How To Decrease The Land Footprint In The Foods You Eat

How To Decrease The Land Footprint In The Foods You Eat

If you are ethical or eco conscious, you may be interested in reducing the amount of land used to produce the foods you eat.

This guide gives a quick overview in how it might be possible to decrease the land footprint in the foods you eat, by identifying the foods that take more or less land to produce.

 

Summary – How To Decrease The Land Footprint With The Foods You Eat

When talking about hectares of land required per person, per year:

  • Eliminate, Or Reduce – meats (mainly beef, pork and chicken), whole and refined grains, some dairy like cheese, highly processed or refined sugar type foods, foods with artificial sweeteners, fats like plant oils, dairy fats and animal fats
  • Substitute With, Or Increase – vegetables, beans and lentils, rice, fruits, cow’s milk, nuts, tofu, eggs, and a more plant based diet (some of these foods may not have a low land footprint by themselves, but as part of a whole diet, they can contribute to a lower total land footprint)

You can read more about the proportions that different food groups are included in different diets that use more or less land at https://www.elementascience.org/articles/10.12952/journal.elementa.000116/ 

 

This is a very simplistic way of looking at it though, and mostly takes into account production, but not food waste (vegetables, fruits and highly perishable foods are actually wasted at a greater rate at the consumer level than meats for example).

When taking into account food waste, healthier diets centred around more plant based diets, actually waste less cropland than the “Western diet”, characterized by high intake of refined carbohydrates, added sugar, sodium, and animal products, and low intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

There are many other things to consider though in a food diet other than just the land footprint (the land footprint of the same food can differ depending on how you measure it, or depending on other variables)

Solely plant based diets are not perfect, do have their own drawbacks, and may not be healthy for some groups of people with certain nutritional requirements and health conditions

Something worth noting when it comes to land specifically is that vegetables, fruits and plant based food actually needs arable cropland to grow at a large scale. Livestock on the other hand can make use of far less fertile grazing and cropland (that vegetables, fruits and plant based foods can’t) which is in far greater availability. So, when talking about land – you need to consider the types of land too (and break them up into categories) – cropland vs grazing and pastureland.

* A Note About Your Diet & Health – Always see a suitably qualified food or health professional before changing your diet, or the foods you are currently eating. This is general information only on this page, and is not advice or a recommendation of any kind

 

Food Groups With Higher Land Footprints

  • Animal meat (beef, pork and chicken) – animal feed takes up a lot of land in addition to the land the livestock live on
  • Other animal based products
  • Some dairy
  • Generally anything animal meat, refined sugar or more highly processed

 

Food Groups With Lower Land Footprints

  • Vegetables 
  • Fruits
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Beans and lentils
  • Generally anything plant based

 

Notes On Food Land Footprint Variables

The land footprint given for any particular food will vary depending on where/how the food has been produced, what data has been used, and the final unit of measurement.

It does depend on the farming method used (for example grain and grass fed beef can have different land requirements), where the food is produced (country, state/province and specific farm) etc.

It also depends on which indicator you are measuring the food land footprint by:

  • As part of a whole type of diet (as current studies mainly do) e.g. meat based diet, ovo-lacto vegetarian, vegetarian, vegan etc.
  • Per serving
  • Per unit of weight (pounds, kilograms etc.)
  • Per calorie or kilocalorie
  • Per gram of protein
  • Per gram of fat
  • Per gram of carbohydrates
  • and more

Different foods have different nutritional profiles, which is a different consideration altogether from food weight or serving amount.

You also have to consider food waste – and vegetables, fruits and healthier foods tend to have a higher food waste rate at the consumer level, but waste cropland at a lower rate.

 

Read More About Different Food Land Footprints

 

A Case Study On Decreasing Land Footprint Through Diet

You can read more here https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/04/how-i-tweaked-my-diet-cut-its-environmental-footprint-half 

The writer notes that 85 percent of the GHG emissions and 90 percent of the agricultural land use associated with the average American diet come from animal meat and dairy, and  about half of the emissions and land use are from beef alone.

The land required for this food and the greenhouse gas emissions produced (for an average American diet) is nearly twice as high as the world average.

Shifting from beef to chicken, and cutting meat, dairy, fish and egg consumption by half – will decrease your environmental impact of your diet by 15%, and almost 50% respectively.

 

Sources

1. https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/04/how-i-tweaked-my-diet-cut-its-environmental-footprint-half 

2. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0195405 

3. https://www.elementascience.org/articles/10.12952/journal.elementa.000116/  

4. https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/04/sustainable-diets-what-you-need-know-12-charts 

How To Decrease The Carbon Footprint With The Foods You Eat

How To Decrease The Carbon Footprint Of The Foods You Eat

If you are ethical or eco conscious, you may be interested in minimising the carbon footprint in the foods you eat.

This guide gives a quick overview in how it might be possible to decrease the carbon footprint in the foods you eat, by identifying the foods that take more or less carbon to produce/make.

 

Summary – How To Decrease The Carbon Footprint With The Foods You Eat

When talking about C02 Kilos Equivalent (C02e) produced (carbon emissions per kilo of food):

  • Eliminate, Or Reduce – meats (mainly lamb and beef), seafood, dairy (although milk isn’t as bad), and highly processed or refined sugar type foods
  • Substitute With, Or Increase – vegetables and pulses, fruits, rice, nuts, and a more plant based diet (you could also substitute beef and lamb with chicken or tuna and you’d be decreasing your carbon footprint overall)

What is not clear is the carbon emissions per unit of calories, protein, and fat for the above foods. So, we know C02 equivalent for the weight of the food, but not the nutritional data.

 

This is a very simplistic way of looking at it though (even though the above summary does take into account production, all the way up to eating the food, or it going to waste – the full lifecycle of the food)

There are many other things to consider in a food diet other than just the carbon footprint (and the carbon footprint of the same food can differ depending on how you measure it, or depending on other variables). You have to consider how much water the food takes to produce, how much land, the % of food waste of the different types of food, and more.

Solely plant based diets are not perfect, do have their own drawbacks, and may not be healthy for some groups of people with certain nutritional requirements and health conditions.

Some vegetables and plant based foods such as asparagus or greenhouse grown tomatoes for example might have higher carbon footprints.

* A Note About Your Diet & Health – Always see a suitably qualified food or health professional before changing your diet, or the foods you are currently eating. This is general information only on this page, and is not advice or a recommendation of any kind

 

Food Groups With Higher Carbon Footprints

  • Animal meat (lamb, beef, pork, turkey, chicken), and seafood (farmed salmon, tuna)
  • Dairy – Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Greenhouse grown fruits (using electricity and natural gas for heating and lights)

 

Food Groups With Lower Water Footprints

  • Most Vegetables, Beans & Pulses
  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Rice
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Generally anything plant based

 

Notes On Food Carbon Footprint Variables

The carbon footprint given for any particular food will vary depending on where/how the food has been produced, what data has been used, and the final unit of measurement.

