While most people associate leather with cows, the reality is that many different animals such as pigs, goats, sheep, crocodiles, snakes, emus, deer, fish, kangaroos, horses, cats and dogs are killed to make leather. Most of the leather comes from India and China where environmentally and healthy regulations are very poor. Once an animal’s skin is removed, it is preserved through a process called tanning which uses strong chemicals to prevent the skin from decomposing, this process is toxic to both the environment and the people. The more I research about this, the more I get encouraged to not support the leather industry but I found it very hard to find nice looking fake leather jacket, bag or shoes that are made from a sustainable material rather than a synthetic one. The good news is that there are some alternative fabrics to leather that will take over soon! (Hopefully) I have listed out my research for you to check it:
1. Cork leather
Is the most common leather alternative. Cork is obtained from the outer layer of the bark of the Cork Oak tree, a native tree found in Portugal. Its removal does not harm the tree and it will grow a new layer to replace the harvested cork making it a renewable and sustainable resource. In the past cork has commonly been used in the heels of shoes but now a very thin piece of cork also known as cork leather or cork fabric is also used as a natural and eco-friendly alternative to leather. It is hard wearing and durable.
2. Pineapple leather
This is a natural and sustainable textile made from the leaves of pineapples, which are the waste from the pineapple harvest. The leaves are the by-product of an existing industry, this means no additional land, water, fertilizers or pesticides need to be used to produce them. The raw material has a low environmental impact and is completely biodegradable.
3. Recycled rubber
The rubber that used in inner tubes of tires, has a leathery texture and density, making it the perfect material for bags. This material is 100% recycled, the varied texture of the rubber gives each item a distinctive character and, although reused, the material remains extremely hardwearing.
A brand that recycles rubber is the English brand Paguro. They make unisex bags and jewelry from this material.
4. Mushroom leather
This latest innovation leather comes from fungus spores that are grown into a close, woven pattern. It is processed in a manner similar to that of animal leathers. However, the tanning procedure is completely natural. It takes place without using toxic chemicals. Laboratory tests show that this kind of mushroom ‘skin’ is a hygienic material: it stops the proliferation of bacteria. It also has a strong absorbent capacity. Moisture is taken into the material and slowly released. These two factors are of use in a number of applications, such as shoe insoles, watch straps and so on. Muskin is also breathable. With its very soft suede or leather feel and surprising qualities, Muskin is a material that demands a closer look.
I couldn’t find a brand that uses this material, but I won´t be surprised to see it in a near future. Please let me know in the comments below if you do know of a brand that sells products from this revolutionary material.
Is there a material I am missing? Let me know in the comments below 🙂