Leather is a tradition.
Leather is a traditional material in the history of fashion, the critiques regarding its source are not new.
They were born with the movement for the defense of animals and their treatment. In response to this, several ethical-fashion brands obviously started to produce items with Vegan Leather.
It’s a fact, the vegan leather industry is rising and it is predicted to be worth $85 billion by 2025.
Peta, an Animal rights organization, has taken the stance: no animal byproducts should be used in manufacturing clothing and accessories.
You can avoid these animal welfare concerns entirely by opting against real leather, just like people opt against fur.
However, there are some major environmental concerns to consider these alternatives.
What is mostly the vegan leather made out of?
Vegan leather is the result of decades of evolution of the pleather (plasticized synthetic leather) produced with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU) or polyester, all relatives of petroleum.
In their treatment, they also produce very toxic chemicals but most importantly they are not recyclable since they are multi-materials and they will take forever to biodegrade given their plastic component.
Synthetic fibers from clothing are the biggest source of microplastic pollution in the ocean. More than 70 million barrels of oil are used to make polyester every year.
When you consider the negative environmental impact of extracting fossil fuels, using chemicals, non-natural dyes, and excessive amounts of water to create a non-biodegradable plastic leather the environmental friendliness of the majority of faux leather is concerning.
So the question is, what should I choose?
First of all, in terms of consumption, it is more sustainable to purchase one leather item that will last a lifetime, instead of multiple fake-leather ones that eventually break and need replacing.
Furthermore, the innovations that are affecting the tanneries today are really interesting.
More and more consumers are asking for information on what they buy.
In response to this, the brands begin to track their supply chain and select suppliers that meet certain environmental and technological requirements.
Consequently, the tanneries started to offer sustainable leathers that have a less environmental impact. They adopted measures to reduce the use of water, take advantage of renewable resources, reduce CO2 emissions and in general decreasing the pollution in the environment.
The leather will never be an animal-friendly product. The skin used to make leather comes from animals raised for their meat (it is a byproduct from another industry).
However, the ongoing revolution of sustainable leather is certainly a better solution today than plastic.
Vegan leather seems to be the new trend, the new sustainable solution. But this is a sentence that drives the wrong message.
Once upon a time the leather, the real leather with his value, is what we need to discover once again.