Written by Noa Ben-Moshe, Style with a Smile.
The fashion industry is responsible for the horrible abuse and slaughter of billions of animals every year. Cows, cats, dogs, pigs, sheep, kangaroos, rabbits, goats, foxes, raccoons, snakes, seals, bears and many more. These are animals that people also wear as clothing everyday.
Living facts: The cruelty behind the leather industry
+ Suffering is a major issue that the animals used in the fashion industry face. Throughout most of their lives, they are abused and neglected. Their last days pass-by in crowded trucks and narrow passages in which they’re rushed to be hanged and slaughtered. They watch their companions go through their death. Through this process they cannot run away, even if they tried to.
+ Most leather comes from countries where animal welfare laws are either non-existent or not enforced, such as India and China.
+ Leather is often mislabelled – you could be wearing dog leather and not even know it.
+ Have you ever wondered what the difference between leather and fur is? While fur is a very debatable material, leather is basically everywhere and most people wear it. But really, what’s the difference? For the animals involved, leather production is just as painful and violent as the fur trade.
+ Leather is linked to the meat and dairy industry, but in addition to that, most leather comes from animals that were raised and killed not to be eaten, but exclusively for their skin.
Harmful impact on people and the environment.
It’s polluting & dangerous
+ During the making of leather, factories use toxic chemicals. Most leather produced around the world is chrome-tanned, which is highly toxic and can even cause cancer.
+ Leather kills people too. In Bangladesh, which exports leather products to the U.S and to many other countries in the world, workers, including many children, are exposed to chemicals. Many of them have leukemia or some sort of toxic reaction. Most of them aren’t expected to live beyond the age of 50.
+ Raising animals for leather creates waste and pollution. So many trees are cut down in order to create space for factory farms and food. Vegan fashion is way more environmentally friendly. The production of animal-derived materials doesn’t only hurt those poor animals but also the planet. There is water waste, usage of toxic chemicals, most of which are terrible for the environment and for people.
What is Vegan Leather? The Vegan Leather Alternatives
Luckily, there are so many amazing vegan alternatives to leather available, and the number of options is growing. Let me introduce you to three of them
The awesome vegan leather alternatives used by Matt & Nat
Polyurethane is a plastic material that is very similar to leather and is used a lot in the fashion industry. Many brands use this material to make bags, shoes, and accessories. PU is less harmful to the environment than its well-known “competitor”, PVC. Matt and Nat uses this material in most of their bags.
This vegan, sustainable (and beautiful) fabric is made of the shell of the Oak tree. Trees aren’t harmed in the peeling process. Cork is classified as one of the most durable organic materials- it’s water & fireproof, elastic and long-lasting and it’s actually eight times stronger than leather. Matt and Nat offer a full cork collection that you can find right here. To read more about cork, read my post “Cork Leather: A Vegan, Eco-friendly Leather Alternative”
This material is usually made from recycled rubber taken from used car and bike tires. The unique look of rubber (leathery texture), its durability and versatility, bring more designers to use this material in the making of bags, belts, wallets, soles of shoes, and now even apparel.
For more information about vegan fashion, visit my blog: stylewithasmile.co
Article and Pictures by Noa Ben-Moshe, vegan fashion blogger at “Style with a Smile”.