Why Vegan Leather Isn’t As Ethical As You Think
Why Vegan Leather Isn’t As Ethical As You Think. With more and more people looking for sustainable options for their favourite fashion items, vegan leather is on the rise.
But is vegan leather an ethical, sustainable material, or just plastic in new wrapping?
The global synthetic market has risen dramatically over the past couple of years, with it being a cheaper alternative to natural leather.
This rise is gaining reinforcement from the likes of Facebook and Instagram – searching #veganleather yields over 200,000 posts on Instagram alone.
Vegan leather dominates the fast-fashion giants who want to cycle through trends as quickly as possible.
So while it may be true that buying fake leather reduces the harm to animals, environmentally it makes an impact.
Most fake leather contains polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic that takes forever to decompose and is very corrosive to plants.
Those of you concerned about animal welfare, PVC has a tendency to biomagnify, which means its effect on animals in the wild gets worse as it continues up the food chain.
But there are some brands out there that want to change how we view vegan leather.
Marta Palma, of the Portuguese footwear brand Nae, believes ‘some vegan leathers can be more ethical than others.’
Nae (No Animal Exploitation) are focusing on plant-based materials like organic cotton, cork and pineapple leaf fibres to make their vegan shoes, hoping to bypass fossil feuls altogether.
At first glance, plant-based materials may seem like the most sustainable option.
There’s the advantage of the shoe being biodegradable – especially important as shoes are difficult to recycle.
But making a plant-based shoes can have its challenges.
It requires carefully sourcing each material and considering their social and environmental impact while making sure it can perform like plastic or leather.
But these challenges are part of the appeal for Martha.
“We wanted to produce vegan leathers without any waste of water or energy. We felt that we needed to move on in a more sustainable way.”
So while most of the vegan leather community rely on petroleum and comes with its risks, there are options out there that reduce both animal and environmental harm.