Hello everybody! I realize that it has been a while since I’ve made a blog post about something else than recipes. These anti-food waste videos have been taking up a lot of space on the blog, but I hope they are useful to you, they certainly are to me lol. However, that is not what I want to talk about today. I recently made a video where I show some of my new, and old, thrift finds (sort of avoiding the word “haul” haha, it gives off kind of an “unnecessary shopping” vibe, you feel?) In the video, I voiced some of my thought on wearing leather as a vegan, and I thought I wanted to make a blog post about it as well, as it is often something I am asked about, which is fair. Let’s talk about this.
also check out: From Anti-Vegan to Vegan For Life // big feelings storytime
So first of all, I personally think it is okay to wear leather, wool, silk, suede, etc, even though I call myself a vegan. However, I completely understand other vegans’ wish not to. We all have our own personal line we draw when it comes to things like this, especially when we are talking about using things we already own. For instance, I have no problem wearing leather boots that are second hand or that I bought prior to going vegan, but I would feel really uncomfortable wearing fur or crocodile skin. Especially those designs were faces, feet, paws, or tails are still attached to the material, it creeps me so thoroughly out.
Why do I then draw the line with fur and croc, and not with leather and wool? First of all, I recognize that it has definitely something to do with how much leather, and these other materials like silk and wool, is processed. They do not look like an animal anymore, and thus, I think it is easier to forgot or normalize. One Hundo. But, I also think some of it is related to what we advertise when we wear these products, to me that also plays a part. A leather boot does not scream “dead animals” the same way a fur coat with the tails of 4 rabbits still attached does. Passing by, I can rarely tell the difference between real leather and plant-based, or synthetic, leather. The same goes for a shirt containing wool or silk, they are not immediately recognizable as animal products. Thus, they won’t necessarily inspire people around you to go and purchase new wool or leather. These are just my personal thoughts on the matter. Let’s continue.
Do I not care about leather, wool, or silk production then at all then? I do, deeply, I do. I would never buy or support any product that contains new leather for instance. Any product that required new leather to be produced because my purchase demanded it. Tanneries, which is where leather is produced is extremely unethical and polluting, with a large majority of leather still being tanned using chrome, the worker who is in constant contact with the material suffers from various health problems and cancers, and are also being extremely unfair wages btw. The skins from cows in factory farming are often sold to the leather industry, and actually, around 25-30% of a cow’s value is based on its skin. Factory farming undeniably has a huge impact on the planet, so naturally, I would never support products derived from that industry. Is it better with luxury items and designer labels? No, not at all actually, it often the exact same chemicals, working conditions, and waste problems. However, sometimes luxury leather products are made using leather cows, which is arguably even worse.
Luckily, at this point, enough clothes have been made. Yeah, so many clothes have been produced to date that we don’t have to produce more – theoretically (it would certainly help if brands did not throw away the clothes that aren’t sold) So I don’t have to buy any new leather products ever. Every piece of clothing I own that contains animal-derived materials are second-hand, vintage, made with post-consumer waste, or based on waste-fabric: deadstock. When you buy what has already been used, what was perhaps produced decades before you were born, or what other people have discarded, you don’t support the industry at all. Your money does not go towards funding the industry further and your purchase is not creating more demand – aka no more animals are dying because of you. And in that scenario, I see nothing wrong with using what we already have. From an environmental perspective, it is tons better to use second-hand items, or even better, vintage items, rather than supporting cheaply made synthetic leather products.
also check out: I CHALLENGED MY BOYFRIEND TO GO VEGAN FOR 100 DAYS
Again, if you draw the line at leather products, that is completely up to you, you don’t have to wear them, you can give them to charity or to someone you know, you can sell them and donate the money to animal sanctuaries, there are so many options. Just don’t throw them away. As someone who is not only a vegan but generally identifies as an environmentalist, I have to acknowledge the advantages of leather and wool (not in production, but in terms of how long they last and how easy they are to repair). I have a shoe repair guy who can fix my leather boots over and over again, the same cannot always be said for vegan leather products sadly. I also acknowledge that living in Denmark, where winters can be pretty darn cold, having a wool jumper, or wool mittens provide more warmth than cotton – but again, these things can be bought second hand or vintage, and I feel completely okay with using what has already been bought by someone else, and throwing away old stuff simply just to buy new stuff is everything I think is wrong with consumerism.