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I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s a serious choice. Leather or vegan leather?
Vegan Leather: On one hand, polyurethane, a material used in most vegan leather products, is derived from crude oil. Crude oil is on its way out and there’s a new era of eco-friendly plastics being developed. There are new developments using renewable alternatives to fossil-based polymers. One example is biodegradable plastics (using sugar and carbon dioxide) that will be both safer and cleaner for the planet. (1)
Leather: On the other hand, cattle contributes 14-18% to greenhouse gas emissions globally. (4) Yes, I’m talking about cow farts or methane gas. Cow flatulence is a major source of methane and more potent than carbon dioxide. (4)
The United Nation’s latest report (2018) warns us that we have 12 years to limit a climate change catastrophe. OMG! Only 12 years? That’s frightening! We need a complete overhaul.
Did you know that eating one month’s worth of meat or one plane flight contributes more to climate change than using vegan leather your entire life? It’s true!
Did you also know that a single pound of hamburger requires 600 gallons of water compared to 5 gallons for a pound of potatoes? The billions of animals in the global meat production industry release enormous quantities of greenhouse gas emissions and can contaminate water supplies with their waste. To give a sense of the industry’s scale, 60% of the mammals left in the world are livestock. (2)
Leather is not just a byproduct of meat. In fact, more than 3 billion cattle and buffalo are slaughtered for their hides globally. The leather industry’s revenue is almost three times the amount of the meat industry for beef and veal. (3)
Still not convinced of the environmental impacts of leather? Leathermakers claim their products are “biodegradable” and “eco-friendly”, but it’s far from the truth. The tanning process stops the leather from biodegrading and dangerous chemicals such as formaldehyde, acids, chromium, cyanide, sulfur and more than 30 other toxic chemicals are used to treat leather in tanneries. The environmental and health effects of tanneries are catastrophic.
There’s no perfect solution, yet. If we care, we must choose the lesser of two evils and the least amount of impact on our planet’s resources. Each of us has to do something different if we want to see a change. Let’s not forget that there’s power in numbers and as consumers, we have power in every decision we make.
Photographer – Gem & Lauris RK
- There’s eco-friendly, biodegradable plastics being developed.
- Cattle are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
- Leather is not just a byproduct of meat.
- Not eating meat, but continuing to purchase leather would still increase animal suffering and environmental harm.
- Leather tanneries are extremely toxic to the environment.
- More than 3 billion cattle and buffalo are slaughtered for their hides globally. 3
Compassionate and sustainable products are a much-needed, growing trend. The question is how much can we reduce our climate change impact and the answer is a lot.
Choose vegan leather if you want to help reduce animal suffering
and greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists determined that going vegan is the best way to help the planet. (5)
© 2018 Marie Roviello | All Rights Reserved. This article was published with joint rights by FoeLeather.com.
Marie Roviello is the founder of MarieRoviello.com, a modern, non-toxic and vegan interior-design firm based in Los Angeles, CA and Scottsdale, AZ.
- 1) Petro-Industry News, July 12, 2017
- 2) Americans Need to Eat 90% Less Meat for Planet to Survive, Report Says, Joe McCarthy, Globalcitizen.org, Oct. 11, 2018
- 3) International Council of Tanners 2015 Statistics & Sources of Information
- 4) The NY Times, The Meat Question by the Numbers, Jan. 25, 2018
- 5) These Sheep are being Bred to Burp and Fart Less - To Save The Planet, Joe McCarthy, Globalcitizen.org, June 11, 2018
*The views expressed are not necessarily those of FoeLeather.com (FL) or its parent company Digital Strategy, LLC (DS). FL and DS make no guarantees as to the veracity of the claims or opinions expressed in this article.