Nowadays, companies are racing to find alternatives to products that have a negative impact on our planet. Take Beyond Meat’s completely plant-based burger, for instance, or the recent protest against plastic straws. A similar innovation is trending in fashion: vegan leather. Also known as faux leather, this hypothetical hide has been on the market for many years.
Billions of animals each year are slaughtered for their skin, but vegan leather can substantially reduce this number. Vegan leather is often made from polyurethane, a sustainable polymer sourced from apple peels, corks, compostable fruit remains, and recycled plastic. In addition, cowhide needs to be treated with chemicals such as formaldehyde, sulfides, and acids to make into store safe products. Tesla, BMW, and Lexus are among the many companies to realize leather product’s negative effect to the environment and have begun offering vegan leather seating in their cars as a part of their environmental friendly initiatives.
Although vegan leather is a more sustainable option, it does have some economic downsides. The rise of faux leather means a decline in the genuine leather industry. This industry supplies jobs to thousands of people across the globe, and its decline may lead to increased unemployment rates worldwide. Many say that these jobs can be converted to jobs in the vegan leather industry, but the latter requires much less manpower. The genuine leather industry requires more human labor to slaughter and skin the animals, but in vegan leather this is not a problem. As students and adults figure, the choice is up to us whether to support job retention or sustainability efforts.
For nature enthusiasts in our progressive era, vegan fashion options add another dimension of environmental conscientiousness. As global citizens, we must see the benefits of sourcing leather sustainably. These industries range from developing windmill blades to finding sustainable solutions to everyday necessities. Vegan leather is just one way we can benefit both humankind and the environment. Next time you go shopping, look around; a vegan leather product may be lurking behind you!