Toni Rossi 06-04-2022

Can Leather Shoes Be Eco-Friendly?

It used to be the case that crafting authentic leather took a large chunk out of the environment. But innovations and daring ideas have contributed multiple eco-conscious layers to this industry over the years

Is Naturally Dyed Leather Legit?

When it comes to the leather tanning process, many tanneries are adopting the use of natural dyes like saffron to give the industry a much-needed ‘green boost’.


Saffron, for instance, replaces harmful metals like chromium in the tanning phase. The vegetable tanning does take longer, though, and it may demand a slightly higher price of you. But when all’s said and done, quality leather lives up to its reputation.


In addition to the environmental benefits, good eco-conscious leather ensures the safety of tannery specialists as well. Vegetable tanned leather has also proven to be much more convenient to dispose of, or recycle.


What About The Animals?

There is no real excuse here, because authentic leather does indeed source from animal hide. However, quality brands ensure that they work with providers who make full use of all the animal parts, so little to nothing goes to waste.


Additionally, leather is not – as many believe – a by-product of the meat industry, not technically anyway. Leather comes at a higher cost compared to meat. If anything, meat seems to be a by-product of the leather industry instead of the other way around.


As long as there is demand for meat – and that’s not a demand we’re going to see waning anytime soon – we believe leather will always be available, in parallel. Good brands follow a ‘no wastage’ principle, and integrate the leather they need into stylish and gorgeous shoes that you, simply by slipping on, prevent from going to waste.


Show Me Some Alternatives

You may have heard of eco-friendly leather alternatives like PVC and PU. When it comes to animal welfare, these materials are considered to be leagues more ethical than their authentic leather counterparts.


However, the facts will beg to differ, because PU and PVC production to create ‘faux’ or ‘pseudo’ leather demands the use of petrochemicals, which are in turn derived from natural gas or coal, both of which are assuredly non-renewable fossil fuels. Not ‘green’, not by a long shot.


While the cattle rearing industry does indeed raise cattle and uses them for milk, meat, and hide – thus also contributing to the release of copious methane into the atmosphere – PU and PVC are not innocent bystanders. The latter are known to shed microplastics, which the ongoing Climate Crisis has established to be a major threat to the health of ecosystems everywhere.

So Which Is Greener, PVC/PU Or Leather?

Neither, truth be told. It boils down to reducing your carbon footprint, not eliminating it altogether – which, as of this writing, is impossible. However, fresh innovations and nifty ideas are often making the rounds, so it may be only a matter of time before the shoe-making industry comes up with a valid and admirable replacement or substitute for harmful shoe products.


To take a page out of the sustainability playbook, though, repairing and reusing the leather shoes you buy are superb ideas to ensure a greener future. The core concept behind leather shoe-making, after all, is not to waste quality animal hide when its meat has been extracted for use.


In keeping with that spirit of non-wastage, use and reuse your leather shoes, repair them as needed, and try to give to those in need instead of merely disposing of them entirely.  

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