It does depend on the farming method used (for example field grown vs greenhouse enclosure grown), where the food is produced (country, state/province and specific farm) and other factors.

It also depends on which indicator you are measuring the food carbon footprint by:

  • Per serving
  • Per unit of weight (pounds, kilograms etc.)
  • Per calorie or kilocalorie
  • Per gram of protein
  • Per gram of fat
  • Per gram of carbohydrates
  • and more

Different foods have different nutritional profiles, which is a different consideration altogether from food weight or serving amount.

You also have to consider food waste – and vegetables, fruits and healthier foods tend to have a higher food waste rate at the consumer level (and therefore their carbon footprint increases when consumer level waste is taken into account).

 

Read More About Different Food Carbon Footprints

 

Case Study On Lowering Food Environmental Footprint Through Diet

You can read more here https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/04/how-i-tweaked-my-diet-cut-its-environmental-footprint-half 

The writer notes that 85 percent of the GHG emissions and 90 percent of the agricultural land use associated with the average American diet come from animal meat and dairy, and  about half of the emissions and land use are from beef alone.

The land required for this food and the greenhouse gas emissions produced (for an average American diet) is nearly twice as high as the world average.

Shifting from beef to chicken, and cutting meat, dairy, fish and egg consumption by half – will decrease your environmental impact of your diet by 15%, and almost 50% respectively.

 

Sources

1. http://www.greeneatz.com/foods-carbon-footprint.html 

2. https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/04/how-i-tweaked-my-diet-cut-its-environmental-footprint-half

3. https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/04/sustainable-diets-what-you-need-know-12-charts 

4. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/carbon-footprint-of-common-everyday-things-products-foods/ 

5. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/foods-with-the-highest-carbon-footprint-impact-on-climate-change/ 

6. http://static.ewg.org/reports/2011/meateaters/pdf/methodology_ewg_meat_eaters_guide_to_health_and_climate_2011.pdf 

How To Decrease The Water Footprint With The Foods You Eat

How To Decrease The Water Footprint In The Foods You Eat

If you are ethical or eco conscious, you may be interested in conserving more water in the foods you eat.

This guide gives a quick overview in how it might be possible to decrease the water footprint in the foods you eat, by identifying the foods that take more or less water to produce across different measurement units.

 

Summary – How To Decrease The Water Footprint With The Foods You Eat

When talking about per unit of pure weight:

  • Eliminate, Or Reduce – meats (mainly beef), dairy, some types of nuts, and highly processed or refined sugar type foods
  • Substitute With, Or Increase – vegetables and pulses, fruits, and a more plant based diet (you could also substitute beef and pork with chicken and you’d be decreasing your water footprint)

However, when talking about per unit of calories, protein, and fat for example:

  • Plant based foods like vegetables and fruits can move much further up the list, either just behind cattle, or in line with other meats and dairy in terms of how much water they need

For a quick comparison table, see https://waterfootprint.org/en/water-footprint/product-water-footprint/water-footprint-crop-and-animal-products/

 

This is a very simplistic way of looking at it though, and mostly takes into account production, but not food waste

Vegetables, fruits and highly perishable foods are actually wasted at a greater rate at the consumer level than meats for example. They are also responsible for more waste of irrigated water at the the production level than animal based products.

There are many other things to consider in a food diet other than just the water footprint (and the water footprint of the same food can differ depending on how you measure it, or depending on other variables).

Solely plant based diets are not perfect, do have their own drawbacks, and may not be healthy for some groups of people with certain nutritional requirements and health conditions.

* A Note About Your Diet & Health – Always see a suitably qualified food or health professional before changing your diet, or the foods you are currently eating. This is general information only on this page, and is not advice or a recommendation of any kind

 

Food Groups With Higher Water Footprints

  • Animal meat (beef, pork and lamb more than chicken) – animal feed takes up a lot of water
  • Eggs
  • Dairy (Milk, Cheese, Butter etc.)
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Some Nuts
  • Generally anything meat, sugar or more highly processed

 

Food Groups With Lower Water Footprints

  • Vegetables & Pulses
  • Fruits
  • Oils
  • Generally anything plant based

 

Notes On Food Water Footprint Variables

The water footprint given for any particular food will vary depending on where/how the food has been produced, what data has been used, and the final unit of measurement.

It does depend on the farming method used (for example grain and grass fed beef can have different water requirements), where the food is produced (country, state/province and specific farm) and whether mostly irrigated (more of a threat to water resources as it depletes freshwater sources) or rain fed water has been used (rain fed means it’s less of an issue for water scarcity).

It also depends on which indicator you are measuring the food water footprint by:

  • Per serving
  • Per unit of weight (pounds, kilograms etc.)
  • Per calorie or kilocalorie
  • Per gram of protein
  • Per gram of fat
  • Per gram of carbohydrates
  • and more

Different foods have different nutritional profiles, which is a different consideration altogether from food weight or serving amount.

 

Wasted Food At The Consumer Level, & Wasted Water At The Production Level

You also have to consider food waste – and vegetables, fruits and healthier foods tend to have a higher food waste rate at the consumer level (and therefore their water footprint increases when consumer level waste is taken into account).

 

  • Nearly 4.2 trillion gallons of irrigation water were applied to cropland that was used to produce uneaten food. The majority of wasted irrigation water was applied to cropland used to produce fruits (1.3 trillion gallons), vegetables (1.05 trillion gallons), and hay (1.01 trillion gallons).
  • Production of fruits and vegetables wasted in high proportions [and they are compared to other food types] carries environmental burdens … particularly due to relatively high rates of pesticide use and irrigation. Higher quality diets contained greater amounts of fruits and vegetables … [and they] have higher agricultural input needs (per unit of land area) than most other crops

– journals.plos.org

 

Irrigated water use contributes to freshwater scarcity, whereas rain fed crops tend to be better from a sustainability point of view.

 

Read More About Different Food Water Footprints

 

Sources

1. http://www.greeneatz.com/1/post/2014/03/foods-water-footprint.html 

2. https://www.watercalculator.org/water-use/foods-big-water-footprint/

3. https://waterfootprint.org/en/water-footprint/product-water-footprint/water-footprint-crop-and-animal-products/ 

4. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/how-much-water-it-takes-to-produce-make-common-everyday-products-foods-water-footprint-virtual-water/ 

5. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/foods-that-take-the-most-water-to-produce-make/ 

6. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/grass-fed-beef-is-just-as-bad-for-the-environment-as-grain-fed/  

7. Conrad, Z., Niles, M.T., Neher, D.A., Roy, E.D., Tichenor, N.E. and Jahns, L., 2018. Relationship between food waste, diet quality, and environmental sustainability. PloS one13(4), p.e0195405. – https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0195405

The Potential Animal Cruelty/Welfare Issues With Fur, Leather, Angora, Down, Silk, & Wool Fibres, Fabrics & Clothing/Fashion

The Potential Animal Cruelty/Welfare Issues With Fur, Leather, Angora, Down, Silk, & Wool Fibres, Fabrics & Clothing/Fashion

Some fabrics and fibres may be more prone to having more upfront animal welfare and cruelty issues than others.

