Real leather is an eco-friendly and sustainable choice for consumers prioritizing environmental sustainability. While some may consider synthetic leather as the more environmentally responsible option, the reality is more complex.
Responsible production methods for real leather lead to a reduced environmental footprint and extended longevity compared to artificial leather. Keep reading to discover why the sustainability of real leather varies by factor and how responsible leather production can support sustainable practices that align with consumer priorities.
Sustainability in the leather industry entails making environmentally conscious decisions throughout the supply chain to preserve the planet, reduce waste, and combat climate change. This includes the popular mantra of “reduce, reuse, and recycle” to promote responsible production and encourage the well-being of our planet. From automotive to furniture and footwear, responsible leather goods production involves a focus on sustainability and reducing the environmental footprint in all aspects of the supply chain.
The Environmental Impact of Fake Leather and the Need for Sustainable Alternatives
Fake leather, also known as faux leather, vegan leather or leather alternative, is an artificial material created to resemble natural leather. Despite its growing popularity, it’s not always a sustainable alternative to traditional leather products made from hides and skins.
The production of these substitutes involves the use of fossil fuels, contributing to water pollution, and increasing carbon emissions. Moreover, most faux leather products are made from non-renewable raw materials, such as fossil fuels and plastic, which have a significant environmental footprint.
Many global brands and luxury goods companies market faux leather products as eco-friendly and vegan, contributing to greenwashing in the fashion industry. Faux leathers marketed as plant-based, such as cactus or mushroom are prime examples. Many of these faux leathers contain non-renewable plastic additives to mimic real leather, simply creating confusion about truly sustainable alternatives.
To address these issues, the fashion industry should embrace a circular economy and focus on creating durable leather products that can be repurposed or recycled. By reducing waste and water use, we can promote sustainability in the fashion industry and address environmental issues.
Over 300 million hides would be wasted.
The number of cattle reared for meat and dairy production would remain unaffected by changes in the leather supply chain.
Wear and tear.
Wear and tear.
Product lifespan ends, deposited into landfill.
Develops a weathered look and gets softer.
Continues sitting in a landfill.
Well cared for leather can still perform.
Plastic begins to become microplastic.
Natural leather biodegrades.
Microplastics can have a severe environmental impact
Completes full circle life cycle