VEGAN LEATHER, SYNTHETIC LEATHER, BIO-LEATHER, VEGETABLE NATURAL LEATHER AND CHROME.
We are very aware of environmental issues and responsible purchasing, but many times we do not know what the products contain and or what processes are involved before accessories reach your hands. One of the materials that I think has been super demonized is LEATHER, that’s why I am sharing this text that explains a little about each leather so you can identify them and make a more objective judgment when you buy or design.
Synthetic leather is produced from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU), which are petroleum materials. The chemicals are used for the production are polluting and for to the synthetic contents, it takes much longer to biodegrade than other materials.
PROS: It has a very affordable price, production is very fast and there are more and more qualities that are very similar to natural animal leather.
CONS: It is not a sustainable material since it is derived from petroleum and therefore pollutes.
Currently there are several producers of vegan leather which has an appearance very similar to natural leather, produced with biodegradable vegetable fibers such as cactus, pineapple, cork, wood, mushrooms, leaves, teak plant, coconut or soy.
PROS: These materials are an alternative when you are looking to biodegradable materials and reduce environmental impact.
CONS: The cost per square meter is much higher than synthetic leather, and the durability of the products is lower than animal leather.
Bio-leather is a material that is developed in a laboratory through cells or microbes that are fed and put at a special temperature so these microbes produce a cellulose material, which can be used as leather or something similar; It has a texture similar to plastic, no toxic substances are used in the production and it is the result of a natural process.
PROS: It biodegrades very easily as it is natural the environmental impact is very low.
CONS: It is a very new technology and is not very developed yet, so the development time is long and expensive, and the durability is only a few years.
VEGETABLE ANIMAL LEATHER AND CHROME
The leather tanning process is to convert putrescible skin into rot-proof leather with a chemical acidic that prevents decomposition. In other words, it is the period of time that the animal skin is processing to transform into a leather that will no longer decompose. The time used in chrome and vegetable tanning is practically the same, the difference is in the materials used for tanning. As far as the environment is concerned, vegetable tanning is much more sustainable, since it is mostly done with natural oils and with a much stricter control of the amount of water for washing while the chromium process has toxic residues and unclean water and also needs more washes, and can be very harmful to their chromium VI content.
In recent years, leather has been highly demonized for being related to animal abuse and the mass production of animals. However, its components make it an enemy in the fight against plastic and pollution and fast fashion, because is much more durable material than any of the vegan leathers, and at the end it has a longer useful and shorter biodegradation than synthetic leathers.
Knowing this, it is a very personal decision what type of material we want to consume, it will depend on the type of brand philosophy you have, the budget you want to allocate to the materials with which you design, and in the case of consumers, the importance they give it to the price versus durability and ecological damage.
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