Fur, leather, angora, down, silk and wool are examples of a few of them, as each is an animal product/by product.

In this guide, we explore the animal rights issues that may be relevant to each material.

 

Fur

  • Fur is obtained from different animals such as a fox, rabbit, mink, raccoon dogs, muskrat, beaver, stoat (ermine), otter, sable, seals, cats, dogs, coyotes, wolves, chinchilla, and opossum and common brushtail possum + other animals
  • Animals are either trapped in the wild, or bred in fur farms
  • There can be pain and suffering involved in trapping for the animals
  • Animals on farms can be confined to dirty, small cages, and be put in uncomfortable or painful conditions
  • Killing methods can include suffocation, electrocution, gassing and poisoning, or getting bludgeoned, hanged, and bled to death + other methods of inflicting death and suffering.
  • Animals can be skinned alive for their fur

– peta.org.au, wikipedia.org

 

Leather

  • Can be made from cows, pigs, goats, kangaroos and sheep; exotic animals such as alligators and ostriches; and even dogs and cats
  • Today, most leather is made of cattle hides, which constitute about 65% of all leather produced. Other animals that are used include sheep, about 13%, goats, about 11%, and pigs, about 10%.
  • Most leather comes from developing countries such as India and China, where laws don’t protect animals killed for their skins.
  • Buying leather directly contributes to factory farms and abattoirs because skin is the most economically important by-product of the meat industry.
  • Animals are know to suffer both in farms, and on their way being transported to abbatoirs

– peta.org.au, and wikipedia.org

 

Angora

  • Angora rabbits are bred to have long and soft fur
  • China produces 90 per cent of the world’s angora
  • Rabbit fur farms involve being locked in cages
  • Fur can be ripped from the rabbits’ skin while they are still alive – this can happen every 2 to 3 months
  • If they’re still alive after two to five years of this trauma, workers slit their throats and sell their carcasses
  • Angora is being abandoned by more and more companies and consumers

– peta.org.au

 

Down

  • Down is the soft layer of feathers closest to geese and ducks’ skin, primarily found in the chest region
  • Most of the feathers that humans use come from chickens, turkeys, and geese who are raised for food
  • Birds can be put in small, dirty cages
  • Birds can sometimes still be alive when they are dumped in boiling water ready to have feathers removed
  • Down is often plucked from live geese – multiple times in geese’ lives
  • This practice has been banned in Western European countries
  • Live plucked down can often be mislabelled as something else, or be said to be ethically sourced feathers, but both are misleading
  • It’s better to use alternatives to down

– peta.org

 

Silk

  • Extracting raw silk starts by cultivating the silkworms on mulberry leaves. Once the worms start pupating in their cocoons, these cocoons and worms are dissolved in boiling water in order for individual long fibres to be extracted and fed into the spinning reel.

– wikipedia.org

So, the silkworms are boiled alive and killed.

 

Wool

Invasive procedures that can take place in the wool industry on animals like sheep and goats are:

  • Ear tagging
  • Ear notching
  • Dehorning
  • Marking
  • Mulesing
  • Tail Docking
  • Teeth Grinding

There can also be concerns with high stocking densities of animals and restricted movement on animals during activities like live export

– wikipedia.org

 

More Information On Animal Cruelty Issues With Farmed Animals

View the animal welfare concerns table at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruelty_to_animals

 

Indirect Impact On Animals With Other Fabrics & Fibres

Even fibres and fabrics that don’t come directly from animals can impact animals negatively.

For example, a petrochemical, plant or wood based fibre might use synthetic chemicals in the production process, and be disposed in wastewater into the environment (without being treated or re-used) – which can affect aquatic and other wildlife.

There’s even fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals used for farming that have the potential to harm animals, humans and the environment.

 

No Fibre Or Fabric Is Perfect

Even faux fibres like faux leather and faux fur are usually made from petrochemical based plastic – with their own set of environmental issues.

There are cons and eco, animal and ethical footprints left by every product.

 

Consider Animal & Eco Friendly Fibre & Fabric Alternatives

Organic cotton, and closed loop process lyocell or modal may be better animal and eco friendly fibre and fabric alternatives.

Other options might include cruelty free options like peace silk (where silkworms are allowed to hatch from the egg) over conventional silk. Spider silk is also an option.

 

Or, You Could Buy More Sustainably…

Including:

  • Buy high quality materials
  • Keep the product for as long as you can
  • Buy secondhand, or recycled (if feasible and possible)
  • Consume less in general, and buy products that are made to last – think about if you really need something, and if you can substitute it with something else instead of impulse purchasing
  • Research materials, product and companies before you purchase 

 

Sources

1. https://www.peta.org.au/issues/clothing/cruelty-wool/

2. https://www.peta.org.au/issues/clothing/farmed-trapped-animals-fur-suffer/

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruelty_to_animals

4. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/is-wool-sustainable-eco-friendly-cruelty-free-to-animals-for-fibre-fabrics-products/

5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk

6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fur_clothing

7. https://www.peta.org.au/issues/clothing/leather-industry/

8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leather

9. https://www.peta.org.au/issues/clothing/angora-rabbits-cruelty/

10. https://www.peta.org.au/issues/clothing/down-feathers-cruelty-geese-ducks/

Real Fur vs Faux Fur: Differences, Which Is Better, & Which Is More Ethical?

Real Fur vs Faux Fur: Differences, Which Is Better, & Which Is More Ethical?

There can be a debate amongst some when comparing real fur vs fake fur.

Some people want to know which is better and more ethical to consume and/or wear.

In this guide, we provide an overview of which one might be better across a few different aspects.

 

Summary – Real Fur vs Faux Fur: Differences, & Which Is Better & More Ethical

The main difference between real fur and faux fur is that real fur is an animal by product, whilst faux fur does not come from the fur of animals, but instead synthetic chemicals.

Real fur vs faux fur is really a trade off, with neither being perfect…

With real fur, you are potentially putting animal welfare at risk where animals are either farmed or trapped (usually) for their fur. But, a real fur product is usually more breathable, lasts longer and is better quality (plus it usually biodegrades quicker, and can usually be recycled).

