What is vegan leather and is it more sustainable?
The term “vegan leather” is a general term to signify any leather that does not come from an animal. But as exciting as this innovation is, there are the ethical and sustainable impacts to consider before you make your “vegan leather” purchase.
Traditionally, and the one you see most often used to make alternative leather is polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU). Whilst they are vegan, their synthetic construct has an environmental impact on our planet. When the plastic eventually starts to degrade, it breaks down into harmful microplastics and therefore is not a sustainable alternative to leather.
However, technology has come a long way and there are many new innovative fabrics coming through that are kind to our planet. Listed below are some of our favourite sustainable leather alternatives:
It’s a leather alternative made from pineapple leaf fibres. This innovative product promises to be one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly vegan leather materials because it requires no water, fertilizers, or additional land for its production and also reuses something that would traditionally be discarded or burned. Not only is it a natural and sustainable material—it also supports local farming communities by providing extra income from something that was previously being discarded as waste!
Another fruit, but this time from Apples. Born in Northern Italy, this innovative bio-based alternative is a by-product from the apple juice and apple compote industry (made from waste peels and cores). By recovering these wastes, they manage to prevent them from decomposing, thus avoiding the emission of methane gas. Apple leather looks similar in appearance to real leather but has a paper-like feel. This is actually a bonus as the texture lends itself to easily adding different backings, coatings, and effects depending on whatever aesthetics you want for your garment.
Cork leather is another environmentally friendly alternative to animal leather that is sturdy, durable and waterproof. Cork is a natural fibre that comes from cork oak trees. With a lifespan of around 300 years, cork oak trees are harvested for their bark each decade, but the trees continue to live and grow, going on to produce more cork.