Eco-friendly Leather: Fact or Fiction?

eco-friendly leather

Eco-friendly leather is growing into a huge fashion trend, with top fashion companies and celebrities jumping on the bandwagon.

Gucci has joined Livia Firth’s Green Carpet Challenge to create the first line of handbags produced with Rainforest Alliance certified leather. Leather that is certified by the Rainforest Alliance means that it is produced under strict controls to limit deforestation and protect wildlife habitats. This certification also does its bit to ensure that farmers treat livestock ethically and promote the well-being and rights of their workers.

Gucci is not the only company to be creating eco-friendly leather. Embellished Truth uses green leather that is vegetable-tanned in Europe. Vegetable tanning involves vegetable, chrome, synthetic, aldehyde and alum means of tanning hides. The ingredients used in tanning are from vegetable matter, such as tree bark, so that the colour is more subtle.  Designer Heidi Mottram creates her leather goods from environmentally friendly eel skins that have been discarded. These are much stronger than cowhide.

What Goes into Leather Production

The production of leather hides uses 20 times more energy than what is used to create a synthetic material. It includes breeding and raising animals, removing animal waste, transporting food, transferring pelts and treating the hides at the tannery, where they are soaked, fleshed and tanned before being transported to the garment and wholesaler.

Is it Really Eco-Friendly?

The point is that although leather might be produced by some companies in more eco-friendly way, providing less pressure to the environmental resources, animals are still being killed for their hides. When it comes to vegetable tanning of leather, it is seen as less harmful to the environment but it can be equally dangerous as other tanning methods. In the United States, all chromium products are seen as hazardous, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

You can view the Gucci eco handbags here.

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