With faux fur, the animal welfare and cruelty concerns aren’t there upfront. But, faux fur is made from petrochemicals/plastic acrylics which are ultimately not sustainable, and have their own issues with environmental pollution via the production process, and microplastic break down. Cheap faux fur may also not be as breathable, and may not be as durable or as recyclable as real fur. Faux fur does have the benefit as a synthetic material as being better able to be customised and designed for different features, qualities and appearances.

It will be interesting to see if faux fur technology progresses to the point where synthetic fibres can be made from bio based sources or from lab grown sources – which would remove the need for petrochemical based substances.

Rather than purchasing fur or fake fur, consumers might look at plant or wood based fibres like organic cotton or a closed loop produced lyocell or modal as alternatives.

Another option is to buy high quality, buy less in general, and buy second hand or re-use where possible. 

 

Real Fur vs Faux Fur: Differences

  • Real fur is made from real animal fur from animal raised on fur farms, or from animals that have been trapped. Faux fur is made from plastic based polymer petrochemicals, and attached to a material base (such as polyester)
  • Real fur can have animal cruelty and animal welfare issues on farms and with trapping or hunting techniques
  • Faux fur can have environmental problems with production and disposal
  • Real fur might be more natural looking, more breathable, more durable, more expensive, biodegrade better, and recyclable
  • Faux fur might be less breathable, but more customisable, available in a wider range of appearances, and more affordable. Some faux furs will be higher quality, while some are cheaper and lower quality
  • Faux fur can have issues with mislabelling – when shipped overseas from China to the US for example – there have been issues in the past with supply chain transparency where real fur or another material has been labelled as faux fur
  • Faux fur may have a good long term potential in terms of overall quality and ethics if technology can develop to the point that petrochemical based substances don’t need to be used, and more sustainable and renewable fibres can be used

Ultimately, different companies manufacture and offer different fur or faux fur based products with differing levels of quality/features, ethics and eco and animal friendliness associated with their production.

It’s worth researching a company before buying their product to understand how they source and manufacture it, and what the finished product looks and feels like.

 

Read More About Real Fur, & Faux Fur

 

Sources

1. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/is-faux-fur-more-ethical-eco-friendly-animal-friendly-vegan/

2. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/is-fur-ethical-and-or-eco-friendly/

Is Faux Fur More Ethical, Eco Friendly, & Animal Friendly/Vegan?

Is Faux Fur More Ethical, Eco Friendly, & Animal Friendly/Vegan?

You might already have your mind made up on real fur.

But, what about faux fur? Is it any more ethical, eco friendly and animal friendly/vegan?

We provide an overview to those those question in this guide.

 

Summary – Is Faux Fur More Ethical, Eco Friendly, & Animal Friendly/Vegan?

Compared to real fur – yes, and no.

Obviously, you don’t have the upfront animal welfare issues that farming and trapping of animals for their fur that you do with real fur.

This also means that the product is vegan if it doesn’t come from an animal by-product (although sometimes faux fur can be mislabelled when being shipped between countries, and it’s real fur in the product instead of faux fur).

But, the trade off is that with faux fur, you are buying a product that is made from non renewable petrochemicals/fossil fuels/plastics. And, the production of that synthetic material has it’s own environmental problems and indirect wildlife impact.

Faux fur also doesn’t tend to biodegrade as well, can release micro plastics, and may not last as long as real fur.

The real answer may be that neither real further, nor faux fur are perfect or completely ethical (but it also depends on who is making the faux fur – some companies are far more animal friendly, eco friendly and sustainable with their production and manufacture than others).

A better alternative for clothing and fabric may be a natural plant or wood based fibre like organic cotton or a closed loop produced lyocell or modal for example.

 

What Is Faux Fur?

Faux fur is a material that doesn’t come from animal by product.

 

  • Fake fur (or “faux fur”) [is] any synthetic material that attempts to mimic the appearance and feel of real fur.

– wikipedia.org

 

What Is Faux Fur Made Of?

Faux fur is generally made of synthetic fibres made from chemicals and with a petrochemical base (petro chemicals are derived from petroleum – a fossil fuel).

They are made of acrylic polymers – which are essentially plastics.

 

  • Fake fur is made from various materials including blends of acrylic and modacrylic polymers derived from coal, air, water, petroleum and limestone. These synthetic materials can take a long time to break down, possibly anywhere from 500 to 1,000 years.

– wikipedia.org

 

  • Faux materials can be made of acrylic, a synthetic material made from a non-renewable resource that can take hundreds of years to biodegrade in a landfill (animal fur, by contrast, biodegrades in just a few years)

– fashionista.com

 

  • Faux fur is typically made from polymeric fibers that are processed, dyed, and cut to match a specific fur texture and color

– madehow.com

 

Environmental Impact Of Faux Fur – Is It Eco Friendly?

We already mentioned above that synthetic fibres take longer to biodegrade in nature than natural animal based fibres.

 

  • [there’s also the] environmental impact of microfibers, the tiny plastic particles that synthetic fabrics shed in the wash. Whatever isn’t filtered out by wastewater treatment plants can end up in waterways and in the food supply, ingested by aquatic animals
  • [plastic based faux furs also release microfibers when washed in the washing machine]

– fashionista.com

 

Another environmental issue with faux fur is the production process. Not only is faux fur made with synthetic chemicals, but it can also be treated, dyed and finished with synthetic chemicals.

These production chemicals can be left untreated, contaminate water, waste water, and be dumped fully or partially untreated into the environment – causing pollution and issues for wildlife.

Workers exposed to synthetic chemicals may also have a chance of being exposed to health risks.

 

Sustainability Of Faux Fur, & Some Of It’s Other Drawbacks

Natural fur tends to last longer (and therefore provide some better sustainability) than faux fur – you need to consider the quality of the fur or faux fur, and how long it lasts.

 

  • the fabric [faux fur] doesn’t “breathe” in the same way natural materials do … leading to unpleasant smells that are impossible to eradicate, shortening the product’s lifespan.
  • In contrast, natural fibre materials … such as calfskin, goatskin, sheepskin, antelope, lambskin and rabbit fur are by-products of the meat and dairy industries — all the animals are eaten for their meat, and some produce milk for human consumption … the skins from these animals are naturally beautiful, soft to the touch, warm, bio-degradable and durable, lasting — with care — for up to thirty years …

– fashionista.com

 

Labelling Issues With Faux Fur

There have been instances of mislabelling with faux fur.

Specifically, there have been cases where real fur has been found on products labelled as faux fur, or even another fibre – when those products have been shipped between countries (an example is the fur coming out of China to the United States)

So, even if you buy faux fur – there is a slight chance due to mislabelling or supply chains which aren’t transparent, you could be buying something different.

