Real Leather Vs Vegan Leather

August 12, 2021 3 min read

Real Leather Vs Vegan Leather


Shoes. Belts. Bags. Armchairs. Footballs. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, it’s likely you’re just a few steps away from some form of leather.

There’s no denying that real leather looks good and is everywhere, but did you know that it has a huge environmental footprint that’s often swept under the rug?

From methane emissions to water pollution, let’s take a look at some of the many reasons why it’s time to say no to this popular material for the sake of our planet.


The environmental cost of real leather:

Breeding animals 

Many people are aware of the environmental cost of breeding animals for meat, but the leather industry plays a much larger role in livestock rearing than you might initially think. There are huge financial benefits to selling animal hides to the fashion industry, with leather making up 10% of a cow’s total value to farmers.

Why does this matter? Well, first of all, cows emit a huge amount of methane - a greenhouse gas almost 30 times more dangerous than CO2 over the course of a century. What’s more, it takes a great deal of water to breed and rear cows - and doing so has also been linked to increasing deforestation rates.

It’s important to remember that sheep, pigs, kangaroos, crocodiles and snakes are also bred and killed for their skin, so the environmental cost of breeding cows is just one part of a larger and much more serious problem.


Chemical usage

Animal hide requires a lot of processing before it resembles what we know as leather, and this multi-step process isn’t kind to the planet.

Hide must go through a process called ‘tanning’, where it’s treated with a range of chemicals, such as chromium, before it can be dyed and manufactured into the kinds of products we see on shop shelves today.

These chemicals have a huge environmental impact. The run-off from tanneries often seeps into the ground, washes into waterways, and contributes to air pollution, with hugely devastating effects for both the local environment and the people living within it.

And it is important to realise this process is done in order to produce a leather which is also virtually non-biodegradable!  


Why vegan leather is the way forward

Of course vegan leather often made with polyurethane isn’t 100% environmentally friendly - but it is 100% cruelty-free, which to us is everything. Many brands (such as us at Spark Vegan) are creating realistic vegan leather products that are also extremely high-quality, so you can trust that they won’t end up in landfill sites after just a couple of wears.

What’s more, as we begin to look for both cruelty-free and environmentally friendly alternatives to leather, many brands are experimenting with non-plastic materials - such as cork, cactus leather, and apple skin! 

We are currently looking into developing our own line of cactus leather bags, so stay tuned! But if you are interested there are other brands which are already sell plant based leather now, such as Mio Mojo and Samara

The future of leather could be much kinder to animals and the planet - simply by going vegan.

Hope you will think about joining us in our journey into the future and thanks for reading!


Spark Vegan: Your new favourite online vegan boutique

If you’re looking for cruelty-free investment pieces, you’ve come to the right place! With our stunning range of vegan leather bags and wallets, you’ll never need to compromise on your sense of style, ethics, or commitment to doing better for the planet. What’s not to love?

Browse our full range of vegan leather bags, or take a look through the rest of our gorgeous products to find the perfect gift for yourself or a loved one. (Featured image is of the Vikki Tote)

For bags which are made of natural materials we have the Carleigh Cork Bag and the Portia clutch

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