Leather – Bound to the Past?
Shoes, bags, notebooks, wallets, belts … being made from genuine leather has historically been a selling point and mark of quality for these and many other everyday items.
High-quality leather goods are generally considered to be durable, reliable, and fit for purpose. They tend to carry higher price tags than their synthetic equivalents. They might even be thought of as portraying an element of sophistication, maturity, or gravitas (just as Ron Burgundy!)
The question I ask you is this: is the leather industry something you want to be buying into in today’s world? Have you put much thought into it?
From ‘Eww’ to ‘Ooh’
Aside from the ‘eww’ factor of essentially wearing something else’s skin, there are serious animal and human welfare issues to consider, not to mention the pollutants. There’s no getting around the fact that tanneries are pretty grim places to work at or live near.
The good news is that cruelty-free vegan leather alternatives are emerging at an unprecedented rate, so there are tonnes of opportunities for you to invest your precious purchasing power into something much more wholesome, sustainable, and considerate to people, animals, and the planet. We’ve come along way from leather or plastic. Check out some ideas below.
Becoming comfortable in your own skin comes from becoming conscious and contented in yourself, and that includes your choices and actions. Ditching the questionable ethics of traditional leather for something more forward-thinking is a great start!
Vegan Virtues and Values
Making informed choices and understanding where your products come from and the impact your purchases have on everyone and everything is part and parcel of being vegan, but you don’t have to be vegan to appreciate these things. It might mean you end up connecting to and valuing your stuff that little bit more too.
Exciting Vegan Leather Alternatives
Paper, bark, and cork are all becoming popular alternative materials.
Rugged yet washable paper bags that feel like leather are gaining popularity for their practical durability and design possibilities.
Naturally water-resistant and eco-friendly cork has been around for a while but is now cropping as a novel element of designs and being recognized and embraced by the fashion industry for the superstar material that it is.
Sustainable timber bark is another recent vegan addition to the catwalk. Strong and durable, but fine and flexible enough to be wearable, it is a real contender to leather.
PLANTS, FRUITS, SEEDS
Banana, orange peel, apple, grapes, coffee, pineapple, lotus, nettle, and corn are all making their way into new eco-friendly vegan leather product ranges.
Apple leather is particularly exciting because it puts to use apple pulp, a by-product of the cider-making process, which would otherwise go to waste.
Coffee leather just sounds so cool, doesn’t it? Recycled coffee beans and plants are being used to make a range of goods, including high-end trainers.
Wasted parts of the pineapple bush are being re-purposed to create a vegan fabric that feels and acts very much like leather.
The best thing about a lot of these options is the ethical credentials; not only are a lot of these largely or wholly biodegradable, but they also give farmers another source of income from their crops.
Quirky newcomers to the vegan leather market, mushrooms provide an innovative biodegradable and eco-friendly material that can even be purpose-grown for any given design! Mushroom leather is lightweight, flexible, and not only biodegradable but often compostable too. Sustainable, chemical-free production credentials make mushroom leather products a very promising prospect.
The funky edgy appearance of sewable slate stone only gets better with age; it looks like old worn grey leather so will surely be a hit with vintage fans.
Re-use and recycle! Why should worn tires be condemned to landfill when they can be upcycled into lovely leather-replacement products. Purchase with pride in the knowledge that you saved some tires from being trashed!
Kind, Not Behind
There are so many incredible alternatives to leather to choose from, and new ones are popping up all of the time, so keep an open mind and keep your stuff kind, not behind.