 

Ideas For Making Faux Fur More Ethical Or Eco Friendly

  • [To make faux fur more eco friendly and ethical if it’s sold within the United States] – it can be cruelty free, made of recycled polyester, made in New York City to reduce its carbon footprint, with sourcing of fabrics from Europe, where regulations around pollution are stricter than in China. They can also be made to last decades or an entire lifespan [to increase sustainability]

– fashionista.com

 

Some Advantages Of Faux Fur Over Real Fur

  • There are less upfront animal welfare and animal rights issues – obviously
  • There are less indirect environmental issues – because there aren’t fur farms
  • Faux fur is offering more customisation options for manufacturers because it’s a synthetic fibre that can be re-designed and modified
  • It can be made to be cheaper than real fur
  • It can be made to have different qualities and features than real fur

 

New Technology & Developments For A Fur Look, Without Fur Or Faux Fur

It’s likely there can be further innovations with technology to get a fur look, without using faux fur or real fur – like for example, bio based or lab grown fibres.

Although, this technology can be complex and is still in development

 

Dropping Fur & Faux Fur Is Good, But…Look At What Companies & Consumers Are Replacing It With

It’s a problem if companies drop fur and faux fur, or consumers stop purchasing it, but then switch to producing or consuming more leather for example.

Using the example of leather, this is also an animal based product, and synthetic tanneries are some of the most polluting industries in the world.

 

Sources

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fake_fur

2. https://fashionista.com/2018/04/real-faux-fur-sutainability-ethics-debate  

3. http://www.madehow.com/Volume-3/Fake-Fur.html#ixzz5VPalMKtb 

4. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/is-fur-ethical-and-or-eco-friendly/

Is Fur Ethical, And/Or Eco Friendly?

Is Fur Ethical, And/Or Eco Friendly?

You probably already have an opinion on whether wearing fur is right or wrong.

What we’ve done in this guide is further explored whether fur is ethical, and if it’s eco friendly or not.

 

Summary – Is Fur Ethical, &/Or Eco Friendly?

If you don’t believe in animal product or by products – fur is not for you. Fur involves either trapping of wild animals for their fur (or sometimes bludgeoning to death), or fur farms where animals are raised for their fur.

China is one of the main countries where anti fur supporters have highlighted practices that are concerning when it comes to animal welfare. Mislabelling of fur products from China can also be an issue.

In terms of being eco friendly, it’s probably not as environmentally harmful as leather (because of leather tanning).

Overall, fur is not a necessity material, and there are alternatives out there.

 

Firstly, Where Does Fur Mainly Come From?

  • The majority of fur is obtained from animals raised on fur farms because it is easier to ensure that these animals, through strict diets and breeding, will have a high-quality pelt.
  • Mink and fox are the two most common animals that are bred for their fur.
  • While fur farms used to be prevalent in the U.S., now China holds an increasingly large part of the market.

– animallaw.info

 

  • Around 15% of fur is sourced [from trapping] – mainly from beaver, coyote, muskrat and raccoon from Canada, the USA and Russia.
  • … attempts at ‘ethical’ fur include fur garments made from roadkill, and from exotic pest control programs such as possum culling in New Zealand. 

– goodonyou.eco

 

  • Common animal sources for fur clothing and fur trimmed accessories include fox, rabbit, mink, raccoon, dogs, muskrat, beaver, stoat (ermine), otter, sable, seals, cats, dogs, coyotes, wolves, chinchilla, and opossum and common brushtail possum.

– wikipedia.com

 

What Are The Current Laws & Regulations Regarding Fur?

Laws and regulations can change, especially with heavy activism. But, a general idea of the current laws and regulation worldwide when it comes to fur are:

  • There are very few U.S. federal statutes concerning fur animals (although … the U.S. has a Fur Products Labeling Act, which mandates that garments containing fur be properly labeled, and it has a Dog and Cat Fur Protection Act, which prohibits dog and cat fur trade in the U.S)
  • China has virtually no regulations to protect fur animals – China is where a lot of animal rights and welfare groups have placed their attention – specifically the killing of and cruelty towards farmed animals
  • A few countries have strictly regulated or completely banned fur farms, (Austria, the United Kingdom, and Croatia have bans, the Netherlands has a ban on fox and chinchilla farming, and New Zealand, Sweden, and Switzerland have strict regulations),
  • Over 60 countries have banned certain types of animal traps, and some countries have fur labeling laws.
  • Israel has a bill pending which would outlaw the importation, exportation, and sale of fur within its country lines.

– animallaw.info

 

What Are Some Of The Current Animal Welfare Issues With Fur

  • Fur is obtained from different animals such as a fox, rabbit, mink, raccoon dogs, muskrat, beaver, stoat (ermine), otter, sable, seals, cats, dogs, coyotes, wolves, chinchilla, and opossum and common brushtail possum + other animals
  • Animals are either trapped in the wild, or bred in fur farms
  • There is pain and suffering involved in trapping for the animals
  • Animals on farms are confined to dirty, small cages
  • Killing methods can include suffocation, electrocution, gassing and poisoning, or getting bludgeoned, hanged, and bled to death + other methods of inflicting death and suffering. This is only to name a few
  • Animals can be skinned alive for their fur
  • There’s controversy over how animals are trapped, and how cruelty free it actually is (despite other claims by those who support the fur industry)
  • Some of the most graphic investigations and exposés have come from brutalities found on fur farms

– peta.org.au, wikipedia.org

 

  • Animal rights advocates object to the trapping and killing of wildlife, and to the confinement and killing of animals on fur farms due to concerns about the animals suffering and death.

– wikipedia.org

 

Environmental Impact Of The Fur Industry

  • Fur requires complex processing and chemical treatments to manufacture. 
  • Animal skin will decompose and rot unless it is treated with toxic chemicals, such as chromium and formaldehyde. These pose a risk to waterways as well as the workers who handle them.
  • The land, feed and water consumption of the animals also produce carbon emissions. In fact, the climate change impact of 1kg of mink fur is five times higher than that of wool, the best-scoring textile in a life cycle assessment conducted by the independent research organisation, CE Delft.  

– goodonyou.eco

 

  • To prevent fur clothing from decomposing, the fur item is treated with chemicals – which is bad for the environment when it is discharged in waste water, and certain chemicals can also be exposed to humans (harming health)
  • Fur clothing also requires energy and resources to make (almost 15 times more energy than faux fur)

– peta.org.au, wikipedia.org

 

  • Anti-fur advocates agree that synthetics [faux fur] are a less-than-ideal substitute, but they point to environmental hazards in the fur manufacturing process — the CO2 emissions associated with keeping and feeding tens of thousands of mink on a single farm, manure runoff into nearby lakes and rivers, the formaldehyde, nonylphenol ethoxylates and other toxic chemicals used in fur dressing and dyeing — as evidence that the alternative is even worse. Plus, they say, the traps used to hunt wild animals have a history of ensnaring “non target” animals like domestic dogs, cats, birds and small mammals

– fashionista.com

 

Processing Of Fur – Also A Health Risk For Humans

  • Depending on the type of fur and its purpose, some of the chemicals involved in fur processing may include table salts, alum salts, acids, soda ash, sawdust, cornstarch, lanolin, degreasers and, less commonly, bleaches, dyes and toners (for dyed fur). 
  • The chemical treatment of fur to increase its felting quality is known as carroting, as the process tends to turn the tips of the fur a carrot orange color.
  • Workers exposed to fur dust created during fur processing have been shown to have reduced pulmonary function in direct proportion to their length of exposure.
  • Fake fur (or “faux fur”) designates any synthetic material that attempts to mimic the appearance and feel of real fur.

