Best Eco-Friendly Vegan Leather Alternatives
Thanks to social networking websites, people are more aware of the challenges and obstacles around them.
As a result, people's lifestyle has changed a lot as well. One of the biggest changes has happened in fashion. A growing number of people have stopped wearing animal-related clothes.
They do this because they know that animals suffer and get killed very badly. It is not justifiable to kill them just because we need their skins for our clothes. In many countries, the government is enforcing laws that stop killing and suffering animals for the fashion industry.
Where does the vegan lifestyle come from? What are the benefits of not wearing animal-derived clothes? If you want to find the answer to these questions, buckle up because I will review what has happened in the fashion industry since people have started not wearing clothes made from animal skin.
One of the problems that people are still experiencing is that they have no idea whether they can find alternatives for animal-related materials for the fashion industry. For example, they might say we can never find a good alternative for animal silk. Or, they might say if we could find alternatives, they wouldn’t have durability.
Also, people are probably saying that alternatives are much more expensive than the normal ones. Therefore, they never consider the fact that there might be professional materials that don’t come from animals.
Wearing clothes that come from sources other than animals is perfect not only for animals who can enjoy their lives but also for humans too. When you don’t have to kill animals to produce clothes, you will feel better about yourself. Not only that, not wearing normal clothes is great for the environment and nature too because the current fashion industry is extremely dangerous for animals and plants in the natural world.
In particular, we want to talk about one of the most popular materials. It is called leather. It is a product from many different animals. Every year, we need a billion kilos of animal skins for the fashion industry, and as a result, millions of animals must be killed to keep the balance.
What do you think? Do you think that we have alternatives for animal leather too? Of course, we have. I will talk about all these alternatives too. So, now, let's get started. Here, I am going to briefly define leather and explain where it comes from, and then I will speak about its alternatives. Let's get started.
What Is Leather?
Let's check out the definition of leather from the Britannica dictionary. Leather is made from animal skins and hides. At first, skins and hides get treated with chemicals. After this step, they will be used in many different clothing items such as jackets, coats, pants, skirts, footwear, handbags, furniture, tools, and sports equipment.
What is the difference between animal hides and skin? We use hide for larger animals' skin, and we call them cowhide or horsehide. What about skin? It refers to smaller animals such as calfskin or kidskin. Because skin and hide are natural entities, they will undergo the process of decaying and then become completely useless.
That's why we need to conduct the preservation process on the skin and hide before they become useless. The treatment of skin and hide is called tanning. In tanning, you have to use different chemicals to make skin stable. Tannins, mineral salt, fish, and animal oils are some tanning agents used in the fashion industry.
What Are Animal Skins Used To Make Leather?
Cattle such as calves, oxen, sheep, lambs, and goats are the most common animals slaughtered for their skin. The next group includes horses, mules, buffalo, pigs, and hogs. Even aquatic animals such as seals, walrus, whales, and alligators are used in the leather industry. This is very bad because these are wild animals and must not be killed on this massive scale. Even ostriches, lizards, eels, fish, and kangaroos are used in this cruel industry.
Why Should We Stop Using Leather From Animals?
This is a very important question! What do you think? Why are all experts in the fashion industry warning about using animal leather? Not just experts in the fashion industry, but environmentalists are also worried a lot about this. And, it is not just about animal rights. It is something deeper. Of course, animals can have a normal life when you don’t wear clothes from animal skins. However, the influence of the fashion industry is on a much larger scale. Here, I will mention three reasons why we shouldn’t use animal leather.
The More Animal Leather, The More Devastation
To produce leather from animals, you have to raise them on the farm. So, you have to feed them every day. Also, you should provide them with thousands of litres of water. So, it means that you have to destroy jungles and forests and create more agricultural lands. Why? To produce more food for those animals. In fact, it is directly influential in global warming because you are consuming too much energy, resources, and water to feel them.
Wearing Animal Leather Is Ethically Wrong
This is another concern related to wearing normal leather. Studies have shown that many animals can feel misery and misfortune in their lives. It means that if you separate them from their parents or torture them, they will understand and get depressed.
Also, it has been shown that they need to experience new things in different periods of their lives. They have to be able to run, play, and enjoy the sun. Whereas in reality, they are being kept just like prisoners in very small spaces and then get killed horrifyingly. This has to be stopped.
The More Natural Leather, The More Pollution
The fashion industry is one of the main agents of polluting the planet earth, including soil and water. You might not believe it, but the chemicals used in the process of tanning are very dangerous for many different species of animals and plants. And, these chemicals are leached away from companies and discharged into freshwater ecosystems or soil. Other animals feel on them and get infected in a very bad way.
