5 Unsettling Truths About the Leather Industry

Veganism and vegetarianism are on the rise in the US with 10% of the population adhering to one of these diets. We now know that avoiding animal products is one of the best ways to reduce our carbon footprint. But, how often do you buy leather products? Leather is a hardwearing material that is used for bags, shoes, belts, and furniture. But, do you know the unsettling truths about the leather industry? After reading this article, you may reevaluate whether you really do need those leather shoes or whether an alternative material is a better choice.

1. Leather Is Not a Byproduct

Unfortunately, if you were under the impression that leather is a byproduct of the meat industry, the unsettling truth is that it is not. Even though people are coming to realize how cruel it is to kill an animal for its fur, we are still using leather in everything from car seats to sports equipment. Cows are used for their leather but pigs, sheep, and goats also lose their lives for our love of leather too. Cows that no longer produce enough milk for the dairy industry are slaughtered. But, new-born veal and unborn calves are the most expensive leathers you can buy. The unsettling truth is that animals are being born and raised in terrible conditions purely for their skins. In Europe, the leather industry generates 48 billion Euro (over 50 million US dollars).

2. Animals Are Being Skinned Alive

Yes, you read that right. Many people who skin animals do not stun them properly and, as a result, they are skinned while they are still alive. Furthermore, cows are regularly killed and skinned in front of each other. In some countries, this is not even accidental and animals are skinned alive to keep the material "supple". This barbaric act is regularly performed on lizards and snakes. Animals face years of abuse before their lives are ended for humans to use as handbags and watch straps. Currently, over 290 million cows are slaughtered every single year so people can wear the latest fashion trend. How many of these animals are awake while being skinned?

3. Animals and the Environment Suffer

The environmental impact of the leather industry is three-fold. Firstly, the animals that are raised for their leather need to be fed. As a result, huge swathes of the countryside are used to feed the animals. The waste of water and resources here is phenomenal. Secondly, the animal's skin needs to be treated in order to dry it out and to remove hair or fur. These chemicals are regularly not properly disposed and environmental laws are regularly broken. Finally, the leather is then transported across the world which results in high levels of energy and causes air pollution. In fact, it is the transport industry that accounts for over 33% of the climate change emissions. Leather is seen as a natural material to wear. Actually, the chemicals such as formaldehyde are far from natural.

4. People Also Suffer in the Leather Industry

If you're not concerned about animal welfare, think about the people involved in this industry. Often, people do not receive the proper safety equipment for using dangerous chemicals, and the results are burns on their hands and are at a higher risk of developing cancer. In Bangladesh tanneries, you'll find people working barefoot, wading through poisons that are used to tan leather hides. Around 90% of the workers in the industry die before they reach their 50th birthday. Furthermore, these chemicals are washed away into the local area, adversely affecting not only local wildlife but also people living nearby. Environmental laws are being broken throughout the world to provide cheap leather for the masses. Are your shoes worth an innocent animal or a human life?

5. There Are Plenty of Cruelty-Free Leather Alternatives

Nowadays, there is simply no reason to buy leather. There are hundreds of brilliant alternative materials that are better choices if you care about animals and the planet. For example, anything that has been bought from a second-hand store is great for the planet. You are avoiding fast fashion and reducing your impact on our planet. Secondly, hemp is a brilliant material which can be used to make a huge range of products. It is stronger than cotton and doesn't require lots of pesticides to grow. Also consider checking out soy silk, linen, recycled or natural rubber, microfiber, and even plastic bottles! However, the best way to reduce your impact on the planet is to wear what you already own. If you already have a pair of leather boots, wear them until they fall apart and then take them to get a cobbler to get them fixed.

There is an obsession with fast fashion throughout the world that will only be stopped if we all reduce our consumption!

The Leather Industry is Unsettling

It can't be denied that once you know the truth about the leather industry, you'll feel very unsettled. The effects it's having on the planet, the people working in the industry, and, of course, the animals are atrocious. One of the best ways you can make a difference is by avoiding leather. Furthermore, speak up whenever you can and why not also raise money for a charity that is combating the negative effects of the leather industry?
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