– wikipedia.org

 

Mislabelling Of Fur and Faux Fur Is A Problem

  • Pelts [can be] deliberately mislabeled in China and sold overseas to the US as something else i.e. real fur shipped to the US and labelled as faux fur or something else
  • Real domestic animal furs have even been found in products that were sold as fake fur in the UK.

– goodonyou.eco

 

Attempts At Increased Animal Welfare In Fur Industry

  • In an attempt to reassure consumers about its treatment of animals, the fur industry launched the voluntary Fur Europe scheme in 2016. It aims to regulate fur farms across Europe and improve animal living conditions through what it terms ‘Welfur’ assessments. The scheme looks at cage size, location, food and overall treatment of the animals.

– goodonyou.eco

 

Comparing The Leather & Fur Industries

  • PETA argues that leather production is just as violent, painful, and deadly as the fur trade.
  • The environmental impact of leather is arguably worse too. … [some have pointed out] the toxic leather tanning industry in Bangladesh that puts workers and children in danger.  The sheer scale of the leather industry compared with fur is a environmental and health disaster for the communities that produce the material.
  • … [some say] an ethical consumer motivated by the interests of animals would not consider purchasing any new product made from fur [regardless of how it compared to leather].
  • Some argue fur is more sustainable because it can last a long time

– goodonyou.eco

 

Real Fur Demand Still Much Higher Than Faux Fur

  • In 2018, the global industry [of real fur] is still valued at more than $40 billion (a number that dwarfs the market for faux fur)

– fashionista.com

 

Some Arguments In Favor Of Fur As Being Ethical, Or Being Acceptable In Some Instances

You can read more at https://www.truthaboutfur.com/blog/why-fur-is-the-ethical-clothing-choice/ 

 

There’s also this from Fashionista:

  • [the] trapping [of] wild animals like fox, beavers and coyotes, which constitutes about 15 percent of the trade, helps manage wildlife populations and provides a continued livelihood for many indigenous communities … The fur trade provides a crucial, finely-tuned symbiotic relationship that helps to achieve the objectives of wildlife management and conservation and society as a whole

– fashionista.com

 

One of the arguments people make about real fur is that it biodegrades quicker than faux fur, and lasts far longer – making it more eco friendly and sustainable in those aspects. You can also recycle real fur, whereas that is not as likely with faux fur.

 

Sources

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fur_clothing 

2. https://www.animallaw.info/intro/fur-production-and-fur-laws 

3. https://www.truthaboutfur.com/blog/why-fur-is-the-ethical-clothing-choice/ 

4. https://goodonyou.eco/how-ethical-is-fur/  

5. https://www.peta.org.au/issues/clothing/farmed-trapped-animals-fur-suffer/ 

6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruelty_to_animals  

7. https://fashionista.com/2018/04/real-faux-fur-sutainability-ethics-debate 

Real Leather vs Faux Leather: Differences, Which Is Better, & Which Is More Ethical?

Real Leather vs Faux Leather: Differences, Which Is Better, & Which Is More Ethical?

It’s important to know the differences between real leather and faux leather.

We’ve put together a Real Leather vs Faux Leather Comparison Guide where we outline those differences, and outline which might be better for the buyer (based on features and qualities), as well as more ethical.

 

Summary – Real Leather vs Faux Leather: Differences, Which Is Better, & Which Is More Ethical?

If you are against animals being used for products altogether – fake leather would be a better option for you.

However, you should also know that fake leather is a chemical based product, and has negative environmental effects attached to it’s production, as well as concerns for how it breaks down when it is decomposed (although there are some sustainable farms, and natural tanning refineries)

So, neither are completely ethical. They both have their upsides and downsides.

Some may choose to stay away from leather altogether.

It’s interesting to note that even some sustainability and eco friendly advocates choose real leather because the hides/skins are a by product that would go to waste if not used, and they are against the environmental impact of producing and disposing of faux leather.

In terms of qualities and features – real leather is usually more expensive, requires more maintenance and can crack if not cared for properly. It also can’t be modified or customised in production like artificial leather. But it does tend to have a high quality appearance and be quite strong.

Faux leather can be more affordable, and can be produced to have a wider range of features and appearances. PVC faux leather usually doesn’t breathe very well so isn’t good for contact with skin which can sweat, and polyurethane plastic can be made to be a bit more breathable, lighter, flexible, and softer. Cheap faux leather can break down very quickly and not be very durable compared to real leather.

New developments and technology with faux leather towards bio based and eco friendly/sustainable based faux leathers could be a good thing in the future.

 

Real Leather

  • Made from animal (mainly bovine/cows) hides and skin as a by product of livestock raised for their meat and milk (so the animals aren’t raised specifically for leather)
  • Animal agriculture has it’s own set of animal welfare and environmental issues like deforestation, fertilizer and pesticide use, animal greenhouse gas emissions etc.
  • Uses leather tanneries – which can be responsible for a lot of chemical pollution (one of the most polluting industries in the world)
  • Can be very high quality and last a long time as a product (good for sustainability)
  • Can be recycled
  • Animal skin and hides biodegrade in nature much quicker than synthetic leather
  • Can be expensive for high quality leather
  • Not able to be designed from scratch or modified for different appearances and features like faux leather can be
  • Can be produced by sustainable farms/ranches and natural chemical tanneries – but these are more rare
  • Can be produced from animals that have to be culled as part of conservation, pest control, and species control – which could be considered an ethical approach

 

Faux Leather

  • Does not come from an animal by product, but instead made from chemicals (like petrochemicals)
  • Main types are PVC faux leather, and the most common – polyurethane/plastic faux leather. Both are adhered to a fabric backing, such as polyester. Synthetic based chemicals and materials are obviously not as sustainable or renewable
  • Other types can include cork, barkcloth, glazed cotton, waxed cotton, and paper – but these are uncommon
  • Has it’s own environmental concerns – such as the use of solvents, coatings, phthalates and so on – which can leach into or be dumped into the environment
  • Is far more customisable and modifiable than real leather with it’s appearance, design, features and qualities. So, the range of faux leathers available is very wide because of this, and can be used for a wide range of products and uses
  • Usually a more inexpensive leather option to real leather
  • Can be lighter than real leather
  • The PVC version does not breathe (it’s not porous) and can be very hard to clean – it’s not often used for surfaces that come in contact with the skin.  
  • The polyurethane version is usually machine washable and can be dry cleaned. It’s also slightly breathable, softer, and more flexible. Can have a shiny appearance
  • Doesn’t decompose/biodegrade as quickly as real leather in the environment, and plastic based leather can break down into micro plastics
  • New technology and developments are exploring new types of faux leather like bio based materials

 

Read More About Real & Faux Leather

 

Sources

1. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/what-is-vegan-leather-is-it-ethical-sustainable-eco-friendly/

2. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/is-faux-leather-pleather-eco-friendly-sustainable-animal-friendly/

3. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/is-leather-eco-friendly-sustainable-animal-friendly/

What Is Vegan Leather, & Is It Ethical, Sustainable & Eco Friendly?

