In response to Leather UK’s attempt to mislead consumers about leather and drive up sales through swing tags proclaiming “Leather for Life” – a desperate ploy, given that the global vegan leather market is expected to grow to over £35 billion by 2025 and overtake the animal-leather industry by 2027 – PETA plans to introduce our own tags, bearing the message “Leather Takes Lives”.
Consumers deserve to know that leather is a dying industry defined by animal suffering and environmental destruction. Cow leather has been ranked as the most polluting material in fashion by several industry reports.
Turning animals’ skin into leather requires 130 different chemicals, including cyanide – and animal agriculture, which includes the leather industry, is one of the leading contributors to the climate catastrophe. And since the bulk of the environmental impact associated with leather production – a whopping 93%, according to luxury fashion conglomerate Kering’s 2016 “Environmental Profit and Loss” report – occurs before the skins are sent to tanneries, touting “green” processing methods, such as those used to create vegetable-tanned and chrome-free leather, is really just greenwashing.
This last gasp from losing leather purveyors lays bare their fear of a changing market full of high-performing and trendy “PETA-Approved Vegan” leather, including plant-based fabrics made from pineapple leaves, apples, and mushrooms.
Leather Production Damages Human Health
A PETA exposé of the leather industry in Bangladesh, narrated by Leona Lewis, shows that leather production is toxic for human health, too. Tanneries use harmful chemicals to prevent animals’ skin from decaying. Unprotected workers, including children, stand barefoot as they soak hides in carcinogenic chemicals, and the noxious waste is then dumped into rivers.
As tanning is such a dangerous process, it’s no longer undertaken in most European countries or the US, so operations are moving elsewhere – jeopardising the health of people in other parts of the world so that consumers in the West can continue wearing leather shoes and jackets.
Cows Suffer Immensely in the Leather Industry
The leather industry subjects animals to horrific cruelty. The majority of leather is produced using the hides of cows farmed for their flesh and those used for dairy who are no longer producing enough milk to be profitable. They endure all the horrors of factory farming – including intensive confinement to filthy pens, castration without pain relief, chronic infections and disease caused by extreme crowding, and a terrifying trip to the abattoir.
Eyewitness footage shot on Brazilian ranches gives a glimpse of the terror and pain inflicted on cows as they’re killed for their skin and flesh:
You Never Know Whose Skin You’re In
It’s not only cows who are killed in the leather trade – sheep, horses, goats, pigs, and even cats and dogs are also victims of the industry. An estimated 2 million cats and dogs are killed in China each year for their skin. When you wear leather, there’s no easy way to know for sure whose skin you’re in.
How You Can Help Animals and the Planet
The best way to protect animals and the environment is to adopt a vegan lifestyle. We’ve put together this guide to help you wear vegan:
You can also take action by speaking up for cows: