Leather and Ecology July 13 2014

Just how earth friendly is leather?

As our society becomes more focused on green living and being better to our earth, there’s been a greater concentration on whether fashion pieces, like furs and leathers are eco-friendly. But the question remains: is leather a true ecological choice?

Manufacturing leather does have an environmental impact and it lasts throughout the process of manufacturing the leather right up until the need for that leather item ends when we dispose of it and it becomes waste material. The measure of whether leather is eco-friendly or not has emerged from what eco-friendly restricted chemicals and by-products are used in the production of leather, like azo dyes, PCP, chrome VI, formaldehye and other materials. There is also the way that the leather is tanned that has a significant environmental impact (and quite frankly, none is much better than the other).

So is there a way for you, as the consumer, to ensure that you are purchasing environmentally preferred leather? The simple answer is yes, but it requires a bit more research and due diligence on your part.

Firstly, as we mentioned above, finding out exactly how the leather is manufactured is the most important elements. Then you must also conduct research in what inputs are used to manufacture the leather. This is where the environmental effects really come into play, as explained above because this process so often includes above average energy consumption, air emissions, waste management, water consumption, harmful environmental chemicals and other factors.

So to be sure that you are choosing the most ecological leather possible, you ideally want to look for these key elements:

Control of the leather manufacturing process (a clear effort was made on behalf of the manufacturer to make sure that the least amount of environmental damage was done during production)
That the manufacturer used as many ‘clean chemicals’ as possible in the process of producing the leather
That any restricted substances that were used were effectively managed and maintain to limit environmental damage
And an understanding of how long the product will last you (how long will the item be of service to you before you must dispose of it. The longer you use it, the more ecologically friendly it is)

If you are concerned about the environment but don’t want to give up your luxurious leather items, the list above can help you determine that you are buying the safest, most ecologically-responsible material possible. Don’t be afraid to ask your leather seller for more information on how the leather items you’re interested in purchasing are manufactured. They should be able to help guide you through the process of picking the perfect leather item that is also environmentally friendly.