If wear fur offends many people, leather is often considered as a natural material, combined with the ideas of quality and durability. But the industry of the leather, just like fur, is the source of great suffering to animals. It is also detrimental to the environment and to human health. We will list today's 5 reasons not to buy leather.
1 - For the animals
The animals are the first to be affected by the leather industry, because it is their skin we are talking about. We often think that leather is a by-product of the meat industry : it would then 'recycle' the skin of animals that are killed to be eaten. The reality is not so simple : it is not a by-product, but the “co-produced” the most important of the meat industry. For some animals, like for example the ostrich, the leather is much more lucrative than the meat : and so this is the last, which becomes a by-product of the leather. It can also be a chain separate : the animals in question are bred only for their skin.
In any case, buy leather, it is supporting the practices of intensive farming. Much of the leather comes from developing countries such as India or China, where the laws of animal protection are non-existent or not enforced. The practices surrounding the slaughter are especially violent and cause terrible suffering to the animals bred for their meat or leather. Most of the animals are victims of confinement, deprivation, castration and abuse.
Every year 1 billion animals are raised and killed for their skin. Cows, pigs, goats, sheep, or even dogs and cats : many species are affected. China is the world's largest exporter of leather. The manufacture of leather dog or cat is commonly. These products are subsequently sold, without specifying from which animal the leather comes from and can be purchased by consumers in all ignorance.
2 – For the environment
The intensive farming of animals, meat and leather combined, is responsible for 18 % of greenhouse gas emissions, more than global transport. It also causes deforestation : according to a survey of 3 years, published in 2009, Greenpeace says that cattle ranching is responsible for 80 % of the destruction of the amazon rainforest in Brazil. Has an industrial scale, the livestock consumes a lot of water and causes pollution of the latter as well as of the soil, rejecting waste, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals, but also of fertilizers and pesticides in nature. The resources used by the livestock to obtain 1 kg of leather can have an environmental impact 20 times higher than those necessary to produce 1 kg of synthetic materials such as polyester.
The tanning process for leather is extremely polluting : toxic waste from this processing are dumped into rivers and pollute the ground water, causing serious diseases among the inhabitants of the regions where the tanneries are numerous, as for example the district of Hazaribagh in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The pollution of the Buriganga river, crossing the city of Dhaka, and witness : following the toxic waste dumped daily into the water by the tanneries, fish life and plants there is impossible. Water pollution affects every day the health of residents and workers.
3 – For the conditions of workers
Leather tanning is a process of making the skin of an animal rot-proof and water-resistant. It is most often chemicals that are toxic to the health of workers and people living near tanneries.
In the world, over 80 % of leather is tanned using chromium, product dangerous to the health of employees. The NGO Pure Earth estimates that 16 million people are exposed to the hazards of chromium in the world, and that 3 million people could be affected by diseases arising from such exposure. This chemical agent can cause skin diseases and respiratory illnesses. Many studies have demonstrated the link between cancers of the sinuses and lungs, and the chromium used in the tannery.
In the countries of the developing world where tanning of leather is much practiced, most of the tanneries do not provide adequate protective equipment or training appropriate for work with toxic chemicals to their employees. In these tanneries, where no sanitary standard is not met, the life expectancy of workers does not exceed 50 years.
A Hazaribagh, the district of the tanneries of Dahka, 50 tonnes of chemicals are used every day to prepare for the tanning of hides and skins. The residents and workers living in the middle of these toxic products, in an environment saturated with chrome, mercury or arsenic. When the rains of the monsoon flow, the mixture floods the area and pours into the river, making a run to the local residents, a deadly danger. Hazaribagh is today considered to be the location of the most contaminated on the planet. This video tells the story of the daily life of the tanners indians. They are the ones who manufacture the leather used in most of the shoes sold in Europe.
4 – For more sustainable purchases
The leather is associated with quality, it is the seller : the demand today is very high, which pushes manufacturers to produce more and cheaper. The quality of the leather that we find in the stores, low and mid-range is now poor. Alternatives similar to leather exist, with a quality and superior strength.
The chemical compounds used during the tanning do not disappear by themselves. The trivalent chromium used in tanning, can be transformed into hexavalent chromium during the process. It is a substance that is allergenic and may cause itching or even eczema. Quantities of concern hexavalent chromium are routinely detected in the leather trade. According to a survey conducted by France 5, 30 % of leather shoes sold in France contain hexavalent chromium. The low range models by incorporating usually large quantities. Some tanneries shall have to comply with a low rate of hexavalent chromium in their production to ensure their non-toxicity, but they are rare. Most of the leather content in the shoes sold in France comes from Asia, where regulation is insufficient.
5 – To become a consom'actor
Each of our daily actions have an impact on the world around us. Choose not to buy products whose values we do not match, it is to stop endorsing harmful practices. It is often said that voting is the most effective is the one with his wallet. As Coluche said : “When we think that it would be enough that people stop to buy that this will sell more”.
Today it is possible to opt for alternatives that are similar to the leather under all its aspects, to respect the animals, the environment and workers. The quality and durability of these materials is similar to that of the leather. Choosing to buy products without leather, designed with respect, it is condone practices caring for the animals and the planet, and say no to an industry that is harmful that causes suffering and pollution.
Don't hesitate to share it in order to convince your entourage !