For a long time, it was the most common material for the fabrication of shoes and bags: LEATHER! But in a time where sustainability becomes more known and gathers increasingly value of more and more people, consumers seek better alternatives for the not-so sustainable material leather. Scroll through to discover why leather is not eco-friendly.
Not only contributes the leather industry to animal cruelty and deforestation, but the production of it and especially the tanning of the leather causes even more negative impact on the environment. However, the mostly used alternative PVC isn’t so sustainable neither. PVC is a very toxic material derived from the non-renewable substance petroleum and isn’t biodegradable. Although choosing PVC seems more ethical, it is far from more sustainable. But are there any leather-alternatives that are ethical and sustainable? Yes, there are! Read further and find out the six most eco-friendly leather replacements.
You like to eat pineapples? Well, now you can walk on them. How cool is that? This alternative to leather called Piñatex™ is made from the leaves of the pineapple plant. Although this already sounds very eco, the used leaves are a waste product from the harvesting of the fruit, making it even more sustainable. Moreover, since it is a waste product, there is no need to create new materials and thus it has very low impact on the environment. Besides, the product which was once just waste for pineapple farmers, is now also a source of income. Overall, Piñatex™ is ethical and sustainable!
It seems strange, but paper can be as strong as leather. Furthermore, it is biodegradable. What’s not to like? Paper itself isn’t that sustainable of course, because trees need to be cut for it. However, recycled and upcycled paper is an eco-friendlier alternative to animal-leather. Paper-leather is water resistant and can easily be cleaned. We love it!
Cork is a well-known alternative to leather and besides that it’s ethical, it’s also very eco. Cork is made from bark from the cork tree. Don’t worry, the bark is harvested form the oak tree without harming it. This makes it a very natural alternative to real leather. More positive news: cork is also a very durable material, since it has similar characteristics to animal-leather. It is often used for bags, but also for shoes and even for belts.
4. RECYCLED RUBBER
Upcycling already existing materials is always a better idea than creating new ones. A common used material for recycling and upcycling is rubber, especially tires from cars or bikes. The material is very strong and therefore very durable and sustainable. Further, it gives a look which can be compared to the thick leather. Since some rubber can be biodegradable and some can’t, it’s better to make the best out of it and create new items of it.
How cool is this? MUSKIN has the looks of real leather, but is actually made from mushrooms. Specifcally, it is made from a parasitic fungus that grows in the subtropical forests called the Phellinus ellipsoideus. But let’s just keep it at MuSkin. The 100% vegetable eco-alternative to leather contains no toxic substances. It has a soft touch and suede look and can be made waterproof by treating it with eco wax.
Last, but not least: FRUITLEATHER. An initiative of two graduated designers base in Rotterdam, who create a leather alternative in the form of fruit waste. Two times a week they collect all the fruit waste of the market in Rotterdam and with a difficult technique they create strong and durable leather-like material from it. It is still in development and the two designers want to enhance the tear and water resistance of the fruit leather and the process ability. However, this initiative seems very promising. We’re surely looking forward to walking on fruit!
Did we miss an eco-friendly, vegan leather alternative? If so, tell us in a comment below. And leave a comment below to let us know which material you like best.
Romy van Leeuwen is Psychology student from The Netherlands and a conscious lifestyle blogger at Good For. She aims to make the world a better place by writing about conscious topics, including eco cosmetics and sustainability, but mostly about her passion: fair and sustainable fashion. In this way, she tries to spread the word of conscious living to the broader public and step-by-step making the world ready for sustainability. She strives to live as environment- and animal-friendly by cutting out meat and dairy from her diet and believing in slow fashion.