What's Wrong with Leather?
Before going vegan I didn't have a big problem with using leather. I figured that the animal was being eaten anyway so the whole animal may as well be used. I also thought of it as a natural product so surely that gave it brownie points?
The fact is that none of this is true. Here is an extract, from the Veganary.com website where they summarise perfectly where the leather industry is at:
"Many people feel buying leather makes use of the whole animal and so reduces waste from the meat industry. However, leather is less a by-product and more a highly profitable part of the industry. Buying leather directly supports the meat industry; therefore the same ethical and environmental concerns apply.
For example, much of the softest leather comes from unborn calves or newborns such as those slaughtered for veal, or even unborn calves. Most animals kept for leather endure the same appalling factory farming conditions as those raised for food. Even so called ‘free-range’ animals may not fare better. Indian cows are a source of leather and are transported across the country, often in horrendous conditions, to states where it is legal to slaughter them.
Leather production has a high environmental cost: to begin with, most leather is from methane-producing cows, a factor in climate change. Also, much leather that claims to be Italian is actually from ranches in the Amazon rainforest which, in some cases, have been set up on illegally cleared land. Finally, leather tanning is a highly toxic process – both for people and the environment – which is largely outsourced to developing countries that pay the price. In Bangladesh, for example, the Buriganga river, which runs through a major leather-production zone, has been declared “ecologically dead” as a result of pollution." From http://www.veganuary.com/myths/but-leather-is-a-by-product-of-the-meat-industry-so-it-makes-sense-to-use-it-right/
Synthetic leather such as we use here at SCARLETT doesn't claim to be natural. Our leather-like bags are made of PU leather, an entirely man made product. Being man made actually significantly reduces the carbon footprint of our bags. Mostly because they weren't once strolling around eating (grass and or grain, which in itself has a lifecycle and footprint, using fertilizer, water, pesticides and food miles) farting (Methane) and pooing - cow poo is good for the garden and all, in moderation... but there comes a point where it is doing more harm than good. Because PU leather is made fit for purpose it doesn't then need to be treated with harsh toxic and polluting chemicals to preserve it and prevent it from biodegrading as leather wants to do, being a natural product.
Avoiding leather is the best option for both animal welfare and for the planet. Also as with all things we should choose wisely and buy only what we love and actually need. This is the best way for all of us to reduce wastage and pollution from industry, which affects out own carbon footprint.
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