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Leather – Why I Refuse to Buy it

Why no leather?

I have to admit that for a long time I have not realized what leather really is. Since I’m vegan, I’ve started to question my consumption and see those animal products are quite everywhere. So far, I have not even been concerned that leather is the skin of animals. This is much more obvious with fur. In addition, I used to have the feeling that I buy something high-quality when buying leather products. Thinking of artificial leather, I always thought of plastic and stinky feet first. But is it really like that? Which alternatives to leather are there? And why do leather products sometimes stink so much?

Fur has always been a total taboo to me, and I’ve never understood how one can seriously wear the fur of a dead animal. I will never understand it. In my opinion, this is neither beautiful nor do we have to ornament us with dead animals not to freeze to death. On the one hand, we walk around with high-tech equipment and boast of being the crowning achievement of creation, and on the other hand, many have become stuck with their clothing style in caveman existence. The Peta campaigns are aimed primarily at fur but leather is not much better.

Leather is only a by-product of the meat industry!

FALSE. That’s exactly what many people think and I thought that before I really got into the subject. More than one billion animals are slaughtered each year in order to be able to produce products that are not essential for us. Every year more animals are killed than people who live in Europe. Although there is leather that comes as a by-product of the meat industry, it’s not just a waste product. It is not only cattle, horses and deer slaughtered for leather production, but also increasingly exotic ones such as ostriches, kangaroos, crocodiles, and in many countries also dogs and cats, since their animal skin is very cheap.

In addition, leather is mainly produced in low-wage countries, in whose tanneries highly toxic, carcinogenic chromium is used. Since there is no significant occupational safety and health in these countries, the local workers are poisoned, die from cancer and the environment is heavily polluted. In addition, child labor is very widespread there.

The chromium used gets very easily into the groundwater, as the wastewater from the leather processing is discharged unfiltered. Not only the groundwater is contaminated, but also the soil as a whole in these regions. Children who play in these areas, for example, suffer skin cancer much more often. A vicious circle for humans and animals.

Why does leather smell so specific?

The chrome used for leather processing is also often what makes the typical leather smell. Often, we smell a chemical cocktail of tannins, binders, dyes and moisturizers in leather. This admittedly nauseates me every time I smell this odor. And it has always been like this, even when I was not aware of what I’m wearing.

Numerous studies show that inhaling this chromium significantly increases the risk of lung cancer. Random studies have shown that more than half of all tested shoes significantly exceed the pollutant limits. Especially for children, this was found to be the main cause of eczema in the foot area. Scientists often talk about “poisonous shoes”, which are considered to trigger “sneaker allergies”. A severe itching to blistering and scaling may be a sign of this skin condition.

Since having Noani's belt I wear it almost exclusively, and not just because it's red :)
Since having Noani’s belt I wear it almost exclusively, and not just because it’s red 🙂

Are there any alternatives to leather?

The first time I came across a really great alternative was on the catwalk years ago, as I was allowed to wear a leather jacket made of cork from bleed. I was really excited because the jacket really looked amazing. A few months ago I stumbled upon Noani (no animal) on Instagram, in whose vegan belts made of eucalyptus I fell in love with. Of course, in my favorite color red… O:)

I’ve been testing it for weeks now and I’m still really happy. Noani not only pays attention to the sustainable cultivation of eucalyptus fibers but also refrains from the use of pesticides and genetic engineering. I have already described why pesticide use is so hazardous in my blog post on insect mortality.

For the sake of completeness, I have to say that Noani belts are made not only of eucalyptus fibers but also of polyester, i.e. plastic. However, this plastic is completely recycled plastic and therefore much less harmful for our environment than “normal” plastic. In addition, Noani produces their belts in a small manufactory in Germany, which of course is also reflected in the price. Nevertheless, the belts are worth every penny and – for me – they combine all important points: they are sustainable, fair-produced, high-quality and vegan. In addition, we support the purchase of a small business, a factor that is becoming increasingly important to me. Soon they will have bags made of pineapple fibers, which I am really looking forward to. Pineapple fibers are a by-product of the pineapple harvest and are obtained from the otherwise useless pineapple leaves.

Noani produces beautiful vegan belts made of eukalyptus fiber
Noani produces beautiful vegan belts made of eucalyptus fiber

Why am I writing this post?

Many of you will probably think that I’m writing this because I’ll surely get paid for it. Wrong thought. If I experience something great, then I like to write about it. And maybe it can help others who are looking for an alternative to leather, too.

In addition, I do not only want to denounce leather but also want to show that there are so many great alternatives to it. We don’t have to dress in animal skins and fur to survive the winter. Nor do we have to kill animals to satisfy our hunger. There is a cruelty-free, sustainable alternative for everything, we just have to use it.

Have you ever dealt with the topic of “leather” and maybe you have another alternative to common leather? To stay up to date here is my Facebook Fan page. Would love to have you following my journey! 🙂

Here’s the scientific evidence this blog post is based on

Arcega-Cabrera, F./Fargher, L. F./Oceguera-Vargs, I./Noreña-Barroso, E./Yánez-Estrada, L., Alvarado, J./González, L./Moo-Puc, R./Pérez-Herrera, N./Quesadas-Rojas, M./Pérez-Medina, S. 2017: Water Consumption as Source of Arsenic, Chromium, and Mercury in Children Living in Rural Yucatan, Mexico: Blood and Urine Levels, in: Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, Vol. 99, 2017, No. 4, pp. 452-459.

Kolomaznik, K./Adamek, M./Andel, I./Uhlirova, M. 2008: Leather waste – Potential threat to human health, and a new technology of its treatment, in: Journal of Hazardous Materials, Vol. 160, 2008, No. 2-3, pp. 514-520.

Nasir, M. S./Nasir, A./Rashid, H./Shah, S. H. H. 2017: Spatial variability and long-term analysis of groundwater quality of Faisalabad industrial zone, in: Applied Water Science, Vol. 7, 2017, No. 6, pp. 3197-3205.

Oberhofer, E. 2017: Oft ist der Turnschuh schuld!, in: ästhetische dermatologie & kosmetologie, Vol. 9, 2017, No. 5, p. 11.

Welling, R./Beaumont, J. J./Petersen, S. J./Alexeeff, G. V./Steinmaus, C. 2015: Chromium VI and stomach cancer: a meta-analysis of the current epidemiological evidence, in: Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Vol. 72, 2015, No. 2, pp. 151-159.

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