From Leah: Now that I’m fairly aware of labor and human rights issues in the manufacturing industry, I’m trying to educate myself on more ecologically sustainable textiles. From farm to mill to factory to store, everything is interconnected, and a product made with toxic materials or water-polluting processes ends up being not only an environmental issue but a human wellness issue as chemicals seep into water supplies and permeate the air. It’s a complex system, for sure, so I’m grateful for people who have started the research. Today I’m sharing Summer’s exploration of vegan textiles that prioritize both animal welfare and ecological health.
There are immense ethical and environmental implications of leather, and for this reason an increasing number of consumers are opting for vegan leather alternatives. However, when it comes to vegan leather, the options range from the highly unsustainable to the very low impact, so it pays to do your research.
If you are vegan, or you just want to reduce your reliance on a product that involves the slaughter of animals, there are an increasing number of products that cater to your needs. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse emissions and this is only projected to rise. Due to this fact alone, many vegan leather brands will advertise themselves as sustainable, eco-friendly or green. However, the majority of vegan handbag and shoe brands use conventional vegan leather, which is a PVC product. PVC is one of the most toxic materials that are used in fashion. It is not biodegradable, and it releases carcinogens into the environment. Not to mention that is derived from non-renewable petrochemicals. Choosing PVC leather may seem like the ethical choice, but it is certainly not the sustainable choice. Those who genuinely care about the impact of their wardrobe would be best to avoid it entirely if possible.
The good news is that there have been a number of advances in the development of new sustainable textiles in recent years, and there are some good vegan alternatives to leather which are genuinely eco-friendly. The two that you can find at the moment are cork leather and Piñatex™ (pineapple leather).
Cork leather is made from the bark of cork oak tree. The bark is harvested without harming the tree and it can be harvested every 9 years for the life of the tree, which is up to 300 years. Cork leather is durable and completely natural. It has similar properties to leather in its use and it makes an attractive replacement for leather in handbags, purses, jewellery and shoes…