How environmental friendy is leather?

The clothing and fashion industry commonly come under a lot of scrutiny and leather production is an area that has had its fair share of controversy over the years. One particular debate that rages on is about whether genuine leather should be outlawed and replaced with completely synthetic options or not.

Like many things in life, it is a lot more complicated than one side is right and the other side is wrong. In the following post, we are going to discuss the ecological impact of leather, both synthetic and genuine, to try and formulate an idea of which is best.

Genuine Leather

Due to the increasing strains demand for meat is causing on a global scale, there will likely be something of a reduction in the consumption of animal meat. However, it is a little far-fetched to imagine that it will simply disappear to nothing.

If there is some kind of meat industry, it makes sense and could be seen as wasteful if there was no leather industry. Leather is a by-product, after all, of meat. It would be an ecological disaster if all that happened to a cow, and animal hide was that it needed up in landfills.

That doesn’t mean changes don’t need to happen. The worldwide meat industry is not ethical or sustainable. Not as a whole, anyway. It is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and it's fair to say that animals are, across the board, not looked after properly.

One of the main problems with leather is that it needs to be tanned. The most commonly used method is called chrome tanning and involves the hide being placed into a bath full of chromium salt, a highly toxic substance that when it is disposed of causes serious damage to aquatic ecosystems and can have an adverse effect on human health too.

If you’re now thinking about genuine leather being bad, you need to consider some of its benefits. It is longer lasting, more durable and biodegradable, things that can’t be said of many vegan options.

Vegan Leather

Obviously, one of the driving factors behind vegan leather such as materials like PU leather and other options being so popular is that it prevents what many consider the unnecessary death of animals and prevents them being kept in diabolical conditions. The problem is that while it's understandable if you do not like the idea of animals being harmed for food or clothing, there are serious environmental implications to factor in too.

As most vegan leather is made from petroleum-based plastics, these cause the same kind of problems to the environment as other synthetic, man-made materials. It is not biodegradable, and the fibres generated from synthetic materials like it are the biggest contributors to the major environmental issue of microplastic pollution. That’s even without factoring in the over 70 million barrels of oil that are used in the production of polyester each year.

That’s not to say there are no alternatives to both, it’s just at this moment in time that vegan leather free from plastic is not widely available yet.
Obviously, it is down to the individual to decide, but at Baron Bretelle, we offer genuine leather suspenders that are stylish, long-lasting and ultimately, more eco-friendly than alternatives.

How environmental friendy is leather?