I admit I am guilty of buying leather. There was a time when I didn’t know any better and just went with the flow and didn’t think twice about it. I haven’t bought leather since 1994 and I actually stopped buying leather, suede and all other fabrics made of animals (down, wool, silk, fur) before I stopped eating meat. For many activists, it’s usually the other way around, if they shun it at all. I have heard of some vegetarians that don’t see an issue wearing leather.
To me, leather is no different than fur. For most people, they are part of a major outcry when they hear about fur and the heinous suffering involved in the methods used for killing and the conditions in which the animals are raised in. Leather is no different, there is pain and suffering and the taking of a life to obtain things we see as luxurious but that was rightfully theirs in the first place and forcibly taken from them just because we feel we have the power to do so.
Leather is not just a by-product of the meat industry. There is a high demand for it, think of stores like Wilson’s Leather, Jennifer Convertibles, etc. Their entire base for business is nothing but leather items. Not to mention everything else leather is used for, jackets, shoes, handbags, clothing, accessories, furniture, luggage and whatever else. It is every where and openly accepted in our culture and society. I have also seen ‘hair-on’ leather on handbags at TJ Maxx, Marshalls and furniture at HomeGoods — disgusting and unnecessary, not to mention the insane price tag! Ridiculous.
A wide range of animals are raised and killed for leather, not just cows as one might tend to think. A variety of farm animals and wildlife are used including alligators, sharks, rays, kangaroos, ostrich to name some.
In addition to the cruelty one contributes to in buying leather, it is also destructive to the environment. The tanning process uses toxic chemicals to transform these dead pieces of skin into usable fabric material. Leather biodegrades slowly and takes about 25-40 years to decompose.
If you’re like me, I advocate to choose humane alternatives like PVC, Pleather, Polyurethane and other man-made materials however these are also destructive to the environment and take longer to biodegrade than leather at 500+ years to decompose.
So what’s one to do??? I mean, I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place!
For me, my goal in everything I do is to take myself out of the equation where animal cruelty and suffering was/is present. I am still working on a few things, but in this case I stopped wearing leather, so there has to be an alternative of some sort; doesn’t have to be those I mentioned above but I have to say these are my preference. Other humane options would be canvas, rubber, micro suede and cork.
When it comes to disposing of these items that will linger around for quite some time, great care should be taken to protect the environment as much as possible. Try to re-use the item as much as as you can and then if it still has life left consider donating it to a thrift store.