You might believe all these things and know that leather from animals must not be used because of all the problems it is producing for humanity. However, you might say that there is no alternative available right now in the market. is it true? No, it is a completely wrong idea to think we don’t have any alternative for natural leather.
In fact, now, we have lots of resources that can be used for producing leather. In fact, this is exactly what vegan leather production means. It means that we can produce leather from plants and synthetic sources. So, let's see what vegan leather means and where it comes from.
What Is Vegan Leather?
It is very simple to understand. Vegan leather is a kind of leather that is produced from non-animal sources. For example, we know that certain types of plants can be used to produce leather. Or, some synthetic materials can replace natural leather.
Vegan leather is, first of all, good for animals because they don’t need to get killed. Also, it is better for the environment because you don’t need to overuse natural resources, including food, land, and water. Finally, it is better for humans as well. Now, let's see what these resources are.
Where Does Vegan Leather Come From?
There are several resources that you can use for making vegan leather. There are two ways to make vegan leather. You can use plant-based materials or synthetic materials. We are going to talk about them now.
At first, we want to focus on the leather coming from plant-based materials.
- Piñatex® is made from pineapple leaf fibres.
- Ananas Anam and Vogue are two of the most popular companies producing this material and using it for their products.
- Piñatex® is a great source because of several reasons. First of all, it is natural and sustainable. You can find a large amount of it in pineapple plantations. Also, another good thing about Pinatex is that it helps local communities increase their benefits. Before using pineapple leaf fibres in the vegan leather industry, nobody used to use them, and they were considered as waste.
Waxed Canvas And (Organic) Cotton
Cotton is usually grown with the use of pesticides and many other dangerous chemicals. Organic cotton, on the other hand, is free from all those bad chemicals. Another interesting quality of organic cotton is that it is waterproof. Also, you can wash it much easier than other leather types. It means that you don’t need to use too much detergent to clean it.
Probably, you don’t think we can produce leather from the leaves. In fact, it was not possible until a few years ago. Now, you can apply a very special polymer to turn leaves into sheets. In the process, you don’t have to use toxic chemicals too.
- Just like many other vegan types of leather, it is sturdy and waterproof.
- Recently, cork has been one of the most popular trends in the fashion industry.
- What about other features? First of all, it is resistant to water and recyclable too.
- Its durability is long too. So, when you buy it, you can be sure that you don’t need to buy any new clothes for many years.
- Where does cork come from? It is coming from cork oak trees. The good thing about cork is that it is pretty much renewable. You can plant cork trees and continuously harvest the cork.
- Recycled rubber is used in the production of accessories such as wallets, belts, gloves, etc. why? one of the reasons is that it is very durable so that you can use them without being worried about buying again. You can use them for years.
- Let me tell you something even better. you can have synthetic rubber now. It means that producing rubber is even easier. Rubber trees don’t need to be cut down in this way.
Have you even head of mushroom? Probably, you have heard about it as an amazing source of food, haven’t you? however, I am here to tell you it can be a great source of leather too. The good thing about mushroom is that it grows very fast and produces a huge volume of biomass. MuSkin is biodegradable and eco-friendly.
Leather From Coconut And Apple
Coconut has lots of waste. It looks very similar to real leather, and it is very strong too. And, you don’t need to throw it away when you don’t like to wear clothes coming from this leather. In fact, because it is coming from wastewater and natural fibers, you can pop it into the compost. Another material is apples. You can use all those discarded skin and cores to make leather. Leather coming from apples has a paper-like feel. This feature is very good because it lets you add different backings, coatings, and effects depending on whatever you prefer.
I am sure you couldn’t guess that tea can be a source of leather. As you can imagine, it is coming from fermented green tea. The idea of using food waste which is fermented green tea, was developed by scientists. In fact, tea leather is a combination of tea waste material with a hemp-based lining on the inside. It is eco-friendly and durable as much as real leather.
Believe it or not, soybean can be a great source for producing vegan leather. The first idea of using soybean as a big source of vegan leather was developed in Indonesia. If soybean had been used for vegan leather production, liquid waste from soybean production would have polluted Indonesian waters. It is perfect for making shoes and bags, thanks to its high durability.
This is another amazing source that makes you able to stop killing animals for their skins. In fact, ZOA is a company that is trying to fabricate the biological structure. The company tries to mimic the structure of real leather in its products with no animal products or toxic chemicals.
Cartina-Recycled Paper Leather
Did you know that Cartina which is a kind of vegan leather that comes from recycled paper? The texture of this vegan leather is very soft, and the products made from this vegan leather are durable. This vegan leather is mainly used for shoes, bags, and many different clothes.
Many experts say that Ligneah is one of the eco-friendliest vegan leather materials in the world. This vegan leather usually naturally comes from wood. Softness, flexibility, and similarity to leather texture are some of the best qualities of Ligne. You might think that this vegan leather is not eco-friendly because you have to cut trees. However, you are wrong. There is a company called Tree-Nation which is responsible for creating forests for harvesting wood. So, all jungles and forests remain intact.
