The end of leather. Long live Pinatex, cork and muskin
A large majority of the population wears it with a clear conscience. The animal was killed to be eaten, you might as well use its skin. Recycling is good for the planet. And then, leather is resistant, you can keep your coat or shoes almost for life ! The good thing about popular legends is that they are reassuring and allow us to curl up in our certainties.
And yet if creators are embarking on confections made using new materials, in particular the fibers of certain plants, by associating the terms eco-friendly, eco-responsible or even ethical, it’s because the leather industry may not be so noble !
I. Impacts of leather ...
1.… Leather and its environmental impacts
… Yes, leather production is extremely polluting (see video testimony of the founder of WWoW https://bit.ly/3f3w2qn ). The majority of leather (over 80%) comes from the least developed countries where environmental standards are almost non-existent. The tanneries are located in India and Bangladesh. These tanneries discharge an average of 22,000 liters of toxic waste per day into the surrounding rivers or streams : wastewater mixed with toxic products such as chromium sulphate, skin remains, ...
Tanneries use chromium - chromium sulfate - to tan hides, which requires astronomical amounts of water. In addition, the intensive breeding of animals results in deforestation, soil erosion, drying up of rivers and pollution of the oceans ...
2.… leather and its human impacts.
The reporters who went into the field (image cf. article by Salomé) attest that, from the age of 10, children work in tanneries in India and Bangladesh. The average age is 45 because this working population has no protection, no safety equipment. So they are barefoot in these vats filled with chromium and other chemicals, not to mention inhalations. Of course, they get ridiculous wages for goods which will then be sold at relatively high prices. The workers develop skin diseases, respiratory failure and cancer. As for European leather production, mostly in Italy (Tuscany), it is underpaid Senegalese workers who handle it. I refer you to the report by Élise Lucet for Cash Investigation https://www.france.tv/france-2/cash-investigation/736319-luxe-les-dessous-chocs.html
… And of course, in developing countries, labor rights and environmental considerations are non-existent. When a 10-year-old worker works with bare feet and hands in the chrome basins, we can imagine ...
3.… Buying leather directly contributes to intensive breeding.
Each year more than 1 billion animals are cruelly killed for the leather trade worldwide. The production of leather depends directly on the slaughter of animals.
... Our cognitive dissonance : Europeans / French people eat less and less meat, yet leather production is only increasing ! What do you deduce from this ? That leather production is extremely lucrative and that we breed animals for the sole purpose of exploiting their skins. They are sentient beings with a conscience. So no, wearing leather is by no means recycling ! The selling price of an animal is roughly similar to the price of its meat. The profit comes from the "fifth quarter", therefore from the sale of the animal's skin, which allows a comfortable financial margin to be generated.
In short, leather is not just a "waste" of animal slaughtered for its meat, but a significant part of the turnover. Depending on the beast, its hide represents 10 to 50% of its value, making it the most profitable of by-products ! This rule only applies to furred animals. Other animals are killed exclusively for their skin : snakes, crocodiles, etc., without their meat being the primary motivation.
Reality, we did not want to see it, because of course it is unbearable.
“Leather is a global push to develop the breeding of animals for their skins. However, animal husbandry is very expensive in terms of water and land, it creates deforestation and climate change, not to mention toxic chrome tanning and mistreatment of animals, ”explains Mathilde Dorbessan, corporate communications officer for PETA France.
II. You will have understood it, the future of leather goods is plant materials !
1. In luxury: Stella McCartney, but also Elon Musk uses these vegetable materials
Stella McCartney has never used leather since the founding of her house in 2001. Tesla car seats are synthetic. And if you don't have the budget yet, but want to have a beautiful bag or leather accessory, you can turn to the WWoW brand.
2. The example of an ethical brand of leather goods and accessories
Salomé Dratwa designs with the brand she founded, WWoW, bags, wallets, purses, eyeglass cases and jewelry entirely with plant materials.
In the video she explains her creative process which first led her to create bags and pouches in cotton and polyurethane - polyurethane does not emit gas during its manufacture unlike PVC. Then she chose to develop her lines mainly in Piñatex, fibers of pineapple leaves, (Carmen Hijosa is the creator of the revolutionary concept of "Piñatex"), by sparingly accessorizing certain pieces of her collection with cork. This entrepreneur works to empower women. The names of her creations are those of women who have marked history such as Virginia Woolf, Peggy Guggenheim, Délia Akeley, etc. She mostly works with women, but also with men in professional reintegration as well as with people with disabilities. WWoW is committed to the empowerment of women and the protection of the environment. The brand is labeled “PETA-Approved Vegan” as well as “1% for The Planet”.
In conclusion, to buy leather is to participate in this human abuse, animal abuse and environmental abuse. By turning to alternatives, such as Piñatex (pineapple fiber), cork (cork oak bark), Muskin (extracted from the cap of the mushroom Phellinus ellipsoideus), you participate in this famous world after, where ethics is golden.
The WWoW brand illustrates that it is possible to have durable and ethical leather goods and accessories. And since buying is voting, show your convictions by having products that are not issued from: ...
• ... exploitation, torture and slaughter of animals
•… sectors that violate human rights
• ... the irrational exploitation of ecosystems
The fashion industry is currently on the podium of the most polluting industries on the planet ... or should I say the planet that our children lend us 😉! Vegan fashion is the only possible solution for our world after. And between us, which is the most extreme : destroying ecosystems by despising nature, our mother earth, and contributing to animal abuse by the massacre of sentient beings for no reason OR eating products from the earth, from organic sectors (and ideally produced by the permaculture system) and respect animals ?
From now on, you will undoubtedly choose products with the lowest possible ecological impact on our environment ! We, humans, as individuals, have impacts on human, animal, plant and mineral lives. It's now time to discard our past beliefs, to enhance our individual and collective awareness towards this change of paradigm and mentality for our common future!
Pauline Rouillé (Rusty 😉)
- Tannery : working with large animal skins (calves, cows, bulls)
- Tawery : works with small animal skins (goats, lambs, crocodiles, alligators, snakes, etc.)
- REACH : European Union regulation which protects human health and environment against the risks associated with chemical substances.
Insert on so-called "sacred" cows in leather production : 🐄🐂
Although cows are the most sacred animals in India, that does not prevent them from always being killed for their skin in a cruel and corrupt trade.
Since it is illegal to kill young and healthy cows, in most states in India, some of them are poisoned or deliberately made lame in order to be declared "fit" for slaughter. (see more via Emma's article, The Truth About Leather - I recommend reading this article and in particular on the breeding of alligators for the French luxury brand Hermès).
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