Un-leather is a term we coined for vegan alternatives to animal leather. Un-leather goods are the products made from those alternatives.
Gone are the days of sweaty plastic shoes and less-than-stylish, limited options. Vegan leathers are now being made from recycled waste products like rubber, microfibres and polyesters, and sustainable natural materials such as pineapple leaf fibre, cork, apple peel waste, mushrooms, seaweed, slate stone, tree bark and leaves.
Why use alternatives? Because they cause less harm.
Traditional leather is made from the skins of animals, be they cows, goats, pigs, sheep, deer, reptiles, ostriches, kangaroos, fish, or even cats and dogs. Far from being an insignificant by-product of meat production, leather is a profitable industry in its own right. Some animals are farmed primarily for the value of their skins, and in the instance of cows farmed for food, the animal’s skin is worth at least 10% of her commercial value. In short, the leather industry subsidises the meat industry, which would struggle without it.
Alongside the unnecessary cruelty inflicted on animals, there is exploitation of humans in the leather industry too. The powerful chemicals required to prevent animal skins from rotting are often used by tannery workers without appropriate protection. Many workers, including children, are not paid a fair wage for this dangerous work. Pollutants can also be disposed of with little regard to the environment, with run-off into rivers causing serious health problems for local people and those living further down-stream.