What Is Vegan Leather, & Is It Ethical, Sustainable & Eco Friendly?

There can be some confusion when it comes to vegan leather, what is it, and whether it’s actually a better option than other types of leather.

In this guide, we provide an overview of what vegan leather is, and whether it’s ethical, sustainable and eco friendly.

 

Summary – Is Vegan Leather Ethical, Sustainable & Eco Friendly?

Real leather uses the hide and skins of bovine livestock that are usually raised for meat and milk anyway – so it can be a secondary by-product (animals aren’t usually used just to make leather, but in some cases they are).

The big problems with real leather are the indirect problems caused by animal agriculture, and the leather tanning process.

On the other hand, real leather can last a long time (so you get a more sustainable use out of the product), it can biodegrade and it can generally be re-used or recycled.

There are ranches and farms that could be classified as sustainable farms, and natural leather tanning refineries – but, these are more rare.

Vegan leather/faux leather does not use animals to manufacture the leather.

However, the trade off you make is that the polyurethane or PVC used to make the vegan leather has it’s own environmental pollution problems (with plasticizers etc), faux leather takes far longer to break down and biodegrade, it can release micro- plastics when it breaks down, and making faux leather from petro chemicals is not sustainable or renewable.

If bio based or other types of more eco friendly or renewable faux leathers become available in the future – this would start tipping the ethical rating in faux leather’s favor a lot more.

 

With any leather product, or product in general, you might ask yourself overall how it’s made, how long you can use it before you need to replace it, and then, what will happen when you need to dispose of it.

 

What Is Vegan Leather, & What Is It Made Of?

Vegan leather is leather that does not come from animal product i.e. it is not leather from animal skin and hides.

Vegan leather is faux/synthetic leather.

The two most common types of faux leather are PVC faux leather, and the most popular/widely used – polyurethane faux leather (plastic leather).

Faux leather can also be made from other materials such as cork, barkcloth, glazed cotton, waxed cotton, and paper.

Faux leather is usually adhered to a fabric backing, such as polyester.

 

Is Vegan Leather Ethical, Sustainable & Eco Friendly?

Vegan leather is faux leather – and we’ve already written a guide on how animal friendly, sustainable and eco friendly it is.

 

Vegan Leather vs Real Leather – Which Is More Ethical?

Some additional pros and cons, and things to consider in each type of leather product are:

 

Vegan Leather

Some of the environmental problems with vegan leather are:

  • Polyurethane Vegan Leather – the main concern with polyurethane-based synthetic leather is that solvents are used. The production process involves painting polyurethane in liquid form onto a fabric backing. Making polyurethane into a liquid requires a solvent, and those can be highly toxic … newer waterborne coatings are better environmentally … [but] the type of polyurethane used in a piece of clothing is only one part of the environmental equation. Its impact will also depend on the quality of the supply, the way it’s put onto fabric, and the sorts of chemistry used in every step of the manufacturing process. With so many steps, there is plenty of opportunity for bad things to happen.
  • PVC Vegan Leather – production challenges and because they release dioxins, potentially hazardous chemicals, if burnt. Increasing the worries are substances known as phthalates … which is a plasticizer that can leach out … and depending on the type of phthalate used, can be toxic
  • Faux leather technology is advancing to help make it more customisable and sustainable

Real Leather

  • Most real leather (animal skin and hides) comes from cattle and livestock that are raised for their meat and milk – so the animals aren’t raised specifically for leather production. Some argue real leather is a beneficial by-product of livestock and more sustainable in this regard
  • Raising animal livestock has indirect environmental issues to consider like deforestation, fertilizer use, pesticide use, greenhouse gas emissions from animals and other types of pollution
  • The chemicals used in real leather tanning production includes formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and some finishes that are cyanide base. These chemicals are some of the most environmentally damaging amongst all industries
  • Real leather may have an edge in sustainability because it can last longer than faux leather, and usually be recycled (whereas it’s hard to recycle faux leather – it might be able to be repurposed – but that is limiting). 
  • An animal hide or skin [might] break down easier and quicker than a synthetic petrochemical based faux leather

– vocativ.com

 

Sources

1. https://www.vocativ.com/news/281599/vegan-leather-isnt-as-ethical-as-you-think/index.html 

2. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/is-leather-eco-friendly-sustainable-animal-friendly/

Is Faux Leather/Pleather Eco Friendly, Sustainable & Animal Friendly?

Is Faux Leather/Pleather Eco Friendly, Sustainable & Animal Friendly?

As most people are aware, there are alternatives to real leather.

In this guide, we provide an overview of whether faux leather/pleather is eco friendly, sustainable and animal friendly.

If you want to read our previous guide on real leather, you can do so here.

 

Summary – Is Faux Leather/Pleather Eco Friendly, Sustainable & Animal Friendly?

The main trade off with faux leather/pleather is that animals are not used or farmed to make this material.

However, faux leather is made out of chemicals like petrochemicals, which makes it not very eco friendly or sustainable.

It also takes a very long time to biodegrade and can break down and produce micro-plastics (microscopic pieces of plastic).

With faux leather, it must be considered that it is a product/material with different features and qualities than real leather.

 

What Is Artificial Leather, & What Is It Used For?

  • Artificial leather is a material intended to substitute for leather in upholstery, clothing, footwear, and other uses where a leather-like finish is desired but the actual material is cost-prohibitive or unsuitable.
  • Artificial leather is marketed under many names, including “leatherette”, “faux leather”, “vegan leather”, “PU leather” and “pleather”.

– wikipedia.org

 

What Is Faux Leather & Pleather Made Of?

  • [fake leather is] made from oil in the form of plastic – either PVC or polyurethane. Pleather is simply a slang term for “plastic leather”, made by bonding the plastic to a fabric backing. 

