It’s appalling how an industry that exudes beauty and aesthetics can be the second biggest polluter in the world. The fashion industry, particularly leather tanning, is responsible for many pollutants that are harming the environment. Toxic dyes, freshwater usage, and air pollution are just a few examples.
As consumers, it is our duty to be mindful of our fashion choices. The garments and accessories we wear can have a huge impact on the environment. One way of reducing our carbon footprint is by using vegan leather.
Let’s take a look at what it is and why it’s better for the earth.
What is Vegan Leather and How It’s Made
Also known as faux leather, vegan leather looks and feels just like traditional leather. However, it’s not made of animal skin; vegan leather can be made of plastic or plant materials. It’s called ‘vegan’ because it doesn’t use animal by-products in its creation.
Vegan leather can be made of these materials:
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) leather is made by combining the chemical polyvinyl chloride with stabilizers. It is also mixed with plasticizers to soften it, then added with lubricants to make it more flexible. Then, the PVC finish is bonded to a base material, which can either be polyester, rayon, or cotton.
PVC is a popularly used material because it’s cheap, flexible, and accessible. However, its manufacturing process uses fossil fuels, which are non-renewable resources. It’s also non-biodegradable and doesn’t look premium.
Polyurethane (PU) leather is made by laminating polyurethane (plastic) to a base material. Base materials for PU leather usually include polyester, nylon, rayon, or cotton. To mimic the look and texture of genuine leather, an artificial grain is run through the PU fabric.
PU can be easily mass-produced because the materials are cheap. But it doesn’t mean that it’s the most sustainable option since it also uses up chemicals and fossil fuels.
Piñatex is a natural, non-woven material that is made from pineapple leaf fibers. It is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional leather since it is manufactured in a cleaner way. Moreover, it’s soft, tear-resistant, versatile, breathable, and lightweight.
Palmleather is a leather alternative made from the leaves of Areca palm. In its raw form, Areca leaves are brittle and dry, which made them useless before. A Dutch designer developed a process that softens the leaves and gives it a leather-like feel.
As you can see, all types of vegan leather have one thing in common: they don’t use animal skins. But you might ask, “So what if I don’t use animal-made leather? What’s in it for me?”
Benefits of Using Vegan Leather
The major benefit that you can get from using vegan leather is that its cruelty-free. This means that no animals are harmed in the production of your garment, accessory, or furniture. Every year, more than a billion animals are slaughtered for their skins and hides.
By buying vegan leather, you are boycotting this cruel practice. Living creatures don’t need to die just for you to have that bag, shoes, or jacket.
Genuine leather goes through several processes before it can become wearable. Thus, it demands a steeper price. On the other hand, vegan leather is cheaper to manufacture than genuine leather, so they can be bought at a lower price.
There’s no doubt that genuine leather is a tough and durable material. However, its alternatives are just as sturdy as well. With proper care and storage, vegan leather can last as long as genuine leather. In fact, Piñatex is an extremely sturdy leather alternative because it’s made of plant fibers.
Since vegan leather can be made of various materials, it also has a wider aesthetic scope than genuine leather. Modern innovations allow designers to fully customize the texture and color of vegan leather. As a result, it’s much more beautiful and versatile.
Perhaps the biggest benefit that you can get from using vegan leather is reducing your carbon footprint. Leather tanning is a very resource-intensive process; it’s one of the major contributors to global warming, deforestation, and water pollution.
When you buy vegan leather, you’re condemning the toxic and cruel process of leathermaking. Even a small step can make a huge difference if everybody does it.
How You Can Wear Vegan Leather
Vegan leather isn’t hard to find, so you’ll easily be able to make the switch. Here are a few ideas on how you can incorporate vegan leather into your wardrobe.
Trade your watch straps for an environmentally friendly option. You can purchase vegan leather straps from shops that offer watch parts for sale. You can also buy from vegan brands that sell watches with plant-based vegan leather straps.
Swap your wallet for a better alternative. Many brands are now selling walters and purses that are made of plant-based vegan leather. You can’t even tell the difference because they have comparable quality. Best of all, vegan wallets don’t come in boring, flat colors.
Say goodbye to cowhide and choose plant-based vegan leather instead. There are many vegan bags that are made of plant leaves, peelings, and skin. Additionally, vegan leather is more flexible, so designers can create them to become trendier bags.
Keeping your bottoms in place doesn’t have to use any animal skin at all. Cinch your waist with a belt made of vegan leather. They are recyclable, biodegradable, softer, and more lightweight.
Leathermaking is one of the top polluters of our environment. If you want to make wiser and more sustainable fashion choices, you can look for better alternatives to animal skin. This article should walk you through the different types of vegan leather, why you should wear it, and how you can incorporate it with your fashion choices.