock pollution is the greatest threat to our waterways… and that factory farms account for 70% of the water pollution in the USA alone.
Runoff waste is one of the major ways that leather production causes water pollution. Cattle feedlots and dairy farms create runoff waste in our waterways which causes plant life to overgrow (depleting oxygen levels) and therefore suffocating the animals that rely on those waterbeds. These waterways become known as “dead zones” because no organism can survive in this type of environment.
It’s a common fact that deforestation (which can be caused by cattle farming) harms the tons of species that reside in our rainforests. According toNational Geographic, one of “the most dramatic impact of deforestation is a loss of habitat for millions of species. Eighty percent of Earth's land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes.”
People that live near or work in tanneries are exposed to serious chemicals. Exposure to these toxic chemicals that are released during the process of tanning and dying leather has lead to numerous deaths and cancer diagnosis for those in the surrounding area. “The Centers forDisease Control and Prevention found that the incidence of leukemia among residents in an area near one tannery in Kentucky was five times the U.S. average. Arsenic, a common tannery chemical, has long been associated with lung cancer in workers who are exposed to it on a regular basis. Studies of leather-tannery workers in Sweden and Italy found cancer risks“between 20% and 50% above [those] expected.”
Overall, cowhide leather has 3X the negative environmental impact than it’s synthetic alternatives, such as PU Leather and vegetable leathers. The process ofLeather production is harmful to the environment, our animals, and our people. It’s clear that this process fills our planet with toxic chemicals and the only benefit that this product has is to those who make a profit off of it. As business owners, we know that our choices can make a huge impact on the environment which is why we make it a point to provide eco-friendly alternatives.
As a consumer there’s a lot you can do to help the environment, some of which consists of simply daily choices such as: using less plastic, reducing water usage, or opting for more eco-friendly transportation methods. One of the biggest choices you have as a consumer is the power of choice. You have the power to choose which brands you support, to choose brands that care about the environment and hold themselves accountable to certain standards. Fashion shouldn’t have to come at such a steep price, we can enjoy beautiful Vegan Leather products that look and feel just like leather but come without the steep sacrifice of our planet, our animals, and our people.
To learn more about exactly how our designs are made you can read our article, “How it’s Made: Intentional Craftsmanship”.
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