Sustainable Leather Production
Sustainability Of Real Leather
Real leather can be a more 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 can have a smaller environmental footprint than 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.
Animals are killed for their hides.
False – Don’t be fooled by the misconception that eco-friendly leather is not sustainable. The truth is that eco-friendly leather is a by-product or secondary product of the meat industry within the sustainable supply chain for leather production.
Animals such as cows are raised for food by the meat and dairy industries, and without utilizing their hides for eco-friendly leather, millions would go to waste. When you choose ethical leather products, you support sustainability and responsible use of resources within the sustainable supply chain.
Faux leather products like “vegan leather” are eco-friendly and won’t harm the environment.
False – Many “synthetic leather” products in the fashion and automotive industries are made from plastics such as polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride. These plastics are unsustainable and decompose up to 10 times as long as natural leather. Just because something is termed “faux leather” is not eco-friendly or sustainable.
Leather is unsustainable and should be replaced by sustainable leather alternatives.
False – As a by product, leather is upcycled and follows sustainable practices. It is a practical and valuable product created from unused parts of animals harvested for food. Leather manufacturing is a natural and renewable resource, whereas imitation and faux leather deplete natural resources and introduce destructive microplastics when disposed of in landfills.
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.
Real leather is a socially responsible, durable, and renewable raw material made from animal hides, a by-product of an animal raised in the meat industry that has been tanned and treated. Its natural texture, and unique characteristics make it a popular choice for various products, from clothing and accessories to furniture, upholstery, and automotive interiors. Sustainable leather comes as a by-product or a secondary product of the food industry, providing an abundant supply of raw materials for manufacturers of leather goods in the fashion, shoe, apparel, and accessories industries.
Leather manufacturers today significantly promote sustainability in the leather supply chain to reduce waste by transforming leftover hides into high-quality, eco-friendly materials. Through a process of upcycling, these once-discarded hides are given new life as beautiful and durable leather products. The use of leather in the automotive industry, fashion, shoe, apparel, and accessories sectors creates a demand for sustainable and eco-friendly leather production, making it more important than ever to focus on responsible production and reduce the environmental footprint of the leather industry.
Fake Leather, Vegan Leather & Artificial Leather
The Environmental Impact of Fake Leather and the Need for Sustainable Alternatives
Fake leather, also known as faux leather or leather alternatives, 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 hazardous chemicals, 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. However, such practices create 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.
What would happen if the world stopped using traditional leather in future generations?
The number of cattle reared for meat and dairy production would remain unaffected by changes in the leather supply chain.
A typical lifespan for natural leather products vs fake leather alternatives
Wear and tear.
Remains in great condition.
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