Veganism is one of the fastest-growing lifestyle trends today. As a result, an increasing number of products that don’t use animal products are on the rise. This trend has also affected the fashion industry with some of the top brands like Burberry, Gucci, and Armani banning the use of real fur in their collections.
Leather, another animal product widely used in the fashion industry, has also found an ethical alternative – vegan leather. Vegan leather is also known as artificial or synthetic leather. Thankfully, the world has embraced vegan leather, and according to a report by the consulting group Grand View Research, the vegan leather market is estimated to be worth $85 billion by 2025!
Vegan leather, while an oxymoron, is exactly what it sounds – an ethical, cruelty-free, and sustainable alternative to traditional leather. Most synthetic leather is made using two types of plastics called polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride. Thus, this variant of faux leather is also called “pleather” or plastic leather.
With a vested interest in catering to vegan customers and reducing the harmful effects of using animal products, vegan leather can also be made using sustainable materials like pineapple leaves (piñatex), cork, apple peels, or other fruit waste.
Did you know that the livestock required to produce meat, dairy, and leather takes up vast areas of the world’s farmlands? Animal husbandry is responsible for up to 18% of the total greenhouse gas emissions according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN. What’s more, the giant vats of hazardous chemicals required to tan leather are also dumped into rives.
Also, making leather from animal skin requires a large amount of energy and a range of toxic chemicals like mineral salts, coal-tar derivatives, oils, dyes, and formaldehyde, among others. Tanneries also produce waste that contains water-fouling salt, sulphides, lime sludge, acids, and other pollutants.
Furthermore, over a billion cows, goats, pigs, alligators, ostriches, and many other animals are slaughtered for their skins every year. Vegan leather, on the other hand, not only makes you look good but also makes you feel good as it is cruelty-free and does not involve any animal slaughter.
As reported several times by Green Matters, experts agree that eliminating or cutting down on your consumption of animal products (including leather and hides) is the best thing you can do to lower the environmental impact on the planet. In fact, adopting a vegan lifestyle can reduce not just greenhouse gasses but also global acidification, land and water use, and eutrophication.