I have long been contemplating this article. As a fashion designer I had to face the ethical downside of my job pretty early on in my studies. The fashion industry is no friend of the environment. Some of the most serious offenses include harmful pesticides, cruelty to animals, live skinning for fur and the list goes on. Here, I would like to tell you a little more about the leather industry that, perhaps you never knew.
The leather industry
“In the United States alone, many of the millions of cows and other animals who are killed for their skin endure the horrors of factory farming. This include extreme crowding and deprivation as well as castration, branding, tail-docking, and dehorning. All without painkillers. At slaughterhouses, animals routinely have their throats cut and some are even skinned and dismembered while they are still conscious.”
This video is a spot on introduction to the topic. Please note that it includes images that might be hard on some viewers.
“Buying leather directly contributes to factory farms and slaughterhouses. This is because skin is the most economically important co-product of the meat industry. Perhaps many of you though that leather is the byproduct of the meat industry. In fact, it is the other way around. Leather is also no friend of the environment, as it shares responsibility for all the environmental destruction caused by the meat industry as well as the pollution caused by the toxins used in tanning.”
How your needs affect the system
With every pair of leather shoes that you buy, you sentence an animal to a lifetime of suffering. No to mention buying leather collars and leads for your pet. Just put it this way, you subject an animal to torture so another animal can wear its skin. Can you really justify this? Instead, you can choose from hundreds of styles of non-leather shoes, clothing, belts, bags, and wallets.
Here is PETA’s cruelty-free clothing guide for great tips on where to find fashionable yet compassionate clothing. We know of a number great projects that aim to be environmentally conscious and cruelty free. One great example is the UK based company, Ananas Anam Ltd. They produce and sell Pinatex®, which is an innovative natural textile made from pineapple leaf fibre. Pinatex®, is a natural, sustainably sourced cruelty-free material. And if you are still unsure, here is a list of what to avoid and their substitutes.
Materials to avoid: fur, leather, shearling, sheepskin, swede, down, wool, angora, cashmere, mohair, silk and fleece
Substitutes: cotton, nylon, bamboo, polyester (especially recycled), man-made materials, faux leather, vegan leather, polar fleece
I hope you found this article helpful and insightful. I would love to start a conversation about the topic and how to be more mindful as consumers. So if you have and comments, questions or thoughts please, leave them below.
Sources: PETA, YouTube