The Leather Industry: What You Need To Know

The Leather Industry: What You Need To Know

Dear friends,

I hope you and your loved ones are keeping happy and healthy.

As always, we start by welcoming our new subscribers...

To dear Amanda, Melinda, Jacqueline, Christine, Ciara, Hwei, CJ, Cash, Carol, Bill, S., Diane, Philippa, Risha, Veronica, Aisha, Minori, Ruth, Tara, Sandra, Sophie, Elizabeth, Lorena, Alison, Juliette, Susie, Robin, Marie, Ayana, Miss C., Danielle, Jennifer, Christina, Mara, Raffaella, James, Allu, Ann-Marie, Nicha, Mary, Agnes, Ken, Katharina, Jess, Jingyan, Akari, Francesca, Staiy, Rachel and Mari - thank you very much for joining us!

To bring you up to speed, this newsletter aims to offer up food for thought in the world of sustainability / sustainable fashion, and other cool things from from time to time.

For the newcomers who are hungry to learn about hot new plant-based leathers, head to our newsletter archive. In particular, the posts on Up and coming materials Part I and Part II are popular.

What a sweet pea


I recently came across an article - The Leather Industry's Greenwashing Debunked - by Emma Håkansson. I've been researching leather and leather alternatives myself since January 2017, but Emma's work taught me a thing or two. I therefore wanted to share her findings with you.

I encourage you to read her article for yourself (it's not taxing) but in the meantime I'll pique your interest with the 5 myths she debunked about the leather industry.

MYTH # 1: Leather is a by-product of the meat industry, so we're essentially "upcycling" something that would otherwise go to waste. Emma explains that hides are a valuable co-product, rather than a by-product...

MYTH # 2: Leather is biodegradable. Raw, unprocessed hides from animals are biodegradable, yes. But the whole point of leather is that it's been treated with chemicals precisely to prevent the skin from decomposing.

MYTH # 3: Leather is more eco-friendly to produce compared to bio-based alternatives. Nope: lots of studies clearly suggest otherwise. Plus animal agriculture is a huge contributor to deforestation in the Amazon.

MYTH # 4: "Regenerative" or "eco-friendly" leather is the solution. These methods are not scalable to produce enough for our current food and leather product consumption. If anything regenerative agriculture would require even more land that is currently used for animal agriculture.

MYTH # 5: Leather production can be ethical. No - the human toll is high. Slaughterhouse workers often suffer serious mental health issues and trauma (imagine being paid to kill animals day in, day out) and workers in leather tanneries are exposed to heavy chemicals. Their lifespans are short. Not to mention child labour...


Image from the Pulitzer Center whose caption reads: "A 10-year-old boy pulls a hide from pressing machine at a tannery in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Image by Justin Kenny. Bangladesh, 2016."

As a final word - it was heartening to read a journalist for the New York Times touch on the elephant in the room. Just last month, Ezra Klein wrote "We Will Look Back on This Age of Cruelty to Animals in Horror".

I think that says it all.


As I've mentioned in past newsletters, vegan / bio-based leather is far from perfect, but at least we know it's made with far less damage to humans, the environment and beautiful sentient creatures.

Wishing you all a happy and safe week ahead,

Jessica x

LUXTRA Founder | Bio-Based Leather Researcher | Proud B Corper

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