What You Should Know Before Purchasing Vegan Leather
You’ve probably heard the term “vegan leather,” which is often touted as a cruelty-free, eco-friendly alternative to real leather. But the more research you do, the more yoAu will discover different definitions and opposing points of view. Some say it is an excellent example of eco-innovation, while others say it’s just a fancy term for plastic. The answer to the question, “What is vegan leather?” depends on whom you ask or what you read.
In this article, we take a deep dive into vegan leather: what it is (and isn’t), its benefits and downsides, what it’s used for, and how it compares to genuine leather, so you can decide for yourself if it is the right choice for you.
“Vegan” most often refers to a person who maintains a diet containing no food that comes from animals. As an adjective, it means eating, using or containing no food or other products derived from animals.
It follows, then, that vegan leather is “leather” made without the use of animal products. So far, so good. However, there is no official definition of the term, and it has been used in many different and contradictory ways.
No wonder you’re confused, especially because “vegan” has been applied to leather that is not entirely plant based. Keep in mind the next time you see the word “vegan” to describe leather that in most cases it is just a marketing term.
Vegan leather is often used as simply another name for fake leather of any kind. Other terms are faux leather, artificial leather, manmade leather, PU leather, pleather and leatherette. Fake leather can be defined as an imitation leather-like material made without the use of animal skins.
If that is how one defines vegan leather, then it belongs to a class of artificial “leather” products that includes material made from polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PU leather is made by coating a cotton or polyester base with a thermoplastic polymer and then treating it to mimic real leather. PVC leather is produced by fusing vinyl with a textile base. It derives from crude oil. PVC is known to release polluting compounds called dioxins. Both are considered damaging to humans, animals and the environment.
The term can also be a form of “greenwashing.” You could argue that “vegan leather” should be used only by those brands that are committed to being 100% vegan.
The misuse of the word “leather” has become such a global issue that the Italian Council of Ministers has issued a degree protecting the term “leather” by banning terms such as “vegan leather.” The new law not only establishes the correct terminology; it also establishes a ban on the use of the term “leather” to identify materials which do not have an animal origin. Amazing!
· Vegan leather is not as durable as real leather, in part because it’s a lot thinner;
· Vegan leather won’t last nearly as long as real leather, so the environmental impact of constantly replacing it can be more damaging to the environment than the production of leather;
· PVC-based vegan leather doesn’t breathe, making it uncomfortable to be worn as shoes or clothing;
· Vegan leather can have a shiny appearance and look like plastic;
· Vegan leather can have an unpleasant chemical smell or even contain toxic elements;
· Some vegan leathers can be as expensive as actual leather.
On the other hand, real leather is soft, beautiful and elegant. It also breathes. If well cared for, it can last for years. Leather is durable, strong and resistant to damage such as tearing. Unlike plastic, it becomes more beautiful and valuable as it ages.
There are non-profit organizations that approve and certify vegan products. For example, The Vegetarian Society accredits items that meet their strict criteria. It offers “approved” trademarks, allowing its symbol to be used on thousands of products around the world, including clothes, shoes and handbags. Approved products must meet the following criteria:
· Contains no animal-derived ingredients
· No animal testing carried out or commissionedLook for its trademark to see if the product you wish to buy is on their approved list. www.vegsoc.org/trademark-criteria or any other certification from a reliable company.
· Corn Leather by Veja is derived from corn. It is a waxed canvas, coated with resin from the corn waste industry that looks and feels similar to leather.
· Desserto is a plant-based leather grown from cactus leaves in Mexico. Although it devoid of PVC, toxic chemicals, and phthalates, making it requires using certain binding agents. It is considered “partially biodegradable.”· Flower Leather by Fleather is made from leftover temple flowers, although it’s not yet on the market.
· MuSkin is a vegan leathers made from mushroom caps. It’s tanned with non-toxic ingredients and is advertised to be softer and more water repellent than real leather.
· Piñatex® Original Pineapple Leather is a byproduct deriving from the pineapple bush. It is said to be very durable. However, Piñatex is coated with a petroleum-based resin, meaning it’s not biodegradable.
As you can see, there is a wide variety of products called “vegan leather.” The majority of them consist of plant material mixed with synthetic polymers to give them the durability and strength necessary to do their job. to be functional. In addition, they tend to be expensive, and most of them don’t come close to the durability and lifespan of actual leather.
If you are a practicing vegan according to the definition in Wikipedia, then by all means, don’t purchase any product made from genuine leather, whether it’s a pair of shoes, handbag, bomber jacket or a car with leather seats. Many oppose the commodification of leather as a form of cruelty to animals, and certainly they should make their purchases based on their beliefs, philosophy and lifestyle.
Are There Faux Leather Alternatives?
As you now know, there is no clear definition of “vegan” leather. It could be a material made entirely from PU or PVC, or a plant-based one with a petroleum-based topcoat. Many brands are happy to have you believe you are doing good for the environment simply by calling their product “vegan.” While some brands are transparent and open, others market their merchandise with enticing images, without offering information to back up their claims. Yes, they might be pulling wool over your eyes.You deserve better than that. Do your research, and then follow your heart.