Those are some killer boots! Literally: leather kills, and more than just animals alone. The leather industry also kills the environment and human rights. It is a huge global industry that violates the rights of animals and humans alike. From the health issues and bad work conditions to the horrors of factory farming and animal cruelty, not to mention the high carbon footprint. We are wondering: is it worth that cool pair of shoes? We don’t think so!
In this blog we will tell you more about the ugly side of the leather industry, and why we don’t believe in supporting it. And to end on a positive note: give you some alternatives and tips on what you can do to go for more sustainable fashion from now on.
The problems we have with the leather industry
Leather is not a by-product of the meat industry as often is said.
In 2016, the global market value of leather goods was worth about 217.49 billion U.S. dollars. The leather industry is a huge moneymaker, and the revenues of animal skin used for leather are just as high or sometimes even higher than the revenues from the meat industry. On top of that the environmental impact of leather production is 3 times greater than for the production of vegan leather alternatives, even if this is PU. Basically: money makes the world go round for the leather industry, and animal cruelty does not look good on anyone.
The way animals are treated in this horrible industry truly breaks our hearts. Before being turned into bags, shoes, or belts, animals have to endure a horrible life. This includes having to live their lives in extremely small spaces, physical abuse, disease, and ultimately: a horrible death.
Over 1 billion animals are killed and tortured for the industry each year. And more research comes out every year that reveals animal abuse, especially in the largest producing countries. We often read about ethical leather, how can it be ethical to kill an animal for their meat or for commercial purposes?
Not only animal rights are violated in the name of the leather industry: human lives are also not sacred. Horrific work conditions against a low (more like barely there) wage are not uncommon in most countries where leather is manufactured. And to add on: health conditions are also not optimal, to say the slightest. Many workers work in conditions that make them sick, or will eventually kill them.
The leather industry is not exactly zero waste, quite the opposite actually. Did you know, for instance, that to make one pair of boots of cow leather 66 KG of C02 gets released into the environment? If you’re interested in reading more about the impact the leather industry has on our environment, we encourage you to read this article.
Vegan alternatives to leather
So now that we know how horrible the leather industry is, you might be feeling a little bit gloomy. A huge industry that kills and tortures animals isn’t a feel-good type of thing, we get it. But fear not! There is something you can do as a consumer to fight against this, and that is choosing animal-friendly alternatives. There are many options, and even more up and coming, for alternatives to your favorite leather boots.
Alternative methods for manufacturing and new materials as an alternative for leather are increasingly sought out. They are a very important addition to improving and expanding the choice of sustainable materials. Fruits and their skins are popular alternative materials used to create leather imitations.
The natural components are combined with other materials to give them strength or body and right now the combination material is often Recycled PET, PU or PVC (synthetic leather).
Some names you might see on labels of alternative materials include:
- Apple skin
- Corn Leather
- Wine Leather
- Cork Leather
- Fly Leather
- Bonded Leather
- Mushroom Leather
- Palm Leather
- Pineapple Leather
- Cactus Leather
Natural materials are the majority product, and they are often combined with recycled PET or synthetic materials to make sure the materials are strong enough to last for years to come. If the environment is important to you, you might want to check the product description of the new shoes you want to buy to see which materials have been used. And you might want to stay away from brands who are not transparent about their materials. Our entire collection of vegan shoes is made with plant based vegan apple leather, combined with natural and recycled materials, so we can be cruelty-free to humans, the environment and animals.
3 tips for a more sustainable wardrobe
We get it: as a consumer, it’s hard sometimes to know which products and brands are made cruelty-free and which ones you want to stay away from. That’s why we want to leave you with a few easy tips to empower you as a consumer and give you some extra options.
Read the label!
Sometimes leather is used in pieces of clothing you didn’t even know it was in. On the label, there’s always a description of the fabrics used to make the garment, shoes, or belt. So if you want to be sure there’s zero leather in your new shoes: read the label!
Buy less and choose more sustainable options
Thrift shopping is a returning trend that’s rising over the last few years! We can see why: thrifting is just as fun as treasure hunting. And it’s a good way to fight the fast-fashion industry and the leather industry at the same time. Choose quality over quantity and look for more sustainable options that will last longer. Buy from brands who are transparent on their entire production process.
Search for ethical brands online
We can hear you think: do I have to do a whole search campaign to know which product is and isn’t made ethically? Sounds like one hell of a job, but it doesn’t have to be! There are plenty of websites online that research this for you, some of our favorites are: Shoplikeyougiveadamn, Immaculate Vegan, Fairbee, New Habitz, etc. The brands on these websites are selected thoroughly, are vegan & sustainable and you can filter on specific features such as materials, where the product is made, the sustainability scores, etc. You only have to search for the brand on their website.
We believe that animal cruelty is not necessary for having a fashionable wardrobe. And good news: companies all over the world are producing beautiful vegan alternatives to leather. The vegan leather industry is growing and more and more companies are on the rise to fight against the old leather industry. And with technology for leather alternatives developing every day we are positive that changes are coming. Will you join us to make an impact?