– oecotextiles.wordpress.com

 

Types Of Faux Leather

  • Plastic/Polyurethane Faux Leather –  made from a plastic coating (usually a polyurethane) on a fibrous base layer (typically a polyester). The type of polyurethane used in a piece of clothing is only one part of the environmental equation. Its impact will also depend on the quality of the supply, the way it’s put onto fabric, and the sorts of chemistry used in every step of the manufacturing process. With so many steps, there is plenty of opportunity for bad things to happen
  • PVC Faux Leather – is also made by covering a fabric base with a plastic. The fabric can be made of natural or synthetic fiber which is then covered with a soft polyvinyl chloride (PVC) layer. This is less popular now due to concerns over the last few years about … production challenges and because they release dioxins, potentially hazardous chemicals, if burnt. Increasing the worries are substances known as phthalates … which is a plasticizer that can leach out … and depending on the type of phthalate used, can be toxic

Other less common Faux Leather types can include:

  • Cork leather is a natural-fiber alternative made from the bark of cork oak trees that has been compressed
  • Faux leather can also be made of barkcloth, glazed cotton, waxed cotton, and paper

– wikipedia.org, and vocativ.com

 

  • Polyurethane is currently more popular for use [in faux leathers] than PVC.

– wikipedia.org

 

Carbon Footprint Of Faux Leather, & Energy Use

  • The polyurethane version [of faux leather has] plenty of CO2 is emitted during the production.
  • According to the Association of Plastics Manufacturers in Europe, producing a pound of polyurethane emits 3.7 lbs. of CO2 – slightly less than burning a gallon of gas.

– oecotextiles.wordpress.com

 

Water Use Of Faux Leather

  • According to a report by globalfashionagenda.com, faux leather doesn’t have as much of an impact on water scarcity as real leather

– globalfashionagenda.com

 

Environmental Pollution By Faux Leather, & Impact On Humans & Animals/Wildlife

  • The PVC version of pleather is made from polyvinyl chloride, which is loathed by Greenpeace, calling it the “most damaging plastic on the planet,” because its production releases dioxins and persistent organic pollutants. The polyurethane version doesn’t have quite the same toxicity problems as PVC

– oecotextiles.wordpress.com

 

  • The production of the PVC used in the production of many artificial leathers requires a plasticizer called a phthalate to make it flexible and soft.
  • PVC requires petroleum and large amounts of energy thus making it reliant on fossil fuels.
  • During the production process carcinogenic byproducts, dioxins, are produced which are toxic to humans and animals. 
  • Dioxins remain in the environment long after PVC is manufactured.
  • When PVC ends up in a landfill it does not decompose like genuine leather and can release dangerous chemicals into the water and soil.

– wikipedia.org

 

Faux Leather Pros & Cons, Features, & Differences To Real Leather

Differences between real leather and faux leather depend on the manufacturer and where it’s made of course.

But, there can be some common differences.

 

Faux leather can be:

  • Inexpensive compared to real leather
  • Lighter than real leather
  • Can be more durable that real leather
  • Doesn’t decompose as quickly as real leather in the environment
  • The PVC version does not breathe and can be very hard to clean – it’s not often used for surfaces that come in contact with the skin.  
  • The polyurethane version is usually machine washable and can be dry cleaned. It’s also slightly breathable, softer, and more flexible.

– oecotextiles.wordpress.com

 

[Pleather is] lighter than real leather … It doesn’t wrinkle. It travels really well. It’s waterproof, so if you wear it in the rain it completely repels water. 

… unlike actual leather, the technology can be gamed to suit design strategies. “It’s very hard to alter the surface of a cow

– thecut.com

 

  • One disadvantage of plastic-coated artificial leather is that it is not porous and does not allow air to pass through; thus, sweat can accumulate if it is used for clothing, car seat coverings, etc.
  • One of its primary advantages, especially in cars, is that it requires little maintenance in comparison to leather, and does not crack or fade easily.

– wikipedia.org

 

  • Leather … is another hurdle entirely [compared to faux leather]. Apart from animal welfare issues, leather tanneries use toxic chemicals that pose severe health risks to workers and surrounding communities, usually in regions like Bangladesh, India, and China where government protections are scarce, and end up in local waterways.
  • Leather also tends to be less controversial because cow hides and sheepskins are co-products of the food industry [and livestock generally aren’t just raised for the sole purpose of leather].

– fashionista.com

 

New Technology & Developments With Faux Leather

New technology and developments are always being research and explored with real leather and conventional faux leather alternatives:

 

  • [there is a] leather alternative [in development] which is entirely non-plastic, and bio-based: it’s made from flax or cotton fibers, which are laminated together in layers using palm, corn, soybean or other plant oils to create a leather-like material. And unlike pleather – it’s breathable. 

– oecotextiles.wordpress.com

 

  • We’re seeing a third lane emerge [apart from real leather and plastic/PVC faux leather]: biofabricated leathers, which are grown in a lab using animal-free collagen … that looks and feels like animal skins, without compromising the environment or animal welfare. [but, in reality, bioleather and also bio fur is scientifically challenging]
  • What we do know for sure is that cheap, disposable clothing (and our habit of buying and throwing out so much of it) is wreaking havoc on the environment, so choosing high-quality pieces that will hold up over time, shopping vintage where possible and making conscientious choices about your wardrobe is always a step in the right direction.

– fashionista.com

 

  • A fermentation method of making collagen, the main chemical in real leather, is under development.

– wikipedia.org

 

Cradle To Grave Environmental Impact Of Faux Leather

You can find a cradle to the grave environmental impact of faux leather and other materials at:

  • https://www.ethicalgallery.com.au/blogs/ethicaltimes/the-environmental-impact-of-animal-leather-vs-faux-leather
  • http://globalfashionagenda.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Pulse-of-the-Fashion-Industry_2017.pdf 

 

Some Forms Of Ethical Real Leather Are Becoming Available

  • [some sustainable fashion advocates choose] animal by-product furs over synthetics because of the environmental impact of the latter, [but] the trade-off is that they aren’t cruelty-free. [one brand uses] Kudu skins produced from government-regulated culling, locally-sourced rabbit and springbok in Kenya and South Africa, and vegetable dyes.

– fashionista.com

 

Sources

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_leather 

2. https://fashionista.com/2018/04/real-faux-fur-sutainability-ethics-debate 

3. https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/whats-pleather/  

4. https://www.ethicalgallery.com.au/blogs/ethicaltimes/the-environmental-impact-of-animal-leather-vs-faux-leather 

5. http://globalfashionagenda.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Pulse-of-the-Fashion-Industry_2017.pdf 

6. https://www.thecut.com/2013/06/pleathers-back-but-dont-call-it-vegan-leather.html 

7. https://www.vocativ.com/news/281599/vegan-leather-isnt-as-ethical-as-you-think/index.html