Consider Your Impact

Vegan Leather

“What’s so great about vegan leather? Only everything. Number one, it’s not made from the skins of dead animals. Plus, it’s easier on the planet and trees chic.”

we could not agree more with PeTA than this. TERRACORDA does not work with animal based material. Our constant endeavour is to provide our customer with high quality leather alternates that can put “genuine leather” to shame. Not only does vegan leather look good, it also makes you feel good because it’s cruelty-free. More than a billion cows, pigs, goats, sheep, alligators, ostriches, kangaroos, and even dogs and cats are cruelly slaughtered for their skins every year.

Planet Earth loves vegan leather, too. Turning skin into leather takes loads of energy and a toxic brew of chemicals—including mineral salts, coal-tar derivatives, formaldehyde, oils, dyes, and finishes, some of them cyanide-based. Tannery waste contains water-fouling salt, lime sludge, sulfides, acids, and other pollutants.

Turns out – none. In theory, vegan leather is in fact faux leather simply by a different name. As vegan-friendly options pop up throughout our nutritional decisions, the fashion world has brought the buzz word over to the historically animal-cruel industry making faux anything seem cool again. 

Looks like leather by any other name sells much, much better. Read: there is no difference between most artificial, faux and vegan leathers other than terminology. 

The difference lies in the curation. We at Terracorda pick the most exquisite leatherlike, and yes expensive faux/vegan leather options to create our products for our discerning customer.

Our vegan leather is made using polyurethane (PU), and it is so much better than PVC. Unlike PVC, PU is completely breathable, so it totally avoids the issue of sweaty feet. What’s more, it is far less toxic to produce than PVC. Of course the environmental impact of production of PU is dependent upon the regulations of the country in which it is produced. If PVC and PU were in vegan leather Top Trumps, PU would win every time.

However, regular PU is not completely squeaky clean. The raw materials of PU comes from fossil fuels, and producing PU is not yet entirely non-toxic. Luckily, textile scientists are on the case, developing new types of vegan leather to boost its eco-friendliness. Two recent major breakthroughs in textile technology are making waves across the vegan leather industry.

The first innovation is using vegetable-based plastic, which totally reduces the hazards of making regular PU. Vegetable-based plastic is made with a by-product of plant oils and reduces many of the chemical hazards associated with making PU. This new process means PU is also more biodegradable, which is always a good thing. Secondly, a new 100% recycled PU coated in this vegetable-based plastic is now on the market, which avoids all the pitfalls of regular PU and gets top marks for sustainability. With these ground-breaking new improvements in vegan leather production, the environmental impact is constantly being reduced.

The leather industry has a vast and complex environmental impact, so we need to break it down to simplify the problem. The production of leather involves three different industries: animal husbandry and slaughter, tanning and product manufacturing.

As the meat and leather industries are intwined, all the issues of animal agriculture are part of leather production, and animal agriculture is no friend to the environment. According to the UN, animal agriculture is responsible for a staggering 18% of greenhouse gas emissions (which is more than all transport emissions combined).

According to Scientific American, the tanning of leather is one of the top 10 pollution problems in the world, directly affecting a shocking 1.8 million people – a pretty epic stat! Hides are tanned using a cocktail of dangerous chemicals, which produce gallons of waste with a high concentration of pollutants. Plus, it seems there is no way to safely tan leather, either.

lIt seems, leather is a significant drain on the world’s resources, not to mention the questionable methods of animal slaughter in developing countries with little or no regulations. As an industry it seems to have a poor level of responsibility for its damaging environmental impact and the repercussions, as information around leather production and traceability is conveniently suppressed.

In comparison, vegan leather requires no grain to be watered and harvested for feed; no animals to be reared and then slaughtered; it is not a major contributor to water pollution, requiring only the land of the factory used to produce it. Synthetic materials have also come a very long way since PVC, and manufacturers are always upping their game, innovating ways to improve sustainability. As vegan leather will always be tied to textile technology, it will always be reducing its environmental footprint.

Ultimately, it is up to the consumer to make informed choices about what they buy. And after looking at the evidence, when compared with high quality vegan leather, animal leather seems archaic. It seems only a matter of time before everyone chooses cruelty-free, eco-friendly, sustainable vegan alternatives, proudly labelled “Genuinely Not Leather”.