Can you believe it? Oranges can be used for producing vegan leather. In fact, pineapple is not the only fruit used for the production of vegan leather. Oranges can be used too. However, oranges are not as famous and popular as pineapple. You can use the waste of the fruit after the production of orange juice for producing vegan leather. Orange Fiber is one of the companies that produce vegan leather from by-products of orange production.
This type of leather comes from thin slices of slate stone. It feels like paper and leather at the same time. Right now, companies and fashion experts are thinking about using cool stone more than PU and PVC because it is an eco-friendlier choice. Thanks to its hardness, it is very famous in the accessories world.
Treebark Leather, malai, Cactus Leather, Wine Leather, Kombucha Leather, Corn Leather, and Bananatex® are some other great plant-based sources that can be used for vegan leather production. So, why not using them and stop cruelty towards animals?
beLEAF sustainable tanning solution
One of the processes which are very important for the production of leather is tanning. During this step, dangerous chemicals are applied to make the leather ready for being used in the fashion industry. One of the aims of scholars is to minimize the use of these toxic chemicals. These chemicals are discharged into water and soil and pollute everything. beLEAF is one of the alternatives to all those toxic chemicals. It is much safer, and its toxicity is lower than normal chemicals.
We have a famous plant called the elephant ear plant. The leaves of this plant are used for producing vegan leather, and beLEAF is used for tanning this plant to make vegan leather. The material produced is breathable and very similar to real leather. Another good this about this plant is that you don’t need to cut it completely. You can cut only the leaves and let the plant grow again. It grows on the banks of rivers and forests. So, it is going to be a very sustainable source of vegan leather.
You should know that we can use synthetic materials to produce leather too. Of course, using synthetic materials for the fashion industry might cause some other problems. However, it is a much better choice, compared with killing animals and using their skins. Now, we are going to review the synthetic compounds used for producing vegan leather.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
PVC is a synthetic leather material. You can replace it with cow's leather. It is a form of cotton, polyester, or rayon. However, we have to be a bit careful about PVC. It is true that with PVC, you don’t need to kill animals to produce leather. However, the fabric is hazardous for nature and should be avoided. PVC can highly pollute the environment.
Pu is another material used in the fashion industry. There are several advantages associated with PU compared with PVC. Generally, PU is more flexible and breathable than PVC. Also, it is more durable and eco-friendlier. It means that it doesn’t pollute the environment as PVC does. Microfiber leather is similar to PU too. In fact, it is a traditional PU leather. Durability, flexibility, breathability, and the texture of microfiber PU are very similar to PU.
Interestingly, ocean plastic can be used for producing vegan leather as well. There are more than 50 trillion microscopic pieces of plastic in the sea. This is very dangerous because it can go to humans' food and make us sick. Using ocean plastic in producing vegan leather is a win-win situation.
First, it helps humans get rid of all the plastic in the ocean. Second of all, animals don’t get killed. The famous brand Adidas in a partnership with Parely, has started using ocean plastic in their products. in fact, so far, they have produced more than 10 million pairs of trainers using plastic from the oceans. Another brand that is incorporating ocean plastic is Spark & Burnish.
Lorica & Vegetan
Lorica and Vegetan are two synthetic materials and good substitutes for real cow leather. Lorica is made from very thin microfibers. A good thing about Lorica is that it gives the manufacturer vast colour options. the leather absorbs all of them. So, it is a good choice for producing footwear. On the other hand, Vegetan is a microfiber material that is eco-friendlier than other synthetic options. this is because it can be biologically degraded, much more than other synthetic vegan leathers.
Becoming vegan is the simplest thing we can do to save our planet. Right now, millions of people in the world have started being vegan because they don’t like to see animals tortured and killed just for the sake of the fashion industry. Leather is one of the most popular materials used in the fashion industry.
That's why we need to kill millions of animals every year. However, this needs to be stopped. Vegan leather is a very good alternative to real leather. In this article, we reviewed the top eco-friendly vegan leather alternatives. I hope you decide to be vegan too because of you, animals, and the planet earth. If you want to know more about vegan and veganism, follow us because we are coming with more content very soon.
I trust you enjoyed reading the article about the Top Eco-Friendly Vegan Leather Alternatives. Would you please stay tuned? There are more blog posts to come very shortly.
Your Opinion Is Important To Me
Ideas? Thoughts? Questions? I would love to hear from you. Would you mind leaving me your questions, experience, and remarks about the Top Eco-Friendly Vegan Leather Alternatives in the comments section below? You can also reach me by email at Jeannette@LivingTheVeganLifestyle.org.