Is It Leather

What Is “Upcycling?” – The Sustainability of Leather

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What is “Upcycling?”

According to “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, 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, 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. dictionary. Retrieved on 2022, October 31, from

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

Meryl Siegman

Meryl Siegman

Meryl Siegman is a professional content writer with a rich background in the leather industry. As the owner of Cortina Leathers for over 30 years, she gained her 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 and served as a guest lecturer at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology. Currently, she consults and writes content for a number of clients in various sectors of the leather industry, including furniture and accessories.

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