I’ve heard a lot of justifications or misconceptions about leather since starting Amare by Heidi. The two most common are that leather is a by-product of the meat and dairy industry, which is only somewhat true, and that people only buy leather they know is a by-product of the meat and dairy industry, which is IMPOSSIBLE to know!
This week I want to share some facts about leather and why it’s important for me to bring a luxury, vegan shoe brand to you. I promise I’ve omitted the graphic details and pictures, so if you are sensitive to animal abuse, nothing gory to follow. However, if you are sensitive to animal abuse you should probably ask yourself why you support the meat, dairy and leather industry.
1. Every year the global leather industry slaughters more than a billion animals
The leather industry alone kills over a billion animals a year. Let that sit with you a second. 1 Billion Animals/Year are killed for our handbags, wallets, shoes, belts, etc. That is a staggering and devastating statistic.
2. Leather is simply a by-product of the meat/dairy industry.
This is partly true, but mainly a huge misconception. Leather is better classified as a co-product of the meat industry. Leather is the most valuable “product” of the animal, so while it is true that an animal’s meat is often sold as well, their skin represents a significant portion of the income made on the sale of the animal’s body parts.
At 10 percent of the total value of the cow, the skin is the most profitable, and economically important part of the cow making their skin critical to the overall success of the industry. Buying leather products contributes to the overall commercial viability, and animal abuse, of the industry.
Abstaining from leather is challenging because there aren’t a lot of vegan alternatives available, yet. However, companies like Reebok, Adidas, Stella McCartney, and Chelsea28 make stylish and vegan shoe and accessories.
3. Human beings suffer also
When I set out to create a vegan shoe brand I thought I was doing it solely for the animals. What I’ve learned since is that fashion is a cruel, corrupt and neglectful industry as a whole, and I think international leather tanneries might be the worst offenders. Leather has to be treated and tanned to prevent decomposing. Many of these toxic chemical are carcinogens. Evidence has shown that workers in said tanneries suffer from skin diseases and respiratory illness caused by exposure to tanning chemicals.
And worse, these diseases are not isolated to tannery workers alone. Because the chemicals make their way into waterways, residents who live near the tanneries were much more likely to contract lukemia, sinus and lung cancers, and other serious illnesses.
4. And the Environment too
The same tanning chemicals making workers terribly sick, i.e. formaldehyde, cyanide, lead and chromium, are also killing our beautiful Earth. These chemicals have been proven to cause extreme pollution to air, soil and water, resulting in devastating effects to local human and animal populations.
5. You love your pets, right?
Here’s the most disturbing fact that most people don’t know. I was shocked when I learned this…. if you are wearing leather, even if the product is said to be “made in the USA,” most likely some, if not all, of the actual leather was sourced from China and/or India. Why does this matter?
There are fewer laws against animal cruelty and exploitation in these countries than any other. How they treat animals is by far the worst I’ve seen, but more so, they get skin from a variety of animals, including, dogs and cats. Each year, over 2 Million dogs and cats are skinned in China alone. That’s right, our very own beloved furry companions are subjected to the same devastating fate for the sake of leather goods. There is NO WAY to tell where your leather was sourced or what animal(s) make up that leather product.
So, what can you do? I know we can’t reject all leather goods, yet. We can, however, buy non-leather alternatives when possible creating a higher demand for these products. Next week I will share my top 5 favorite cruelty free brands. You’ll be both shocked and excited to see my picks. Afraid you might miss the post, subscribe and be in the know!
- Animals Australia Org: https://www.animalsaustralia.org/issues/truth-about-leather.php
- PETA: Peta.org
- O Ecotiles: https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/tag/international-agency-for-research-on-cancer/#_ftn13