What Is “Upcycling?” – The Sustainability of Leather

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What is “Upcycling?”

According to Merriam-website.com “Upcycling” is the process of recycling (or reusing) something in such a way to create an object of greater value than the original discarded object.

How Does “Upcycling” relate to leather?

Animals are NOT typically killed to make leather. In the world of modern leather manufacturing, most leather comes from cow hides that are secondary products of the food industry. In fact, LeatherNaturally.org reports that 99% of the hides used for leather come from animals raised for food. As long as people are eating meat, there will be hundreds of millions of leftover cow hides that would go to rot in a landfill if they were not repurposed into some other product. This is where leather creates the perfect solution. Reusing surplus hides is sustainable as it ensures that the skin of the animal does not go to waste. According to LeatherNaturally.org, the leather industry recycles over 270 million cow hides each year. These hides are “upcycled” into beautiful leather that is used to make furniture, shoes, car seating, accessories, apparel, and so much more!


Leather Naturally. (n.d.).

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Upcycle. Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved on 2022, October 31, from

Leather Naturally – Properties of Leather | Leather Naturally | Leather Characteristics.  (n.d.). www.leathernaturally.org

Meryl Siegman is a published author based in New York who has written numerous articles for trade magazines. With a B.A. in English Literature from Middlebury College and a certificate from the University of Cincinnati Leather Research Laboratory for completing its leather orientation course, Meryl brings a unique blend of education and experience to her work in the leather industry. Currently, she consults and writes content for clients in various sectors of the leather industry, including furniture and accessories. As the former owner of Cortina Leathers for over 30 years, Meryl gained extensive knowledge of leather making in Arzignano, Italy, where she lived for three years as a leather purchaser. During her tenure at Cortina Leathers, she taught sales reps and clients about leather technology as a certified Continuing Education Unit (CEU) instructor. She served as a guest lecturer at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology. Website: https://www.merylsiegman.com/
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